Storm Large: skin tight rockin’

Who is Storm Large? Does she have a dirty mouth? Who’s Storm Inc. – are they just another band with a pretty face playing the game but losing because they sound the same?

What’s up with the publicist, the famous retired groupie Pennie Lane?

It’s time to thank the sweet heavens I found out. Now you’ll know first.

I immediately noticed the great cover art for Storm Inc’s The Calm Years. There is something about a baby being bottle fed an air force bomber that grabs attention. If anyone can grab attention it’s Dead Kennedy’s cover artist Winston Smith.

I did what most people who get sent a lot of music do. I listened to the first 15 seconds of The Calm Years and put it into a pile with a bunch of other discs.

A week later things became interesting when I was approached by a woman in one of my classes asking me about my package.

Easy there, I mean the package about the band. She said some good stuff on behalf of her friend, Pennie Lane, and says that she likes Storm Inc.

That same day I get a picture in the mail of a topless Storm, displaying large tattoos on her greased-up back. I return a call to Pennie and hear the hype about Storm and an interesting story about how the two hooked up. Do I believe the hype? Maybe.

An interview and radio appearance for Storm was subsequently arranged before her show at the Cobalt Lounge. I was indeed very curious to meet she and Miss Pennie Lane.

Storm is as described; tall, full figured, and beautiful. Her former band and current website are called Storm and Her Dirty Mouth. Storm makes a good first impression. She may have a bit of a dirty mouth, but says interesting, funny things and speaks well.

The redheaded Pennie Lane arrives and mochas in hand we have a little chat. Due to my journalistic integrity, there will be no extensive quotations from that interview. Spiritual guidance has trained me to believe that even unfortunate things happen for a reason. That’s why it is OK, just fine and not a fucking horrible tragedy that the tape recording of the interview became mutilated beyond repair in an unfortunate yet news worthy incident.

Fortunately I have been blessed with exquisite, top shelf paraphrasing skills. I’m not kidding.

A story: Storm Large, born Storm Large, grew up playing punk rock. She modeled briefly, noticing that most photographers wanted to photograph her greased-up tattooed back and naked body. In the modeling world the gap between ankles, knees, and crotch all have to be just right, and the model has to be unhealthily skinny.

Storm got out and went back to singing. She learned quickly that the music business is “fucked up” as well. Bands get their schtick together, work hard and often get raped by a major label. They take an advance, don’t seek legal advice, blow the money and end up owing their souls to a multinational corporation.

She admires people like Ani Difranco who have managed to make a career doing everything themselves. Storm eventually wants the right deal from a major, but in the meantime she did a smart thing.

She went out and found a venture capitalist (a rich person willing to make an investment) to back her. She then hired a great San Francisco band that includes guitarist Shaunna Hall (penned the one hit for 4 Non Blondes) and drummer Kevin Carnes (Beat Nigs, U.A.F., Brown Fellinis) and recorded a full-length album.

She also hired a Portland-based publicist (Pennie Lane) and began a nine city tour.Pennie Lane and other good groupies, both real and fictional, were featured in last years film “Almost Famous.” Director Cameron Crowe’s wife Nancy Wilson, from the band Heart, knew Pennie from the good old days. Crowe hired a Private Investigator who tracked Penny down in Portland. She had retired from being a groupie at 21 but agreed to help with the movie.

Pennie has been doing public relations for various businesses and decided to get back into the music biz to help Storm. Pennie told me when she saw Storm at Rockergirl she felt a magnetism comparable to Mick Jagger’s?! She thought she could go far and she may be right.

There is a song about stupid groupies on Storm’s album called “Girls.” She sings: “Oh my Gawd [sic], shriek at the band!/It’s a romance in a one night stand/you’ll end up in tears with cum in your hand, you stupid little girl.”

Storm Inc’s songs range from syncopated hard rock to Bay Area pop punk and mainstream-style alt rock. The band is solid enough and Storm sings powerfully and well. The sound overall is nothing new or inspiring. Proven formulas are executed well.

Her lyrics are attention-getting and appear honest. “Everyone’s lyrics are autobiographical, to some extent,” she said.

My favorite song on this album is a driving quiet/loud non-autobiographical one called “Great Day” in which Storm speaks, rather than sings, most of the caustic witty satire. It invites a slutty white trash daughter to Lucifer’s game show, wallflower’s to discover the “joys” of cocaine, and tells the repulsive story of “Miss Buttermilk of Militia Hill, Idaho Falls.” “What a great day to be alive and wide awake,” the chorus sings.

Pennie Lane raved to me about Storm’s powerful and “sexual” live show. She said a cynical old bastard of a Rolling Stone writer was easily won over at Storm’s last Portland performance.

I agreed to show up at the Cobalt, normally not one of my favorite clubs. Storm Inc. was scheduled to headline, I was supposed to be on the list. Since most headlining bands start between 12-1am I showed up at 12.

I looked in and saw what appeared to be a topless Storm singing her lungs out. The doorman then told me I wasn’t on the list. This angered me. I told him: “Don’t waste this VIP’s time, I’m from the Portland State Vanguard for shit’s sake.” The next few moments were blurry and occured in a cinematic, Matrix-style slow motion.

While the ugly bald-headed doorman physically blocked my XFL running back-quality moves with his sooo last millenium Idaho militia style; I heard Storm say “thank you and good night.”

I was out of there quicker than a blacklisted cynical journalist shouting expletives at a closeminded doorman at a bad rock show.

Later, during an Ovaltine induced moment of reflection, I thought about how Storm told me she didn’t want to be known exclusively as a woman musician, and consequently lumped into that category to fill label quotas. She wanted equality. She never said she didn’t believe in using sex to sell.

I assumed, however, that even though she’s hot as sin and radiates cool sexuality, she wouldn’t use it. What a stupid assumption. How could she not? I found out later that she wasn’t topless at the Cobalt show, but wearing a sweat-soaked, flesh-colored skin tight top.

I also found out that the audience was full of lascivious men, many of whom eventually came pouring into the street to look at my disheveled rejected ass. It just goes to show … well, something.

Even if her good looks, venture capitalist and “Almost Famous” publicist were all she had going for her, she would probably do fine in this screwy world and screwier music business. The fact that she has charisma and a brain will no doubt help.

Go figure, there are thousands of bands trying hard to make it. Justice would be served if they all got an equal shot. This one is as good as any and just managed to get a story written about them. I guess sex really does sell.

For more info, the Web sites:,, The album: Storm Inc: The Calm Years is at local record stores.