Two years ago, Dana Kirkendoll invited a stranger she met at a Jenny Lewis show back to her apartment. “We were both with friends, waiting out by the tour bus, and she and her friend started harmonizing,” said Kirkekndoll. “I didn’t know if I wanted to be jealous or be friends with her, but a few weeks later, I invited her over to my apartment, and now I have a band!”
Dana and that stranger, Frankie Guerra, formerly of Frankie & Rufus, make up Girl Gang, a guitar and drum duo whose song “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” has become an anthem in the age of pussy hats and mansplaining.
“Jill Sobule put out a call for protest songs on her Facebook page,” said Frankie. “We thought ‘we should do this,’ but we didn’t have anything to protest. Then I saw a movie about feminism in the ’60s called ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ and I knew that was something we could get behind.”
“We came up with the riff in one session,” said Dana. “I took four buses to get to Frankie’s house and I walked in and she did the guitar in one take. Then the next four hours were her helping me learn how to sing.”
A month later, they put the song on iTunes, where it quickly began to garner a fanbase. “We were playing at a show a few weeks ago, and people were singing along,” said Frankie. “I’ve never had that reaction before.”
“My dad said he heard it while he was showering,” said Dana. “He asked ‘Did you guys write that? It sounds like a professional song.”
Growing up, Dana, who plays drums in Girl Gang, learned to play on her dad’s old guitars, teaching herself Alanis Morissette songs. “I always loved anybody who makes beautiful music,” she said. “I love Blondie, Bif Naked, Belinda Carlisle…”
“And the Spice Girls!” added Frankie.
Frankie, meanwhile, took a little more coaxing to develop her talent. “My parents got me this crappy acoustic guitar from Target and it sat in the corner of my room for years,” she said. “Finally, I challenged myself to pick it up and learn to play along to Garbage songs.”
And although they hadn’t planned to start a band when they met, it soon became apparent that they worked well together. “I was home over Thanksgiving and I didn’t have anything to do, so I was texting Frankie,” said Dana. “We wrote ‘Fall into Lies’ that way, our first song, and I realized that this was a band.”
“I was on a hiatus from Frankie & Rufus and wasn’t doing anything creative,” said Frankie. “That songs just came out, and it was like nothing I had ever written before. It was like we spoke the same language. It feels like I’ve known you for 10 years.”
“I feel like I grew up with you,” said Dana.
These days, the duo holds their songwriting sessions over Skype. “We just write together, word for word,” said Dana. “It’s songwriting the way I’ve always wanted to do it.”
They are working on an album and playing live shows throughout the LA area. “We’ll play for anyone who invites us,” said Dana. “We’ve written 10 songs, but we don’t want to feel like we have to sing for our supper or worry about selling tickets. We want to really develop our sound before we record an album.”