BANGS! Featured Emerging Band This Week: Alien Knife Fight

Sometimes it is in the unexpected places we find ourselves, we find others, and we find some of the most talented musicians. Whether it is at a truck stop bar along the I-10 corridor or a front porch driving down a hot dusty Texas road... music and art find themselves everywhere... it is just up to us to listen in.

Song River: Small town America, as you're residing in a town in Texas of 202 pop, how do they accept rock artists and creatives in general? 

Monique Ortiz:  I don't think they even know about us. We're surrounded by ranches and pastures. There are only a couple gas stations and a general store (you can see the Creedmoor general store in the film "Love & A 45"), so there really aren't any common meeting places. No bars, restaurants or shops.

On holidays such as NYE and 4th Of July, there's  a lot of shotgun fire, semi-automatic shots, and live Mariachi music off in the distance in all directions. People are friendly but keep to themselves for the most part. 

Song River: If you would finish the sentence. The trouble with trouble nowadays is _________________.

Monique Ortiz: Not sure what your definition of trouble is, but I'd say there's more than enough to go around. 

Song River: Monique would you classify Alien Knife Fight as a duo?

Monique Ortiz: I will say that I don't really like identifying AKF as a duo. I think duos have become kind of "a thing", a gimmick these days, but for us, it's always just been due to circumstance.
I've been working in the duo format since 1996. I play bass in another band, Bellringer (trio), with ex-Melvins bassist Mark Deutrom (who plays guitar in this project). 

I own many basses; fretted, fretless, 2-strings, 4-strings, etc.. I've played in many bands, many genres over the past 30 years. 

Song River: As you all head out the door to tour at the end of March what are you packing to survive the tour, essentials that are a must on any journey? 

Monique Ortiz: Vitamins, protein, lots of water, sketchbooks, Prismacolors and other art supplies. I like to send friends and fans hand-drawn postcards from the road. Shipping supplies.

We're picking up our freshly minted CD’s of "Some Girls." I'll have to ship orders from the road, so I've had to bring my "portable office."
I'm a fitness freak and foodie;  food options on the road are dismal at best, so I tend to not eat much and drink a lot of juice and protein shakes. I never go on the road without my yoga mats. I practice a variety of styles of yoga. It's a great way to stay fit while traveling. I usually bring a few good books.

Song River: What has come together already for the band and what is the projection for the rest of this year?

Monique Ortiz: We're fortunate to now have a management/ booking/ PR team behind us, so we're all working together to get more tour dates on the books as soon as possible. We also have a dozen new songs cherry picked from hundreds of hours of recordings that we will be working on as soon as we return from this west coast tour.

We've been wanting to put out a full-length record for a few years but due to life circumstances, we just didn't have the necessary money or support. That's quickly changing. We're pretty much always writing, recording, doing video work, painting, and glass blowing.

Song River: The tune "Some Girls" is totally relatable. Is life meant to be fair in your estimation Monique?

Monique Ortiz  Hell no. Life is never fair. And nothing says success like when the haters and trolls come out in force to tear you down. Even now, people ridicule me like they did when I was a kid: "What's with the gap teeth?"  "You look like some cracked-out Macy Gray"(as one guy posted on my Facebook page, while I laughed out loud).  "You look like a man..." and on and on.

"Some Girls want everything;" I'm not like that. I hate shopping. I'm not fashionable by any stretch. Clothes, expensive cars, jewelry, and that material stuff so many people kill themselves to own, it's meaningless to me. Less is more. Unattachment is key. I try not to buy anything I don't absolutely need. 

Song River: There are very few gutsy bluesy females who can even hold a candle to you Monique, who were some of your biggest influences growing up? Not just musically, but in being able to stand with who you are?

Monique Ortiz: Most of my heroes are men: Josh Homme, David Sylvian, Rick Rubin, Karl Pilkington, George Carlin, Robert Plant. Women I have always admired and had deep respect for would include Nina Simone, Elizabeth Warren, Laurie Anderson, Aretha Franklin, PJ Harvey, Annie Leibovitz.

I didn't really have any female heroes growing up. I've been a tomboy all my life. Always more interested in what the boys were up to.

Song River: Monique how did the combo come about between you and Michael Howard? What is it Michael brought forward that made Alien Knife Fight stand comfortably on its own?

Monique Ortiz: Mike and I worked for the same glass company. That's where we met. It all came together quite organically. Instant chemistry. He was playing bass in a stoner rock band when we first met, and I was playing solo shows around town. He invited me out to his place to jam, and we quickly realized we were made for each other. We had no big goal to form a band, but after listening to the playback of our first night of jamming we instantly knew we had something. Something, unlike anything either of us had done previously, unlike anything anyone else was doing around town. I moved in a month later and the rest, as they say, is history. 

 Song River: Do you have a favorite bass that stays by your side at all times?  How many instruments do you actually play now?

 Monique Ortiz: I love all my "babies" equally. I'll be playing mainly 2-string slide bass on this tour because much of the current material uses them, but I am mainly a fretless bass player. That's my favorite instrument and it's what I'm best at. I've been playing fretless bass since I was a kid.  I own a variety of basses for different styles of music, different tones.

My tastes are eclectic and I enjoy doing studio work and backing up other artists, so it's good to have a variety of basses in the arsenal for those pickup gigs. I also play upright bass, guitar, drums, and keyboards. I do backing vocals for other bands and artists whenever I can.

I used to play reeds in junior high: clarinet and alto sax a little. I've always had a deep love for reeds and would love to get back to that. Mike is currently teaching himself how to play Bari Sax. We both try to keep learning new things, new instruments and challenging ourselves. You have to. Otherwise, you'll never grow and evolve. 

Song River: You mention that you would like this EP Some Girls" to become a living, gritty, breathing, vinyl release.  There are certain styles of music that really only find their justice on vinyl... that pop/groove is essential in its definition. 

How do you feel about music and vinyl as opposed to just download or CD? What are the chances your fans are going to get this on vinyl?

Monique Ortiz:  Vinyl is a great souvenir. It's hip but as far as audio quality goes, CD’s are still king, and contrary to popular belief CD’s are still selling. We sell a lot of CDs at shows. No one has figured out how to keep a record from skipping when played in a car. CD’s sound the best and now they are the cheapest to produce.

Vinyl is cool but very expensive. Of course, we wish we had our music on vinyl but up until now we've had next to no support of any kind, and we pretty much have always lived paycheck to paycheck and still do. We simply don't have the money to get vinyl made and at the moment, we don't have a large enough fan base or necessary help to run a successful crowdsourcing campaign. 

Song River: Monique looking at your website as you are connected to multiple instruments, vocals, songwriting and photography what other ventures in the arts do you breathe?

Monique Ortiz: For many years I have worked as a nude figure model for several great artists, and schools in Boston. If you attended Harvard, Mass Art, MIT, BU, Brandeis, BC, or Museum School in the 90's, you've likely seen me naked many times. Aside from that, I'm a painter, printmaker, and glassblower.

Glassblowing is what Mike and I make a living at when we aren't on the road. It enables us to remain self-employed and work from our studio at home. I was a fine art major in college, but I filled out credit requirements with courses in criminology and forensic psychology, which I still have a deep interest in. I've been involved in animal welfare for most of my life, working as a veterinary technician in animal shelters in the northeast.

Song River: Finally, what is the final tour stop on 4/29 at Eeyore’s Birthday Party?

Monique Ortiz: Nothing. We pulled out of that show because we had a schedule conflict and it was really the right kind of gig for us. 

More Information on Alien Knife Fight:

To Purchase their new album: Alien Knife Fight- "Some Girls"

Alien Knife Fight Tour

AKF 2017 West Coast tour with Scott H Biram & Jesse Dayton:
03/23 @ Hoots Pub, Amarillo, TX
03/24 @ Triple Nickle Tavern - Colorado Springs, CO
03/25 @ 3 Kings - Denver, CO
03/26 @ Hodis Half Note - Fort Collins, CO
03/28 @ Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, UT
03/29 @ Neurolux - Boise, ID
03/31 @ Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA
04/01 @ Dante’s - Portland, OR
04/04 @ Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA
04/05 @ Bottom Of The Hill - San Francisco, CA
04/06 @ Alex’s Bar - Long Beach, CA
04/07 @ Pappy & Harriet’s - Pioneertown, CA
04/08 @ Rhythm Room - Phoenix, AR
04/13 @ Three Links - Dallas, TX
04/14 @ Antone’s - Austin, TX
04/15 @ Continental Club - Houston, TX (with Sam Pace, and Hilary York)