Rockbitch performing Breathe (video)
|Genres||Gothic metal, industrial metal, progressive rock|
|Years active||1984 - 2002|
Rockbitch was originally formed in 1984 as Cat Genetica by bassist Amanda Smith-Skinner ("the Bitch") and guitarist Tony Skinner ("the Beast"). The band was later renamed to Red Abyss, in 1989, and drew in other band members from the matriarchal, polyamorous, pagan, feminist community of which Smith-Skinner was the prime founder.
Musically, Red Abyss drew on jazz, funk and rock influences dominated by singer Julie Worland's Janis Joplin–influenced vocals. In time, its music took on harder punk and metal edginess. Red Abyss switched to the Rockbitch name when the lineup changed: a male drummer (Steve) was replaced by Jo Heeley. The line up varied over time with other characters such as 'Luci the Stage Slut', 'The Haema-Whore', Kali and Erzulie the Sex Magik Priestesses all making appearances.
The former two were primarily a combination of sexual performance artist and gonzo-camera team; capturing closeups of stage action to be displayed on the projection screen at the rear. They were also responsible for the cued playing of prepared art videos of subject matter relating to the songs including Female Genital Mutilation, eating disorders and body dysmorphia, and menstruation taboos.
The band toured Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, (but were banned from venues in Scotland as Scottish law regarding performances were slightly different. The band were visited at their commune by two police officers, one an Inspector, to make sure that they understood that a visit to Scotland would be a major issue. ), Italy, Spain, Finland, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Estonia and did a promotional tour that involved Canada (but were eventually also banned from the intended venues without having played), while instituting its new theme of liberation through sexual freedom.
Rockbitch became infamous not only for performing live sex acts, but also doing so with audience members via "The Golden Condom". At a point during their show, a condom was tossed to the crowd and whoever caught it (male or female) was taken backstage for sexual relations with one or more band members.
Rockbitch toured widely from approximately 1998 until 2002, meeting increasing resistance from authorities, particularly English, German and Norwegian town councils who often banned its concerts, although having no legal grounds upon which to do so. The band could usually find some alternative venue to play in at this early stage.
After one such furore in Almelo in the Netherlands, Dutch TV producer TVAmsterdam caught attention on the band, arranged a concert in Zaandam to record the show as it went, adding some extra footage to complete the documentary "Bitchcraft".
Babe stated in the programme Anna in Wonderland in 2002: "Rockbitch had no problem with lads out for seeing breasts, as they were a component of the audience, there were always others seeing the deeper meaning and both groups had a good time. They generally made up for a great combined atmosphere".
The Rockbitch line-up became entirely female in 2000. Original lead guitarist Tony Skinner (known as 'The Beast') retired, taking over management/production. Lisa Wills (known as 'Babe') moved into lead guitar duties (from rhythm) while Luci, previously a "Stage Slut" (one of the nude dancers and sexual band/crowd liaisons), instead strapped on a rhythm guitar.
In 1997, Rockbitch made tabloid headlines after they played at a school for pre-teen children, although for the act they changed their name to "Rocky Beaches", wore modest clothes, and sang non-sexual songs.
Members lent their voices to female and sexual issues, were winners of the yearly prize at the Sex Maniacs Ball (now Night of the Senses) founded by Tuppy Owens, openly voiced their admiration for sexual politics icons such as Annie Sprinkle and Betty Dodson, and generally advocated for open female sexuality as a healthy part of human nature. In an extension of the 70’s feminist statement that ‘the personal is the political’, they stated that no feminist movement was complete without female sexuality being reexamined, redefined and expressed in whatever shape it took by women themselves. They saw rock music as the perfect medium to do so as it had been the arena for the expression of masculine sexuality for so long whereas womens bodies were often a marketing spice to add interest to a product rather than a source of personal empowerment. 
After the release of its first studio album, Motor Driven Bimbo, Rockbitch were increasingly pressured to censor their stage performances by their record company. They refused and successfully negotiated a release from their contract.
A second, goth-influenced album called Psychic Attack was never released.
The band took care never to break any laws regarding the content of their stages shows in any country or territory. Continued attention from British Interpol about their sexually driven themes and performances combined with local council opposition to their adult only shows. Under handed pressure on venue owners regarding liquor and performance licenses resulted in difficulties performing live even when venue owners were positive towards the band. Tours were booked then dates pulled with only days to spare. The frustration and problems this created led to Rockbitch ceasing performing live in 2002.
Rockbitch were the subject of many documentaries and featured in many shows. Amongst others they were the subject of a 30-minute documentary on BBC Choice the same year. A further, hour-long documentary was broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK in 2003. Award winning Director Norman Hull made ‘This is Rockbitch’ in 2003.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1814909/?ref_=nv_sr_1 They can still be spotted in repeats of ‘Sexcetera’.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexcetera
In 2005, the entire latter-day Rockbitch lineup emerged under the name MT-TV. This was a music-only project—no sex or nudity of the Rockbitch days—but it incorporated stage theatrics and lyrical socio/sexuall political comment. After a UK tour in summer 2005, they performed throughout the United States. The first part of their US tour was documented on the DVD 'Shevolution', released by Blackwing Films in 2006.
The most recent program in 2017 is a Swedish documentary on the rise in popularity of witchcraft and it’s feminist connections. The first film crew to be allowed access behind the commune walls since the cessation of the Rockbitch live performances, the documentary contains a recap of their musical career, insight into their pagan/withcraft roots with how it underpinned their music and interviews with Babe. https://vimeo.com/220078527
Amanda and Jo subsequently went on to form the band Syren with singer/songwriter Erin Bennett who joined the Rockbitch commune in 2006. In 2012, Jo died of breast cancer. Amanda gave up her musical career shortly after. Erin Bennett subsequently continued as a solo artist with a backing band that contains some ex-members of Rockbitch, discarding the name Syren and performing as Erin Bennet & the EB band. http://www.erinbennettmusic.com/
Julie, the lead singer of Rockbitch, continues her musical career under the name Krow, creating hard dance music in the style of Noise Terror Punk EDM. Her music and video were also featured in the Swedish documentary. http://asthekrowflies.com/about
The personnel were as follows:
- Julie Worland: Vocals
- "Luci": Guitar (from 2000, previously dancer and sex performer)
- Amanda Smith-Skinner ("the Bitch"): bass
- Nikki Fay: piano, flute
- Joanne Heeley (2 November 1972 - 11 January 2011): drums
- Lisa Wills ("Babe"): lead guitar, backing vocals (also webmistress)
- Tony Skinner ("the Beast"): guitar on Motor Driven Bimbo and producer of both studio albums
- "Chloe": dancer, sex performer
- Suna Dasi ("Kali"): dancer, sex performer
- Martina ("Erzulie"): dancer, sex performer
- Luci's Love Child (as Red Abyss) (1992) (Eurock)
- Rockbitch Live In Amsterdam (1997) (Crystal Rock Syndicate – doCD)
- Bitchcraft (concert and documentary video, 1997, subsequently released on DVD) not available in countries like USA, Japan
- The Bitch O'Clock News (reports and clips video, 1998) made for audiences in USA and Japan
- Motor Driven Bimbo (1999) (Steamhammer)
- Psychic Attack (unreleased) (2002)
- Sex, Death and Magick (concert/documentary video, 2002)
- Rockbitch - The Weirdest Band in the World
- "About Rockbitch". MTV. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- 'This is Rock Bitch' documentary on Joost Archived 30 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Charlotte Richardson Andrews (2012-07-05). "The 'slut rock' of Butcher Babies pales next to music's true female adventurers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- "Rockbitch". MusicMight. 2009. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- "Big Brother's Anna Nolan gets her very own BBC series". BBC. 2002-01-16. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
- "Official RockBitch on The Girlie Show". Channel 4. 1997. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- "Official RockBitch on the Jonathan Ross Show". BBC. 1997. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- The Diamond Condom Award 1998
- Luiz Carlos Barata Cichetto (2012-05-16). "Rockbitch: Sexo e Rock Debaixo da Saia da Rainha" (in Portuguese). pt:Whiplash.net. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Lorraine Smith (2003-05-16). "This is Rockbitch". The F-Word (feminist blog). Retrieved 2014-12-27.
- Nikki at AllMusic
- Babe at AllMusic
- Official website
- Rockbitch lyrics
- Rockbitch at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- MT-TV official site
- Syren official site
- Rockbitch on Vimeo
- Rockbitch on Facebook
- [Swedish Doc 2017 https://vimeo.com/220078527]
- [Krow site http://asthekrowflies.com/about]
- [Erin Bennett site http://www.erinbennettmusic.com]