Ah, the life of a high school girl. Remember what that was like? So many things to think about. Boys. Prom. Graduation day. Band practice. Recording your next album. Going on tour. More band practice. Photo shoots. Playing the Fillmore. All in a day’s work.
Welcome to the world of The She’s, a ridiculously awesome all-girl band born and bred in San Francisco. Think female Beach Boys. Their sound is a rock-pop hybrid. Maybe a little like the Donna’s. You know, that other all-female Bay Area band from sunny Palo Alto.
Hannah Valente is the “voice” of the group. She sings and plays guitar. Samantha Perez plays the bass guitar. Sinclair Riley is on drums. Eva Treadway on guitar.
They are all 18 years old, superstar students and they love music.
I called the ladies asking them to come into the KQED studio for an interview. Hannah called me back a few hours, extremely apologetic for not getting back to me sooner.
“I’m really sorry. We were just doing a photo shoot for Converse,” she told me. Converse! The shoes I wear way too often. Ok, I like these girls already.
After we hung up, I started thinking about how to interview four teenagers. Do I ask them about boys? Justin Bieber? Prom? Their favorite television show? Is there some kind of crash course for this? Maybe a podcast? Can I borrow someone’s little sister for the afternoon to practice with?
I decided to start with learning their music. I took a listen to their album titled, “And Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer.”
I was at my desk, multi-tasking as usual, while the songs provided my work day soundtrack. I was tweeting or Instagramming (yes, I am using that as a verb) when I realized, hey, this is catchy. This is fun. Even though I was at the height of divided attention, I later realized I was humming the tune to the song, “Jimmy.” I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was dying to know who this “Jimmy” was----and why he was such a jerk. More on that later.
The She’s capture good ol’ fashion adolescence in their songs, so when I met them in our lobby I was taken aback by their maturity. I thought they’d be accompanied by a parental representative. Nope. I expected them to be “giggly” and say “like” a lot. They weren’t and they didn’t. Now, now. Before I get hate email about female stereotypes, I will explain. That’s pretty much how I was at that age. Nervously laughing “like” all the time. I just assumed all high school girls were the same.
I was wrong. They exuded a quiet confidence, each one shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. They claim to be introverted, but I could see through that.
“We are the shyest people you will ever meet,” Hannah said. “Music has helped us break out of our shell.
Maybe its their unassuming nature that makes them even cooler. They don’t realize how unique they are.
So, what are they like? Well, they love San Francisco. They love the beach. They also love soup dumplings at their favorite restaurant, Shanghai Dumpling that has since relocated. Bummer. PPQ Dungeness Island Vietnamese food in the Outer Richmond comes a close second.
These ladies are best friends and have been playing together for years. They officially formed The She’s about five years ago...when they were in 7th grade. 7th grade! What was I doing in 7th grade? Passing notes in class. Chewing lots of gum. Dressing really awkwardly. (Two out of the three I still engage in. Guess I haven’t matured much.)
Safe to say I wasn’t forming bands, composing songs and teaching myself to play instruments. These girls were.
You would think they were child prodigies with extensive musical training. Not quite. Eva took guitar lessons from age 9-11. Sinclair has some drum training. “It was more about how to not break your wrist,” she said. Samantha sang in a choir, but otherwise, they are all self-taught.
“One day we all just said, “Let’s learn an instrument and form a band.” Hey, why not? I got the feeling these ladies could do anything. I was tempted to ask Hannah when she would begin her run for President, but I thought I’d hold off on that.
Even the origin of their band name is pretty cool. The girls were at Hannah’s house, hanging in the basement, their usual rehearsal spot. As they were writing their names on a whiteboard they realized the first letter of each girl’s spelled out S-H-E-S.
Their journey hasn’t been without its ups and downs. When the ladies played in the “Battle of the Bands” competition a few years back, they were heckled by the boy bands. When The She’s obtained a perfect score from the judges, a jealous male competitor yelled for them to “go back to the kitchen.”
“I didn’t think it was for real,” Eva said. “That people could still be that sexist today.”
That was their worst memory so far. Their most memorable experience? Playing a backyard quinceanera and being mistakenly called “The Chi’s.” They didn’t mind. “That was pretty funny,” Hannah said.
Another fond memory. Oh, playing poolside in Los Angeles at The Standard hotel, palm trees swaying in the background. Typical teenager experience, right?
You are about to see a lot more from the She’s. They’re at the Fillmore this Saturday, May 4 with The Stone Foxes. They just did a photo shoot for the new Converse store opening in Union Square. If you hang around the Mission or Haight, you will see them on billboards and bus stops wearing the iconic shoes.
Each girl knows she will go to college. Hannah and Eva are headed to Eugene Lang in New York. Sinclair and Samantha aren’t far behind. They’ll be at NYU. But first, they are taking a year off to play in the band.
“You gotta strike while the iron’s hot,” Eva says with sage wisdom.
They are recording a new album in June and hope to begin touring this summer. They never performed outside of California. East Coast, get ready.
Oh, and I found out about Jimmy. He isn’t real. Not a former boyfriend who broke one of their hearts. Just a fictional character they used for inspiration. You know, like Taylor Swift does. Or doesn’t. Who knows? It’s really hard to keep up with all her John Mayer and Taylor Lautner flings.
The only girl who has a boyfriend is Samantha. His name is Isaac and he has a big decision to make. Go to the Giants game or watch his lady love perform at the Fillmore this weekend. Samantha has a message for her beau. “He better be at the show this Saturday,” she said with a grin.
Buster Posey and Larry Baer, if you are reading this, take note. If you have empty seats at the game this weekend, check the Fillmore. The She’s might be giving you a run for your money.