Black Queen Speaks Checkmates Other Funk-Rockers

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It's a well-known fact that most band names are essential gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're working to find some meaning in the monikers.

Black Queen Speaks' own description of itself is better than any other we could possibly come up: They sound like Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden got their asses kicked by James Brown.

Their music is an electric fusion of hard rock, blues, and funk, a combination that has made us fairly leery of many, many more inept bands. What Black Queen Speaks bring to the table is, well... not sucking at it. The result is electric and dirty, music that acts as a neon sign spotlighting the kind of sex that was illegal in this city until recently. It's hate music to make love to, is what we're trying to say.

But what's up with that name? What Black Queen? What the hell does she say that you have to go on and on about it? We sat down with the band to find out.

"Many people have asked about the origins and the meaning of the name Black Queen Speaks," says singer Mike Blas. "The name was originally coined by my friend, Jon Liechty of Seattle. I brought it to Pez Lopez and explained his interpretation of the name.

"Black is truth and honesty; Queen is emotions; Speaks is expression. Together, Black Queen Speaks means a true, emotional expression, or honestly expressing oneself with one's art."

"The name has an enhanced meaning," adds bassist Lopez. "As a follower of Master Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, The Way of the Intercepting Fist, the name made perfect sense to me. It reminded me of Master Lee's famous quote, 'Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.'"

That may be what the names means to the band, but frankly it's such an odd little label that it brings all kind of images into our heads just hearing it, and very little of it has to do with honest emotional expression or legendary karate men.

What we were thinking about was chess. The queen is the ultimate powerhouse on the board, and the black queen tends to symbolize injury and vengeance as the most powerful warrior on the defending side.

"The black queen can go anywhere!" we shouted at the band. "Where do you want to go?"

"I just want to dance," says guitarist D2 Day laconically.

"I hope it takes me to Spain or Japan," puts in Lopez, "But L.A. would be a nice start."

They seem like such a laid-back bunch of guys for a group whose music is very much a swift elbow to the jaw. No saccharine lovey-dub songs for these guys, and listening to the player on their Web site was keeping us in a confrontational state of mind.

We still wanted to know who the Black Queen was, so we suggested a battle between the only two we knew of; RuPaul and Queen Latifah!

Who would win in that Thunderdome match?

"Queen Latifah would easily win," says Lopez. "She's from the NYC!"

"I would have to say RuPaul," puts in drummer Josh Skiffington. "That chick has some balls, literally!"

"The premise of this question is flawed," said Day, peacefully settling the matter. "The reason is that if this encounter ever did happen, Lil' Kim would be somewhere in the mix and someone would get shot."

There's no beating these guys. They checkmated us.


Black Queen Speaks: (n) 1. A true, emotional expression, or honestly expressing oneself with one's art. 2. The sound of Lil' Kim's glock. 3. A combo of rock, blues, and funk... but not in a crap way.

Black Queen Speaks performs Saturday, January 15, at the Jetspeed Live Music Festival at Warehouse Live, with Parabelle, Dev Electric, Exit 380, Chrome 44, Carmeci, and Dawn Over Zero.

Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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