Last week, The Pitch caught up with Alicia Solombrino, the leading lady of the local, long-running dance-punk foursome the Beautiful Bodies. Sleep-deprived and tea in hand, Solombrino had just flown in from Los Angeles, where her band had been crowned the winner of the 16th annual Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands. In addition to thousands of dollars of music equipment and a spot on this year's Warped Tour, the win opens a lot of new doors for the Beautiful Bodies. We asked Solombrino for the scoop.
The Pitch: How quickly were people contacting you after being named the champion?
Solombrino: As soon as they announced our names, we got e-mails coming in. I stayed through the weekend to meet with a couple more people, so I'm running on, like, two hours of sleep. We go back to L.A. in a couple of weeks for meetings with record reps, management meetings, even looking at entertainment lawyers.
How did you end up being one of four finalists? The other bands included Delta Rose, the Hollywood Kills and Jonas Sees in Color.
It's the biggest battle of the bands in the world — 32,000 bands submitted online, and then they narrowed it down to 164. The 164 bands chosen were awarded a slot at their own hometown Warped Tour. When we played this summer, there was a picture taken of Thomas [Becker] playing on top of a truck he jumped on. Initially, he got in a lot of trouble for that. The stage guy told us that we wouldn't play Warped Tour again because of it. Thomas said, "You told me there were two rules, and that wasn't one of them." Well, Ernie Ball and Warped Tour got ahold of that picture and they loved it!
So do you think that rebellious photo played a part in helping you be chosen as one of the four finalists?
I think getting attention from that photo helped people find out about our music, yes. We're not sure how they narrowed it down to four bands, but we figured that the stage guy was going to ruin our chances of moving forward because we broke his rule and pissed him off. Strangely, he did compliment our show, while at the same time telling us to fuck off. We felt confident about that show, though. We knew the crowd was into it, and that's hard to do at 1 p.m. I think the support that followed us to the finale, Thomas' antics that day, and having a crazy live show had something to do with us winning.
And Thomas just kind of signed you guys up, right?
We were a little wary about the Battle of the Bands concept. We usually stay away from that kind of thing, but the prizes were just so unreal, so we submitted.
It's almost like the punk American Idol.
It's weird except that nobody owns us, and now labels are writing us because we're an unsigned band.
Is that the direction that you guys want to go in, signing with a label?
You know, we've turned down labels — a couple, actually. Thomas has been signed to Atlantic Records before with another band and is a lawyer himself, so we would never sign anything if it weren't in the best of our interests. We're not just going to sign to sign because there's just so much you can do on your own now. But, yes, it definitely doesn't hurt to talk to those people and keep those options open. One of the same labels that wanted us before has asked about us again. So we're definitely on people's radar. And labels don't like when you tell them no. It's really hard to find a good deal, but we're just trying to play our cards right.
Speaking of doing things on your own, you guys took your Kickstarter funding and recorded with John Feldmann as an unsigned band, correct?
We recorded one song with [Goldfinger's] John Feldmann and three with Brandon Paddock, who is from Kansas City.
And how did you decide on what to play as a set list for the show?
The slots were 20 minutes each, so we picked the seven fastest songs, which was the biggest workout of my life. We decided to play the songs with the most energy to get people's attention, basically. We were practicing, like, six times a week, too. It was insane.
And who was in charge of judging this year?
The judges were Kevin Lineman of Warped Tour/Ernie Ball; Feldmann; Mike Shea, CEO and founder of Alternative Press magazine; and Lou Plaia, co-founder of EVP Music Industry Relations at ReverbNation. The judges each gave away a prize, basically.
What were the prizes?
We were given $15,000 dollars from Ernie Ball for music equipment in the form of a Guitar Center gift card, so we're hoping that doesn't get lost! Can you imagine losing that? Then we're guaranteed a spot for this summer's Warped Tour and another opportunity to record a three-song EP with John Feldmann. We were also awarded a write-up in AP magazine and a year free with ReverbNation.
John Feldmann was a judge? That's kind of an advantage.
No, no, he's all business. When we went out to record with him, we told him we had made the finals, and he didn't even know what we were talking about. So when we told him, he was like, "OK, cool, well, I'll see you there." So that's why we practiced our asses off because he had never seen us live before. We knew we had to impress him. Not only did we want to impress John but Kevin Lineman as well, since he basically started Warped Tour.
So after you record with Feldmann again, you'll have four songs total. Are you thinking about putting out a record then?
We were thinking about maybe just an EP, but now I think we're putting some things on hold until things calm down. Like I said, we aren't in any rush to sign. For example, if we did sign, that label could end up not liking the songs we've recorded already and force us to start over with their producer. That's why it's tricky. We're just playing everything by ear at this point.
Why do you think you guys were crowned?
When we started our first song, I hadn't even started singing before a mosh pit had developed in the crowd. And we'd never played L.A. before. I think Kevin Lineman was thinking about which band would keep a crowd during their whole set at Warped Tour. I think our high-energy show totally paid off for us. That's what we're ultimately known for.