The local punk band Slutever is many things: For starters, it’s an all-female duo that writes riff-heavy rock more powerful than most four- or five-piece acts. It’s also one of The Key’s favorite bands in Philadelphia (which is why we brought them into the XPN studio for a recent Key Studio Session). But one thing Slutever clearly is not is a band for children. So, when guitarist/drummer Rachel Gagliardi—a student in Drexel University’s Music Industry Program—decided to make her senior project a children’s-music-oriented endeavor, her side project The Weenies was born. Saturday night’s show featuring The Weenies is a benefit for VH1’s “Save The Music” Foundation, “a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education.” (To date, the Foundation has provided more than $47 million in new musical instruments to 1,750 public schools in more than 100 cities around the country, impacting the lives of over 1.6 million children.) Prior to the show, we spoke to Gagliardi about pursuing a career in the music industry, why children are inherently punk rock, and what “selling out” actually means anymore—if it still means anything at all.
The Key: In your senior project proposal for The Weenies, you said that you were lucky enough to have influential music teachers throughout your life that shaped you into the music lover you are today. Who were those music teachers, and how did they shape your perspective of music?
Rachel Gagliardi: The high school that I went to was just a public high school in the suburbs, but it had a really good music program. Our chorus program went to Europe when I was in the 10th grade. So I got to go to Europe, which was awesome. We had a music theory program that was amazing—it was, like, four different years that you could take. I took three years of that. And we had a music mentors’ program, which is probably why I got interested in teaching kids. But yeah, my music theory teacher’s name was Ms. Schmidt, and she was awesome. In that program, we actually got to create our own musical. They do it every year, and my year we did Hey Arnold!. We wrote all the songs ourselves and wrote the play. Nicole [Snyder, of Slutever] was in it, too—that’s kind of where we became friends. It was cool, and she was pretty much the teacher who got me really into music. She went to college for music, and when I told her I thought that I wanted to do that, too, she was really encouraging. I guess if it wasn’t for my music program in high school I probably never would have gone to college for music. I definitely owe her.
TK: You also mentioned that, through your high school’s music program, you were “able to realize that music can be more than a hobby—it can be a sustainable career.” Are you interested in pursuing a career in music, given the state of the industry?
RG: Absolutely. Even though it’s kind of crappy, yeah. I don’t really have anything else that I’m this passionate about. And going to college for music taught me about a lot of careers that I would never have thought about, like publishing, or teaching. I never really thought I would go to school and want to be a teacher. But all of my teachers are full-time music professionals as well. They have stuff outside of school. In a way, they kind of do school on the side. I think I could really do well with that. Obviously for now I just want to be in a band and see where that takes me, and just do something else on the side for money.
TK: As far as potential future careers in music go, are you more interested in the performing and writing side, or the industry side?
RG: Oh, definitely performing. If I could just be in a band, that’s all I would do for the rest of my life. But it doesn’t really pay the bills, yet. I don’t think I’ll ever want to be an actual industry person, unless I had already tried to be a performer and gotten burned out on it. So probably not for…a few years?
TK: Some people might tell you that few things will burn you out on music more than pursuing a career in the industry.
RG: [Laughs.] Yeah.
TK: As far as a career as a performer goes, though, how does one make such a career sustainable?
RG: You kind of have to think about performance as not your only outlet. You have to think about merchandising, and definitely publishing. More opportunities are coming up in strange revenue streams. It’s not the traditional, “you go out, you play shows, you sell CDs” thing anymore. So I think you have to have really innovative ideas based on marketing your music besides just playing shows. You know, like, movie soundtracks and television licensing opportunities.
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