EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Shawna from Baltimore’s War On Women


LOS ANGELES, March 25, 2014 — War on Women is a feminist punk band from Baltimore. Recently, the band did a tour of the west coast with Propagandhi. The co-ed band, which formed in 2010, released their Improvised Weapons EP in 2012. Shawn, the lead singer of War On Women, took some time to speak to Wells On Music regarding their formation, touring and full-length record on the horizon.

Kevin Wells: What bands initially got you into punk music?

Shawna: I was certainly raised on riot grrrl, like many people my age wer; so Bikini Kill and, it’s definitely not punk, but Babes in Toyland. I love The Slits. I love, love, love The Slits. I think at first, those were my first real punk bands, which are not super punk [laughs]. I think of punk more as an ideology and a style, a way of thinking, a way of being, not necessarily three-chord mohawk punk, you know?

KW: How did War On Women form?

Shawna: Me and one of the guitar players, Brooks Harlan, we decided we wanted to start like a heavier band. We were in kind of a melodic, jazzy, mathy kind of rock band, but we wanted to do something heavier, not just style wise, but lyrically and content wise. It seemed like there were a lot of important things going on in American politics and a lot of bands, at the time, weren’t really talking about it. We thought it deserved a forum.

KW: How did the tour with Propagandhi come about?

Shawna: Well, I had been in contact with Chris Hanna for a bit and, you know, we like their band [laughs] and I tried to get him to listen to our band, and he did. He liked it. We played a couple shows together on the east coast about a year and a half ago and then they asked us to go to Europe with them. We played some dates in western Europe. We did about a month over there. So, when the opportunity came up to play our own country, with people that might already be somewhat familiar, we couldn’t pass it up. We said yes right away.

KW: What would you say the overall response was from people on tour?

Shawna: Overall, it was really good, really good. Yeah, people came out early. People were singing along. It was great. This band has never played the west coast before. We’re a Baltimore band. It was good to see people so pumped that have never seen us before.

KW: When I first heard you, it reminded me a little of a suped up 7 Year Bitch. Would you say that’s a fair comparison?

Shawna: I’ve definitely heard them, but I kind of missed the boat on them. I didn’t listen to them coming up. So, I couldn’t say if that’s really accurate or not. I certainly like the idea of them, but I also think it’s very common for a band with any women in it to be compared to another female band than if we were to sound more like a band that’s just dudes. People like to separate us by gender. And obviously, we’re talking about feminist issues, but musically it is interesting that people want to just sort of name another female band that we might sound like, which may or may not be the case.

KW: You put the Improvised Weapons EP out in 2012. Are there plans for a full length?

Shawna: Yeah, we’re halfway done recording it. We’re still looking for a label to help us release it. We’re just kind of in the middle of it in all aspects. We’re certainly hoping to release something by the end of the year.

KW: Do you have any other touring plans for 2014?

Shawna: Nothing in the works, nothing announced right now. We have a couple good local shows coming up playing with our friends in Dismemberment Plan, but really we want to stay home and finish the record and go from there.

KW: Where can people buy the Imrovised Weapons EP?

Shawna: The vinyl record is currently sold out and I’m not sure when and if we’re going to re-press it. We’ll see how big the demand is [laughs], but our record is certainly available on iTunes. Or people can buy a digital download card from us directly so we get more money off that than if it were bought from iTunes. That’s just at our merch store, which is storenvy.com.

KW: Is there anything else that you would like people to know either about you or the band or anything you’re working on?

Shawna: Yeah. We are so thrilled to have such a great response from the west coast. We love it. We love the weather [laughs] over there better than the weather on the east coast right now. It’s a beautiful part of the country and we’re just really stoked to have had the opportunity to play there with some nice Canadian folks.

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News and also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music., and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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