By: Hap Fry
Kira Lynn Sands didn’t have to wait too long in life to have her first epiphany.
All of 2 years old, Sands was traveling in her parents’ car when the Rolling Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want” shot through the radio airwaves.
“It was the first time I had ever been aware of myself,” Sands said during a recent interview with Scene at an Old Town coffee shop. “I knew that was why I was alive – was (because of) music.”
The Fort Collins native’s great awakening has turned out to be her calling. It wouldn’t be an injustice to consider her to be the hardest working woman in show business.
Cut from the same cloth as rocker Warren Haynes, Sands, 29, moonlights in five different bands and plays five instruments – Celtic harp, cello, guitar, piano and a “really mean kazoo.”
“It fulfills my musical schizophrenia,” Sands said. “My most challenging role is orchestrating and making all the proper time for practice, which is currently what I’m struggling with. I don’t want to half-ass anything. I can’t say that it doesn’t put a toll on me, but I do love it. It’s worth dying for.”
The diversity of Sands’ musical palette is quite impressive. She plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals for dirty punk band The Love Dollz, lead guitar for The Tramps (Rockabilly), cello and lead vocals for Hermanas De Los Muertos (dark classical) cello and backup vocals for Talisker Skye (indie pop) and cello and backup vocals for The MurderARRs (dark-bluesy folk).
The latter group is an all-female cast of Steph Jay (lead vocals, guitar, banjo); Christi “Bladeybug” Shaw (saw, vocals) “Little Red Head” Jen Carden (horn, trumpet, guitar, vocals) and Arella Dawn (drums); along with Sands.
Roller Derby ultimately helped lead to the formation of the group in 2010. Sands and Jay both played for the FoCo Girls Gone Derby when they met.
“We just kind of found out through other derby girls that we both played music,” Sands said. “I actually went to go see her perform, and I was so impressed that I begged her to let me play cello with her. “Stephanie is probably one of the most humble and gracious people I’ve ever met so she agreed.”
Also helping matters was the fact that Shaw, Carden, Dawn and Sands all lived in the same Fort Collins’ neighborhood.
“It honestly just kind of all came together, and we created this real unique dark bluesy-folk group,” Sands said. “We really don’t restrict ourselves to any particular genre, however, with Steph’s writing style, we tend to come up with very thoughtful lyrics, very hypnotic-haunting and with a little folk, then each individual collaborates.”
The MurderARRs, whose first show was at the Mishawaka in support of Mini Kiss, will play The Ladybug Festival Nov. 2 at GNU Gallery, and on Nov. 8, they will play a gig with Mason Reed at Hodi’s Half Note.
“We don’t play shows together too terribly often now,” Sands said. “We were playing together there for a while every weekend. Now, we’re very selective because we’re very busy ladies. We try to just play every once in a while so we enjoy it and don’t get frustrated.”
Truth be told, if Sands had her druthers, she would play more punk rock.
“Honestly, my favorite thing to do is play dirty punk rock live and do studio recordings with the cello,” Sands said. “I really would like to be in a place where I would have a private studio in my home, and I would get up and my job would be to write musical scores for a movie, and then my super playtime would be to go do shows with The Love Dollz.”
Fellow Love Dollz bandmate and Rocktism Records general manager Jonny Riley vividly recalls one of the first times he ever bumped into Sands at the Aggie Theatre for the FoCoMX Awards ceremony.
“We had met before,” Riley said. “I don’t remember where. But she walked into the Aggie with a big fur coat on, just larger than life. The way that she walked around the Aggie that night was astonishing. She was a rock star. She made a huge impact on me. When I saw her perform I was just blown away.”
Sands’ latest epiphany came pretty recently, and just like her first one, she’s made it come to fruition.
“About 2 ½ years ago I literally woke up, and I said: ‘I don’t want this (a normal job) to be my life. This is what I want it to be,’” Sands said. “And I did it.”