Many thanks to the Erie Times for this article about my work with the Rocket Queens. The interview is reprinted below. See the original arrival here.

ERIE, Pa. — For Lily Maase, starting the Rocket Queens — an all-female Guns ‘N Roses tribute band — was partly “an act of calculated rebellion.” She grew tired of hearing the term “female guitarist” used dismissively.

“I always regarded myself as a guitarist first, and then also a human being who happens to be female,” said Maase, who plays the Slash role. “In my earlier years in New York, trying to get my career started, I kept getting these cold calls from people who were looking for a female guitarist — not a guitarist.

“Thankfully, I’m sort of past that point in my career now, which is a blessing. But I got so tired of being called for these bands that were basically like fetish bands. I’d go to these auditions and either the men in the band would be smarmy, or the level of playing would be low compared to the male groups I was playing with.”

That stung because she lived for rock. Maase’s father was a session guitarist, and she started playing before age 10. She ultimately decided she’d rather rock on her own terms by starting a group than play “female guitarist” for someone else.

“I feel like rock ‘n’ roll has saved my life a number of times over the years because it’s the most wonderful thing in the world,” said Maase, who also owns and teaches at Brooklyn Guitar Works. “So, I started this group because I felt like if this is the corner I’m getting backed into, then I’m going to make it the best possible corner I can. I started my own venture and part of it is because Slash is the reason, when I was 8 or 9 years old, that I first got excited about the instrument.

“We also all really love the music, and it makes people happy,” Maase added. “I love being part of something that gets to travel as much as we do, and genuinely puts a smile on people’s faces. It’s an incredible collection of songs and we hear stories all over the country about how meaningful the music is for people. And for me, it’s really nice to reach back and reconnect with my roots as a guitarist and get to share that experience with people.”

The Rocket Queens cover GNR classics and album cuts, including “Dust ‘N’ Bones,” Maase’s favorite, written by Izzy Stradlin.

“I was out of the house when I was really young, and I know he and Axl (Rose) followed their dreams. That’s a song about that, and the value of that. That’s very meaningful for me,” Maase said. “As a band, we like doing ‘Rocket Queen,’ which makes sense because it’s our namesake. There’s so many great songs. I love ‘You’re Crazy,’ and the fan reaction we get for ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is amazing.”

At shows with die-hard GNR fans, the Rocket Queens take requests and bang them out all night.

“Being able to make people happy like that, maybe playing something they weren’t expecting to hear, is one of my favorite parts of being in the band,” Maase said.

Equally fun: Proving the doubters wrong, right from the get-go.

“Usually what happens is people come out to see what a joke we are, and we win them over. It usually doesn’t take long,” Maase said.

She’s met a couple of GNR members so far. In January, the Rocket Queens opened for Dizzy Reed, the band’s original keyboard player. She’s hung out with Duff McKagan.

“He’s a wonderful guy. He’s also got a young musician daughter, so we shared some stories about what that’s like, being raised by a musician dad,” Maase said. “Gilby Clarke, we almost worked with once but never got to. So we’re definitely on the radar as much as a tribute band can be. I think we work at a really high level; we work really hard at it. So, we appreciate the feedback we’ve gotten from members of their camp, for sure.”

The Rocket Queens will play Saturday at 10 p.m. at Sherlock’s, 508 State St. For more on the band, visit

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