Wellington's Cherry's Gemstones is an all-girl band, but that's not what they want to be known for.
Fresh Talent: Cherry's Gemstones
Author: Rebecca Thomson
"You wouldn't ask that about all boys in a band. The industry definitely makes it a focus," says singer/songwriter/guitarist Hannah Simpson, aka Cherry Gemstone.
Bright and bubbly, Cherry exudes confidence on and off stage. Apart from being unable to escape the 'all-girl' moniker, she's happy with the way things are going for her band.
Cherry's Gemstones 2006 line up includes Greta Garbo Gemstone on drums and backing vocalist Heleyni Halva Gemstone. The trio stormed the stage at the NZ Music Month launch with their stage antics and likeable punk-rock tunes.
The band's high-energy guitar music and Cherry's rock-operatic voice have been compared to Patti Smith and Sleater Kinney, but Cherry says their influences are far and wide. She also cites Tanya Donnelly of Breeders fame, Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth and Mogwai.
Recently Cherry's Gemstones independently released their debut EP 'Love in the Dreamscape Matrix Reality', which saw them take a month-long nationwide tour, picking up a few groupies on the way.
"It's crazy," Cherry laughs. "We've had people follow us - literally. There was a group [of fans] from New Plymouth that followed us to Hamilton, and a group from Palmerston North followed us to Wanganui."
Cherry formed the Gemstones in 2003 but her interest in music goes back much further. As a girl and teen she learned to play the piano, guitar and electric guitar. Her voice is definitely another instrument and throughout the interview she breaks into song, demonstrating her knack for lyrics which are often a commentary on society and the way we live.
"I'm just saying how I feel about things - emoting. People can take what they like from the music."
And although so far she has penned all their lyrics and music, Cherry is keen to get the others more involved.
"I do want to get the girls writing more. We were having a conversation and Heleyni said something about wanting to write rap - that would be great. It'd mash up styles.
"I'd like to get into computer sounds too, but that takes a lot of time - it's an art form in itself. Maybe if we get famous and someone offers us lots of money then we can do that," she laughs.
The band title is a combination of her nickname - Mama Cherry - and reference to '80s television programmme Jem and the Holograms.
"Also, 'stones' is such a classic '50s/60s name."
Cherry and her Gemstones are working on making videos for each track on their exuberant 6-track EP and building up to a nationwide tour.