Queens of the Damned

Punk rock girl band Hell on Heels teeters on the brink of success

There's no doubt that the girls are the real thing. You can see how comfortable they are in their roles onstage, joking with the audience and each other, grinning at each other while they play, all the time making it seem quite effortless. In fact, it's often apparent that they're having more fun onstage than the drunken audiences they're entertaining.

It's nearly impossible to get anywhere in the music business without a patron to guide you on your way, and that's exactly what Shaw intends to be for the Valley's toughest, sassiest girl band. "I feel the same way Phil Spector must have felt when he saw the Ronettes," he says. "I'm not Phil Spector, but I know there's something there that can be taken further than, for instance, what the Peeps were able to do. I think they've got it together this time."

Shaw's enthusiasm and faith in the girls is evident by the record contract he offered them -- three records over the course of three years, rare for a label like Bomp!. "I would like the chance to take a long-term approach and have separate increasingly audacious goals for each record," he says. "We'll do the indie thing, take it as far as it can go on the indie thing, and then I would like to pass them off to somebody in the industry. I could help to negotiate the deal for them to be sure they get a good deal and not be working with any rip-off weasels, and just kind of be their godfather. That's my long-range sort of hazy idea. Make them an underground sensation and then steer them further down the road."

Hell on Heels, from left: Paula Monarch, Chela Rose 
Fox, Katie Rose, and Kristin Machynski.
Jeff Newton
Hell on Heels, from left: Paula Monarch, Chela Rose Fox, Katie Rose, and Kristin Machynski.

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Meanwhile, the girls of Hell on Heels aren't taking anything for granted. Sitting around a fire in the backyard of Paula Monarch's downtown Phoenix home, which doubles as the girls' practice space, they're giddy but humble about their recent accomplishments. "We have accomplished a lot [of our goals] because we got on Bomp!," Monarch tells me.

"I've never had more fun in my life, that's all I know," Katie Rose adds.

It's the girls' work ethic that's propelled them further than most local bands in such a brief period of time. They normally spend five nights a week writing songs and practicing, and they play at local bars several times a month. The four are obviously the best of friends, bound together not just by common musical ground but also by a pervasive and perverted sense of humor. It's not long into our backyard interview until the conversation devolves to talk of bowel movements and synchronized menstrual cycles.

The girls of Hell on Heels are unfortunately bound to meet haters who attribute their success to their gender, but anyone who thinks they're succeeding on good looks and girl-band novelty alone is dead wrong.

"There's people who say the only reason we get anything is 'cause we're girls," Monarch tells me. "Fine, then don't fucking listen to us. I'm doing this because I love playing guitar, I love singing, and I love hanging out with them. I'm having fun."

E-mail brendan.kelley@newtimes.com

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