Rachael Gordon’s sound, style, and her very life play like something out of the late ’70s.
Musically, she says, “I’m into all sorts of things. There’s some garage rock, some power pop, and some folk. I grew up in the ’70s, so there’s all those influences from AM radio.”
Since having had a moderate hit record in Germany and airplay on the BBC, Rachael has been mining that groovy decade for girl-group gold. “I started doing shows with a group called the Sleazybeats,” she says. “We played covers and originals, and we did a birthday song to Phil Spector on a tribute album.” She also recently recorded tracks with classic-rock survivors Foreigner.
Rachael is currently a solo act backed by a rotating roster of notable locals, including Bart Mendoza (the Shambles), Hector Penalosa (the Zeros), Joel Kmak (the Beat Farmers), Mike Kamoo (Static Halo), Ray Brandes (the Tell-Tale Hearts), and Ron Silva (the Hitmakers).
Despite the all-star accompaniment, she says gender can still be a problem with promoters. “It’s very hard to get someone to stop looking at your ass and listen to what you’re saying…believe it or not, it’s still considered pretty wild to be a girl fronting a rock band. Occasionally you’ll see a girl fronting a punk band, but that doesn’t count.”
Asked about her worst gig, Rachael says, “It wasn’t great being called a ‘Nancy Sinatra wannabe’ in a San Diego Union-Tribune review — I think the worst was when I was forced to sing the Mary Tyler Moore theme at a coffeehouse.”
Alas, when you’re living out an episode of That ’70s Show, that’s the kind of kneesock nostalgia people are going to expect.
“Seventies music had a big impact on me — especially stuff like Heart, which can go from acoustic to Zeppelin in no time. The Runaways were a great one, and Joan Jett’s solo stuff. A.J. Croce is my brother-in-law, so definitely him, and my dad was a musician too. He played with a few San Diego bands in the ’60s and ’70s.”
BEST SLEAZYBEATS GIG?
“Definitely a show at the Garage, where we were the only band that had a smoke machine. We packed the club and had a real shtick, with matching outfits. We got an awful lot of attention. Then again, we always did.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?
“I’m known as a pop singer, and my first records were very bubblegum, with a ’60s and late-’70s sound. I guess I could describe those as a mixture of the Peanut Butter Conspiracy and Blondie, though I kind of went into more of a country pop thing, much like Buckingham Nicks or early Linda Ronstadt.”
WHAT’S ON YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
“That would be a turntable, with a Quicksilver Messenger Service album.”
WORST PICKUP LINE EVER USED ON YOU?
“In a bar? Hmm. ‘Nice toilet,’ which I guess was supposed to mean ‘nice ass.’ ”
STAR TREK OR STAR WARS?
“Neither…I hate science fiction.”
ANY ADVICE FOR BRITNEY SPEARS?
“Always wear shoes in gas stations and convenience stores.”
WHY DO GERMANS LOVE DAVID HASSELHOFF?
“Because he has that Nazi jaw that subconsciously reminds them of the Anglo ideal of the German Nazi regime.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“I like running out into the ocean and swimming at night alone — in my birthday suit or whatever I’m wearing — just to get my head together, because it feels good. Then I’ll get out and lay in the sand and drink whiskey. It makes me feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do. And there isn’t.”