ON AN AFTERNOON IN LATE JULY, Lauren “LG” Gilbert, lead singer and guitarist for the hard-rock outfit Thelma and the Sleaze, settles down on one of the sundry chairs in the backyard of Fond Object Records in Riverside Village to talk about her band.
LG’s eyes are alert, her tongue sharp, and her demeanor decidedly confident. “I hate it when people call us an ‘all-girl’ rock & roll band,” she says, “because first off, we as women invented that shit, and two, it’s demeaning. We rock harder than every little boy’s rock band out there now. I wish I got half as much attention as bands that work half as hard as me and sound half as good.” Decidedly confident, indeed.
Growing up, music was a family affair for LG. Born in Kentucky, her family relocated to Iowa, where she got a serious rearing by her grandfather. “He bought me my first guitar and taught me how to play it and encouraged me to do so,” she explains. “He would play me music every day and showed me how you can capture an audience. And he taught me reverence, which I think is really important. I don’t have a very long attention span, but I had reverence when he was around, so I would sit and try to absorb and try to emulate instead of just throwing shit out. He had a lot of respect for people like Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, all those people really early on.”
From there, LG got into a wide variety of music. “The early stuff I listened to was Sabbath and whatever my mom brought back from the auction house,” she recalls. “She’d buy like 12 boxes of records for a dollar and then let us go through them. My sister had Sticky Fingers on vinyl, Axis Bold As Love. A lot of my first sexual experiences were to Axis Bold As Love. I’m post-grunge, a child of the ’90s.”
Thelma and the Sleaze have been going strong for almost a decade now, and while the band has undergone some lineup changes during that time and has mostly been a power trio, it’s currently a tight four-piece — LG on guitar and vocals, Amaia Aguirre on keys, Chloe Katerndahl on bass, and Snowflake on drums — that has honed its sound through relentless touring. LG has described the group as “a bunch of badass, hard-workin’ women,” and legend has it, she once defended herself from a male assailant at a show by whacking him three times with her custom Gibson SG guitar she calls “Fancy.”
Earlier this year, TATS were the subject of an award-winning documentary by Seth Graves called Kandyland: The Movie that covered an intracity tour in February 2016 where they performed 31 shows in Nashville in 29 days. Then, after releasing a number of EPs and a full-length live album over the years, the band dropped its first full-length studio album, Somebody’s Doin’ Something, in June on Last Hurrah Records (vinyl) and Burger Records (cassette).
As the interview winds down, LG doesn’t mince words in summing up the band’s raison d’être: “We exist to rock!”