The Fabulous Miss Wendy
Interviewed by Jessie Lilley
All photos are the property of The Fabulous Miss Wendy and used here with permission. Any duplication of these photos is prohibited with the express permission of the owner.
Whilst tooling around the internet, one can come across some truly enjoyable bands. I have relocated The Stems (still active after all these years), spacebar (in Orlando) and most recently a charming and talented young woman right here in LA named Miss Wendy: the lady rocks and rolls.
Jessie Lilley: The Fabulous Miss Wendy who?
Miss Wendy: Jacobson
JL: And you’re the youngest of how many kids?
MW: Four! The very youngest.
JL: You were a surprise I understand.
MW: Yeah! My mom was 40 and my dad was 43. I was a “whoops I didn’t know I could still have kids” baby. (Laughs)
JL: And you were born and raised where please? [The phone rings.]
MW: Oooo. Are you gonna get that?
JL: I don’t know.
MW: It’ll be in the interview. That’ll be neat.
JL: T got it.
MW: I was born and raised in Canoga Park here in California.
JL: Which is in the LA suburbs, the San Fernando Valley.
JL: That way, the people around the world who read this will know what the fuck you’re talking about.
JL: You write rock ‘n roll.
MW: I do. I write everything for my band.
JL: When you say you write everything…
MW: All the lyrics and all the guitar. So basically, my bass player and my drummer just kinda play what I ask them to.
JL: (Laughs) Do you give them sheets or anything?
MW: I don’t give them sheets. I rely on their ability to really listen to what I do and feel the song and write parts that are appropriate to the song and of course, I have veto power over everything. (Laughs)
JL: (Laughs) That’s because you are The Fabulous Miss Wendy. Now you are Miss Wendy and the band is The Fabulous Miss Wendy, correct?
MW: (Laughs) Yes ma’am.
JL: And your drummer has been with you from the git go?
MW: Oh my gosh, well. This particular lineup is actually very new.
Drummer Dylan Howard
JL: Let’s have it.
MW: Well, it started out when I got studio musicians. Like the person who recorded on my first demo, his name is Jonny (Jonathan) Burkes. He’s very good. He’s in a band called Woven that was signed to Interscope for a long time.
JL: So you had a session guy backing you up on your first CD.
MW: Yeah. And also, I had a teacher from The Musician’s Institute playing on that.
JL: The Institute on Hollywood Boulevard?
MW: Yeah, that’s where I used to go to school.
MW: Yeah. I mean, that’s kinda how the band started and then I really wanted band members that were more dedicated to the project. Like it’s their only project, they weren’t in nine or ten projects trying to juggle, you know? I wanted people in my band.
JL: I don’t blame you.
JL: So when did you get this new lineup?
MW: Oh my God! Well that show that you saw this past Saturday was the first show with this particular lineup.
JL: Didn’t sound like it.
MW: Really? Yeah. Well, we play really well together and Steve, the new bass player, and I have been playing about a month together now. We practice every other day. And the drummer, I played four or five shows with him already.
JL: And their names are?
MW: Oh, the bass player is Steve Riley and my drummer is Dylan Howard.
JL: And your drummer’s been with you for how long?
MW: Since my birthday party. We did a show about two weeks before that so since the end of September.
JL: And Steve just joined you. He plays a nice bass. You know how I feel about my bass players.
MW: (Laughs) Oh yeah! The drummer that used to play with me, José Clark, he’s the one that played on the album, he actually recommended Dylan to me. Dylan was one of his students.
JL: So The Fabulous Miss Wendy is really gonna go somewhere now. You’re looking to book the shows and rock through town.
JL: Glad to hear it. Now you told me when we first met that played for the troops in Iraq.
Performing for our troops
in Iraq with ThundHerStruck
MW: Mm hmm.
JL: Why don’t you tell me how that came about. Did you call someone and offer?
MW: No, actually it was call I got in June. My old guitar teacher, his name is Christie Cabalero. He plays with his brother Cliff and they’re good friends with that whole glam rock scene like Brett Michaels and Poison and they’re all really close knit friends. And well, he got a call from this all girl AC/DC tribute band called ThundHerStruck. They’d recently gotten a new rhythm guitarist and she was too scared to go on this gig. So they needed somebody to fill in and they called up Christie looking for a recommendation. And he taught me for four or five years so he thought, “Oh yeah Wendy.” (Laughs)
MW: And he said, “You should call this girl!” And they called me up and I got the gig and left like a month later.
JL: That’s a hoot. So when did you go over?
MW: I went over June 28th and I came back July 6th. It took 36 hours to get there and 60 hours to get back.
JL: Sweet Jesus!
MW: I remember that. It was insane! The layovers and the planes and the travel and the helicopters and the military convoy which always strikes a scary chord.
MW: Yeah, you know. They hear the term ‘military convoy’ and they’re like “Ooooohh!” (Laughs)
JL: Well I’d be a little nervous! I’m not gonna pretend otherwise. I don’t know if I’d have the stones to go over there. I mean really! Good for you.
MW: Thank you.
JL: And I’m sure the troops appreciated you being there.
MW: Oh! (Laughs) Dear good God! (Laughs)
MW: I wanna go back so bad. I really do! I’ve been talking with some of the people that sent me off there about getting my band out there because I think my band would definitely improve some morale. (Laughs)
JL: And your guys had better have the stones to go with you, because if you’ve already been there man, they’d never live it down in town if they didn’t take the gig. Auntie Jessie would see to that personally.
MW: (Laughs) They have to.
JL: They have to? (Laughs)
MW: They have to!
JL: Do they know this?
MW: Oh yeah! They’re into it actually. They’re really excited about it.
JL: That’s great. When do you think you’ll be going back?
MW: If I do it’ll be awhile.
MW: It’s a long tour and I can’t give too many details because I don’t know if I’m really allowed to.
JL: That’s fair enough. Don’t worry, we won’t give away any National Security secrets.
MW: (Laughs) If I do go you’ll hear about it. I was on the news when I came back. That was pretty interesting.
JL: Oh really?
MW: That’s how I told my parents about it. (Laughs)
JL: Oh yeah. I’m back now mom and dad. I’ve been to Iraq.
MW: (Laughs) Yeah.
JL: And they said?
MW: Well, they thought I was going to New Zealand to go play around with my ex-boyfriend. (Laughs) And we had just gotten back to LAX and we were at the restaurant that spins around in the middle of the airport?
MW: And we were taking a press conference there. It was UPN 13 and we were about to be on the 121 o’clock news and I knew my parents were asleep but I was like, brrrr! And my boyfriend was saying, “You should call them!” And I said, “Okay I’ll call them.” And so it was like this, “Mom and Dad? Wake up. I’m on Channel 13. I’m gonna be on the news. Sorry I lied to you.” And they said, “What?!” And they watched it and they said they were pretty shocked but they were also really proud ‘cause my dad used to be in the military?
JL: What branch?
MW: Oh, he was in the Reserves, but he’s color blind so they wouldn’t send him out. (Laughs)
JL: That’s cool. He did his stint. Now you also told me that to fill your copious free time you teach.
MW: (Laughs) Oh yeah, my copious free time.
JL: Need another beer?
JL: I’m gonna get this kid smashed here.
MW: I’m gonna have to start chuggin’ soon.
JL: Don’t chug. Take your time. There’s plenty. I have a 30 pack in the fridge.
JL: Oh yes. I am a champion juicer. Hey! I’m a writer in Hollywood. What the hell do you expect? Boardner’s has become my second home, gotta keep up my street creds here.
MW: That’s true. You’re a writer and drinking is part of your job description.
JL: Damned right. So, teaching?
MW: Oh! Yeah. My old bass player, Jonny Burkes, actually recommended me for the gig. He teaches little kids how to play the keyboard. So he set me up with this company and I started as a teacher’s assistant in these classes. So I go in there and I help them set up the keyboards and make sure all the kids are playing what they’re supposed to be playing. Show them how to read the notes and just give them a little tutoring. And tell them things like, “Well, this helps me” and “this does this” and “try to feel this” and like that. And I guess I was doing a good job in the company. And there’s always a very delicate balance between students, keyboards, teachers and schools. They had too many schools, not enough teachers, not enough keyboards. Basically, in a nutshell, he wanted me to help him design a vocal program for the 6-year-olds, and so! I’m writing a text book and I’m writing a teacher’s book on how to teach. Yes. Wait. I gotta drink some more.
JL: Yeah. You gotta get up to my level. Or down to it.
MW: (Laughs) Anyway, he’s letting me try it out in a school out in Palos Verdes. Oh. (She reaches down and rubs her ankles.)
JL: Take ‘em off dear, relax. You can stay awhile.
MW: (Laughs) Yeah. My feet want out. Yea.
JL: Later on we’ll play some music and I’ll introduce you to the finer points of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
MW: Oh yeah! I’m very excited about that.
JL: Which blows my mind.
MW: I wanna do the squeaky clean gig over at The Grove.
JL: Right on. I’m gonna go see that. I’m gonna sit there, drink wine and listen to you be squeaky clean. (Laughs)
MW: (Giggles) Yeah. Get up there and the first thing I’ll say is, “Ya’ know, I teach kids.”
JL: Right. And break into “Daddy’s Gone.” [from “Oh My God” by The Fabulous Miss Wendy available at CD Baby]
MW: (Laughs) Oh yeah! (sings) “My daddy’s gone…” Well anyway, I’m designing this program to teach kids how to sing and if my program is successful I’ll be hiring teachers and teaching the teachers how to teach kids how to sing.
JL: That’s marvelous, really, good on ya’.
MW: It’s pretty cool. It’s a good job I really feel like I get to use my skills and—the kids are cool.
JL: That’s good.
MW: Some of them are cool. Most of them are cool. Some of them are….. oh, God!
JL: They’ll get cool. They’ll see how much fun everyone else is having and they’ll have to just—get cool.
MW: It’s true.
JL: So, you have a CD out now.
JL: And you can buy it at CD Baby.
MW: Yes. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tfmw
JL: Jeez. I guess you know your websites. And how much is it?
MW: It’s $10 and it’s called (high-pitched Valley Girl voice) “Oh My God!”
JL: (Laughs) It certainly is. And who backed you on the CD? The old lineup?
MW: Yes, Jonny Burkes and José Clarke played on it.
JL: And are you in the studio with new stuff and these new lads now?
MW: Oh yes. Oh man! We’re going back in there as soon as possible. Within the next couple of weeks we will be In The Studio. We’ve got six more tracks to record.
MW: Whew! That’s a lot. I’m excited, but it’s a big undertaking. I mean it took six months to record these last five tracks but since I kinda have it down with these producers we punch out the songs a lot quicker now.
JL: Okay, good. And how will you have this one distributed? Are you gonna go back to CD Baby? Or are you looking to get signed somewhere?
MW: Yeah. That’s kinda the idea. I mean, it’s good to have five songs, but it’s better to either be working on or have five or six more just to show them that I can do more than write a few quirky hits, you know? I want to show that I can be a long standing artist and that their investment dollars are going to be well spent in my band.
JL: Well, I loved your first CD, as you know.
MW: Thank you.
JL: I’ve been telling everyone about it, and they’re getting sick of hearing me talk about you!
JL: Which is why we’re doing this, so I can get this out of my system, get you down on tape, put you on the page and say, “Okay. All right. Wendy’s done.”
JL: You have any more shows coming up?
MW: Not yet. I’m still looking for a gig.
JL: So what’s the deal with The Grove? Got that gig yet?
MW: Not yet. I’m just still booking the next gig.
JL: The last one was up at The Green Room on Hollywood Boulevard. Boy! What you all missed!
JL: How many people did you have there that night? Over a hundred people, in that tiny little room. On a rainy Saturday night on Hollywood Boulevard. There were a hell of a lot of people—yelling—in that place with you. While you ran around barefoot—in the rain—with an electric guitar.
MW: (Laughs) Oh, god.
JL: That makes perfect sense to me.
MW: I’m crazy.
JL: Yes. You are.
MW: I get crazy on stage, I really do.
JL: I noticed that. I loved it. Your drummer was having much too much fun as well.
MW: Yeah. He’s amazing.
JL: And your bass player looked really comfortable and relaxed up there. I knew this was his first live gig with you lot so I had my eye on him and it didn’t show. He’s very good. And he’s cute too!
JL: Is he single?
MW: He’s single.
JL: He’s single! He’s adorable! C’mon out girls!
MW: He is. He’s really cute.
JL: He plays a nice bass.
MW: And he’s very stylish.
JL: But your mother wants the drummer.
MW: My mother! Yeah! She wants the drummer. And she wanted that soldier that I brought home from Iraq.
JL: You brought a soldier home?
MW: (Laughs) Yeah.
JL: You wanna talk about your bodyguard?
MW: (Laughs) He was my bodyguard when I was in Baghdad for two of the four nights that I was there.
JL: Miss Wendy in “Baghdad Bodyguard!”
JL: Oh God! I love that!
MW: (Laughs) It was really cool. The last night that I was there we stayed up all night and we were just kinda walking around the base and we actually made out on the back terrace of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.
MW: Overlooking the Tigris River while the sun was coming up over it. At least, that’s what he told me. I mean, I would have made out with more soldiers had I not had a boyfriend at the time.
JL: Had you had more time you would have made out with more soldiers!
MW: (Laughs) Oh, yeah. Lots more! That’s why I’m hoping to go back this summer, so I can really—I just wanna improve morale, you know?
JL: Right on!
MW: Hey! Support the troops!
JL: It’s a pity we lost Bob Hope. He’d go for you in a big way.
MW: (Laughs) Ooh!
JL: So, you don’t have a boyfriend right now.
MW: No, I don’t right now.
JL: She’s single too!
MW: I’m single.
JL: And the drummer’s single.
MW: Actually, he has a girlfriend, but you never know.
JL: Now, you’re getting back in the studio just as fast as you can. And how can they reach you if they wanna book you?
MW: The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
JL: And you’ve got a pretty hot manager.
MW: His name’s Tom Zutaut.
JL: From Geffen.
MW: Yeah. He discovered a lot of bands back in the day.
JL: Back in the day, before the wheel, when I was your age.
MW: (Laughs) And he was CEO of Geffen and he’s kind of an important guy in the industry.
JL: Oh, yeah, one of the smaller names, she said sarcastically. (Whistles) And he’s your manager, huh kid?
JL: Nice work.
MW: Yeah. (Laughs) He told me he wanted to be my manager about six months ago.
JL: And what’s he doing for you?
MW: He’s really advising pretty well. He’s letting me do my own thing in a lot of ways and showing me how to build a following and build up my resume and this and that and just keep going with the band. Write more songs. Make sure I had a lineup that was gonna be able to jump on a tour bus with me at a moments notice; people that are die hard.
JL: Right on.
MW: Yeah. And a lot of other stuff that he told me needs to be done before I can go get a record deal, which I think is very important.
JL: Good. Well yeah, he’d know. (Laughs)
MW: (Laughs) Yeah. You don’t wanna go shopping prematurely. It’s pretty important in this business. Let them come to you.
JL: Does he book you?
MW: Booking isn’t really his thing.
JL: Yeah. He’s not a booking agent, he’s a manager. But he’s advising you properly and that’s the point.
JL: Does he come to any of your live shows?
MW: Yeah! He comes whenever he can. He’s in and out of town probably about half the time and he’s funny. When he’s out of town it’s really hard to get hold of him but when he’s town, he’ll talk your ear off! He’ll call five times in a day sometimes! (Laughs) But I trust him. I really do.
JL: Good. Well I would think you could trust him. He’s got a good name in the business so, if he’s your advisor—Mazel Tov!
MW: Thank you.
JL: So we know how to reach you and you’ll be onstage in the LA area within the next six months.
MW: Yeah. We have some out of town gigs too. We have one coming up in March in San Francisco. More details to come on that soon.
JL: Well, let us know and we’ll tell everyone. Cool. Now we have an interview. Thanks a lot Miss Wendy.
MW: Thank you!