Editor’s note: Listen Up is a series in The Durango Herald Arts & Entertainment section that features local bands. If you’d like your band to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.By Katie Chicklinski-Cahill
Herald Arts & Entertainment editor
When the women who make up the relatively new band Wild Rose Gang got together, they weren’t sure of their name at first, but what they were sure of was that they wanted to bring something new to Durango.
Wild Rose Gang is made up of Kim Heikens, who is also in the longtime local band The Assortment; Alexa Schlittgen and Yvonne Varis – who happens to be Alexa’s mother.
Q: How did you three get together?
Heikens: I have always wanted to put something together with women. ... I saw these guys – it’s been a couple of years, it had to be the right situation and fit – and I saw these guys at Cyprus (Cafe), and I just said, “Wow, this is really great.”
Q: Where did the name come from?
Varis: We were like, “OK, we need a good name.” I was out walking with some girlfriends up the Colorado Trail and I said, “What do you guys think of the Wild Rose Band?” And one of the gals said, “No, it should be the Wild Rose Gang because it appeals more to the youth and it’s a little edgier.”
Heikens: And feminine. It’s all of those things. We thought about it, what we wanted to call ourselves.
Schlittgen: We went through many (names). We were playing at the Powerhouse and we were going to get the audience to give us names. (Laughs) And all of them were just either too much sexual innuendo or way too girly.
Q: What kind of music do you play?
Heikens: It’s kind of everything, and that’s what I was looking for.
Varis: We do have a lot of variety. I moved away for 12 years, and I ended up playing almost all jazz. I’ve always been bored with just one style, so we do a lot of blues, a lot of jazz, a lot of rock, a lot of country. So we pretty much cover everything.
Q: Being a female band in Durango, is it easy? Is it hard?
Heikens: We’ve all played in front of people, we all have a lot of confidence. This one (points at Schlittgen) for her age, just exudes it.
Varis: It’s been like a dream, I think, for all of us to be in an all-girl band just simply because it sort of gives women a voice, and so it’s like, “OK, we’re strong enough to do this. We don’t need men.” Not that men aren’t wonderful; it’s just that, it’s just sort of a sense of freedom from that old idea of all the boys know how to play the heavy things and the pretty girls stand in front. Q: What do you play?
Heikens: I play percussion. I play congas and percussion and I have all kinds of fun bells and whistles.
Schlittgen: I am kind of the lead singer, but sometimes my mom takes the lead and I sing backup. Kim takes the lead on a song or two and we back her up.
Varis: I’m kind of the maestro. (Laughs). I know what to tell everybody else because I’ve done this for so long. I play rhythm guitar, a little bit of lead, and I try to make it more than just the ordinary chords.
Schlittgen: She gets very interesting with it. And I think we might incorporate keys.
Heikens: We each really bring something to the table. ... The key to any band is having a balance; you can’t be a control freak; you really have to share and listen and work together.