Amy Shapiro of Winelord Derby Goddess Drummer


Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Photo by: Erin Nicole Brown

** WARNING: This interview has explicit images in artwork graphics

Six years ago, Amy Shapiro headed from her native D.C. into the Arizona desert to study painting… then she became a tattoo artist… and a formidable roller derby champ. And, oh yeah, the killer drummer in the punk trio Winelord. After a West Coast tour and a new recording last summer, the band is in chill mode until its (fingers crossed) CD release at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Enterprising Amy debuts with a second project, the Creamys, December 3. We Facebook chatted recently to talk about the perils of touring and how the desert landscape makes for very fertile creative ground.


Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Photo by: Erin Nicole Brown

Name: Amy Shapiro (aka Stubbs)
Age: 29
Hometown: Washington, DC
Lives in: Tucson, AZ
Current bands: Winelord, the Creamys
Past bands: The Kissing Contest, Loom of Maya, Princessed
Day job: Tattooer, oil painter (she has an MFA from the University of Arizona)
Outstanding bit of trivia: She’s a pivot/jammer with the Roller Derby team VICE Squad (her roller derby name is Polly Graf).


Tom Tom Magazine: Thanks for chatting! Last time we talked was what, August? You were getting ready for the tour.
Amy Shapiro: I can’t believe it was that long ago, but yes it was before the tour.

Tom Tom Magazine: So, how was it?
Amy Shapiro: It was great! We went west out to San Francisco and then back down through Vegas. We’ve been out for a good amount of long weekends over the years, but this two-week jaunt is the longest we’ve ever done. As soon as we were home I wanted to go back out on the road!

Tom Tom Magazine: Any good road stories?
Amy Shapiro: We had one of our best shows in Oakland, and when we went out to the car to get CDs found that the Honda had been broken into and a lot of our personal items were stolen. That was kind of a setback but in a few days we were able to laugh about it.

winelord live

Photo by: Chod McClintock

Tom Tom Magazine: At least they didn’t steal your wheels.
Amy Shapiro: Right, or our purses or instruments! They took all my clothes, though, including my favorite vintage shoes!

Tom Tom Magazine: What was your vehicle of choice?
Amy Shapiro: I think it was a ’99 Honda Accord.

TTM: You fit all your gear in a Honda Accord?
AS: Yes, we had a couple run-throughs and made it work! Luckily, we’re all pretty small. There were some sacrifices, like Cobra’s back-up guitar and my bottom drum heads on the floor tom and bass drum, but it was well worth it.

TTM: Where did you play your best show?
AS: San Pedro was a lot of fun, but I think our favorite performance was in Oakland. I wish I could find you some good pictures from the tour—unfortunately our cameras were stolen!


Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Photo by: Erin Nicole Brown

TTM: So, in addition to “scout secure parking, hire a guard for the van, and make sure you have good insurance,” what other advice do you have for a band touring for the first time?
AS: I think keeping a sense of humor is essential to traveling well! Touring in a Honda is a challenge, but we managed to fit all of our gear and the three of us. Everybody was extremely cool to us. [But] we probably shouldn’t have tried to pack in a trip to Magic Mountain when we had somewhere to be that night, but those roller coasters were worth it.

TTM: Blowing off some steam?
AS: I think it was more about seizing the opportunity and being spontaneous, which is very Winelord style. We were especially excited about the log flume. I should also say that we should have brought a GPS or map with us. After our laptop was stolen we had a bit of trouble navigating. Maps are a good thing.


Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Photo by: Erin Nicole Brown

TTM: Did you come across any new-to-you music along the way?
AS: Papy who set up our shows in Calexico showed us the Hunx and His Punx videos, which we were very excited about.

TTM: And now you’re back in Tucson. What’s next?
AS: Oh, I’m glad you asked that. I just had the pleasure of seeing Shonen Knife in person, and their drummer [Etsuko Nakanishi] is incredible. And I’ve been listening to a lot of the Monks and the Gories and playing along. I also like Tara McManus of the Turpentine Brothers [out of New Mexico] and Crystal Bradley of the Homewreckers [previously of DC’s Partyline].

TTM: What are your current goals for your drumming?
AS: Right now I feel like I want to add some more fills to my repertoire. I used to play with a really minimal set, but now that I have a rack tom, I’m ready to push myself a little bit more.

TTM: You’re also a roller derby-er…
AS: Roller derby is amazing… it’s fun, it’s grassroots, there’s a lot of camaraderie… [I got involved through friends] …I’m the kind of person that if I see something and it looks fun I have to be involved.


TTM: Is that how you got into drumming?
AS: I actually got into it at summer camp [when I was about 13]… I was already into music—I played the cello—so I just picked it up as a second instrument and never looked back.

TTM: What’s your setup?
AS: I have a four-piece, it’s a Gretsch Catalina Birch that I bought used, it’s a rack tom, a floor tom, and a pretty big bass drum, and then I have a Slingerland snare.

TTM: Winelord is pretty noise-y; but you’ve said your style of playing requires a little more care.
AS: Right! A little more organization. I feel like every little accent has to be thoughtfully placed.

TTM: How do you practice?
AS: One thing that we’ve done, and Cobra too, is play along with some songs that are by The Heartbreakers, just as a way to push what we have a little bit further, because I don’t tend to be a very technical drummer. So I think it helps just listening to bands with drummers that you admire, and trying to play along with it. … so that’s been helpful. And I think going and seeing things live …really helps too. And just playing; we try to practice at least twice a week, so we’re always growing.

TTM: Who are some of your favorite drummers?
AS: I think my early influences are definitely Lesley Ashina from the Red Ants – I really love her, and how she could take something like, she had both end of the spectrum, things that sounded really easy but…then go into some crazy technical solos.

TTM: So it’s not like all shredding all the time, but drummers who play with color a little more, and sensitivity to what’s going on around them?
AS: Exactly, yes, totally.


Art by: Amy Shapiro

TTM: You’re also a painter. How does that fit in to your music?
AS: I guess in both I come off as kind of quiet but then my work is really loud. The artwork I do, a lot of pornographic subject matter, or I would say weird stuff. So I’d say in both cases I surprise people with my confidence. And with drumming, like I said I’m not a very technical drummer, but I think the confidence just comes from having played for so long and feeling really relaxed and having a good time.

TTM: Is there a connecting aesthetic or is it about variety?
AS: I think the DIY ethic is something I really believe in and central to everything I do. And with everything I do there’s this power dynamic that I’m interested in—with being in a punk rock band, and roller derby, and making these kind of dirty paintings—there’s something that is a bit challenging for the viewer. I think with Winelord, the songwriting was always just very aggressive and, sort of unapologetically, just silly, in a way. Unpretentious, I like that.


Art by: Amy Shapiro

TTM: How is the scene in Tucson for a Renaissance woman like you?
AS: We’re geographically isolated, but I think we have our own kind of weird culture here, and I think people are generally supportive. If you’re putting work out there, people will generally come out and see what you’re doing, and there are so many creative people here. I think because I’m from the East Coast, I have that crazy East Coast work ethic that makes me want to be doing things all the time. And there’s so much available here if you take advantage of it. We live in this surreal kind of landscape, with the cactus and everything, so I dunno, I guess there’s a surreal quality to everything here. We’ve always had nothing but support from our community and we try to be really supportive of our fellow musicians here. Because it’s like that desert survival mentality, you just have to be there for each other.

TTM: I haven’t been out there in years; I need to go out to get reacquainted. Maybe check out the roller derby and get a tattoo while I’m there.
AS: Yes, for sure! Tucson has a really great little punk scene and I’m happy to be a representative!!


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