Morgan Clyde, the San Antonio actor, writer and singer whom audiences will remember from her performances in such productions as Shrek, Quills and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, talks to ArtScene SA about her latest endeavor — a hard rock band called Daphne Kills Fred.
Tell us about the band.
The band actually started with myself and Kristi Tabersmith. She was the drummer for Hedwig when we did the first run last July. We had never worked together before, but we just met and clicked instantly. The subject came up: “Man, we’re such a cool band” (talking about the Hedwig band). It finally just evolved into us actually wanting to start a band.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time — it’s only that I’ve never had the resources for it. As a vocalist, it always feels weird to start a band by asking instrumentalists to come in when I don’t play an instrument other than tambourine myself. So it was nice have someone else join me in that instigation.
We officially started playing together that fall…around October. We went through a couple of trials and errors, you know — figuring out what kind of music we wanted to play and what other instrumentalists we wanted involved. Like most people, we started with some friends we knew who played, but schedule-wise it didn’t work out, or they wanted to play a different kind of music than we did. We went through a couple of folks before we finally landed on the line-up that we have now. It’s working really, really well for us. We’ve got a good rapport. We’re really good at being cheerleaders for each other, while still pointing out things that could be better.
How big is the band?
It’s five pieces: myself on vocals, Kristi on drums, Cristina Molina on rhythm guitar and Marcel Lemelle on bass. Our lead guitarist got a new job and moved to Florida, so we are in search of a new lead guitarist at the moment.
What style of music did you settle on?
Drawing on our own influences, the things the we liked, we ultimately settled on hard rock with a little bit of punk and grunge influences. Not going far enough to call it punk and grunge music; just little twinges of those with a very melodic emphasis. I come from a background in which ‘70s hard rock has been my influence my whole life. Heart is my favorite band. I’m also into Led Zeppelin, and I have a lot of female punk influences with Blondie and the Runaways. I also like other punk outfits like the Misfits or the Clash.
Those are things that I wanted to bring to the table. Cristina has a really good background in the folkier edge of rock, like Fleetwood Mac. We have been really successful in taking those influences and turning them into something big and hard and loud, but really melodic, which works well for everyone involved. Especially with the wide range of vocals we do have.
Do you have any original stuff?
We are knee-deep in originals right now. Like everyone else, we started fiddling around with covers to figure out what we enjoyed playing. But we started with originals pretty much off the bat. We’ve got a dozen originals in the works right now, and half of those are complete. Just a couple more rehearsals and we’ll be ready for show on those. Well have enough material for an album of originals.
We do have some covers that we do just because they’re fun, but they’re our own take on them. We have a handful of pop songs that we’ve done as punk and grunge covers. My favorite is a grunge cover we have of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” that’s just bananas fun. We’ve got a couple of those in our back pocket, but we’re really pushing for 90 percent originals for all of our shows.
A little bit everybody. Right now, Cristina will do the chord structure, and I’m doing all the lyrics.
I was gonna say…
What? A writer doing the lyrics? But I’ve also written the melody on about half the songs we’re working on now.
In terms of the current environment, how are you going to distribute or get exposure?
That’s kind of a tricky thing. We can our line-up finalized in February, and two weeks later, the entire world shut down. It’s been really tricky getting any sort of traction getting a following because there’s not a whole lot we can do. We decided to take a little breather so that everyone could get their head on straight with how they were approaching the pandemic from a personal standpoint.
A couple of months ago, we picked up on rehearsals again, and really dug in and focused on writing. So that’s what we decided we were going to spend most of our time and energy on, in addition to branding and getting a social media following. That doesn’t always get a lot of time spent on it when we’re booking shows. We’re also just around the corner to record a few of our originals that are ready to be put out of singles. We can have those available.
And then we have a couple of opportunities for outdoor venues. You know, things like outdoor concerts, and we’ve been approached by a couple of establishments around town that have outdoor availability. Those are things we can do in a time when we can’t be face-to-face with our audience base.
We’re trying to get innovative. [Online] is a little easier with music, because you can record it and someone can watch it at their convenience, but there’s nothing like a live show. We’re really looking into doing outdoor stuff, or streaming…that kind of thing.
Feature photo (l-r): Marcel Lemelle, Cristina Molina, Kristi Tabersmith and Morgan Clyde. Photo credit: Lacy Valentine.