Not Just a Girl Band, Not Just a Cover Band

Hervana Are Bringing Back Nirvana and Riot Grrrl All at Once

courtesy of Hervana.

Nirvana was great. I mean, Nevermind kind of sucked, but even that record is good in a pop-grunge kind of way. What I’m saying is, no matter who you are, I think we can all agree: Nirvana was fucking great, and it sucks that they’re gone.

But don’t despair, because Hervana is giving us everything we miss about Nirvana with the added bonus of riot grrrl, a great cause, and a shit ton of puns.

Hervana is composed of four Toronto multi-instrumentalists and obvious lovers of puns and Nirvana, each with their own riot grrrl/Nirvana mashup pseudonyms.

With Miss Novoselic (Erin Saunderson), Dave Grrrl (Adrian Pasen), Pap Smear (Michelle Turingan), and front woman Skirt Cobain, also known by her slave name Carly Beath, the quartet slams through Nirvana tracks with both a pop band’s upbeat attitude and riot grrrl’s ferocity.

It’s at once jaunty, silly and totally mesmerizing, having the final quality of being completely endearing, with great songs not only kept intact, but added to in a way you never really thought you were searching for, but it turns out you had been searching for the entire time.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Hervana is their origins, specifically that there was very little planning behind this genius amalgamation of grrrl, puns and Nirvana. In fact, the true origins of Hervana are a tweet.

29 May 2013
@groshbarr: Toronto needs an all-girl cover band named Hervana.

This tweet only got one reply, and it was negative. However, little did @groshbarr know that he had begun a chain reaction.

“I didn’t know if he was serious, but I saw that, and thought it was a great idea, and decided to make it happen,” said Beath.

Beath says she doesn’t usually create bands out of tweets and hadn’t even been particularly interested in starting a cover band. But this seemed like too good an idea to pass up, and so Hervana was born. The more-than-just-a-coverband has been killing Toronto since. Beath and I spoke recently about what Nirvana meant to her and Hervana’s upcoming benefit for Rock Camp for Girls Montreal. We talked on the phone, and she is funny, upbeat and engaging. In Utero is her favorite record.

“Nirvana was one of my first favourite bands,” She tells me. “When I was learning to play guitar, I learned their songs. They were an early influence, and I’ve always loved their music.”

It isn’t just Cobain’s music that makes the cover band great for her. Beath thinks Nirvana is a perfect platform for getting out some good ideas.

“Nirvana had great politics, and used this platform to get some great messages on sexism and racism and homophobia out there,” she said.

Now the quartet of grrrl imposters are not just reviving some great tunes live. They’re trying to be more than just an “all girl band” and to show other women and young girls that rock doesn’t have to stay dominated by males.

Beath doesn’t necessarily like the term “girl band,” thinking that it’s used too often to brush aside bands with a label, although Hervana are happy to use the term to their advantage.

“For us, there’s an argument to be made against being a girl band. But I think it’s good for all-female bands to be visible, because there aren’t as many,” she said. “The more there are out there, the more women will get into rock.”

As an all-girl, more than just a grrrl, band, Hervana are looking to make waves. Besides shredding classic tracks to adoring crowds on a regular basis, they’re hoping that at least a side effect of their rocking might be more women in punk. Hervana is now raising awareness for female-focused rock organizations, like Rock Camp for Girls Montreal, hoping that in the future they’ll see even more women involved in the punk scene.

“I can’t wait for the bands that will come out of rock camp. It’s gonna be really amazing.”

CJLO & Femmes Fatales presents:

Hervana w/ Nancy Pants & Heathers at Club Lambi

April 9 at 9 p.m. $10