Helene Grotans, aka Helene 33, is a mild-mannered high school orchestra director by day, and an organ-playing rocker with the Okmoniks by night. You can hear the band at the Iron Curtain vs. Copper Queens roller-derby game, Saturday, June 9, at Bladeworld, 1065 W. Grant Road. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the event, with the carnage starting promptly at 7 p.m. Grotans sat down with the Weekly at a Starbucks, where she reflected on the coffee shop's forays into hip-music sales.
So you're worried that Starbucks is cooler than you thought it was?
Well, it's just a little shocking that when I'm sitting here, there's a Shins CD, and I know the bass player. ... (He) used to be in Scared of Chaka, which is a total punk-rock band, just like do-it-yourself, DIY. ... He used to be in a punk-rock band, and then he joined The Shins, and I love The Shins, but it just doesn't seem like it should be here.
Where should it be?
At Borders. (Laughs.) A CD store? Why do they (Starbucks) have to push music? They've got the coffee thing going, and that's good. I guess it's this overall culture thing, like, "Yes, we're going to sip some coffee and talk about indie-rock bands that are up and coming now." I don't even want to admit it in writing, but I really liked the new Feist album. I've just been loving it. I date one of the band members of the Okmoniks--Sam, the guitar player--and he just has a very strict regimen of what he listens to, and I generally will listen to something out of his (range). Anything before 1969 is his cut-off point, but I usually like to think that I've expanded (my tastes) to lots of different eras and styles and genres, so Feist can be included.
I see Feist all over Last.fm.
Yeah, well, they've got a couple of really good songs, and the music videos are great, too. ... If people say, "Don't put this in here," do you not put it in there?
Not if they say it after the fact.
Why does your Web site say you're "America's worst rock and roll band"?
Because we are.
OK. Why is that? Generally, people wouldn't market that, I guess.
First of all, we're one of the laziest bands I know, and we hardly ever practice. The quality of our performances is generally in a little bit of disarray, and usually involve mismatched costumes. Generally, the guitar player is wearing a spaceman outfit, with an American-flag cape, where I usually like to stick to a '60s-mod minidress and some go-go boots, while the drummer wears whatever he's worn for the last week, and the bass player is usually rockin' this incredible Joker--from Batman--T-shirt that says, "Hahahahaha!" all over it. So we just look kind of haphazard, and then the music that we produce is really noisy and fast and loud, and our records are the same way. You add that all together, and it's America's worst rock 'n' roll band. But we're also known by our quote: "Rock 'n' roll by any means necessary." That's sort of the philosophy that underlies that. Whatever! Maybe we're not all polished, but we're going to do it anyway.
What's in the future for the band?
We're actually going to be recording with (Tucson recording engineer) Jim Waters. Then, after we record, we're going to be releasing three different 7-inches on different record labels and doing a little tour this summer. We're doing a couple shows with Gravy Train!!!!, from San Francisco, which is just an over-the-top, colorful performance--lots of pink and red and glitter and balloons and exciting stage-performance stuff. But we're also going out to Chicago and Memphis and hitting areas we haven't been to before.
Let's talk video gaming, because it's an area that I like. You're an aficionado.
Video gaming is a big thing for the Okmoniks. Sammy, the guitar player--he's actually a video-game journalist and just got a blog spot with the Arizona (Daily) Star, so he's trying to come up with a great name for it right now. He's in the process of that. In our household, we have 300 original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) games brilliantly displayed on the wall and a sit-down, cocktail table-style Pac-Man machine. It's a classic. And we also have Lady Bug, which is an offshoot of Pac-Man, and, yes, I have the top score, I think, in America. Maybe not in Japan, but in America, I hold the top score in that game.