Xtine and the Reckless Hearts: All Femme Punk Rock from Los Angeles
Xtine and the Reckless Hearts: All Femme Punk Rock from Los Angeles
Xtine & The Reckless Hearts are an all-femme punk rock band from the icnonic Los Angeles, CA music scene. The band is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Xtine Reckless, daughter of legendary reggae musician Fully Fullwood! A recent single Dead Weight was co-produced by Tim Armstrong of Rancid infamy and a brand new song entitled Savages is on the way. In addition, Xtine is invovled with the Gritty In Pink movement, and their monthly live shows in the Los Angeles area are not to be missed!
Highwire Daze recently conducted an interview and photoshoot day at Dystopian Studios deep in the heart of Downtown LA. and invited Xtine Reckless over to participate. Before the session with Vivian Ortega of So Finch Photography, Xtine sat down for an interview to discuss her absolutely amazing music career, the connection between her father Fully Fullwood and Tim Armstrong of Rancid, her participation in Gritty In Pink, and other topics of intrigue! Read on…
We’re here with Xtine of Xtine and the Reckless Hearts at Dystopian Studios. Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like?
Based out of Los Angeles. The local scene is kickin’ – it’s cool. There’s lots of women and girls in it, and I’m super excited about it.
Before we get into your music, tell me about your NAMM Show experience and what that was like.
I love NAMM because I love gear. I’m a gear snob. I worked for Guitar Center for like ten years of my life, because I love music equipment – I love learning about it – I love talking to the old guys who know all about the gear – they’ll tell you stuff that you’ve never known. So, I love going to NAMM and looking at all the stuff and seeing what’s new – any special items – I love the guitars and stuff. I got real excited at the Shure booth – they have a new wireless system for guitars – and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I need it!
Dead Weight – tell me about the inspiration behind that song.
I wrote Dead Weight years ago actually going through a breakup. I was really upset with the person I was with. They were just basically kind of Dead Weight in my life, and I realized it in the very end – and I needed them to get the fuck out. So, I wrote a song basically about it – how frustrated, anxious, and upset I was about being in that stupid relationship. Dead Weight! So, it’s basically for every girl either dealing with some sort of Dead Weight – whether it’s a person or something in your life that’s holding you back. It’s just getting rid of that.
How did Tim Armstrong of Rancid become involved with the recording of that song?
Well, actually through Shira. I’ve known Shira Girl since like 2005. We go way back to like the first Gritty stage at Warped Tour. I played that stage. It’s such a weird story. So I was hanging out with her for a while doing guitar for her – and then she called me up one day and said “Hey, come to the studio. I want you to meet Tim. We’re recording at the studio today.” And I said, “Sure, I’ll come up.” So I got all dressed up and drove all the way up there and walked in – and Tim was like, “Hey!” And I could tell that he had some sort of spark – and he was like, “Who are you? Like I need to know all about you.” So, I told him a little gist of my story and he was like, “What? Your dad is Fully? Okay, that’s cool.” And then at Shira’s birthday party, he was playing, and I was playing – and he pulled me aside and said, “Hey, I want you to send me your music. I really want to hear it! Send it to me right now.” Oh my god, this is crazy! So, I sent him my music – I dropboxed it to him right then and there. And then the next morning I got a text message from him like, “Awesome! Love it! Let’s get you into the studio!” And I was like, “Oh my god, this is amazing!”
And then he started sending me videos of my dad that I’d never seen before. I was like, “What is this and how come I’ve never seen this?” I thought I saw everything that my dad did, but apparently, I hadn’t. And there was a video of my dad playing with his best friend and another guy on his front porch at his house in Jamaica, like way back in the day. So, I thought it was like such a trip! So, it turned out that Tim Armstrong was a huge fan of my dad – like my dad was a huge influence – reggae, punk rock- they go together. So, he was telling me stuff about my dad that I didn’t even know too. So, I was like, this was amazing! Tim Armstrong loved my dad, and I love Tim Armstrong! This is so cool! It was just really cool to have that experience of someone that you look up to – I remember in high school writing Rancid on my backpacks and stuff. So, to flip it years later and be in the studio years later and he’s geeking out about my dad – this is the coolest thing in the whole wide world! Pinch me! It was pretty rad!
Select any other song that you’ve written and the inspiration behind it.
I write all of the songs. It’s kind of like a Joan Jett situation where it’s Joan Jett and she writes everything, and she has her band. I’ve never wanted to be a solo artist. I love the comradery of being in a band – especially a girl band. So, I wanted to have a girl band, but I wanted control over it. But I want everyone to participate and feel like it’s theirs also. I’ll write mainly all the music, but I’ll let the girls tweak stuff and make it feel more like theirs – so that they can have feel playing it, and that they can feel like it’s their part.
Girl On Fire is probably one of my favorite songs. I didn’t know it was an Alicia Keys title Girl On Fire until people were like, “You’re doing a cover?” and I was like “What? What are you talking about? No, this is my Girl On Fire.” Totally different! But it’s still a women empowerment song. When I play it at live shows, I tell everyone this song is for women or women identified females. It’s for every girl who ever felt like they were on fire – burning up in this world from either all the pressure for being a female – all the sexual harassment for being a female – and just trying to do your god damned job – whatever it is! Every girl feels like she’s on fire, so I wrote it specifically for that.
Your dad Fully Fullwood has played with everyone from Ringo Starr to Bob Marley. What kind of influence did he have on your music and your music career?
Huge! Without him doing it, I wouldn’t be here doing this. Basically, I watched my dad go on tour forever. Actually, before I was born, my dad my played The Greek Theater with Peter Tosh – and I was in my mom’s belly for that show. She was there watching it, so that was my official first show at The Greek Theater with Peter Tosh – so that was really cool! So, when I got birthed out, I was surrounded with reggae music. I went to every single show as a child – went backstage with everything – saw the whole experience. And I always thought it was really cool and really interesting – how my dad got treated – it was a special thing. And it was like, “Okay, I want to be a part of this life.” And then he went on tour to Japan, and he came back with a home video from his tour experience – and we all watched it as a family. And I was like, “What the hell is this? Japan looks like the coolest place in the world! I need to go there so bad!” So my mission is to go on tour so I could travel the whole world like my dad. My dad got himself out of a third world country and traveled the whole world just with music. So, I was like, “If he could do it, then anybody can do it!” It doesn’t matter where anybody’s from – he’s from the worst fucking place! He fucking did it! So, he completely inspired me 100 percent.
I want to talk a little about the Gritty In Pink movement. How did you become involved with that?
Well I got involved with that via Shira in 2005. When she put the Shira Girl stage at the Warped Tour in 2005, that’s when I got involved. So basically, I was put on Warped Tour by Kevin Lyman, but there were no stages for us at the time because we got booked last, last minute. And he was like, “Well, there’s this girl stage and would you guys like to be a part of that? I’m not trying to make you do it because your girls, but do you want to do it?” And we’re like, “Okay.” And so we went on that stage, and I instantly met her. And she was like, “Here, sell these CD’s…” and blah blah blah blah. “Help build the stage. Girl power!” And I was like, “Who the fuck is this crazy girl? Okay, let’s do this!” And instantly I wanted to be involved with what she did. I thought any woman who could go out there and do this by herself – she just had the balls, and I was really inspired!
When I was 16 and in high school, I put together a benefit concert – because I really wanted to go to a punk rock show and there were no shows in my town So I was like I’m going to go and recruit the bands, I’m going to go find the place, and I’m gonna make it the fuck out of it! And I did it at 16 with two of my friends – we went to this church and asked them if we could use their spot. We went to Laura’s House and said “Hey, could we raise money for you? Would you be okay with that?” And they said, “Of course you could raise money for us!” And then I went to a whole bunch of shows and recruited a whole bunch of bands – including Audio Karate! I went to their show and went, “Oh, Audio Karate! I love you guys! Could you please play my show?” And they’re like “okay” and I’m like “What?! Audio Karate? So cool!” So, we did a benefit show and raised over $2000 for Laura’s House. And so, I was like man, it just takes motivation and determination – and if you have those two things, you can do anything.
So, seeing Shira, and seeing how much motivation and determination she had – I was like I gotta back this girl! Whatever this girl does, I need to support her! And the fact that she’s made Gritty into such this huge thing – I’m impressed! I feel like what she’s doing is needed for women. It’s been needed for women for such a long time! Because in 2005, women were against each other, because label’s could sign only one girl band. Radio stations could only play one girl group. If there was one girl group and then there was another girl group, it was an instant like “Now we’re enemies! We can’t like each other because we’re competing against each other!” But what Shira did was kind of break that down and, “No, let’s just support each other. No more competition. Fuck the fucking patriarchy. Let’s do it together. Women!” And I thought, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” So, she’s a Queen and I am forever thankful to her. She’s a businesswoman – she gets shit done!
What’s up next for Xtine and the Reckless Hearts?
We’re talking about going back to the UK – and we’re also talking about going to Japan – which is really cool. So that’s going to be next year. For this year, we’re just doing a whole bunch of shows and releasing a whole bunch of videos and music – because we haven’t released that much music at all. We’re an interesting band that’s been able to do a lot with only one release. Most bands can’t do anything with no music out, but we’ve been able to conquer everything with nothing. It’s pretty cool. And now we finally have stuff! Plus, we’re a comic book band, so hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have one of the chapters out for everybody to see what the story is…
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Vivian Ortega of So Finch Photography)
Xtine and the Reckless Hearts on Instagram