As a naive fifteen year old girl who, up until several years ago had only heard of Hayley Williams as far as female band members go, I was pretty sure that rock and alternative music was male-dominated.
I think I knew one or two Paramore songs, yet Hayley Williams was my hero. She had awesome hair, and a great voice, and she was in a band with four other guys. How cool was that? Pretty cool to a thirteen year old girl.
I had a life-changing revelation one day that rock music on the radio was pretty much unheard of, and the pop crap they were feeding to the masses wasn't even worth listening to. With this in mind, I Googled many rock abnds that I had heard of but never heard. Nirvana, The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Hives, just to name a few. One of them happened to be The Smashing Pumpkins. Why? Because I had simply heard of them, and they were cool in the world of rock music. Maybe even iconic. I felt like I should familiarize myself with them.
I started with the album 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,' remembering that I had seen it impressively high on a list of 1995's greatest albums. I was impressed right away, with both the lyrics and music. Then, like the total nerd I was, I found their Wikipedia page and read it in full.
I was absolutely fascinated to discover that they had a female bassist. I had always thought that girls could only be vocalists in bands. I wasn't completely ignorant; I knew that girls played instruments. I myself played piano, guitar and bass at that point, the latter two being self-taught, so I was aware that girls were capable of playing instruments.
I knew there were famous female singers who also played guitar, such as Taylor Swift, Jewel, and Sheryl Crow. But girls playing rock music in bands? That idea was completely foreign to me.
Darcy Wretzky, bassist of the Smashing Pumpkins, became my new hero. I knew she wasn't the ideal role model. In fact, she caused a lot of drama in the band, bad break-ups, drug use, what have you. Nope. I didn't care. She was amazing in my eyes. She still is. So why is it that when bands have a female member, it's safe to assume that she's the bassist? Just off the top of my head, some other bands with female bassists include Mindless Self Indulgence, Silversun Pickups, Hole, My Bloody Valentine, All that Remains, Black Flag, even Jeff Beck had a female bassist for a while. So yes, it is undeniable that many bands have female bassists.
Could this be because it is perhaps one of the easier instruments in the band? Maybe. First of all, what makes bass easier than guitar? The fretboard is huge, the strings are thick and hard to press down, and the instrument itself is heavy. What's easy about it? Well, there are no chords. Often, notes are played repetitively, maybe eight or sixteen times in a row. It's usually used as the spine of a song, sometimes not even audible in studio recordings. This annoys me to no end. Bass is an amazing instrument and should be used properly.
But maybe girls are in this mindset: Hey, if I mess up, no one's even gonna hear my mistake. It's a breeze. No pressure. Nice and easy.
What with all the male rock stars out there, they're probably a little discouraged and afraid to take challenges. That could be one reason.
But keep in mind, there are all-girl rock bands such as The Like and Plastisinces. That obviously means that they have female drummers and guitarists. Skillet has a female drummer and guitarist. Neon Trees and The Whits Stripes have a female drummer also. So, really, not all female band members are necessarily the bassists.
It could be cool to have a female bassist in your band, or a female anything for that matter. You'll follow in the footsteps of a lot of iconic artists, and it tends to fascinate people when bands have female members. Therefore, you'll be more interesting and a little more memorable.
Attention female bassists: make your band's music worth listening to. Don't always just follow your rhythm guitarist for the easy way out. Make people say, hey, she's really got talent. Take some lessons, learn some Muse songs. You're the coolest band member, take my word for it.