Poetry rocks and Battered Suitcases prove it.
Rock Hand Records agrees. They snatched up the Phoenix band for their roster. The Colorado record label is gearing up to release a full-length from the group in January.
Battered Suitcases feature Sharon Labor on lead vocals and bass, Jessica Roe on drums and vocals, and guitarist Frank Labor. This trio deliver a blend of high-powered rock and punk that is shaped by Sharon’s passionate poetics.
Sharon and Frank are also in the band Labor Party and have been making music together for plenty of years; Roe has been in various groups, including Hell on Heels and Atomic Zombies. This combination of these talented rockers came to life at a Phoenix show.
“Labor Party and Atomic Zombies were playing at the Icehouse Tavern in 2013, and I told Jess that I had an idea for a band based on my poetry, and it’s going to be weird. I explained what I had in mind, and she said, ‘Yeah, I’m 100 percent in,’” Sharon says.
Roe was instantly sold, saying the idea reminded her of one of her favorite acts.
“I love Jack White and his band Dead Weather, and right away, this project reminded me of that," says Roe. "After our first practice I was just like, ‘Yeah, this is great, it sounds like no other.’”
Sharon knew from the beginning it would probably be hard for some folks to adjust to listening to intense poetry over winding riffs and diverse beats, but that didn’t deter them for one minute.
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“We did this with the idea that this is a band for its own sake,” Sharon says. “We didn’t care too much about the digestibility factor. With Frank’s guiding hand, he brought some structure to the situation. It took some people a while to get into us, but right off that bat, we were getting some unexpected fans, and that was a refreshing surprise.”
Their live shows are gripping. From those modern influences like the aforementioned Dead Weather, the band also create swirling energy infused with the likes of legends such as Patti Smith Group, MC5, and The Velvet Underground.
The group are relentless on stage. As a team, they ooze a trust and camaraderie that allows each person to blaze while maintaining a forceful unity.
That intensity doesn’t let up when it's time to take care of business, and it's paying off. From the beginning, radio show hosts on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, a SiriusXM destination for cool rock and roll, have been keeping their tunes in rotation.
Just this week, the band posted on Facebook about being fourth on a streaming radio show called The Music Authority for their current single, a ripping cover of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” The track is also the first single from the upcoming Rock Hands Records release.
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Their relationship with the label came from Sharon trying to find someone that would “get it.” She says that the Rock Hands team not only gets it but is going out of its way to promote it and attract new fans.
Once the product is available, the band plan to take their show on the road, doing some short tour stints. Meanwhile, they’ll continue driving ahead, hoping to collect new listeners along the way.
“We just hope that when people hear us, they are moved in some way," Sharon says. “ Whether it’s comfortable, uncomfortable, angering, enlightening, or inspiring. We just want to make music that makes you feel or grow in some way."
Battered Suitcases are scheduled to perform on Saturday, November 9, at Chopper John's. Admission is free.