Rock bands with female bassists are rare.
Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies, Drive-By Truckers, Talking Heads and Sonic Youth come to mind. Add Sick Puppies, a trio that hails from Sydney, Australia, to that list. The band opens for 3 Doors Down on Sept. 16 at the York Fair.
The band's bassist Emma Anzai said women rule pop and country genres, but they're few and far between in the rock world.
"It is a very gruff male-oriented environment," she said. "(Female musicians) get a lot of attention. Sometimes you get mistaken for the girlfriend. They don't expect you to be in the band."
Female role models didn't abound in rock 'n' roll when Anzai was a kid. Now, she gets inspiration from peers, including Amy Lee of Evanescence and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, a group that got its start in Red Lion.
"It's nice that you get a lot of comments from young girls and moms .¤.¤. who give you kudos for what you do," Anzai said during a recent phone interview.
Being in the right band helps, too.
Anzai met Shimon Moore in high school. They were kids who scrambled to sign up to use the music room during lunch.
One afternoon, they were booked the same time. After an argument about who should leave, they both stayed and jammed. They found out they shared a mutual love of Silverchair - the Australian alt rock group that made it big in the U.S.
Anzai and Moore, who plays guitar and sings, started to rehearse together and later added drummer Mark Goodwin.
A short time later, they won a national radio competition. Suddenly, they had a manager and a record deal with an Australian label.
But Sick Puppies set its sights on a wider market.
"We decided to come to the states," Anzai said. "Our genre didn't have a huge following (in Australia). Rock is pretty alive and healthy (in the U.S.). People are a lot more upfront about getting their music out there."
After the band relocated to Los Angeles five or six years ago, they realized that they had a lot more competition.
"It made us step it up," she said. "We were just another band. We had to put in the hours."
Eventually, people paid attention. Their "Free Hugs" video garnered millions of YouTube hits. Other singles became WWE theme songs and video game anthems. The group was also featured in Robert M. Knight's "Rock Prophecies" documentary along with Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana and Slash.
Groups including Seether and Flyleaf showed them the ropes on the road. It took a lot of getting use to, Anzai said. The U.S. was so big that one tour just folded into another. The stress started to grow.
Wi-Fi, Anzai joked, became a lifesaver for the Sick Puppies. The band members used it to watch movies and stay connected with fans, which is a 24/7 job in the digital age.
"I think it's awesome," Anzai said about posting updates on social media sites. She added that she wishes that she could have been able to connect with bands she listened to as a teen, including Incubus, Rage Against the Machine, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
When Sick Puppies is offline, it's onstage or in the studio.
Anzai will add her bass parts to a new album the band plans to start working on soon.
If you go
3 Doors Down plays 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the York Fair grandstand, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township. Sick Puppies opens the show.
Tickets are $40 for track, plaza and center grandstand seats and $35 for side track, side plaza and side grandstand seats. Tickets are available at the York Fair box office, by phone at 848-2033 and online at www.yorkfair.com.
Processing fees apply to phone and Internet orders. Concert tickets do not include admission to the fair. Reduced price adult gate admission tickets are available for $5 each with a concert ticket. Regular admission is $6.
For details about Sick Puppies, visit www.sickpuppies.net.
For more stories, videos and photos from the York Fair, visit yorkblog.com/fair.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.