Hagstrom Spotlight

Devoted Hagstrom Fan: Denise Mercedes from NYC

Hagstrom Spotlight

It's always an enjoyment for us to introduce different Hagstrom guitar fans from around the world.
This time, we will travel to NYC to introduce to you Denise Mercedes, guitarist for NYC's popular all girls band, "GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS". 


Denise Mercedes

HAGSTROM Guitarist for NYC’s popular GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!


Current:

Hagstrom guitarist Denise Mercedes (a/k/a Mercedes Mars) rocks out in GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS! … the worlds first and greatest all-female tribute to Motley Crue.  The NY-based group started in 2007 and immediately exploded onto the music world, putting their own female spin on the project, combining their love of rock & roll with a feisty sense of humor. As one of the early all-girl metal tributes, the ladies in the band had fun with the idea of emulating rock’s baddest boys, seemingly creating an entirely new concept of “tribute” in the process.  They became the darlings of the New York rock scene, notorious for its lack of warmth towards ‘cover’ bands.  Opening for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on only their second public appearance, the Girls also traveled and played exciting shows: Alaska, Orleans Arena in Las Vegas with former Guns'n'Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, and the USA’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration at JFK Stadium in Washington. D.C.  New York Times best-selling rock author Chuck Klosterman had the Girls perform with him at a special reading in NYC.  The group also was featured as highlighted guests on VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” in a hilarious spoof on tribute bands.


The band broke up in 2009 but reformed again in late 2012.  Filmmaker Rachel Rampleman had traveled with Girls Girls Girls for two years, documenting their life both on and off-stage, and created the “Home Sweet Home” video for their spectacular and very successful “Reunion Show” at Brooklyn Bowl in May 2012.   The band found themselves greeted with such enthusiasm from fans and venues alike that they decided to reunite for good. The group is busy again performing as much as possible, bringing on the greatest hits and fan favorites of Motley Crue like they have never been done before!


Denise Mercedes on Using Hagstrom Guitars Exclusively:

At every show, people come up from the audience and want to know what kind of guitar I’m playing. They are blown away by the graceful unique styling and the remarkable sound of my instruments used on stage. I have 3 sparkle (BLING!) Hagstroms and stick with Hagstrom as the best and most comfortable guitars I’ve ever owned and played.


Self taught, I do not use any fx pedals, and only recently added a ‘Bootsa Grande’ stomp box for punching up solos. Audience members repeatedly claim to be impressed, even fascinated by my minimalist approach to equipment in live shows.  Despite the total simplicity of my setup, it always delivers a wickedly fierce sound with beautiful tone and makes the band sound great!


I enjoy playing these guitars so much that I have the Hagstrom headstock tattooed around my right arm with flames shooting out of it.


Denise Mercedes Previous Guitarist Bio

Was the founder/guitarist of underground and revered NY legends “The Stimulators”, whose distinctive style  of speeded up yet melodic punk rock became the cornerstone building-block to what quickly became the ‘hardcore/thrash metal’ movement in NYC in the early 80’s. The Stimulators released one DIY single “Loud Fast Rules!” which became the battle cry of the growing punk/hardcore scene at that time. The original 1000-copy pressing is one of the most rare and sought-after punk records. It has been bootleg pressed numerous times across the world. The band also released one EP, and one cassette album, “Loud Fast Rules!” on the ROIR label, recorded on a DAT machine at a gig in North Carolina by legendary NY underground music hero, producer Jerry Williams.  (*Re-issued 2011 on CD& vinyl).  The Stimulators also appeared on the compilation album “New York Thrash” alongside Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, and our other contemporaries off that scene.  Another Stimulators song that helped establish their fresh uniqueness early on was “MACHINE” -- absolutely one of the first true hardcore/thrash songs (1978).  The group was the 1st American punk band to perform in war-torn Ireland (both North and South) and had many adventures not possible or likely in today’s super high-tech urbane world.


The Stimulators befriended fellow rockers the Bad Brains from Washington, D.C. in the early days of their career, who catapulted their explosive style onto New York. The hard/fast music of the two inseparable bands made them the most popular and influential groups on the local scene at that time. Bad Brains brilliant bassist Darryl Jenifer has stated that Denise Mercedes is one of the best guitarists he’s ever heard!  The Bad Brains asked the Stimulators to reform (after many years) and play with them on the closing night of punk rock at iconic CBGB’s. Denise makes an interview appearance in their 2012 documentary film alongside rockers Dave Ghrol, Ric Ocasek, Henry Rollins, Harley Flanagan, the Beastie Boys, and other musicians relevant to the early hardcore/thrash-metal/metal-core movement. Article review: http://theslate.sunyulster.edu/2012/11/13/music-documentary-bad-brains-band-d-c-york-premiere/;


D has played with some interesting musicians through the years.  Highlights include a stint playing shows in and around punk London with drummer Rat Scabies (Damned) who asked her over to join a band he was forming after the Damned broke up.  While there, she met Ray Davies (Kinks) who advised her to stay in England, and that it would be very difficult for a woman guitarist to break in the U.S., a sentiment echoed to her in New York by Brian Setzer during his rockabilly days at Max’s Kansas City.  She played in a short-lived blues band with Bryson Graham (RIP), one of the UK’s top drummers (Spooky Tooth, Moody Blues) and got to jam solo with Iggy Pop at a loft party, performing an impromptu “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with a leaping frenetic Iggy Pop to thrilled party-goers. Bob Dylan bought Denise her first great guitar, a 70’s Les Paul (in return, she gave him a distortion box). Mick Ronson (David Bowie) wanted to help the fledgling guitarist out and gave her one of his “Spiders from Mars” Marshall amp rigs so she could get a really good sound for playing in clubs.


Denise Mercedes left the music world for quite a while after the Stimulators disbanded and became a visual artist. Her specialty: large floor-to-ceiling tapestry-like work featuring UFOs, robots and animals often together, were shown in galleries and museums, including the New York Hall of Science.  She became an advocate for animal rights/wildlife conservation during this time, and continues to work on behalf of animal issues.  She organized, participated in, and brought the astonishing ‘gorilla titled’  water-color paintings by the world’s most famous Lowland Gorillas (the sign-language-speaking Koko and Michael) to New York for their first and only New York gallery showing, in a successful and well publicized art event “Interspecies Communication” raising awareness for the very sentient and endangered Gorilla species.


Upon her return to the music scene in around 2004, Denise had the opportunity to record some of her original songs with LaLa Brooks, lead singer of The Crystals, one of Phil Spector’s top girl singing groups of the 1960’s.  Also on that session was Angie Workman, backup singer for Prince, Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, Ben E. King. D’s songs from that recording session are unreleased and are a mighty cross between 60’s girl group meets hard/classic rock.


Today in 2013, sought after as a ‘metal-classic rock’ guitarist in the tribute world, Denise is often asked to join or ‘fill in’ for bands.  She has just been asked to write the soundtrack to an independent film --- and will be determining that project’s viability over the next few weeks.


Links:

www.facebook.com/denisemercedes

www.facebook.com/girlsgirlsgirlsnyc

http://www.reverbnation.com/girlsgirlsgirlsnyc - recordings, video, upcoming calendar dates

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