With Love from LA - Fatal Jamz

Here’s the awesome thing about longhaired hesher glam types who play music these days: Whether or not you like what they're doing, they fully, deeply in their hearts believe they’re putting it all on the line. It’s like they fucking mean it, do or die.

Liz Armstrong

Here’s the awesome thing about longhaired hesher glam types who play music these days: Whether or not you like what they're doing, they fully, deeply in their hearts believe they’re putting it all on the line. It’s not coming from a place of privilege or fashion, it’s like they fucking mean it, do or die. Marion Belle is one of such types, bending gender to the point just before it breaks, heart and soul channeled through lace bodysuits, leather pants, big hair, and lyrics.

His solo work turned into super sensitive yet heavy glam outfit Bowery Beasts. After a couple years playing together, they went into the studio to record again and the producer jumped in on some songs. After much thought, they all realized they had a new band, so it was time for a new name. Thus was born Fatal Jamz, a project that’s been pretty much under wraps since its conception. Here’s the first peep anyone’s heard from them, via video for their first single, “Scorpion Chain.”

Directed by Abigail Bean, Marion’s real-life leading lady, the video was shot at Rock-A Hula, an abandoned water park en route to Las Vegas. Through a “supernatural neon labyrinth of an 80s pinball game,” she says, the protagonist enters a surrealist badland “full of wild tropicalia, sequined mermaids with pearl-covered booties, and other weird delights…. It’s portal travel, and remember, you don’t always enter rad portals.” Take a bike ride through your subconscious and grab your scorpion chain for protection.

VICE: This is your second band, right? What happened with Bowery Beasts?
Marion Belle: I’d been playing with Bowery Beasts for two and a half years. I started that because I had all these songs and I’d met an amazing guitarist. I felt like I was dying if I couldn’t get that stuff out. When I sing it’s like an exorcism. I learned how to sing high-pitched because it let stuff out. That band was about heavy glam, and was very emotional, very heavy in a big, beautiful, rich way—like Alice Cooper, or Bolan-inspired. I did a record called Friendship, which was all songs about my life with Abby, like our first year or two together. We went on a trip where I played solo shows. We flew to Chicago and I brought an electric guitar and an amp and I played Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis, just driving in a little car with her, playing shitty bars that we booked on the phone.

What was that like?
It was crazy. In Chicago I played in a ghetto bar, like a sports bar. It wasn’t cool at all. Then in Detroit I got heckled. There were only four people in the bar, including Abby, and she was filming. These guys were playing pool, all tatted up. I sang this song in a falsetto real loud and in the middle of it they were like, “Shut the fuck up! I’ll fucking kill you!” After the show I was feeling good, and Abby was like, “We need to go. Grab your amp and let’s get in the car!” Out of that trip, the songs I was playing, that’s what turned into our first album with Bowery Beasts.

And now you’ve moved into Fatal Jamz. Tell us about your new album.
I wanted to show this moment where a real decision happens. My friend Luke did the cover art, where two girls are walking home from school and the “bad dude,” a Matt Dillon character or whatever, shows up at their house. One girl has to make that choice—is she going to go with that bad boy? It’s a choice that changes your whole life.

It really is!
And the other girl is like, “Really? You’re gonna go with him?”

You’re a very thoughtful musician.
When you’re doing something so passionately and really getting through, it’s so rare. I think there’s this crazy combination of truths in LA, like this radical mindset about beauty. Where do you put a coded message of love? How do you tell people that that still exists? It’s not as simple as hearing “Sweet Child of Mine” on the radio when you’re ten anymore, where there’s a freak screaming like a girl—it’s so much trickier now.

So you’re employing subterfuge with the shrieking glam goon vibe while exploring a true source of power.
Pop is the ultimate confection to get the code across. This is very poppy in a ghetto glam hesher kind of way. Each story is a song for me, and I want the story to connect. I want to work hard for the listener.

What’s a scorpion chain?
I went into [a vintage shop] one day and they had this little scorpion chain. I didn’t buy it, I just thought about it. Something clicked and I was rehearsing, writing a riff, and I started thinking about that chain… what is the person wearing that like? Why would someone wear it? I write about amulets and stuff. I think songs are talismans. You write them to protect you from something. I was in a vulnerable time, and I thought of that scorpion to tell myself to be tough. I’m not an aggressive “I’ll sting you” person, it’s more a little spell to have that mojo.

It takes swag to wear some scorpion bling, for sure.
The one I saw was small, it was tasty. And then I lost it and found a bigger one at a swap meet.

What’s the deal with your band name? The word “fatal” is very decisive.
It’s very accurate to me. These are fatal jams. There’s no turning back.

You’re like the girl on the cover!
You’re right. I wonder who’s the guy I was chasing?

Listen to a sneak Peak of Fatal Jamz's Vol. 1 here.

Previously - With Love from LA - Snow Wite