Nikki imagined the Corvettes to be the Shangri-meet-The-Ramones—bubblegum punk, for lack of a better term. Her longevity, kindred spirits (from Blondie and the Dolls to the Stooges and the Dead Boys) and tireless devotion to rock & roll has paved the way for everyone from Bikini Kill to the Donnas, to Kesha and Shannon & the Clams, Hunx & His Punx, Baby Shakes, and more. Eric Davidson talked to Nikki Corvette in Detroit, the place where it all started for her.

Nikki Corvette’s music is probably the most undeniably fun rock’n’roll you will find. From her first late-‘70s power pop conglomeration, Nikki & the Corvettes, to her recent garage rockin’ with the Romeos, she has consistently carried an attitude of ever-pep to anything she’s sung on, and found the right musicians to do it with. Through crazed teen years growing up in Detroit, to early ‘80s L.A. living, music biz-ditching, and back again, her engine never stalled. When the nuclear war happens, Nikki Corvette is the person you want to be standing next to, because she is bound to find something cool about the situation. So how did this rock’n’roll sunbeam arise from the gloomy smog- and cloud-covered Detroit of the 1970s?

Therein lies the reason why Nikki’s intermittent musical offerings have aged so well. There is always a steel-town scruffiness to the guitars and beachy melodies; and more increasingly pertinent, an unapologetically assertive lyrical immediacy. It coalesced best on the classic Nikki & the Corvettes self-titled debut (Bomp Records, 1980). It set the sharp, snotty edge that has sound-tracked many a punk party, riot grrrl after-party, and neo-power pop DJ all-nighter through the decades.

A teenage Nikki Corvette first zig-zagged through the mid-‘70s underground rock scene like a pinball, bouncing around backstages, hotel rooms, and finally the concert stage herself, becoming the template for every little girl who looks around the rock show and wonders where all the girls and non-lame boys are. Palling around with the Stooges, New York Dolls, Blondie, the Dead Boys, and up to her garage fest besties of today, Nikki has remained as inspired and optimistic as ever. Partly because she has never fallen into lazy, bitter soul traps, keeps checking out new bands, and has no doubt noticed that a lot of them must have her records.

From Bikini Kill to the Donnas, to Kesha and Shannon & the Clams, Hunx & His Punx, Baby Shakes, and many more, one can hear Nikki’s sassy squeak and empowering energy pop out all over the place.

We caught Nikki Corvette chilling at home in Detroit as she waits on the upcoming reissue of her first 1978 single, prepares to play a couple big power pop festivals this summer, and keeps trying to finish her next album.

PKM: So Nikki Corvette, how’s it going? Where are you living and what are you doing?

Nikki Corvette: Living in Detroit. I work at a hotel, in the banquet department – server, bartender, set up events.

PKM: What else do you have coming up, besides playing the Burger Boogaloo fest in Oakland in July?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, this is my second time at Burger Boogaloo. In 2007, I did some West Coast shows with Thee Makeout Party, with Lee and Sean who started Burger Records. I loved the lineups and ideals of Burger Boogaloo, so I wrote Lee and Sean and asked them, and I got to play in 2015. I had such a great time, and I’ll be back for their 10th Anniversary show in July! The only other thing I have right now is Pump It Up. It’s a great power pop fest in London in July with a bunch of really cool bands. I’m being backed by a band called Speedways, a London power pop band. I’ve never met them. I sent them a list of songs, we’ll have a rehearsal, and then we’ll play!

PKM: That seems to be your template. Like the first show you ever played was the first time you even played with that band, right?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, I was 20. I used to be friends with all the musicians in town, and I always wanted to be a singer. I’m sure I annoyingly stated that over and over to everyone. And one day I was at a club, and the guy who ran it was a bass player I knew, Skid Marx, and he tells me, “Hey, I booked a show for you.” And I said, “Uh, what do you mean?” And he said, “Well, you’re always saying you want to play, so, I’ll be your bass player.” I was like, Oooo-kay. So I found a drummer and guitar player, we picked some songs, learned them all separately, never had a rehearsal. Went to the soundcheck, and I had to ask the sound guy if I could talk into the mic. I’d never used a mic before! It was kind of surreal. I knew so many people that the place was packed. I knew after the first song that it could never be any worse than that! So I got that out of the way. Then we got booked every weekend for the next three or four months. I was in a band for four months before I ever had a band practice.

PKM: What was the club?

Nikki Corvette: It was some dive on the east side of Detroit. That night was a blur, I was scared. Oh wait, it was called The Red Grape. That was early 1978.

PKM: Anyone of note in that first band that night?

Nikki Corvette: Well, let’s see. Pete James, who used to be in the Ramrods, who I ended up writing all the Nikki & the Corvettes songs with. The drummer later became Bootsy X. And Skid Marx, the bass player.

PKM: Did they all last through to the first 7” single, “Young & Crazy,” when you were first Nikki Corvette & the Convertibles?

Nikki Corvette: The guitar player Pete did, and Skid Marx played bass in the Convertibles. I’m really excited about this – for the first time since it came out in 1978, Splattered Records is reissuing that first Convertibles 7” record!

PKM: Yeah, really cool, it’s coming wrapped in a poster too, right? That’s amazing that no one has ever reissued it before. So, as far as getting a band lineup together, you never had the usual narrative of, “Hey, let’s get a band together, then go practice in the basement, and hash it out over two years,” etc.

Nikki Corvette: It certainly seems like that. I’ve done so many major things in my life where it’s me just incessantly talking, and finally someone saying, “Oh god, okay, here, do this!”

PKM: How did growing up in Detroit form your musical taste? There’s that story that you ran away from home because your mom wouldn’t let you go see the MC5…

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, but I ended up seeing them a bunch of times. My mom was like, you can’t go to these places and crazy bands. And looking back now, at 16, I probably shouldn’t have gone to the Grande Ballroom and hung out with the White Panthers. I was at the last show the MC5 ever played, the one at Grande Ballroom, which they think was horrible, but to me, I can’t even describe it. I was standing at the front of the stage just mesmerized! But the Detroit music scene just formed everything I am. I used to go see every band that came to town. Whether I liked them or not, if it was rock’n’roll, I went! And at that point in time, Detroit had the best audiences. If a band was touring, they’d play New York, L.A., and Detroit. So I got to see everybody.

PKM: Are there ones that stick out in your mind?

Nikki Corvette: The Ramones came through. There’s a Ramones video out there from ’77, I think in Ann Arbor, and nobody would know it, but I know my hair, and I can see myself dancing in the front the whole time. Probably the biggest was seeing the New York Dolls the first time, I think New Year’s Eve 1972-73 at the Michigan Palace, and being in the front row. That changed everything. But I used to go see the Stooges and the MC5 all the time, and that’s what I grew up on.

PKM: Someone hears that – these bands that are a lot of people’s absolute Top 10 bands – and it sounds astounding. But for you they were local bands. Like maybe you saw them just walking around town or hanging at bars?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, totally. Well maybe I didn’t see them hanging around town a lot. But I saw the Stooges so many times, I got to be friends with them. I think I’ve seen them more than any other band, at least 20 times. It got to the point that guys in the band would use me to get rid of girls they didn’t like. Like we’d be hanging out somewhere, and they’d call me over and introduce me as their girlfriend, and I’d chat for a minute before the annoying girl would leave, and they’d be like, “Cool, thanks.” Ha!

PKM: So you’re already into these new bands that would become influential or whatever because of where you lived. But did you notice the punk stuff coming from NYC or London, popping up in record shops or in local mags?

Nikki Corvette: Oh yeah, absolutely. Rock Scene was a big magazine, we learned a lot from that about what bands were coming. Thinking back now, pre-internet, I don’t really know how we learned about new bands. We were rabid for info, so anything we could find out about those scenes, we did. We’d periodically go to New York City, just pile as many people as we could in a car. We’d have enough money for gas, I guess. We did this all the time, with no place to stay or tickets to the show. And I mean, Detroit to New York – that’s a bit of a haul, like 9 or 10 hours. That’s a lot of time to go somewhere for a show where you didn’t have tickets for, or a place to stay, with a bunch of people! The best show I remember was the Wayne County benefit. That was one where we didn’t have tickets. Everybody in New York played at that show, it was great, we got to see everybody! From what I remember it was the Dolls, Blondie, and Tuff Darts. It was such an amazing show! Not sure how we got in the show, probably the Dolls, and they divided us up and put all of us up, then we drove back the next day. Crazy trip, but worth it!

Honestly, I saw so many bands, I don’t remember them all. I was really good friends with Miriam Linna (Norton Records, A-Bones, Cramps) – we were teenage pen pals – Stiv Bators, and a bunch of Cleveland people too. We all started out following the Dolls around, and they would come to Detroit for shows, we would go to Cleveland, and we all went to New York City and crammed all of us in one hotel room, either ‘74 or ‘76? I saw the Dead Boys a lot, finally played with the Pagans a couple years ago at Funtastic Dracula Festival in Spain. Saw Rocket from the Tombs and some other Cleveland bands, but it’s hazy….

PKM: So you knew the New York Dolls pretty well then?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah. It’s really crazy how I met them. So that Michigan Palace New Year’s show I mentioned? My stepfather, who was no longer married to my mother at the time, we were going to meet him there. So we get into our seats, and all of a sudden I hear my name being called from the stage, and I look up and my stepfather is up on the stage! He used to be a professional boxer, and somehow he got backstage, met the Dolls, they loved him, and wanted him to be their bodyguard and go on tour with them. So he brought me backstage, introduced me to the band, and we hung out. My friends were like, “Is that your dad? How did he get back here?” I don’t know!

Oh, and then we were with the Dolls somewhere in Ohio, and a bunch of us decided to go skinny dipping in the hotel’s indoor pool, surrounded by hotel rooms. We were noisy, having fun, being crazy when a guy from the front desk told us the cops were on their way. We all grabbed our clothes and ran across the parking lot naked and dripping wet and hid in our rooms with the lights off – like they didn’t know who we were – until we finally realized nobody was coming. For awhile, I’d hear that Nick Knox’s girlfriend wanted to fight me, and I had no idea why until years later. He was talking about that Dolls story, and I realized his girlfriend was pissed about that!

I also knew the Ramones from hanging out in L.A., but when we opened for them in Toronto, Johnny came and found me to ask if I was coming to their Detroit show the next night. I was going to see Johansen opening at a different place, but Johnny really wanted me to come. When I told him I had some issues with the promoter and she would take my name off the guest list or not let me in, he said they wouldn’t play if I didn’t get in. So, of course, I had to go and get my chance to piss off the promoter. We got to be really good friends after that, and Johnny would give me their tour schedule so we could pick any shows we wanted to open for them. And three girls in short-short skirts did really well with the male majority of their fan base.

PKM: Who were some of your favorite singers growing up?

Nikki Corvette: David Johansen, Iggy, Debbie Harry, Rob Tyner, Ronnie Spector, and Mary Weiss were my main influences, but there are so many more. We always felt like the Ramones fronted by The Shangri-Las or Ronettes.

PKM: Aside from Niagara (Destroy All Monsters), I assume there were not many female musicians around town when you were a kid? Was that something in your mind when you saw women play?

Nikki Corvette: I don’t think so. To me, when I saw women play, it was just seeing a band play. Although I did a show that was purposely all female singers, at the Vanity Ballroom in Detroit. I’ve played with different bands that had girls in them, but yeah, there weren’t a ton. Maybe 10 percent of the whole scene was female. It was cool if I noticed a girl playing in a band, but I never looked at it like that, it was just another band.

PKM: Once you got Nikki & the Corvettes going, was there a notion in your head that you wanted it to be an all-woman band?

Nikki Corvette: Okay, so here’s the great misconception about Nikki & the Corvettes – we had three girls, but we were the Shangri-Las, playing with the Ramones. I had guys playing, and we sang and danced. And it was very much a revolving band. The three girls on the back cover of the debut LP – that was the most consistent Corvettes girl lineup. But the B&W front cover of the 2000 CD reissue, that’s the lineup we had once we moved to L.A., and the newest girl, her boyfriend was Steve Allen from 20/20. We got her in the band, and then she told me part of the reason she wanted to be in the band was she was worried I was going to try to steal her boyfriend, and she wanted to keep an eye on me. Uh, okay. Ha!

Flyer for a gig with The Ramones, Dec. 4, 1979
Flyer for a gig with The Ramones, Dec. 4, 1979

PKM: Did Bomp Records fly you out to L.A.?

Nikki Corvette: No, we drove out. I think it was in 1979. We’d sent some of our first single to Bomp mail order to sell, and someone there sent one to Greg Shaw (Bomp Records head honcho) and told him he’d probably like this band. Then he wanted us to come out. He signed us, we recorded the “Honey Bop” single. That was our rockabilly single with Ray Campi for Rolling Rock Records. Those sessions were a trip! We were the first outside – not on the label or rockabilly – band that recorded there. It was the first time for me playing with an upright bass and piano. We had so much fun, but sometimes I had to sing outside of the studio, in the backyard. We would have to stop for planes and stuff. It went so well we convinced label head Ronny Weiser to record “Popsicle Icicles” as well, but it was never released. We also shot the photos for the “Honey Bop” single in the living room. I stayed friends with Ray for years after the recording. He would send me records and postcards from tour. Sidenote: I was pen pals with quite a few different bands and have a whole collection of letters and postcards from over the years.

PKM: Of course you do!

Nikki Corvette: We tried to record the Corvettes album while we were in L.A., and they had us with all these different players, but everybody wanted to make us something that we weren’t. They wanted us to be a lot poppier. I always wanted to be in a punk band. Live and recording-wise, we were a completely different band. Greg put us in the studio with the Kessel Brothers – Dan and David, sons of Barney Kessel from the Wrecking Crew. They were producers and studio musicians who worked with Phil Spector. They recorded an alternate version of “Summertime Fun” that appeared on Rodney Bingenheimer’s All Year Party Volume One compilation. They also played drums, bass, and piano on it. We recorded a couple other songs with them that were never released.

PKM: Any Rodney Bingenheimer stories?

Nikki Corvette: The first time I ever heard myself on the radio was on Rodney’s show in 1979, our first night in L.A.! Jan and Dean were his guests, and Rodney played “Young and Crazy.” Bizarrely, Jan and Dean said it was on their label, JD Records, and they produced it. We had never met or had any contact with them, so the whole thing was weird. Our first radio show appearance was on Rodney’s show, and it was awesome. I think we played a test pressing of “Honey Bop.” We went to his apartment and the photos of him with everybody were mind-blowing. I used to see him all the time when I lived in L.A. He used to eat at a restaurant right down the street from me.

PKM: Did the Paley Brothers ever come into your orbit at all?

Nikki Corvette: Yes, but not for that reason. I met the Paley Brothers through Stiv Bators. I had a crush on one of Stiv’s friends, but he decided to set me up with Jonathan instead. It worked out great – he’s gorgeous, super talented, and a really nice guy. We’re still great friends, and I try to see him whenever I’m in L.A. We even got to sing a duet together, “Love is Strange,” on Wild Record Party in 2005. Hopefully we’ll get another chance.

We even went into the studio with Kim Fowley briefly, but that wasn’t working.

PKM: Oh yeah, how’d that go?

Nikki Corvette: Oh no. All these people who love Kim Fowley, that’s good for them, but he was so misogynistic, and I walked out of the studio. I told Greg, “I don’t care what this means, I am not working with him.” Luckily, we hadn’t even started recording, but just spending a couple hours with him was enough. I know some women in bands who just think he’s amazing, and I’m like, “do you actually know him? Have you spent time with him?” I remember he asked us if we knew specifically girls with big tits that he could fly out. He also had this God complex where at one point I said something, and he said, “I didn’t give you permission to speak.” That might’ve been it for me, when I said, you know what, no. I don’t need permission to speak. We’re leaving.

We were there in L.A. for like nine or ten months. We were planning on moving there, but finally we figured out this wasn’t going to work and came back.

Nikki & the Corvettes
Nikki & the Corvettes

PKM: So then how did the album finally come together?

Nikki Corvette: We moved back to Detroit, and we did it ourselves. Our guitar player produced it. I don’t remember the studio we recorded it at, I’m not even entirely sure who played on it. I know the girls, I know the guitar player. You know, for me the whole thing was – Oh, we’re playing a show? Cool! We’re making an album? Cool! We’re going to L.A.? Cool! It was never something I was working toward doing. It was just kind of like somebody would suggest something, and I’d say, Okay sure, let’s try that!

PKM: That’s a cool thing about what you do musically – if you didn’t know anything about Nikki & the Corvettes and just heard that album, you might think that band was from L.A. because there’s such a kind of upbeat, beachy summer fun vibe to it. But we know there’s not a lot of surf action in Detroit, and there is real drive and grittiness to that first album that kind of shows you definitely weren’t from a sunny beach.

Nikki Corvette: Right, but the album is a cleaned-up version of us. The shows we did, we did Stooges covers. When we were doing that stuff in 1978, ’79, nobody was doing that, kind of peppier covers of these harder punk songs. The record was very different. I felt like they were trying to make us the Archies, and I was not the Archies.

PKM: That cover art, was very Archies-like. Did you have any say in that cover?

Nikki Corvette: No. That was not the cover we wanted. The back cover shot was supposed to be the cover. We knew nothing about the whole cartoon drawing. We found out the first time we saw the album. We were on tour, and we saw it in a record store. And we were like, “What the fuck is this?!” They said, “Oh, we thought it would sell better,” blah blah. And we said “this is not what we agreed on.” Plus, the record was slightly sped up too.

PKM: Are there live recordings or demos sitting in a closet somewhere that might be a more accurate representation of that band?

Nikki Corvette: I have a box of old cassettes that I need to go through, but most isn’t the best quality. I’m hoping there is someone out there with a good live tape.

PKM: How much were you out playing and touring back then?

Nikki Corvette: We actually played out of town a lot, I think the Romantics were the only Detroit band of the same era that were going out of town as much. We would go down south a bunch, east coast, Minneapolis, Chicago, Madison…

Nikki & the Corvettes
Nikki & the Corvettes

PKM: Did you ever tour with the Romantics?

Nikki Corvette: No, we’d just go out on our own. Since I saw every band that came through town, I started what I call the “Nikki Network,” where I would help bands get shows in Detroit if they would book us where they were from. I did whole tours that way.

PKM: Who were bands that you worked with that way that stick out?

Nikki Corvette: The B Girls! There weren’t a lot of girls to work with, and I loved that band. We did a lot of shows together, had a lot of fun with them. They were one of my favorites.

PKM: So you had the Romantics locally, and they were starting to get bigger; and your album was kind of poppier; and the Knack was getting huge. For lack of a better phrase, the whole “skinny tie” power-pop era was happening. Did you feel there was a trend happening, kind of a 1960s garage-based power-pop thing going on?

Nikki Corvette: I don’t think I really noticed it at the time. I just liked this or that band but didn’t realize it was kind of a sub-genre. I really like that kind of stuff, but I never really liked the term “power pop.” I never considered us power pop. So I’d tell people we were “bubblegum punk,” which we kind of were because there’s nothing I could do about the fact that, no matter what I did, I was going to be this cute girl dancing around and singing. I was never going to look hardcore no matter what I did, it wasn’t going to happen.

PKM: From the pics you post on Facebook, I’m amazed by the amount of interesting people you’ve crossed paths with. Like that great pic of you and Joe Strummer.

Nikki Corvette: Oh, where did I meet the Clash? I think it was when they played with David Johansen in Detroit. I don’t remember how I met a lot of people. I guess I must’ve looked like a “rock’n’roll girl,” and people would just start talking to me. So, Joe Strummer – I have this problem with Joe Strummer where, when I see interviews with him now, I can understand him. But when I hung out with him in person, I could never understand what he was saying. I don’t know if it was because he was drinking, or maybe his accent. I felt really stupid, because when someone’s talking to you, there’re only so many times when you can say, “Uh, what? Pardon me?” I got to a point where he would talk to me, and I would just say, “Yeah, uh-huh.” And who knows what I was agreeing with or whatever. We had some long conversations where I don’t know what we talked about.

PKM: Whatever your reservations about that first Nikki & the Corvettes record, it has become in a way a kind of sound or sub-genre of its own, really influential. Like trashy power pop with female singers demanding a good time from the guys. And Japan being a country that really took to that debut LP.

Nikki Corvette: Oh yeah. After I finally started playing again and put out a single in 2003, someone wrote and said, “We want to bring you to Japan.” And I thought, what?! No one knows who I am in Japan. And he said, “Oh no, they do.” I made him pay for our airfare upfront, just in case. But when I got there, everybody in the audience knew every word to every song and had every record I’d ever done. I didn’t understand how that was possible.

Flyer for a gig in Japan, July 2005
Flyer for a gig in Japan, July 2005

PKM: Bomp reissued the album on that expanded CD version in 2000, and the record got sporadic LP reissues throughout the years before that. So you must’ve known there was some kind of cult following. Or were you just done with music?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, I had to quit music for a while because the music business was making me hate the music, and it wasn’t worth it. Honestly, it wasn’t until after that CD came out that I found out that the Nikki & the Corvettes vinyl has never been out of print. They’d been printing it since 1980.

PKM: Yeah, Bomp just kept printing it, I guess.

Nikki Corvette: Uh, yeah, they did. We weren’t getting any money from it, we didn’t really know. We had a falling out with Greg [Shaw] and didn’t have anything to do with Bomp for years. But now that Suzy and Patrick have taken over, everything is great. I used to meet people and they’d be like, “Oh, I love Nikki & the Corvettes!” But you know how when you meet someone and you say something nice about their band, even though you maybe don’t know a lot about their band, just to be nice? I thought everybody was doing that. And it wasn’t until bands started to send me covers of our songs, and seeing interviews with bands mentioning us, that I thought, “Hey, people really do know our band. I’m not being punked by everybody in the world!”

PKM: How involved were you with that 2000 CD reissue? Did you have notions of remixing it to try to beef it up a little, make it closer to what you thought the band was like at the time?

Nikki Corvette: No, but it is a little slower. And when they approached me about reissuing it, I said the only way you’re doing that is if I have approval over everything – well, me and the guitar player. You’re only using pictures we want, we want nothing to do with that cartoon cover, etc. I was much happier with the CD. Although in one of Greg’s last ways to, I don’t know, kind of mess with people in a funny way was that he told us that one of the girls who sang on the album said that we couldn’t use her picture unless we paid her. Then he told her that we refused to use her pictures, and that’s why we used pictures with another girl. And she was really mad at me. I told her I don’t know what you’re talking about. You said we couldn’t use your pictures unless we paid you; and she said I never said that. And she said what he said, and we said we never said that, and you know…

PKM: So back a bit again, when did things start to dissipate?

Nikki Corvette: Well, we changed the whole format of the band several times in the early ‘80s. At one point, we got rid of the other girls and just made it me and guitar, bass, drums. And we did that for a while, and that’s when we recorded the “Girls Like Me”/”I Gotta Move” single. Then after that, we became a rockabilly band, and did that for a while. Then it just kind of faded out. I moved to L.A. three times back then. The first time was 1979 for about 10 months; next was probably around 1982 for a short time; and finally for the last time in 1983 until 2005.

PKM: While you were in L.A. for that 22 years, were you still kind of keeping your ear to the ground for new music?

Nikki Corvette: Yeah, I had a band called Babylon. It didn’t last very long. It was very different from anything else I’d done. It was the ‘80s, so it was kind of dancey-ish, I guess. I recorded with some people. I went to see a ton of bands because the place I worked at, everybody in the world came in there, and I’d get on guest lists for everything, and I’d go to clubs all the time.

PKM: Where’d you work?

Nikki Corvette: A restaurant called Barney’s Beanery. It’s the second oldest restaurant in L.A., really famous. Pretty much everybody came in there because it was famous – sports people, actors, bands.

PKM: Get to know any actors while you were there?

Nikki Corvette: Oh yeah, a ton. A lot of character actors I see now and think, Hey I knew that guy. One guy that used to come in all the time and sing on karaoke nights was Jeremy Renner. I look at him now and it’s hard for me to get a grip on the fact that he was just another one of the struggling actors hanging out there – and now he’s an Avenger!

PKM: Eventually Detroit pulled you back?

Nikki Corvette: Well I wouldn’t have come back. I loved living in L.A. But my grandmother was really old, my mom was taking care of her, and that was hard for my mom, and I’d always said if she needed help, I’d move back. She did, and I did. But after I left L.A., I realized I needed to be out of there. It makes you really complacent. It kind of kills your soul, although I couldn’t realize it. It’s just, you know, Hollywood. I needed the grittiness, I needed to be back here. Creatively, it was really good for me.

PKM: Have you kept in touch with former Corvettes members?

Nikki Corvette: I did for a while, and then I didn’t. I was always in touch with the guitar player, until he quit talking to me a couple years ago.

PKM: Pete James, right?

Nikki Corvette: Yes, one and the same, originally from the Ramrods. I also briefly “managed” the Ramrods and booked some of their first New York shows. Pete had been one of my best friends since I was 15, until I officially became a band with the Stingrays. Before we became the Stingrays, we did a short East Coast tour where we had a falling out, but still remained close friends for a couple more years. Although he told a mutual friend that the tour drama was the reason he stopped talking to me. That was coincidentally after the release of the Stingrays’ album, Back to Detroit (Dollar Record Records, 2006). Unless this interview makes him mad, I’ll probably never know. I kept calling for a year asking why, but he just hung up on me after almost 40 years of friendship. Otherwise, as far as keeping in touch with former bandmates, when Gorevette went on tour with Blondie, I saw one of my backup singers and the most consistent bass player at a show in Boston, and we connected with them. And I’m back in touch with a lot of people who have gone through the band.

PKM: How was that Blondie tour?

Nikki Corvette: That was one of the most amazing things in my life! It was pure chance. We’d done some shows with the Donnas – they posted they were going on tour, and I just texted the guitar player and asked, “Hey, why don’t we open a show for you?” She said “I’ll have our manager call you.” He called the next day and said, “why don’t you just do the tour?” And so I had to call the band and say, Uh, whoops, I just did something, guys. Ha! I didn’t think about it, I just thought, Oh, this’ll be fun, I’ll text somebody. And then all the sudden there’s this tour.

Nikki and Debbie Harry
Nikki and Debbie Harry

It was just four or five shows on the East Coast, and the first was in New York. I went up and introduced myself to the DJ at that show – Miss Guy from the Toilet Boys – and said, “Hey were Facebook friends, you’re a great DJ.” And he said he called Debbie Harry while we were playing and told her they should take me on tour. And by the time I got home that night, William Morris had called us and asked if we wanted to open for Blondie at the Fillmore in L.A. And we thought, okay, it’s just one show, it’s out in California, and we’ll lose so much money – but how can we not open for Blondie at the Fillmore?! So Amy Gore and I decided we would work it out. That first show – at one of the most famous, iconic rock venues in the world, opening for one of my idols – was insane! And then Debbie started talking about us onstage, and we freaked! Then they just kept offering us more shows, and we ended up doing like ten shows with them, and everything about it was amazing. A couple more stand-outs were the Pacific Amphitheatre for the Orange County Fair and the Nokia Theater, Times Square, NYC. They were packed houses, the response was amazing; and in New York, Mary Weiss came to the show. The whole thing was mind-blowing!

PKM: Gorevette had a good run. How did that come together?

Nikki Corvette: I first met Amy Gore in 2004 when I saw the Gore Gore Girls in L.A. When I left Detroit, a lot of girls didn’t like me because I was in a band, so it was amazing to meet a cool Detroit rock chick who knew who I was and liked me too! We talked and exchanged numbers and started hanging out when I moved back to Detroit. One day I mentioned that I wanted to start a punk rock cover band and she did too. So we decided to go it as a side project. This was around 2008.

Then I wrote a song, “Lustfully Yours,” then she wrote some songs, and we wrote some more songs. We did a Japanese tour and some shows with the Donnas, which led to those Blondie shows, and a record (Lustfully Yours; Strange Girl Records, 2010). Then one day we realized we were a real band and not a little punk rock cover band. We were together until about 2011, and did a lot in that time! Amy and I are still great friends and have worked on other projects since then and will probably do more in the future.