Some dream of fortune and glory on the stage of rock, and some are lucky enough to make it up there under the lights. The Escapist talks to Jenny Bendel. By day, she’s a Level 20 Marketing & Public Relations Assassin for Seattle’s Arena.net, and by night, she’s a rock star.
The Escapist: Tell us about your band(s) and what style of music they play. What do you do/play? How did you wind up with each one? Do you have a favorite song, original or otherwise?
Jenny: I like to rock, and some folks seem to think I can sing. I’ve just started up a new band with one of my favorite guitarists/songwriters here in Seattle, a rock god by the name of Fred Speakman, and although we’re keeping a lot of it under wraps at the moment, both of us are really excited about it. He’s a fan of mine, I’m a fan of his, and when we get together to write songs it’s ridiculously full of awesomeness. I’ve watched him on stage with other bands countless times and he never ceases to amaze me. We’re both music nerds (well, I’m a nerd in general), who can pull total recall on just about any rock, metal, punk or country song released in the last fifty years, who cut our teeth on everything from Iron Maiden and Black Flag to MC5 and Lynyrd Skynyrd (that’s right, you heard me), and we’re kind of mixing all that up to see what comes out. One way or another though, it will ROCK, ‘cuz that’s just how we roll. Ha ha, I couldn’t resist saying that.
Over the years I’ve sung in an Irish punk/folk band called Saint Bushmill’s Choir, a Misfits cover band (I was Jenn Danzig!) called The Unfits, I tend to sing with friends’ bands a bunch, and I’m a well-known karaoke whore. Oh, and I was in school chorus in 6th grade – can’t forget that – I brought down the house with my solo of “Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows”.
Jenny: Nyah, no lessons. I’m a hack – I just open up and say ahhhhsome, in the style of rock.
The Escapist: Have you played any memorable gigs yet?
Jenny: They’re all memorable! The most recent show was New Year’s Eve, when I sang with Zero Down (think 80s Judas Priest meets Fugazi) whose singer was out of town for the holidays. We played a bunch of 80s metal covers, and I sang songs like Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”, Judas Priest’s “Livin’ After Midnight” and Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head”. Dang those songs take a lot of lungs! Our show was at The Sunset, the nicest rock bar in Seattle, where I book shows like 4 O’Clock Rock, a weekly matinee metal and punk fest, and I bartend part time. I pulled double duty that night by bartending, doing the midnight countdown, belting out my songs, collapsing on stage from awesome rock exhaustion, and back to bartending – it was a blast!
The Escapist: Is your musical side something you’re just doing for fun, or something you hope to make a career out of?
Jenny: I’ve always been a rock star, at least in my own mind, ha ha. If someone wants to pay me to do this, I certainly wouldn’t argue. I’ve always been driven by music (including having a pre-game biz career as a music publicist for 10 years). I’m sure this new band will be on tour and making a record at some point, with world domination to ensue.
Jenny: If my dream band were on stage, I’d want to sit on a stack of speaker cabinets and watch the mess! I have way too many favorites to narrow it down to a definitive list in 5 minutes, but one incarnation of my handpicked supergroup might look like this: Lead vocals would have a rotating cast of characters like Joe Strummer (of The Clash), David Lee Roth (of the only Van Halen that matters), Johnny Cash (who needs no introduction), Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row, not Johan, although he’d be cool too), and Otis Redding. Keith Richards seems to know his way around a guitar, as does Brother Wayne Kramer (of the MC5). On drums and bass respectively, definitely Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue) and Nikki Sixx (also of da Crue), especially if they wear their Too Fast for Love outfits. Ronnie Van Zant (of Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Tom Waits could play piano to round it out. In my dream band I would be singing AND playing guitar, if for no other reason to be able to do some choreographed guitar moves, like jumping off the drum riser, with Keith Richards and Brother Wayne.
I’ve got about 7000 songs in my iPod right now, so choosing 5 favorites is damn near impossible. I’d let that group pick the songs they’d want to do, and I’d be happy to be their singing monkey. I DO love singing “Run to the Hills”, though. I wonder how Johnny Cash felt about Iron Maiden?
Jenny: I’m not Guitar Hero (1 or 2) proficient yet, but I plan to be thanks to a kindred spirit rock elf who gave me the game for Xmas. I first played Guitar Hero at Gen Con Indy last summer and was able to get through Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” after wrestling the controller away from the kids – outta my way, I wanna rock! At PAX I got to try out Guitar Hero 2 for the first time and was very excited to find Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” on the song list. I’m actually planning a Guitar Hero contest at The Sunset, and I’m roping in some of Seattle’s rock royalty to come kick out the jams. When it comes to me and the stage, all ya gotta do is ask – I would definitely do a set of singing and Guitar Hero-ing on stage, although those of you who are Guitar Hero masters would totally put me to shame – right now I’m still getting used to one and two button chords, let alone the five-button ones!
The Escapist: What do your ArenaNet cohorts think of your musical career?
Jenny: The designers have had the development of Guild Wars Factions and Guild Wars Nightfall (coupla games we make – heard of them?) keeping them pretty busy this year, but some of us have managed to work in a few nights of karaoke mayhem. I should SO out one of our environmental artists right now on his version of Starship’s “We Built This City”, ha ha. There are a lot of good rock soldiers here at ArenaNet who will definitely be out to see my new band when it’s time.
The Escapist: Who would win in a fight, Lemmy or God?
Jenny: Someday you will ask, “Who will win in a fight, Jenny or God?” But for now, I know the answer to this trick question – Lemmy IS God.