The band members of Antigone Rising, after making waves over the last decade as a proudly feminine alternative-rock group, only continue to ascend in the public conscious. The current roster includes singer-songwriter, Nini Camps, drummer Dena Tauriello and sisters Cathy Henderson and Kristen Ellis-Henderson. Kicking down the door and entering national relevance back in 2005 with their album “From the Ground Up,” the New York-based band has only been gaining steam since. This past April Kristen Ellis-Henderson, a founding member, was featured with her wife Sarah on the cover of TIME Magazine, emblazoned with the message “Gay Marriage Already Won.” We talked with Kristin via e-mail about the landmarks she and her band mates have enjoyed recently and their current tour, which saw them playing at Vienna favorite Jammin’ Java on Dec. 7.
When asked about their new hit single, “That Was the Whiskey,” Kristen is disarmingly frank about the song’s inception. “The process was rather mindless, actually,” she says. After she and Nini Camps spent an entire day writing an entirely different song with musician Lori McKenna, 30 minutes before they planned on breaking for dinner, the trio reminisced about a show the three experienced together that tilted into debauchery. Jagermeister girls joined them on stage and whiskey shots were slung around the room, forming a very fond memory. “Since we had all lived that experience together, it was a fairly easy song to write. We were done in time for dinner.”
When asked about her appearance on TIME Magazine, the cover making her and her wife a face for marriage equality, Kristen says that she and Sarah are “more than happy to be on the frontline for the fight… we are extremely honored to the couple chosen for that particular cover at such an important moment in our country’s history.” She also felt honored when the group toured across the Middle East as cultural ambassadors. “It was the most eye-opening experience of my life. … We honestly can’t wait to go back.” She explains that the experience demonstrated to the group how beautiful and welcoming the region can be, in contrast to how it is portrayed in the media. She describes a performance in Bethlehem as “the closest to Beatlemania moment we’d ever had.”
Antigone Rising is in the midst of a tour, which Kristen refers to as “one of my happiest places to be.” The group tours across the country in the beloved bus dubbed Vanna White. In the past the girls have toured with legends like the Rolling Stones. “Keith Richards pulled his glasses off his nose and called us yummy one night backstage,” Kristen reminisces, also describing hanging out with The Allman Brothers in the confines of Vanna White as “surreal.”
Kristen said she enjoys playing Jammin’ Java, a venue Antigone Rising has gigged at before. “The smaller venues always allow for much more intimate performances,” she says before adding “JJ really lends itself nicely for a great show about the songs.” She and her sister Cathy have college friends residing in NoVA, so it’s a stop on the tour they always enjoy. “A little taste of Southern hospitality without having to drive too far away from home.” —Robert Cameron Fowler