Behind the Beat: Brings Good News

It’s ironic in a town with such an estro-centric reputation as Northampton that it’s actually pretty rare to find a band like Avedis—a five-piece, all-female rock unit. The band sounds pretty awesome for only having existed (in its current form) for five months. Formerly AMMO, Avedis includes Lynelle Kuzontkoski (bass), Ashlyn Pentowski (guitar), Hannah Pitkin (vocals), Jenn Ramsay (drums) and Bethuny Terrill (guitar). The name change, according to Ramsay, came as a byproduct of the shift in the band lineup.

“We went through about 300 names and were like, ‘no, no, no.’ Then Jenn looked down at her cymbal and it was like, ‘Aaaahhhh’ [makes divine revelation sound], and that was it,” says Pentowski.

“It’s Armenian,” Ramsay says with a nod. “It’s the first name of one of the Zildjian guys, I think.”

Representing a broad sampling of New England, the ladies of Avedis hail from the Berkshires, Cape Cod, Connecticut and Vermont. Their musical tastes are broad, spanning hardcore, metal, punk, pop and electro music, and they mention bands like The Rapture, Sleater Kinney, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bjork and Smashing Pumpkins as big influences. Glen Miller and Randy Newman are also mentioned, half-jokingly, in a mid-rehearsal interview, and Pentowski, Ramsay and Pitkin share that their musical educations have included things like playing flute and clarinet in the high school band. Pitkin did a year in a jazz program at the University of Vermont, which she says she hated. All say they never want to go back.

“Yes, I went to band camp [at UMass],” says Ramsay, “and no, I didn’t do anything with my flute, other than play it. I picked up the drums one day because my sister played them and I always wanted to be a rock star, went to a lot of punk and metal shows. Now I never want to stop.”

Ramsay and Kuzontkoski have the most Valley-centered musical history; Ramsay is a veteran of the sludge-core band Problem with Dragons and Kuzontkoski is a co-founder of the Noho indie rock band Rabbit Rabbit. Both were also in a one-off project called The Mistits, an all-female Misfits cover band. But it’s Pitkin who seems to have built up the most diverse rock ’n’ roll resume, playing north of the Mass. border in the Vermont bands Rail, The Limes, a ska/blues outfit called Money Jungle and even a 14-piece Fela Kuti tribute band called Movement of the People.

Terrill and Pentowski are rock newbies, citing Avedis as their first real band. Though Ramsay and Kuzontkoski knew each other before joining, the rest found each other through random means like flyers and answering Craigslist postings.

“So, Internet dating does work,” Pentowski intones in a smooth, mock TV commercial voice.

Avedis has a few shows lined up in the next couple of months, and a three-song demo that they recorded with Luis Granda at Easthampton’s The Ohm; they plan on putting out a full-length record sometime this summer. The band seems genuinely pumped about playing, practicing twice a week, every week, and gradually churning out new material to add to its current 10-song repertoire. In addition to two upcoming local shows, Avedis has secured a slot at Brooklyn’s Trash bar on July 21, and are working on wiggling their way into a show at Boston’s Church as well.

“We have a good thing going,” Kuzontowski says with a calm, patient confidence that betrays her status as the only mother in the band. “We love each other, we’re writing good music, pretty easily, and we’re having a good time.”

The Band’s mission?

Kuzontkoski: To rock.

Terrill: To kick ass.

Pitkin: To melt your face off.

Ramsay: To make you wet your pants. Um, in a good way.•


Avedis performs May 25, 9 p.m., with Futurepunk, Dust Witch and DJ Ames Woods at The Elevens, 140 Pleasant St., Northampton, (413) 586-9155, and May 30, 10 p.m., with Two Tree and Slow Dim at The Sierra Grille, 41 Strong Ave., (413) 584-1150.

Author: Tom Sturm

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