Interview with Phil X (now of 'Bon Jovi')
& Ninette Terhart (now of 'Silk Sisters')
were in the Incredible LA Based band Rock Band
by Glenn Milligan back in late January, 2009
are the members of the bands influences and how did they transcend to
the sound and style of Powder?
Phil: Mine are Zeppelin, AC/DC, Van Halen and Black Sabbath but i also
love adding techno elements to heavy guitars. Ninette loves those bands
too but studying jazz and musicals has given her a melodic sense that
is way left of the rock genre.
Glenn: How did you both meet up and what made
you decide that there was a future for you guys as a musical unit?
Phil: Ninette and I met on a tour up in Canada where she was singing
backgrounds and playing percussion and I was playing guitar. We started
writing songs in the back of the bus and in hotel rooms and when we
got back from the road we quit that band and started our own. We knew
we were onto something right out of the gate.
Glenn: Where did find Dan & Dogboy who complete
the bands live line-up?
Phil: Dan is also from Canada so we had known him for a few years. We
saw Dogboy play in a band that opened up for us one time in Hollywood
and we just asked him if he wanted to play with POWDER and he automatically
Glenn: Where did the band name and the logo style
Phil: Ninette and I were driving down Melrose in Hollywood and damn....
we hate thinking of band names but there we were... and Ninette was
screaming "I f*cking hate this sh*t! Thinking of band names drives
me crazy!" and then after 30 seconds of silence, she quietly asks,
"what about Powder?" I go, "That's it", and it was.
Then... because Ninette was getting compared to superheroes, it only
made sense that the logo look like that of a superhero.
Glenn: What are your favourite songs on the 'Nothing' album and why?
Phil: I'd have to say "Dying To Live" is my very favorite
because we wrote it when we first moved to LA and it kind of summed
up a lot of emotions. Today, I love the arrangement. I love the melodies,
the harmonies, the Queen-ish guitar hints and backgrounds, the sound
of Ninette's voice (and breath) and of course, the solo, which I played
on a mini guitar made by my friend John Gleneicki. I also love "Nothing"
because of the intensity of the vocal. And God Damn.... Abe's drumming
on that track is insane.
Glenn: Why did you decide to call the album 'Nothing'
- was it because you liked the song so much or are their other reasons?
Ninette: I wanted the name of this cd to be simple
and the cd came together quite effortlessly so it's fitting that the
title reflect that. It's definitely a strong song on the record as well.
Phil: I also think we had
an image of Ninette's mouth totally being the front cover with nothing
in it. Then we actually put the word "NOTHING" in it and it
made so much sense.
Glenn: What bands are artists do Powder seem to get compared to and
what are your thoughts on that?
Ninette: In the beginning we used to get compared
to bands like Blondie and Annie Lennox meets Rob Zombie... But in the
last 5 years due to the shows growth in theatrics alot if people say
we should be in Vegas.! That's why we've been coined the Rock 'n' Roll
Glenn: What do you guys do outside of the band
and what do you enjoy for hobbies & interests outside of music?
Ninette: I am not a hobby kinda gal... Having
said that I have taken to editing all our promo vids and the whole DVD
and Funny Girl vids on "Nothing".
Phil: I guess I'm not a hobby guy either. I do love movies, though.
LOVE movies. I also love recording in the studio and getting tones and
f*ck*ng with arrangements but that's music, isn't it?
What have been your fave gigs so far and for what reasons?
Ninette: Well I would have to say the Market Days
concerts in Chicago are off the hook. The energy is thru the roof when
we go out there and the fans are kick ass. What a great town. Also some
of the L.A shows have been ground breaking as well. It's really given
me and the girls a change to stretch beyond our comfort zone and try
a shit load of new acts.
Phil: Yes, I agree with
Market Days in Chicago, especially 2008. I felt like we were KISS because
the volume of the audience in between songs was like a KISS live album.
I just blew me away. There was one show in LA where we had a "Best
Ninette Costume Contest" and the winner won an ESP guitar signed
by the band. There were 4 finalists that looked fantastic and the funny
thing was the winner was a dude.
But man.... he wore the wig, the goggles and sharpied her tattoo on
his arm. You could tell he put a lot of time into the outfit too. He
totally deserved to win but it's funny that it was a "he".
Glenn: What's your part of the USA like for gigs and where else would
you really like to play and why?
Phil: We have wonderful fan bases in LA and Chicago. There's also fans
scattered all over the rest of the country but it's hard for us to put
what we do on the road because it doesn't fit into every venue.
Someday, though.... we will.
OR... set up in Las Vegas where people just come to us. We did a small
tour in the UK in 04 and totally fell in love with England and the people
so we'd love to go back there.
Hell... it would be phenomenal
to just bring our show to everybody all over the planet.
Glenn: Any plans to come over in Europe in the
near future - if so, where and when?
Phil: No plans as of yet but we're working on it.
Glenn: How do you describe a Powder live show and what influenced the
style of it as it's more than just a straigh-forward 'Rock 'n' Roll
Phil: Ninette, Ninette and Ninette. In the beginning, Ninette would
wear different crazy costumes every time we played so people just started
to come to every show to see what she would wear. The next step was
"What's Ninette going to do?". That just snowballed into jumping
rope, having fembot clones that mimicked her every move, stilts, blow
up doll routines, choreographed pole routines and when there wasn't
anything left to do on the stage, Ninette took to the air. Now Ninette
and 2 or 3 fembots, depending on the show, climb 20 feet up and spin
in beautiful poses. The strength required is fantastic.
Glenn: Where did you find all the other on-stage
performers of the band and how long have they all been working with
NInette: when I started my aerial career I had
the honor of working with some of the top acrobats in the city .....I
became very good fast and hooked up with the right people. I was then
cast in a aerial show that ran for about a year and 1/2 in Hollywood
which is where I became very close with these extremely talented Aerialists.
I started hiring them to be in the POWDER show and share the stage.
these performers have been in Cirque de sole and have been doing this
for many, many years. So for me I am really proud to have come so far
in such a short span of time.
did you get all the wigs and costumes from for the show and are some
of them specifically designed for your stage show?
Ninette: I design and make all the costumes in
the show for me and the girls. The aerial acts in the show can be very
dangerous so the materials used for each separate act has to be very
Glenn: How long does a live show take to perfect due to all the other
theatrics and acrobatics that are involved?
Ninette: It really depends on the show and how
many new acts and songs we decide to add or subtract from the show.
I wanted all new numbers for this show we are doing on the Jan. 24th
so the girls and myself started rehearsing last Dec. of ‘08. A
new aerial act can take weeks to perfect and that's training at least
5 times a week, 3 hrs a day.
Glenn: Who came up with the cool idea of having the big note pad on
the stage to narrate one of the songs?
Glenn: What would you say are the most intricate
parts of the live show with regard to the choreographed routines and
also the various songs?
Ninette: For me it's all about TimIng, timing,
timing. All this work we put into each individual act is great but once
the show is pieced together there has got to be the right flow or else
it all sucks..!
Glenn: Have you had many scary moments
on stage - if so what were they, where did they happen and how did you
get it back on track?
Ninette: some of the costume changes are radically
fast and there have been a few close calls with that in regards to not
making it out in time to sing the first few lines of the next song....
But the scariest would have to be when I decided one show to do everything
in that show... The fembot number, pole act, free style jumping on a
trampoline, a hammock act and the double tissue act for the finale.....
Now that may not sound like a lot.... But add to the mix super fast
costume changes and singing...... Mama was tired.
by the time I had climbed up the tissue did the opening drop then wrapped
and flipped upside down to start basing Buffy for the double tissue
aerial act all I could see was these little white dots flying from the
far corners of both my eyes like glowing fireflys....and my wrists were
so sweaty that Buffy could barely sustain any grip on my arms and all
I remember thinking was " don't fall asleep, wake the f*ck up"!
When the act was over I sat in my quick change room and told my costume
assistant Mlou, "Tell Phil to lengthen his solo... And tell him
NO ENCORE!" That scared the sh*t out of me.
Glenn: What are your favourite songs to play live
Phil: ‘Sonic Machine’ is always our opener and it's kick
ass. I love how heavy it is when the band kicks in and it's also the
first moment when you get to meet the audience and you can see on the
peoples faces if it's their first POWDER show 'cause they're goin' "what
the f*ck?". "Bottom of You" is the first song the fembots
come out and sometimes they're wearing outfits that I haven't even seen
before so that's cool too. We do a wicked cover of AC/DC's 'Back In
Black' and that's a blast. When the girls do the triple silk routine
to our original 'Kashmire-esque' instrumental, it's just spectacular.
Especially being on stage and witnessing the act right in front of my
face but also seeing all the jaws drop in the audience. "Need a
Little Help" is our finale so it's a f*ck*ng blast. Balls out/in-your-face
ROCK full speed ahead and Ninette proving just how crazy she can get.
I forget to breathe some times.
What we find in a Powder gig rider?
Phil: Well if you're talking dressing room, it's typical mirror, water,
fruit platter, beer and stuff like that.
But if we're flying out to do a show somewhere, aside from backline
like drums and amps, we need to be able to rig our aerial apparatuses
to the light truss or a beam in the ceiling or if it's outside, we sometimes
get a crane which sounds crazy.... because it is but we do what we gotta
Glenn: What is the '99 Cent Store' that you thank
in your thank-you list and what are you thanking them for?
Ninette : Every show we do I have the girls giveaway
silly fun stuff like Toliet bowl brushes and cans of spam feather dusters
and fly swaters... Ya know that kind of stuff. Well that's where we
Glenn: Care to elaborate on any other cool peeps
who helped you out on the album - especially if you have some cool stories
regarding their help and contributions?
Phil: The most exciting thing for me was recording my favorite drummers
on the planet. And obviously there are some that didn't make it on the
record because of touring schedules but that's how it rolls. Abe Laboriel
Jr., Gary Novak, Randy Cooke, Nate Morton and Robert Medici all laid
down incredible drum tracks for this cd. David Applebaum recorded a
beautiful piano piece at the end of "Underneath Me". Mike
K, Greg Ladanyi, Jim "Bud" Monti, Frank Gryner, Chris Baseford
and Chris Fuhrman all mixed songs for us and really helped take everything
to another level. I would play our mixes for my buddy Mike Plotnikoff
and he would be like, "sounds great but maybe shave a little 4k
of the lead vocal" and really helpful comments like that. All these
contributions proved invaluable. Sure there are cool stories but that
may be a whole book someday (laughs).
If you don't mind me asking, who are Peter Xendis and Morgan George
C who you dedicated the album to the memory of?
Phil: Peter was my dad and Morgan was Ninette's dad and they both passed
away in 2005 about 4 months apart.
It was hard to create anything at all for the longest time so when we
finally got around to recording this CD, it just felt right to dedicate
it to the memories of two very important figures in our lives.
did you come to record at Korn's studio?
Phil: I was working on a metal record and the producer decided to cut
tracks at Korn's studio. First of all, the place has vibe like no other
studio i've ever been in and the big room in the back, where the drums
are set up, sounds amazing. Secondly, Jim "Bud" Monti is the
house engineer and a great one at that. Jim is also an awesome dude
so when I said I wanted to bring POWDER in to track some bass and guitars,
he was like "bring it on".
Glenn: What would say are your favourite studios to record at and why?
Phil: Korn because of the last question, sunset sound because of that
photo of Van Halen in Studio A and Hensen because of the concrete floors
which I think sound better than wood. Also our studio because it's in
our home. We totally vibed it out and it's cozy as hell.
Glenn: What songs on the 'Nothing' album were the most challenging to
do and why?
Phil: For me, I'd say "I Don't Believe In Your Smile" because
Ninette and i had completely different visions for that song. She won
but not because she can probably kick my ass. She won because she was
right. I think it came out wonderfully and I couldn't hear it any other
way. "State of Mind" was kind of a struggle too. We wrote
that one with a friend of ours, Dee Cernile, quite a while ago and never
put it on a cd until now because of a questionable section. I could
never figure out why the pre-chorus bugged me so much until I put the
existing riff in there. It just took it to the right place and fixed
what I thought was broken.
Glenn: How long did it take to record the album
from beginning to end and what were the most memorable points of the
process and why?
Phil: I don't even know. Maybe 4 months but only because we were both
doing other gigs and sessions and the process kept getting interrupted.
As soon as we gave ourselves a deadline (a CD release party), we knew
we had to complete it or be fucked. At some points, we had 2 factories
going. I was tracking guitars in the studio and Ninette was editing
video footage for the bonus DVD features. I look back and find it very
exciting now because the energy was crazy.
Glenn: What do both like and dislike about being performers and making
a living through music?
Ninette: I love that everyday is completely different.
I'm constantly creating and then I go and perform my art which I put
a ton of sweat, love and pain into. Aerial is painful.... But it's the
most awesome way of life. It's a very elite group of people on this
planet that do what we do and for that I am honored to be apart it.
I guess the idea that your never 100% happy with what you do a lot of
the times. It's truely a sickness. We are probably the hardest on ourselves
and sometimes it makes me sad.
Phil: I love performing.
Period. Whether it's in front of 8,000 people or 8. And I'm going to
do whatever I can to rock the fuck out of those people. And with the
internet, you get an immediate response through blogs and myspace comments.
That is a gift. It also truly is a blessing making a living through
music and performing. It's all I ever wanted out of life. As far as
dislikes go, you've caught me on a good day so I can't think of any.
On a bad day, I probably have a whole list (laughs).
What are the highlights for you of making the 'Funny Girl' promo video
and why and how long did it take to complete?
Ninette: It was really hilarious working with
the guys when we did the band stuff and shooting the guys singing on
the floor while I sat up above them in the Chanda which is an aerial
apparatus while my costume assistant Mlou spun me around to get that
effect I was going for as I zoomed in and out! Also, I wanted to incorporate
some of my circus skills in the video ... I felt it went with the FUNNY
GIRL title. The whole shoot and editing took about 4 weeks give or take
a couple of days. It was a f*ck of a lot of work for one person to take
on. But I'm glad I did it. And I completely sucked my iMovie program
dry..!! He he! I have since moved on to Final Cut Pro so a new POWDER
video is in the works.
Glenn: What's the usual songwriting process for 'Powder' songs - do
you come up with lyrical ideas and then see what happens musically or
do you work differently due to their being more technical sounds to
many of the songs?
Phil: There really isn't a "usual" process to anything in
POWDER. Sometimes Ninette will have an idea or even most of a song together
and we'll finish it together and vice versa. We both write lyrics, chord
progressions and riffs. Personally, i come up with a lot of stuff when
I drive. There's times when you can't get a melody out of your head
and then before you know it, you're singing lyrics. The one constant
is that Ninette and I both love matching the intensity of the music
with the lyrics. No matter what the instrumentation is, it has to meld
Glenn: What artists these days would you say have
become an influence on you and for what reasons?
Phil: If by "these days" you mean new, I can't say anyone
really influences us. We still draw inspiration from the classics I
mentioned earlier like Zeppelin and Sabbath but it's funny... we could
just finish an amazing show with Ninette spinning and posing on several
aerial apparatuses, whipping around a pole, being suspended 20 feet
above the stage with a fembot hanging from her neck, all with 4 or 5
costume and wig changes and on the drive back to the hotel, she looks
at me and goes, "I'm bored" (wtf?) "what else can I do?
I need to come up with some more sh*t". I usually scratch my head
in wonderment and reply, "Are you f*ck*ng nuts?".
What influnced the lyrics of 'Bottom Of You'?
Phil: Ninette has a weird way of putting things and this was one of
them. Falling through the "bottom of you" is like falling
deep in love with someone... even the darkest parts.
Where did the music and lyrical ideas of 'I Don't Believe In Your Smile
Come From' as its so different to the rest of the album - what with
the orchestral and acoustic guitar sections on it?
Phil: We were looking for a different element that would sit in the
song line-up like an intermission. Plus we have so many influences that
we thought the fans would get a kick out of this expression. To me this
song screamed acoustic guitar but to Ninette, it was more like lo-fi
loops and orchestra so we mixed it all up. And then I couldn't deny
the jazzy guitar solo even though I'm NOT a big fan of jazz. Once in
a while I'll hear something and realize the coolness in the vibe and
grab a bit of inspiration from it. That's the beauty of music.
Glenn: Why did you decide on including a DVD with the album and what
are your fave parts of it and why?
Phil: As visual a band as we are, it was the obvious next step to include
the DVD with the album. Like, "Hey man, you bought this cd because
you like or love POWDER or someone that likes or loves POWDER told you
to. Well you know what? We're going to give you something to look at
too. Let you in on how we made the CD, how we put a show together and
let you get to know us a little bit." It's something that I wish
my favorites artists did when I was growing up. My favorite parts are
studio footage because you're watching "that guy" actually
record a track on the record. You're right there. I also love how Ninette
cut a lot of her humorous side into scenes. I still laugh out loud when
I see that stuff.
Glenn: How long did the DVD take to make and what were the hardest edits
to perfect in it and why?
Phil: Ninette put hours upon hours into that DVD but her rhythm and
timing are amazing so editing wasn't that difficult for her. It was
more about going through an enormous amount of raw footage to find the
real magical, interesting and/or comical parts. Ninette's goal was to
produce it so that not only the people that personally know us will
enjoy it but people that don't know anything about our personalities
will also sit back and go "this rocks".
Let them in enough so that there's still a sense of mystery.
Glenn: What's next for Powder?
Ninnete: Vegas baby Vegas.
and the world, of course.
What are the 2 of you most proud of in your careers and why?
NInette: how far the show has come from the very
first show POWDER ever did in March 2000!
Wow... Holy f*ck time flies.
Phil: I'm proud of the music
we make and the show we put on and how it all touches people in a positive
Interview - Big thanks to you both!
out their new websites - Phil X (www.philx.tv)