Interview | The She Street Band

She Street

Writer Matt Forrest

Seemingly every summer, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band make their way across the pond for a series of sell-out stadium gigs, however with ‘The Boss’ treading the boards on Broadway how will the Springsteen ‘diehards’ get their fix? Well look no further than The She Street Band: a group of super talented ladies who just happen to be the world’s first all female Springsteen covers band.

Made up of players from the UK, Ireland, Sweden and the United States, who are: Jody Orsborn (bass) Calie Hough (drums), Mara Daniele (guitar), Lynn Roberts (keys), Clare McGrath (glockenspiel), Isabel Lysell (lead guitar) and Yasmin Ogilvie (sax). Opening Night caught up with founder Jody Orsborn to find out about the band, their upcoming tour, and just what makes Springsteen so special.

Opening Night: You played Latitude festival this summer. How was it?

The She Street Band: We played a 4,000 person tent which was pretty surreal. It was interesting because there were definitely people there that knew Bruce and all the lyrics but there were also a lot of younger folks who didn’t seem to know the songs but still danced along the whole time. We thought that was really cool.

ON: Who’s idea was the band? How did it come about?

Jody Osborn: I went to see Bruce Springsteen play at Wembley in 2016 for The River tour. Needless to say, it was a bit of a life changing experience. I just had such an incredible time at the gig that when I left, I said, I need more of this in my life…and the idea for the band just popped into my head. Luckily 6 other super talented ladies also thought it was a good idea and The She Street Band was born.

ON: What can fans expect from the tour?

JO: We aren’t a traditional cover band. There is no one Bruce (4 different ladies take lead vocals throughout the set) and as such, we aren’t trying to be him. What we try and do is to portray the energy and spirit of his music, with a female twist. The shows are definitely good fun, at least for us!

ON:There is such an extensive back catalogue  of songs to choose from, how do you choose the set list?

JO: There are a few songs that have to be played like Thunder Road, Dancing in the Dark and Born to Run but we also try and throw some surprising ones into the mix like Jackson Cage or Stolen Car, ones that you might not expect. All of the band members have a vote in which songs we add and we actually put a poll out to our Instagram followers recently to break a tie (Cover Me was victorious!).

ON: Do you or any of the band members look up to draw inspiration from a particular E- Street band member?

JO: They are all incredible! How can you choose just one? Personally, as the bass player, I look to Garry Tallent. He’s such an incredible bass player. He’ll take a relatively simple song and just do this stunning bass part that adds so much depth and feeling to it. I think he’s amazing. Plus we’re both from Tennessee so his nickname Tennessee Terror can apply to me as well.

ON: The band share vocal responsibilities which is a unique dynamic, is it a case of you all picking your favourite song and belting them out?

JO: A bit! But each of the singers sort of represent a different side of Bruce. We have party Bruce, rock Bruce, brokenhearted Bruce, so some songs naturally fit in better with one vibe or vocal style than another. It all works out!

ON: What has been your favourite or most memorable experience you’ve had since joining the band?

JO: Can I say three?

1) At our very first gig, walking out into the room towards the stage and not being able to get through because it was so packed and thinking…what have we done?!).

2) The 1-2-3-4 moment in Born To Run at Clapham Grand. They had a confetti cannon and it was just so epic.

3) Garry Tallent rocking our merch.

ON: How does the experience of performing Springsteen’s songs compare with seeing them performed by the man himself?

JO: There isn’t anything that compares to seeing Springsteen live but it is so incredible to play the songs and have a roomful of people dance and sing along with you. The songs are so powerful and being able to create that environment where everyone can come together and enjoy them is a pretty amazing feeling.

ON: Aside from Springsteen what else is on the She Street band juke box in the tour bus?

JO: We all have super eclectic tastes! We listen to a lot of classic stuff like The Kinks, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and then newer artists like Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Courtney Barnett, Snail Mail, Adult Mom, Shannon and the Clams, Seinabo Sey, King Tuff and Lykke Li.

ON: Do you or any of the other band members have any other music projects we should know about?

JO: Yes! Mara Daniele, the rhythm guitarist, has her own solo project and is about to release some singles. Isabel Lysell, the lead guitarist, is in a duo called Smoke Rivers. Lynn Roberts, the keyboardist, is in the band Joe Innes and the Cavalcades. Clare McGrath, the glockenspiel player, is acting in a play until the end of the month in London called Eris, which we went to last week and was brilliant. Yasmin Ogilvie, the sax player, is in an all-female horn section called Apex Horns. Calie Hough, our drummer, plays for a number different projects. She was actually just doing percussion for a play at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. And I’m a DJ. I’ve DJed for the likes of Secret Cinema, Lacoste and more. So we keep busy!

ON: We were lucky enough to Steve Van Zandt  play the Cavern Club, he was on great form and looked ecstatic, What would be your dream venue to play?

JO: The Stone Pony in New Jersey of course! Gotta play at the Springsteen mecca, right?

ON: Do any of your shows involve plucking an audience member out of the crowd like the Dancing in the Dark video?

JO: We play it by ear a bit. At out February gig, a fella actually jumped on stage from the audience. The bouncer thought it was a normal stage invader and started to come over to pull the guy off. Luckily, Ally who runs the venue, Clapham Grand, was side stage and knew what was happening and whisked the bouncer off so we could have a good dance! At our May gig, the stage was too small so I actually jumped into the audience! So…I suppose folks will just have to see what I do.

ON: Have you or any of the band managed to catch the ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ and can you get any tickets? (Only joking)

JO: I wish! Sadly none of us have made it out there but a lot of friends have and I am massively jealous.

ON: What informs your music/songwriting?

JO: Springsteen! As a cover band, we didn’t have to write the songs but as women, we do try to put our own unique spin on them. The songs are so full of depth and real, raw human emotions. They are incredible to work with and play and to think about how the meanings can change when they’re from a woman’s voice.

ON:How have you evolved as a artist evolved over the years?

JO: When we first started the band, we stuck really closely to playing the songs as is. But as we’ve gone on,   though we play some of the songs quite straightforward, we’ve also gotten more comfortable playing with the layers more and putting more of our own mark on them, while hopefully staying true to the original. For example, all of the girls in the band can sing so we focus on adding a lot of harmonies in.

ON:What are you up to at the moment artistically?

JO:We are about to go on tour across the UK and Ireland. It’s our first proper tour and we are really looking forward to heading out on the road and meeting Springsteen fans across the country! We’ll be heading to Brighton, London, Glasgow, Dublin, Liverpool and Manchester.

ON:What’s on your rider?

JO: Nice wine! We’re classy ladies. And gin.

ON:Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.

JO: At our gig in March, we were doing a song for the first time, “Candy’s Room”. I play bass and sing on it. I was rocking away on the bass and singing and was super stoked when I made it through this whole thing without messing up… only to be told after that the bass had gotten unplugged right at the beginning and I couldn’t be heard the entire time.  Shame as I thought the non-existent bass sounded great!

ON:What song do you wish you’d written?

JO: Born To Run. It’s such an epic anthem! And the feeling that the “1-2-3-4 moment” gives to people when you hear it live, it’s really a moment like no other.

OP: What’s your worst lyric?

JO: Now don’t get me wrong, I love this song. One of my favourites in fact. But the lyric “hey little girl is your daddy home” from I’m On Fire….oh no no no.

The She Street Band are on tour throughout October and will be playing locally in both Liverpool and Manchester, tickets are available here.