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Charisma and Causes

[whitespace] Storm Large
Storm Warning: Storm and Her Dirty Mouth play gale-force rock and R&B.

Rock vocalist Storm Large is bigger than life

By Sarah Quelland

ON A TYPICAL NIGHT, she steps onto the stage dressed tightly in black, her sexy 6-foot frame boosted even closer to the ceiling with thick platform shoes and her hair a fiery mist surrounding her striking face. Smart, articulate, witty, outspoken and provocative, singer Storm Large is all woman, and there's no doubt she's a performer at heart.

The statuesque 29-year-old vocalist fronts Storm and Her Dirty Mouth, a five-member San Francisco rock band that combines a distinctive rock, R&B sound with a hard, heavy edge. The band has been together for about one year and just released its first EP, Storm and Her Dirty Mouth (PopMafia).

Storm and Her Dirty Mouth evolved from the band Flower SF, which Storm describes as "really loud and very dramatic [with] all the loudness of Led Zeppelin and the cabaret of Queen." "I'd usually end up naked and heaving," she adds.

After being together for about five years, Flower SF felt pressured to sign to a label and disbanded, only to later regroup in the form of Storm and Her Dirty Mouth. Storm, guitarist Michael Cavaseno and bassist Ubi Whitaker are the remaining original members; guitarist Geoff Pearlman and drummer Dan Foltz round out the group.

The band members write the guitar-driven music while Storm pens the lyrics--and her subjects come alive as she sings. On "Geraldine" the pain of loss becomes tangible: "I don't love as easily since you were taken away/Things are looking so different today/The summertime isn't as sunny/and the spring it ain't so new/And nobody can be funny or hold a candle up to you/I called God a greedy old bastard/Taking you away was mean/Oh, Geraldine."

Storm's crisp, clear voice can move from a sweet melody to an emotion-filled scream, and she puts it to good use on "Ima Yora," a fully charged rocker that begins with Storm conspiratorially whispering, "She's a whore/And she is evil to the core/She's a whore/That's what she is/If that is what you think about her."

The emotion, expression and sheer intensity of Storm's performances are compelling. "Storm's incredibly charismatic," Foltz says. "Women tend to really relate to her and really like her. What they see in her is not really sex, but strength. People tell me she's really inspiring. I don't know what could be better than that." He adds, "I think she sort of scares men, but in a way, they're kind of enchanted by her."

The word "LOVER" is tattooed across Storm's back in big, bold letters. "It's what I am essentially," she explains. "It's what I do. It's how I am. My feelings and my heart drive me more than anything."

HER ACTIONS echo that statement. Storm is a dedicated activist and Storm and Her Dirty Mouth has done several benefits for causes like Rock Against Rape and Food Not Bombs. "I'm a sucker for a good cause," she says, "[especially] anything having to do with the little guy not getting a fair shake." It's evident that social concerns mean a lot to her, and she's willing to put herself on the line to make a difference.

That doesn't mean the band focuses solely on social issues. Of late, Storm and Her Dirty Mouth has been busy promoting its six-song EP, which Cavaseno refers to as a "little taste" of what the band has to offer.

Produced by Thom Wilson (Offspring, Iggy Pop, Dead Kennedys) and recorded at the Plant Recording Studios in Sausalito (where Fleetwood Mac recorded 1977's Rumours and Metallica recorded 1996's Load), Storm and Her Dirty Mouth's EP took about six days to record according to Pearlman. "We really just burned through it," he says. "It was very quick and very painless."

It opens with the catchy pop song "I'm Not Alright" in which Storm declares, "When I say I'm alright/Don't look in my eyes/Or you'll see I'm not alright."

She explores her fears with "Superman," imploring the Man of Steel with "Hey, listen, Superman/Please answer my call/You see, I'm just a little girl/and only human after all/Believe me I've tried to battle hate and greed/But it's beginning to look like John [Lennon] was wrong and love is not all that we need/Tell me, what do we need?"

Storm says she knows how to flirt and flaunt and be sexually courageous onstage, and those abilities are not lost on the EP. On the racy love song "Lust," Storm pulses with "While I'm holding your hands, I'm only thinking of your fingers." And "Crazy Love" is a sexy number soaked in heavy breathing and moaning on which Storm takes a seductive turn: "I imagine you're the lather when I take my evening bath."

To promote the EP, Storm and Her Dirty Mouth is taking a tour along the West Coast, starting with the Wilma Festival in Seattle, billed as a festival for women who aren't afraid to rock.

Whitaker sums it up well when he says, "We're basically doing what feels natural to us. I can't do anything else. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing. If I don't do it, I miss it."

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From the November 12-18, 1998 issue of Metro.

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