This is one installment in a series of articles about Warped Tour Atlantic City, one of three official events commemorating the music festival’s 25-year-run. Stay tuned for more features about everyone’s favorite “punk rock summer camp.”
Shira Yevin, also known as Shiragirl, has gone down in the Hall of Fame for her work with Warped Tour. That’s a literal statement: this year, she was featured in an exhibit commemorating Warped Tour’s 25th anniversary at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her story is legendary to many a Warped aficionado: in 2003, when she was traveling with the festival as a representative for the Truth Campaign, she was surprised to see the ratio of men to women on tour. The next year, she decided to take control of the situation by showing up in her pink RV, setting up her own stage, and performing there with her band Shiragirl. Kevin Lyman, the festival’s founder, was inspired by her can-do attitude and commitment to making a change, and thus instituted the Shiragirl Stage in 2005 to showcase female performers. Over the years, the stage has hosted all kinds of superstars, including Joan Jett and Paramore (on the band’s first Warped Tour). 15 years later, Shira is still advocating for the inclusion and fair treatment of women in the scene. She performed at the Mountain View and Atlantic City Warped Tour festivals this year; she also just released a dystopian concept EP, Andi Underground.
We were lucky enough to chat with Shiragirl backstage at Warped Tour Atlantic City. We talked about Warped memories, the art of putting on a one-woman theatrical show, political resistance, and more.
TYF: So your first time touring with Warped Tour was in 2003, right?
TYF: How has today’s Warped Tour been different from or similar to those early days?
Shiragirl: Well, it’s super different. This year, it’s really different, ’cause it’s not a tour––it’s just two-day festivals. But it’s so cool that they were able to bring out so much amazing talent. Bands like blink-182 that got so huge after Warped Tour––the fact that they can come back and play it is awesome. I think there are definitely more female artists now, and that’s something that I’m really proud of, because that’s something I tried to help instill.
TYF: The Shiragirl stage.
Shiragirl: Yeah! But times are different. Obviously, back in the early days of Warped Tour, there was no social media. And I’ve had some conversations with Kevin, and he’s talked about how it can be hard to get the younger generation out to live events, because they’ll just stay home and watch it on Instagram. So I think that’s really different. But I do think that the kids who do come out are still full of passion and excitement.
TYF: Speaking of women in rock music, the Shiragirl stage is all about empowering women in rock. Who are some of the amazing women you’ve met through Warped Tour over the years?
Shiragirl: I mean, Joan Jett, number one. Queen of Rock, you know, so she takes the crown. A lot of the women that have played my stage… I got to meet Hayley [Williams] from Paramore. You know, they played the Shiragirl Stage on their first ever tour, which was awesome, in 2005. And she’s so down to earth. I’ve seen her since then and she’s like, “Hey Shira, how are you doing?” She never got too big for her breeches, which I think is cool. And as she grew older, I think she became more aware of the issues surrounding women in music, and now she speaks about it. Whereas when she was 16, she was kind of sheltered by her team and didn’t really experience that in the early years. So many amazing females have played our stage.. I got to bring Tatiana DeMaria to the States from London, and now she’s off doing her own thing.
TYF: And she’s here today.
Shiragirl: Yeah, she’s here today! Go Betty Go… I got to meet Monique [Powell] from Save Ferris. She’s great. Jennifer Finch from L7, she played my stage with her side project The Shocker in 2005, and so she’s become a very good friend. I just saw her at Rancid’s festival, The Bash, and she’s definitely one of my faves I’ve met through the tour. And women offstage and behind the scenes… Lisa Johnson, rock photgrapher. She’s here doing her Warped Museum… Yeah, I’ve met so many amazing women through this tour.
TYF: And you were recently featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their Warped Tour exhibition. What was it like seeing yourself there?
Shiragirl: I mean, gosh, it was so amazing. It was such an honor. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I’m in the rock and Roll Hall of fame next to Joan Jett and in the same display case as Joan and Ice-T, you know? And it was cool because in 2006, her I got to play with on my stage. We sang “Bad Reputation.” And they had the setlist from that show, and a photo from that show, and my shirt next to her bra. It was so cool. I only hope that one day, I can be anywhere near as much of a legend as she is.
TYF: That’s so cool. Now about your music—you’re releasing Andi Underground this summer, and it’s this awesome dystopian tale inspired by Alice in Wonderland. How did you come up with the idea for that?
Shiragirl: I’ve wanted to do something with Alice in Wonderland forever. In college, I actually did an experimental video kind of inspired by Alice. My producer Tim Armstrong and I, we both love musicals, and we were talking about doing something with the concept. And there’s a lot of shows and movies dealing with this theme of technology taking over our life, like Black Mirror. And Tim and I were talking the night before Halloween; we were already in pre-production for the record. And we came up with this concept of this girl who runs away from home, from this future world where you can’t leave your home without wearing these filter glasses, and she falls down a hole into this dark underground world and comes across all these characters.
TYF: That’s so cool. And you’ve been doing a ton of other amazing things recently. You played at the Strange 80s benefit concert; what was that like?
Shiragirl: Oh my God, Strange 80s was so fun. I got to cover Joan Jett, which was cool. I also got to take the stage with Adrian Young from No Doubt and Jesse from Eagles of Death Metal. We did “Fight for Your Right.” It was so fun. They called everyone up on stage, and we all sang, and I love that song. And it’s funny, ’cause I think he had a little memory lapse, and he forgot the lyrics at one point, and I came right in, and then he thanked me in the green room afterwards, so that was cool. I was like, “No, thank you for having me.” But to play the Fonda… such an awesome venue. And for a great cause, too—to raise awareness around mental health issues, which are so important. Strange Eighties and Charity Bomb are doing so many good things for artists, erasing the stigma around the conversation behind mental health. Talinda, Chester Bennington’s wife, was part of it too. And I got to be interviewed by Matt Pinfield, who I grew up watching interview all my idols on MTV… It was an amazing experience.
TYF: That’s awesome. And you guest started on an episode of Loveline with Dr. Chris Donaghue. How did that come about?
Shiragirl: Oh my gosh, Loveline was so fun. I was at KROQ Acoustic Christmas, and I met one of the producers of the show. And he said, “You know what, you’d be great for this show. We should really have you come out and do a guest spot.” And I met one of the producers, and they said, “We’d love to have you.” Leading up to it, I read Dr. Chris’s book, and I found it very interesting. So yeah, I got to go on the show. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I get to go on and talk about sex, and you guys are gonna listen? This is awesome.” My friends were all like, “You do this anyway. You might as well do it on air.” (Laughs)
TYF: You also had a one-woman show recently—”Hot Dates.” Can you tell us about that? What was the inspiration? What was it like performing it?
Shiragirl: Well, I studied performance art in college, and I’ve always wanted to do a one-woman show. And I had the opportunity to be part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and I teamed up with an amazing director who helped co-create the script. The show was an exploration of memorable dates in my life, both literally and figuratively. So some of the dates were, like, losing my virginity… I talked about memorable things like coming out as bisexual to my parents… And then literal stories of dates, most often bad dates. I talked about different relationships I’ve had. I used an inflatable doll as a prop; I also incorporated some of my music and dancing. It’s a show I hope to bring back.
TYF: Do you have any dating insights for our fans?
Shiragirl: Dating in LA sucks! (Laughs) As does online dating. I still haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out. My insights… Honestly, for me, it’s just “be yourself.”
TYF: Do you have any insights into putting on a one-woman show?
Shiragirl: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a lot of work. It’s scary. Make sure you collaborate with someone that you can trust and who’s going to push you. When we got together, my director was like, “Think about those things that you’re scared to talk about; that’s what you have to talk about.” It’s scary. I don’t get stage fright when I perform music, but when I performed this show, I was terrified. It felt like standing naked in front of the crowd, because you’re not only up there performing and worrying about remembering your lines, but you’re talking about very personal stuff. The other thing was, there was some comedy in it, and I had never done comedy before. I mean, I do stage banter in between songs and crack jokes, but you know, I was like, “Are they going to laugh at my jokes?” And they did. And it felt so good, because you get that immediate gratification when they laugh at your jokes. ‘Cause when you’re on stage, you rock, and you see people rocking out, and then at the end, they clap, and it’s fun… but when you crack a joke and people laugh, there’s no better feeling in the world. It’s awesome.
TYF: You filmed the music video for “Resist” at the Women’s March in LA. What are some of the memories that stand out when you think back on that?
Shiragirl: So that was the first year that Women’s March came back, and it was so powerful, taking over the streets. I think there were, like, 750,000 women just in Downtown LA alone. There were more across the country. And it felt really good. We all felt a little powerless after Trump was elected. “What do we do?” We couldn’t believe it. And it felt very empowering to be able to take to the streets and have our voices heard. And you couldn’t ignore it. Media couldn’t ignore it this time. Trump had to make some obnoxious comment… but he couldn’t ignore it, you know? And we actually went back to the Women’s March the following year, and we got to perform. So that was cool. It was awesome. And the whole idea to shoot the music video there was kind of organic. We actually recorded that song on Election Day. And no one thought Trump was gonna win. That song was co-written by my former guitarist, April Benson; she wrote it actually a few years back. But it just so happened that when we went to record, it was Election Day 2016. And as we were recording, the engineer had the news up, and the electoral votes kept coming in, and we couldn’t believe it. We were like, “No, no, what? This can’t be.” And I got angrier and angrier as I was singing. And the whole thing with the Women’s March… my friend Dylan Melody shot it, and it was a very last-minute thing. We talked about, “Oh yeah, we should go to the Women’s March and shoot.” And I think we didn’t actually lock it until, like, the day before. We were like, “Let’s do this.” And it was very punk-rock style. It was handheld camera. We just hopped on the train to Downtown LA and I’m like, “We’re here; let’s do the video.” It was cool.
TYF: I went to the first one in DC. It was remarkable.
Shiragirl: Nice. That was the biggest one.
TYF: Crazy time. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the readers and fans?
Shiragirl: Something that I’m very excited about is, I’m going to be starting an event series kind of based off of the concept of the Shiragirl Stage. It’s called Gritty in Pink, and it’s also to provide a platform for female-fronted bands and female artists. So that’s something you’re going to hear about more this year. And definitely excited for the new record, too. Andi Underground. It’s kind of like the next step in our musical evolution. I feel that the band is the strongest it’s ever been, and we’re just gearing up.