April 18-24, 2002
Rock supergroup The Dirty Triplets puts four on the floorTwo local MCs walk the path not often traveled for creative freedom.
They’ve only played a few gigs, but the relatively new Dirty Triplets have already been the subject of some serious buzz. You might chalk it up to the fact that they are an all girl band, something that’s always bound to bring accolades from both genders. Or perhaps its their knack for getting booked on notable bills, like opening for of ex-Throwing Muses/Belly Tonya Donelly last week at the TLA, and landing regular spots in the lineup at the monthly fem-centric showcase Sugartown. But the fact of the matter is that there’s just so much talent colliding within this band, that there’s no way hype could be averted.
If you were around in the '80s and paid close enough attention to your TV, you may remember singer and guitarist Joan Solley as one of the regulars on Dancin' On Air. While living in New York in the mid '90s, Solley honed her singing and songwriting skills, playing various gigs and open mics. Upon returning to Philly, she started trying to get a band together. Following a few false starts, Solley crossed paths with Nancy Falkow, one of Philadelphia's more prominent singer-songwriters, who's lent her golden vocal talents to everyone from jam band yahoos Moe to G. Love, but most notably "The Girl From Ipanema" by Astrud Gilberto.
Solley and Falkow hit it off from the get-go and knew immediately that they would make perfect bandmates. Falkow says she was looking for a new outlet, and decided that playing bass with Solley would do the trick. It just so happened that at the same time Joann Schmidt, who had played bass herself on Falkow's album Smitten as well as various incarnations of her touring band, was also looking for a new vent for her creative juices. As if playing bass with Ike (formerly the John Faye Power Trip) wasn't enough, Schmidt had just picked up the crappiest set of drums to ever escape the trash heap and was dying to start playing them. Never having played drums before, she felt that backing Solley and Falkow might be a good way to learn. At that point, three members strong, the name Dirty Triplets was fitting. As a three piece, they holed up in Schmidt's Queen Village basement for a couple months working out Solley's small arsenal of songs, while eeking out a few new ones too. Then one night after checking out local rockers The Jane Anchor, Solley, Falkow and Schmidt decided that expanding into a quartet was in order and that the Anchor's guitar-playing frontwoman Kara Lafty was the only addition to the group they'd accept. Fortunately for them, it didn't take too much persuasion, and Lafty seamlessly blended her jagged, angular six-string stylings to the group's ripening sound.
"I think one of the things that really works for this band is that everyone's a fan of each other's stuff," Schmidt says. " I remember going to see Kara's band and just being like, I think it would be really cool if we ask this girl to be in our band.'"
At first Solley handled the majority of the songwriting duties. Steeped in equal parts Beatles, Stones and Velvet Underground, she's got a throaty voice that befittingly punctuates her lyrical accounts of yearning, late night boozing and other pitfalls in the human condition. But as she humbly admits, its the input from her cohorts that really brings the songs to life.
"It's interesting, because it's become a totally collaborative effort," she says. "If one of us comes up with a new song and someone else figures out another way to play it, we all listen, work it out and learn how to play it that way. Nancy, who's like the master of harmony, is always coming up with something that I would've never thought of."
It's this synergetic energy that they all attribute to their budding success as a band. In just a few short months the Dirty Triplets have put together an impressive three song ep, and plan to enter the studio again soon to lay down another dozen tracks they've been cooking up in Schmidt's basement.
"For a while we've been just trying to get comfortable playing with each other," Falkow explains. "Everything is falling into place now and for the first time we're really seeing just how many directions we can go in."
While Solley, Falkow, Schmidt and Lafty all are gung-ho about moving forward with the Dirty Triplets, not one of them is limiting herself to just this one project. Falkow has an entire album's worth of new material that she's about to record, and Lafty's The Jane Anchor is just days away from releasing their new long player. To boot, Schmidt and Ike are putting the finishing touches on a batch of recordings they plan to release this summer, and Solley has been busy fleshing out songs with a yet to be named collaboration with singer-songwriter Camille Escobedo and Maja Audio Group engineer Pete Rydberg.
"Its constant music all the time," Lafty says. "I have no time to paint my nails anymore, but I'm having the best times of my life."