It was three years ago that I first sat down with Makenzie of the Sundresses to interview her for Women in Rock. With the release of their third album, This Machine Kills, it seemed like a good time to check in with her.
The Sundresses started in 2001 as a political band. “We were a direct result of 9/11,” says Makenzie. “We would spew feelings about politics and make people dance.” But Makenzie notes that now they’re writing “life songs.” This Machine Kills was first recorded before drummer Dave Reid joined the band at Ultra Suede in Cincinnati. After he joined, the band decided to re-record as a four piece so they did new versions with Chris Koltay at High Bias Recording in Detroit. The album includes songs from both sessions. “The band sounds thicker (as a four piece). Things that were done in the studio can now be done onstage. It’s a lot better sonically.”
Makenzie, while in a rock n’ roll band, didn’t start out as a rocker. She began her music career as a trombonist in marching band. When I asked her what first attracted her to rock she said, “Playing it. I didn’t listen to rock before. I didn’t know the difference between Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.” The main musician she looked up to growing up was Louis Armstrong. Now, some of her favorite bands are Deap Vally and the Giraffes.
The Sundresses have been in the Cincinnati music scene for quite awhile and have watched it grow and change. “When we started, the scene was small and great, all the bands loved each other. Now it’s huge and great.” Makenzie said that its been fun to “witness the evolution of female musicians from Erica to Electric Citizen,” but that there has always been “female musicians in the (Cincinnati music) scene.”
I asked Makenzie what advice she would give musicians who are just starting out. She responded, “Don’t expect anything. You have to be in the moment of it and that’s all it can be.”
The Sundresses are playing their album release show this Saturday, September 5th at Motr Pub (Makenzie’s favorite hangout). Our favorite Lexington darlings, Ancient Warfare, will be opening for the Sundresses. Show at 9pm. Free.