“What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I’m the chosen one”
Being a tribute band of what is considered the greatest if not the most influential heavy metal band of all time might seem like a monumental task in itself, but tell someone that it is made up of all females and that they will blow your face off, that might bring some to think you have lost your mind. Such is the case with Black Sabbitch, who have been building a very loyal and enthusiastic fanbase through playing many shows in and around Los Angeles as well as Northern California. Consisting of female guitar legend of Betty Blowtorch fame, Blare N. Bitch, drumming powerhouse Angie Scarpa, serious groove master basssist Melanie Makaiwi and of course filling in the Ozzy role, vocalist Mary Powers. I had the chance to get the band to answer a few questions about how they started and where they are heading next.
How did the band come together?
I knew Blare from the Betty Blowtorch days and she and a mutual friend of originally thought of the name and the idea for an all female Black Sabbath.. Blare called me and asked me what I thought and, being just about the biggest Sabbath fan in the world I said where do I sign up? I had played in an original band with Melanie for years and she was my first choice for a bass player.. We auditioned a bunch of singers and no one could quite pull it off to our standards.. Then my friend Johnny Angel suggested Mary, having just worked with her. None of us had ever been in or thought to do a tribute band before, all coming from the world of original music and having made names for ourselves as players in that world.
How do you decide what songs to play?
In the very beginning we learned a combination of things that we either loved or we thought the audience would really want to hear. After we learned all the standards we just started picking the songs we loved most. That’s where things like Sabra Cadabra and Supernaut come into play.
What is the biggest difference in being in a cover band in comparison to an original music band?
Melanie: For me, I was afraid to invest a lot of time in a tribute band because the creative angle of musicianship would be absent, right? But what I found was that getting so deep into the head of a brilliant bass player like Geezer Butler has in fact sparked some new excitement in both my fingers and in the way I think of bass lines. And since you don’t spend any time in a tribute band writing music, so you get to put your entire focus on just playing these songs really fucking well. It has made me a better player for sure. Did I even answer the question?
Angie: I agree. Coming from the world of original music I have a lot of friends who kind of turn up their nose at the idea of being in a cover or tribute band (descriptions I’d never use for Black Sabbitch BTW). The funny thing is.. Musicians historically played music written by other people and that is what makes the great players the musicians they are. It wasn’t until the mid 70’s that this idea of only playing your own music and everything else being invalid came into play. The reason Sabbath themselves where such great players and had the ability to write such challenging material is because they spent years playing in bars, honing their craft as players, playing all kinds of material the majority of which was written by others. When you write your own parts you almost never challenge yourself beyond your current abilities and most of my friends who only play original music are not very adept at playing anything outside of their comfort zone. Learning Bill’s parts and playing them correctly is a very challenging task and one I take on with the utmost respect and reverence.
What kind of crowd comes to a Black Sabbitch show?
Melanie: The rad kind!
Angie: They are all rad indeed. In the beginning it was a mix of Sabbath fans, girl group fans and people who followed us individually as players… now the band has really grown its own identity and we have rabid fans who come out to our shows who are Black Sabbitch fans and see us as a singular entity apart from our relationship to the music of Black Sabbath.
Do you know if anyone from Black Sabbath has heard you guys and if so what was the feedback?
Angie: We know for certain Bill Ward has heard us as he wrote a little note saying how impressed he was with Angie’s drumming. We know people have passed us along to Geezer and we’ve been told on a few occasions that the Osbournes were coming to a show. Not sure if that has happened or not.
What’s next for Black Sabbitch?
Angie: Continuing to expand our circle, playing more and more cities and growing our fan base. Adding more and more deep cuts from the classic 8 Sabbath records. We have a few big shows coming up this year that should speed the Sabbitch gospel far and wide.
You can find some fan videos floating out there on You Tube, but that will only surely only wet your appetite for wanting to see them live for yourself, you can find out all the latest happenings and shows here: Black Sabbitch Facebook