Reactavox - Colliding with a
                           world of puppets

Out of the chaos of American media culture and into your speakers comes the sound of Reactavox. I could first tell I was getting hooked on this band when I realized I had streamed their song Parasite for over an hour straight. What a huge sound they get out of this amazing 2 piece band. I checked out a raw video clip linked to from their site ( and it was obvious that Shelia (guitar and vocals) is some kind of force of nature.

This is not your average woman rocker, she defies all stereotypes as she goes into a captivating trance of post punk fury. Along with the powerful, comprehensive drumming of Nick (drums and vocals), Reactavox stands defiantly on an island of truth, clearly capable of taking on the idiocy of the modern world with their blaring barre chords and the angst of a thousand mere mortals.

Currently the Reactavox song Wish is one of the fastest rising songs on the Kayak Big 50. Recently I had a chance to try to get to the bottom of what this unique duo is all about..


Scott: Can you describe the time and place you were in life when you realized you could vent using rock music. And how long after that did you know that you were good at it, that people liked your venting ?

Shelia: I was around 10 when my Dad went on a trip and returned with a prize for me - an 8 track stereo (looked like it came from Walgreens) and the salesman had recommended none other than "Steppenwolf's Greatest Hits". That was my first exposure to rock and I listened to this 8 track constantly. Hence my vicarious venting experience was born, and I haven't really stopped since. I remember track #4 opened with the lyrics "Goddamn the Pusherman". My Dad heard the tune seeping from my room and threatened to take away the stereo if I played track #4 ever again. Hence, my revolutionary spirit was also born...I didn't stop playing track #4...I just timed it to avoid conflict. So as far as venting via my own devices..I've been playing in bands since about 1980...but it was really the late 1990's before things began to gel and I began to tap into my own self and writing decent songs and lyrics. We formed a 3 piece with Ted Grauch on guitar in 1998 and I played bass, sang and wrote songs & lyrics. This was the beginning of a really creative period for me and working with Ted was really great. He added an energetic, quirky, noisy, artsy twist to the band and to our writing/playing/performing. It was a shift in the right direction and some really great material came out of the COMPRESSOR and FOR CHAMPIONS IT'S releases. We received a lot of nationwide airplay on college radio....and we definitely played in some really great Atlanta/Athens dives! Of course, since REACTAVOX became a 2 piece in 2002...I have had to really hold my own since there's no other instrument or vocals. It's just all out there in the open and the audience can see and feel nothing or everything. There's really no in between. That's one thing that Nick and I both really love about the band right feeds our need for a pure, expressive experience. People seem to really enjoy participating in that and watching and hearing it unfold. We don't even know (or want to know) where it's going takes on a life of it's own. We're able to conjure that up now on demand and that really gets our adrenaline going. We're independent..and that means we can push the boundaries of free speech and sonic emotion as far as we want. Are we good at it? Who am I to say? Depends upon your taste in music and art. Am I happy with where we are and what we're doing?? Yes. It feels very good and right.

Nick: Around 8 years old I was totally into the Beatles so I would lip sync into a vacuum pipe pretending to be Paul or John...but at 10 I was drumming on pots and pans in front of our big oak stereo playing and singing to Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Grand Funk. Part 2 The not till Reactavox...Every other band I was in you had to take more of a back seat on the drums like " DON'T BE SO *%$#@*&^ LOUD" or "YOU'RE SPEEDING UP"...In is total freedom or total feeling.

Scott: Your song Parasite, which is the song that turned me on to Reactavox, is about the kind of thing we can all relate to, people who become almost appendages. I gotta tell ya when I first heard it I thought you were singing "I'm supporting you I'm supporting you" which would be about another kind of parasite. But anyway, care to share anything about your experiences with this kind of person, and your current philosophies in regards to parasites?

Shelia: actually Parasite is NOT about a person. Most people interpret it that way though. The Parasite is the U.S. Media and TV in general. "I'm so bored with you. Give me a new quotation. I'm so tired from you. Give me a new mutation. I'm so dead from you. Give me a new aggression. Cut you off and see if I can breathe...without you in me." So I feel that the modern world is parasitic in a variety of ways...consumerism is a parasite...the media is a parasite...racism is a parasite..radical/fundamental religion is a parasite. All these monsters we have created divert our attention and resources away from an existence that can be meaningful and peaceful. By removing these parasites from our body (mind, heart, etc.) we can reclaim ourselves and see the truth of who we are and what we can become. The rat race is a dead end. Live to work. Work to live. It's death on a silver platter...or for a growing number of Americans...death on a paper plate. No thanks.

Nick: Ya.

Scott: Tell me about any turning points in your adult life, or about any things in your childhood that may have sent you down the road you're on.

Shelia: Sounds like I should lie down on a couch before I answer this one...I've had a lot of an alley cat...and I've always learned my lessons the hard way...through experience. I was a musician as a child..piano lessons and played french horn in the marching band. I always loved to sing and my Mom was a good singer and LOUD. We used to watch Porter Wagoner hosting the Grand Ole Opry on Sat. nights and as an only child and rebellious teenager my outlet was rock..mainly The Who. My parents are very religious and didn't talk a lot with me about the real world...only the world I was supposed to fit into. A lot of do's and don'ts but not a whole lot of rational behind them other than their origin as religious commandments. That's fine and all..but that was not enough to discourage me from trying to fit in with the "cool" crowd. As a young adult this world of behaving correctly to avoid guilt and shame didn't really work for me either. My hormones have raged for a long time....So as I proceeded to follow my heart and not my upbringing, I learned that who I was...was not who I was programmed to be. I did the whole 70 hour a week work thing for a number of corporations. Sure..the money was awesome...but I had no life. Now I have a life that is unique to me and fufills my need to reach out and try and make a try and connect with the world..even when I'm screaming my guts out on stage with a 120 DB wall of noise behind me...I'm connecting to at least one person in the room that needed that - me! And if I'm lucky...someone in the audience is screaming with me...maybe silently...but we're connecting in a way that cannot be repeated or recreated. That's a powerful notion and that keeps me going as an artist. I do it for selfish reasons and for that one soul that hears it and goes "Yeah - that was just what I needed!". As one fan described REACTAVOX..."it's like a kick in the face and the crotch at the same time". How fun is that?

Nick: Lots of turnings points in my life. One major turning point was losing my father when I was only 16...I needed to grab on to something stable to keep me out of trouble and to make me happy. I found that in music & racing motocross.

Scott: I noticed a theme in a couple of your songs. In Reject you sing of setting the standard high, and in Crave you sing "I need a new friend One that demands" which is a rockin' line btw. Anyway you strike me as somebody who doesn't settle for less and doesn't like to be around those who do. I was wondering if you'd elaborate at all on this topic ?

Shelia - Actually in Reject I'm referring to the neo-conservatives and their agenda to create a perfect world around their narrow minded views of what America should do and be. In Crave, certainly that line refers to associating myself with others that are different than the Rat Race norm. I'm so unmoved by chasers of the dream (or proverbial carrot on a stick). People need to define their own dreams and have the courage to create them. Puppets are powerless without their masters. So...I suppose I'm pretty hard on myself in terms of not giving up on what I believe in ...even when no one else seems to care or notice...even when I gotta make 5 trips to the bank in one week to beat the checks clearing every night. That's when it is tough to stick to your own lifestyle and form of artisitic expression. Yet it is so liberating to operate outside of the mainstream. I adore being around other people who have escaped the atmosphere of the mundane. They inspire me. Actually it's mostly Nick's fault...he is always reaching for the next level and has an insatiable appetite for creating and performing music and connecting with other musicians and fans. He has been, and continues to be, my motivation and mentor as far as my music is concerned. He's my demanding buddy.

Scott: What's it like having a heart that's black ?

Shelia: It's good and it's bad. I think everyone has a tainted heart because if you've lived and've experienced disappointments...with yourself and with others. What you do with the blackness is what matters. Do you hide it??? Do you torment yourself or others with it??? Do you embrace it??? It can take years to see yourself clearly and to forgive yourself and others for screwing up your life. Then one day you realize that everyone's life is screwed up in some way. Then you realize it's not screwed up it's just the nature of existence to have a variety of experiences, some created out of your own stupidity, others through no fault of your own. I write and sing about dark subjects on occassion because it is our failures that shape us into real people with histories, addictions, victories, and struggles. I really love the dark side of my own self because when I go there I feel really alive. I can also celebrate the part of myself/my heart that is happy and satisfied with my life right now. Both aspects of the self should be explored and experienced. I can be a pretty moody person sometimes. That comes across in the music I'm sure. I've been reading a lot of the Dalai Lama's writings lately. He talks a lot about being humble, and peaceful, and looking inside yourself, and being empathetic. It's really opening my mind to a whole new level of thinking about myself and the world around me. I am here to serve others. This is a BIG concept to grasp and implement....but it's a very exciting journey.

Nick: I think when we write songs all the dark feelings naturally start to pour out of the same time we want to make it fun and a positive accomplishment...It's a really great way to take out your hostilities!

Scott: Some of your songs deal at least in part with political issues. Concerning your song Wish, what's the difference between the world you wished for and the world that exists right now ?

Shelia: I call 2004 my "Year of Enlightenment". I became pretty involved during the election AND discovered this absolutely wonderful public TV station out of San Francisco that airs incredible documentaries concerning politics, human rights, the environment, etc. You can check out the station at It is only available if you get DIRECTV or DISH network. The lyrics for WISH "My tounge is tied with modern life. It tastes like my and your distress. My ears collide with worldwide lies. They have blinded me just like everyone. Wish. Wish like everyone" reflect the days when you just feel the world is exactly opposite of where you are. The goals of acquiring wealth, non-renewable resources (oil), and continued economic growth have become the most important objectives pursued by our government and brain-washed into us as citizens via the U.S. media and governmental / corporate propaganda campaigns . Unfortunately...while these objectives can assist in making us comfortable...happiness continues to allude most Americans. People are gluttons for more...and the more they get..the more they want..and the more they have to have to satisfy their appetite for material things. I think America has it all wrong in so many ways. We've got a pill for everything....personal debt out the food on every corner...corporations sucking the life out of our families....and for what??? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. The almighty (albeit weakening) dollar. I'm on a personal crusade to earn less, to buy live a sustainable existence that respects the planet and our brothers and sisters everywhere. I don't have it all figured out yet..but I'm getting there. Demand by people like us is fueling the system. Cut off the demand. The system will have to respond and act responsibly with respect to people and the planet. What I wish for is for people to wake up and change their own lives to become more in harmony with each other and our environment. There's a quote on my wall.."We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give". Sounds hokey but it's true. Stop buying some much stuff/junk, share what you have, and generally just give a crap about somone other than yourself. That's what I wish people would do. That's what I wish the "system" would reward.

Nick: There are too many things that don't make sense. What about the person who just wants to enjoy life and does not care about making big money? The norm is to run around working yourself to death as most people do... the government/economic machine do not promote that kind of lifestyle....they want us to buy everything in sight and pay it off for the rest of our lives.

Scott: Do you believe in UFOs, had any strange experiences in that realm ?

Shelia: Yes, I have to believe in UFO's. Nick is definitely an alien.

Nick: Don't take me to your leader!