Shilpa Ray: “I like that period of Rock’N’Roll that was really Nihilistic”

Last month Brooklyn-based blues punk singer/songwriter Shilpa Ray (also, notably former madame to the Happy Hookers, Bad Seed-backing-singer, and Drexel University student) released her Nihilism EP, the follow-up to 2017’s Door Girl LP, her sophomore full-length as a solo artist.  Although Shilpa Ray has only officially been a solo artist since 2013, she’s been making music for well over a decade, first as Beat the Devil, before the aforementioned Shilpa Ray with Her Happy Hookers and a stint singing, touring, and recording with Nick Cave.

Shilpa Ray’s Nihilism EP contains two tracks; her own “Shoot This Dying Horse,” a pretty-damn-close-to-pitch-black waltz, reminiscent of the most morose of Americana balladry; in addition to a surprisingly faithful cover of Alice Cooper’s “Is It My Body.”  Apparently, the idea came about while Shilpa was listening to a lot of Alice Cooper while on the road, touring Door Girl, when she realized that, if coming from the perspective of a female, it could actually be quite the feminist anthem.

I’m always pleasantly surprised, in light of their success as a bastion of Dad Rock, when the real badasses recognize and appreciate Alice Cooper’s exceptionally subversive roots so, in a recent chat with Shilpa, I ask about her appreciation of Alice Cooper and she tells me that, although she wasn’t super thoroughly-versed, she has always been a fan and that, upon recent closer examination, they really represent a lot of the things she most appreciates in music: “That was a time when it wasn’t packaged, and he was always off-beat and off-kilter and I’ve just always loved all of the glam and the stuff where he was dressing in drag.  I like that period of Rock’N’Roll that was really Nihilistic, after the late ‘50s and even before punk.”  I ask her what else she’s been listening to recently and she tells me, “I got really obsessed with this band, The Only Ones, from the same era as the New York Dolls, and they were all friends.  I discovered their entire catalogue and I now can’t listen to anything else [laughs].”

When I spoke with Shilpa Ray it was just prior to the release of her latest EP and her hitting the road for about a month’s worth of dates, which are about to come to an end, with the second-to-last date taking place on June 12th at our very own Kung Fu Necktie.  As for what can be expected of the live show, she says, “One of these days maybe we’ll have a light show or something, when we have enough money [laughs].  It’s always about rocking out and getting wild.”  However, she also mentions that she was just quite excited to be on the road in general, that that seems to be where she finds herself most comfortable.

“I guess I’m looking forward to all of it.  I’m dying to get out of here.  I’m not a very good civilian [laughs].  I mean, I love to wake up on my air mattress and eat breakfast at a gas station.  I dig the simplicity of it.”