White Shag set to rock ToledoWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
Within a male-dominated industry where sex and rock ’n’ roll often go hand-in-hand, White Shag lead singer and bassist Laura Mendoza wants the world to know she’s not afraid to embrace her sexuality as a female musician.
“What I think is that women are taught to be sexy, especially in the entertainment industry,” Mendoza said. “They’re taught to be sexy, but they’re not taught to be sexual. Why is it OK for a guy to talk about laying some chick or whatever, but it’s not OK for a girl to do it? We want to break ground with our music. We want to bring things to people’s attention.”
Comprised of Mendoza, Jorge Cortez (lead guitar/vocals) and Lee Majors (drums), White Shag will perform at Woodchuck’s Bar & Grill in downtown Toledo on Dec. 17. With Janis Joplin, Iggy and The Stooges, MC5, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age among its influences, the three-piece rock outfit from Detroit has a high-energy sound that harkens back to the psychedelic rock of the late ’60s and early ’70s, one it describes as “sexy rock ’n’ roll.”
From songs like “Penetration” to the band’s name — which came about after a discussion on cool places to have sex — sexuality is a subject that’s been central to White Shag since its inception approximately two-and-half years ago.
“That’s I think the big issue, and it’s faux pa for a girl to talk about her sexual desires,” Mendoza said. “But we want to break that theme and I want that to be out there because women should be able to do that just as men do.”
“I think a lot of people have fear in them,” said Majors, the group’s newest member whose real name is Lee Southard. “They have a lot of fear in them and that’s what we’re trying to break through.”
Also central to White Shag is a passion for music that started in each member’s childhood. Growing up in Rochester Hills, Mich., Cortez started playing the piano at age four. A trip to his mom’s native Paraguay at 11-years-old got him hooked on the guitar after his cousin taught him how to play “Patience.” Majors, who grew up in Commerce, Mich. and started playing the drums at the age of three, used to sleep in his dad’s bass drum.
Raised in Dayton, Mendoza grew up in a Chilean household and started singing at six-years-old. At 18, she was given a plane ticket to Chile as a graduation present from her mother and ended up spending seven years in her mom’s homeland, where she earned her degree in Music Composition and Arranging in Popular Music.
“The whole experience of being in Chile in general really influenced me to be more of a thinker, to not be so dramatic [and] to not be so about the little bubble that we live in in the United States,” Mendoza said. “It really opened my eyes to a lot of things, so I think it really helped me be more passionate and transmit more passion into writing music and playing music, as well.”
When Mendoza returned to the U.S., she lived with her dad in Ann Arbor for a few years before eventually making her way to Detroit. It was in Ann Arbor that she met Cortez, who asked her to front his band The Brothers Cortez. After losing its bass player and finding Majors through a drum off for a permanent drummer in November, the current lineup of White Shag became complete.
“I could totally see a difference from when we started playing shows as a three-piece as opposed to when we did as a four-piece,” Mendoza said. “We started getting more people interested. People were more about our music. It was a real positive change in the end.”
“As a three-piece it’s very intimate to what we’ve got going right now,” Majors said. “There’s nothing more that we need to add to the whole thing.”
Right now, White Shag has a collection of songs and is deciding whether to put together an album or release a single. In the meantime, the band is branching outside the Motor City to bring its live experience to new fans, including Toledo.
“I’m so excited to go play there, personally,” Mendoza said. “I am so excited. I heard so many good things [about Toledo].”
On Dec. 17, White Shag will perform with BathHouseBetty and The Deadbeat Moms at Woodchuck’s, located at 224 S. Erie St. in downtown Toledo. Tickets are $5 for ages 21 and over and $7 for those under 21. Doors are at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. To check out White Shag, visit facebook.com/WhiteShag.