Meg Lee Chin

In San Francisco I was an indie kid before my metamorphosis into a London rock chick.

Somewhere in the late 80s I became obsessed with the notion of a band of female musicians who went beyond the low expectations of the time. I wanted my band to be more than just a "good for a girl band".

But after an ad seeking other women players in LOOT magazine, I was disappointed with how few phone calls rolled in. There weren't a lot of women in the London music industry back then. The few there were, seemed to be "dolly birds" groomed by Svengali music moguls. These men saw themselves as magicians who shaped women into their ideal of a fantasy. Well, I was unusual in that I had a man-sized ego (still do). I wasn't going to be shaped by anybody.

Nearly every call from the ad was a heavy metaller. I didn't think much of it at the time. But looking back, I guess it was a reaction to the uncomfortable situation we women were in. The prevailing stereotype was that of silly little things who couldn't really play their instruments. Indie music was seen as a genre where quirkiness and style meant more than playing ability. So I guess many women naturally gravitated to metal which seemed to require a higher level of technical ability.

Yeah, we had something to prove.

"Guns and Roses" were the big thing in heavy music at the time. Even the "Gun" in their name suggests the sexual projection of male power. So naturally, we chose the name "Crunch". One might imagine jaws clamping down to emasculate all that masculine strength.

Tee hee hee! Such cute little loveable darlings we were...

Crunch was in the right place at the right time when a gig appeared. Danielle Dax had fallen out with her manager Falcon Stuart and it was Crunch who ended up on a tour of Ukraine and the former U.S.S.R. This was in 1992 - the period when Boris Yeltsin was in charge. It was just after Gorbachev's Glasnost and before Vladimir Putin came into power as the president of Russia.

I wonder if Putin was a metal fan and whether he saw us on Russian television. For Crunch got up to all kinds of antics. We outsmarted hostile male journalists and pinched presenters' bums on Russian State TV. At a press conference in a hall jammed full of journalists we sat at a long table littered with microphones of all sizes and shapes. I'd only ever seen this sort of thing on TV for White House style political conferences. Cameras and lights flashed. Then came the rapid-fire interrogation with questions of geopolitics. To kick things off I replied;

"We are simply musicians and do not pretend to have the answers to delicate and complex geopolitical questions. We'll leave these answers to huge male egos like Sting"

The air lifted in the room. I could see the knowing smiles on the faces of women journalists as they scribbled with renewed vigour in their notebooks. The atmosphere became more jovial.

We performed at the Palace Ukraine concert Hall in Kyiv to the largest audience we'd ever seen. In 1992 Ukraine was still just tasting its freedom from the oppression of the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic). Indeed we felt a kinship with the Ukrainian people who seemed to understand our desire to be "Burning Down the Walls".

Later we performed at the women's prison in Kharkiv. We travelled overnight in the sleeper car of an old fashioned steam train to Moscow. There we were interviewed on Russian State TV. A banquet was held in our honour. We were wined and dined and introduced to artists, politicians, poets and playwriters. Even "Pravda" the Russian State Newspaper called us "The Rock Stars from the West".

Did we deserve all this?

Our now inflated to male-sized egos said "YES"!

Did we deserve all this?

Our inflated to male-sized egos said "YES"!

But two weeks later, Cinderella-like, we were back in London at a gig at the "Stick of Rock" - a pub in Bethnal Green. Our audience consisted of 3 drunken old men who ogled and raised glasses to us as they propped up the bar.

The glitz and excitement we left behind and the devastating drop back to reality stretched our morale almost to breaking point. Our guitarist Stephanie began to hate on Viv's drumming. So Viv subsequently left. Then Stephanie left. The recording studio where we had a deal dropped us. So it was just Sophie and me left standing.

We got a phone call from a UK TV show called "The Tube". Thus began another chapter in the life of "Crunch". They wanted us to appear live. But we had no drummer and no guitarist and had to throw something together quick...

To be continued...

In the meantime here is some long lost footage of Crunch at the Palace Ukraine Concert Hall in 1992. Huge thanks and gratitude to Renee from the band Lovecramps for providing it to us!