Let’s get one thing clear: The Mydols don’t take any lip. When the four-woman rock band recently hit the stage at a club in Detroit, lead singer Kara Rasmussen instantly put the crowd of rowdy twentysomethings on notice. “We’re an all-mom band, so we don’t have time to practice,” she snarls. “If you don’t like what you’re hearing, go to your room!”
Okay, so the truth is that the foursome who make up the Mydols are still learning how to play-and gigs take a backseat to kids’ soccer games and music lessons. But with attitude-heavy screamers like “Take Out the Trash” and “Never Mind the Laundry,” Rasmussen, 33, and her bandmates Judy Davids, 44, Pat McGough-Wujcik, 39, and Paige Gilbert, 39, have cut a debut CD and are making some noise in suburban Detroit and beyond. “We have some lyrics and can keep a beat most of the time,” says drummer McGough-Wujcik, a mother of three who runs a framing business. “But the main reason we started was to get our friends together and get out of the house.”
That’s a tune that is catching (see box for more about other bands)’. “The nature of our jobs as moms is that it’s easy to get stuck in the banal-driving the kids to school, turning on the pot of spaghetti,” says Joy Rose, 47, a Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., mother of four who fronts Housewives on Prozac and co-produces a festival called Mamapalooza for female rockers. “But when you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to be thinking about Martha Stewart. You’ll be thinking, ‘Did I dance?'”
While most mommy rockers aren’t in it for the money-or the groupies-the rewards are real, even if the critics can be harsh. “I’m like, ‘You guys have to stop!'” says McGough-Wujcik’s niece Megan, 19, who recalls her mortification when her aunt’s band scheduled a gig at her high school. Still, the band’s pop-punk sounds have drawn crowds of up to 300. “They are driven by a love of playing,” says Gary Graff, music critic for The Daily Oakland Press, a suburban Detroit publication. “To me that’s as valid as any of these other bands who are sleeping on the floor and starving.”
The Mydols’ rock and roll fantasy began two years ago when Judy Davids met Jack White of the White Stripes while he visited her two sons’ elementary school. “The kids didn’t know what to make of him. But I was inspired,” says Davids, a graphic designer. She bought a $99 guitar, signed up for lessons and shared her new enthusiasm with three friends. After a visit to a local karaoke bar, the Mydols—with Rasmussen, a makeup artist and mother of two who sang in her church choir, on lead vocals, and Gilbert, who played cello as a teen, on bass-debuted in front of friends and husbands at an open-mike night at a club. “Everyone’s expectation was so low, it was easy to meet,” says Davids.
Husbands have been largely supportive, say the band members, although pillow talk occasionally turns to the topic of the unattached males who show up to watch the band play. Not to worry, “families come first,” says McGough-Wujcik—even when the band went out on a three-day tour last April with a Norwegian girl group called the Launderettes. All and all, it’s been quite the trip, says Gilbert: “If we were 20 years younger, we wouldn’t be doing this. We wouldn’t have had the nerve.”
J.D. Heyman. Ellen Piligian in Royal Oak and Kathy Ehrich and Jennifer Frey in Westchester County, N.Y.