This week’s bad ass: Erika Osterhout
Bass player, world traveler and beer slinger on the side. Her giant yellow van is almost as notorious as her bass playing. That’s right, she’s got her own van. No drivin’ Miss Daisy on tour over here. Did I mention she’s a successful road manager as well? Bad ass.
Inspired by her older brother coming home with scraps of smashed TV sets and torn T-shirts after playing and raging at shows, she picked up her first bass in middle school and hasn’t looked back. Instead of pouting when her older bro didn’t take her to the shows, she stole his bass out of his room and taught her damn self. Like any younger sibling she wanted to be loud, rude and raw; shredding on bass like he did. All was for shits and giggles until she moved to Oakland and started jammin’ with Sean “Bloodbath” McGrath. They started blasting death metal tunes, she said she wanted to learn and he helped teach her how.
“…dedicated every free moment I had to making what he showed me not sound like total shit. He’d reward me after a week or two of scales and finger exercises with learning a song by a band of my choice. It pushed me to play music I wanted to play and not settle for anything less.”
I can tell you, she did NOT settle for less. Amongst other projects she is the bassist of SCOLEX a well-known band in the Oakland metal scene. Erika has traveled all over the world. She’s been a road manager waking up grumpy, hairy dudes at 5am to get them to the venue on time…She’s toured with her own bands that have been reviewed across Europe and the US.
Currently shredding on: “1984 Alembic Exploiter. I can’t play any other bass like I can play that one. I’ll call it “the Ox” or the “Entwistle” after John Entwistle from The Who. He was such a fucking shredder and Alembic designed the Exploiter for him since he wanted a Gibson Explorer type body. The Exploiter has a great weight disposition with the neck and body. No headstock taking a dive for the ground with it; just perfect balance, great tone, and untouchable presence.”
I asked her if she’s ever felt that she’s had to try harder to gain/earn respect as a female musician in a pro-dominantly male music scene; her answer was priceless:
“ I don’t think I’ve had to struggle with the men I’ve played in bands or even just jammed with. Guys aren’t born with some natural ability to shred either; they have to work at it just as much as anyone to become rippers. Maybe most of them are less self-conscious to just try something out with music whether it comes out awesome or like a total unusable turd. Rehearsing and polishing skills is genderless. I think if you’re hung up on being lesser
because of your sex, that’s exactly how everyone will perceive you. As far as I’m concerned it has no place in music.”
Erika’s “Pearls of wisdom” for any young ladies aspiring to do what she does:
“Keep your precious pearls in your pants. Work hard, play hard, and SHRED HARDER!”
Like any true music lover it was extremely difficult to narrow down her list of inspirations to a mere “Top 3” or 5 or 10…GirlSchool was her first big female inspiration along with: The Runaways, The Adverts, The Plasmatics, Sacrilege, Bolt Thrower, Derketa, Mythic, ect. DISCHARGE tops the list of forever favorites that never get old; The WHO being a lifelong inspiration introduced by rad parents.
This chick isn’t playing two chord songs. She’s SHREDDING that bass with all her heart and soul, working harder every day. She found what she loved and has dedicated her life to being good at it. She works full time, practices full time, and most importantly LIVES life the way she wants. Loud, rude and RAW.
Check out: SCOLEX. Come to a show. Don’t know where to go? Ask a punk…