Twice a week, four women gather at a cozy house on a quiet street. Far from a book club or some Yankee Candle buying party, it's the practice space of local "mutt rock" smart-mouths the Little Debbies. Bookshelves rattling and poster-plastered walls shaking from their grungy mix of punk, rockabilly and surf, the place is filled with an addictive concoction of laughter, estrogen and booze.

There's an undertone of '90s rock in the air, a comfortably bizarre melody that combines the hooky vocals of Veruca Salt, the structural concepts of Throwing Muses and the raw attitude of Hole. Somehow, the Little Debbies have managed to recapture a classic sound while making it wholly unique. Most importantly, they avoid novelty like the plague.

"People don't realize that we're seasoned musicians … and have been playing this scene for years," says singer-guitarist Milka Ramos. As the former frontwoman of the metal band Milka, Ramos points out that the members of the Little Debbies have paid their dues in bands including the Black Noise, Troubled Children, Vomit Pop and Jeanie and the Tits. Between lewd jokes and friendly quips, the gals claim that they auditioned both male and female musicians for the band, but when an opportunity came about for them to jam together, there was a connection.

In less than year, they've managed to earn opening slots for bands like the Misfits. But along with that success, the Little Debbies have caught plenty of flak. It's common for the words "undeserved attention" to be muttered under the breath of naysayers. After all, this band is relatively new and they've already accomplished more than a lot of Orlando bands. There's also the inevitable matter of gender.

"It's unanticipated to see a chick up there `onstage`. I think some people find it refreshing," explains singer-guitarist Michèle Lane as she leans against her combo amp. Bassist Erin Nolan taps her cigarette into an oversized vintage ashtray and notes, "Any chick that can pick up a guitar and scream is cool in my book."

One quality that could help the band stick around for a while is that fans seem to relate to them despite their intimidating stage presence. "People feel like they can come up and hang out with us after shows," says drummer Tina Ferrell.

Whether they gain an audience for their diverse musicianship, their engaging personalities or … otherwise, it's all the same to them.

They just happen to look better doing it.

More by Tara Lightfoot


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