Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. Erickson is also a music artist herself and recently released a new single, “Scars,” with Upon Wings. This month’s piece features an interview with singer Lilith Czar.
This past year has been a whirlwind for Lilith Czar. Following the release of her debut album, Created from Filth and Dust, Czar recently hit the road on the “Trinity of Terror Tour” with Black Veil Brides, Motionless In White and Ice Nine Kills.
Formerly known as Juliet Simms (lead vocalist of the band Automatic Loveletter and a finalist on the second season of The Voice), the singer took on the new persona of Lilith Czar as she released Created from Filth and Dust in 2021. Czar’s songs are powerful and thought-provoking. One standout, “King,” finds her singing about not wanting to be a Queen, but a King in a male-dominated world.
The singer checked in with Heavy Consequence for the latest edition of “Beyond the Boys’ Club,” discussing her debut album; her previous stint touring with Halestorm and why she’s stoked for this summer’s outing; her experiences as a woman in rock and metal music; and much more. Grab tickets to her upcoming shows with Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless here, and pick up her debut album at this location.
Congratulations on opening for Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless on their upcoming summer 2022 tour. I know you’ve toured with Halestorm before. What was it like being on the road with Lzzy and company?
First off, I’m so excited to joining these incredible bands on this tour! I have been a fan for years, so I’m looking forward to watching them every night and sharing the stage with musicians I admire so much. Lzzy and I have formed a sisterly friendship, so having that on the road is just a really great bonus. The whole band and crew are beyond a shadow of a doubt the most kind and down-to-earth people I’ve ever met on the road. They treated us like family right off the bat and are not just great to work with — they are warm, incredibly fun and helpful in every way. I just adore each and every one of them.
What are you most looking forward to on the tour with Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless?
I think it’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan of their music. I think what draws me to both bands’ music so much is how original it is and how you know exactly who you’re listening to when you hear one of their songs. You can really feel how much thought, care and time went in to any of their records. Both Lzzy and Taylor’s voices are forces to be reckoned with, and I’m truly looking forward to watching them perform every night. As a singer and performer who intends on doing this for the rest of my life, there’s so much I can learn by watching these bands, who are so seasoned and experienced. It’s like school, except that it’s fun and much more educational in terms of my career path. I’m looking forward to soaking it all in, hanging with the bands and performing for audiences all around the country!
What are your thoughts on the camaraderie between women in the rock and metal genre?
I have said this from the moment I emerged as Lilith: The amount of support I received from the women in this genre and community has almost been overwhelming. From Maria Brink, Ash Costello, Lzzy, Dorothy and so many more, I have only ever felt lifted, heard, celebrated and like I had a team. It’s inspiring and empowering. It’s unlike any experience I have ever had in the music industry and should be an example for people everywhere. We all cheer each other on and want one another to succeed. In my humble opinion, I think this is why women are taking over. The power we have when we all stand together is unshakeable. I’d like to see this type of camaraderie applied everywhere. Imagine that.
So, you feel that women in rock and metal are major supporters of each other?
Yes. 1000%. First-hand experience. We all got each other’s backs. It’s like an unspoken understanding that this is what we do. It’s almost instinctual.
You were recently on the “Trinity of Terror Tour” with Black Veil Brides, Motionless In White, and Ice Nine Kills. What was that experience like?
It was absolutely magical. I can’t thank the bands enough for sharing the tour with me. What a force this tour was. Walking out every night to a completely sold-out venue was almost knee-buckling. But that kind of pressure is something I thrive on, and I would leave the stage almost every night on cloud nine. I have never received such a response. We had such a great time with all the bands and, quite honestly, it’s a pretty genius formula for touring in the COVID day and age were living in. If someone in one of the bands went down due to COVID, the show went on. For an artist my size, it’s imperative that I play every show scheduled in order to afford staying on the road, so this method of touring was very appreciated.
What has it felt like to get back on the road after not being able to tour for so long due to the pandemic? What did you miss most about touring?
It feels like I hadn’t realized how incomplete I had felt for almost two years. There was a dull emptiness not being able to perform, and stepping back out on stage was like a jolt to my soul and suddenly. I felt whole again. I missed everything about touring! The fans, the music, the singing, the traveling, the filth, the adventure — all of it.
Congratulations on your debut album, Created From Filth and Dust. What has the fan response been like?
The response has been better than I could have imagined. From the comments, testimonials, messages, posts, reviews, reaction videos, streams, playlisting and in person conversations. The album did exactly what I wanted it to do and more. I’ve never had a song at radio, so it was thrilling to watch “Anarchy” climb the rock charts, and now with a second one on the way, meaning that stations across the country are receiving my second single, which is a wild thought for me but something I’ve worked for my entire career. The whole release has been extremely fulfilling and like a breath of fresh air.
What are you most proud of when it comes to the new album?
I think the effect is has caused and how much its empowered people everywhere. That’s probably the No. 1 response I get. That it’s given people the courage to do x, y, z. That the album has made them feel strong and like they could do something about a negative situation they were in or that they could go for their dreams. I feel like the album created a little world where people are standing up, unafraid and are unapologetically themselves. As far as songs go, I would say “Anarchy” and “King” are two songs I’m most proud of.
What are your plans to record a follow-up?
As of right now, there are demos and songs coming into play. I’ve already been going back and forth with my producer on our plans for the next album. This is something I’m very much looking forward to diving into later this year.
In your bio, it says that your motivation is that, “If it’s truly ‘a man’s world,’ she wants to be King.” That’s a cool statement. Will you please elaborate?
To keep it short and sweet, I’ve been fighting my whole career and life to make something of myself in the music industry. More often than not, I’m the only female in the room or on a tour. With that comes a lot of judgement and attention pertaining to whether or not I could “keep up” or if I could “throw down” like the boys, musically and as a performer. From remarks, the way I was treated for years, the control men had over my destiny and the overall sense of not being taken seriously, I wanted to change that and prove myself, even though I had time and time again. I have outlasted many of my then-peers and proven so many people wrong — primarily, men who had put me down or expressed their nonbelief. The title “King” is power, ruling that’s only ever given to men. In my song “King,” I have a lyric, “if it’s a man’s world, I want to be king. If it’s a man’s world, don’t want to be queen” stems from not wanting to be looked at as a woman but rather an equal or a peer. My line “who’s to say a woman can’t think with her d**k?” is saying a woman has just as much right to run the world, to be on top and hold just as much power as anybody else. If I boil my answer to your question down to its simplest form, sex shouldn’t be a reason another holds rank over you or takes your power, or others will take it from you.
This column focuses on women in rock and metal music, and I’m wondering if you’ve seen a change in the number of women in heavy music today versus when you started out?
My first Warped Tour was as a teen. It was myself and Paramore. There were really no other females in sight. So since then, the number of females in the scene have grown astronomically. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and I love how much it’s been normalized. Finally.
What are some of the positive changes you’ve seen for women in rock and metal music over time?
How much it’s been normalized. I rarely hear the term “all-female band” or “female-fronted band” anymore, like we’re some sort of rare breed of animal that’s doing something out of the norm. It’s easier for us now as opposed to my beginning, where every day felt like a test of how big or small my balls were or just flat-out being told to do pop music because “women don’t succeed in rock.” Yes, that is something I have actually been told by a record exec at a major label. Small thinking and entirely inaccurate. And, sure, male or female in any field you need to prove yourself and work hard to get to where you want to be no matter what’s between your legs, but in my experience in this field, women have always had it harder. It’s tough enough out here, so I love seeing how much more inviting it’s become.
Do you think there’s more pressure on women in rock and metal to look a certain way to be appealing?
In the past, absolutely. But from what I’ve seen over the years and the glass ceiling so many women have shattered, I feel like that’s changed, and it’s about the art and music primarily. People don’t want perfection anymore. They want real and want someone they can relate with. At least this feels true for the rock scene. People are smart and they recognize an artist when they see them, and that’s all that matters.
What advice would you have for women looking to get into rock and metal music?
Prepare yourself. Know who you are. Believe in yourself. Believe in your words and opinions. Hone the shit out of your craft, and don’t let anything stop you. F**king go for it with every fiber of your being. Expect the road to be tumultuous. Get back up when you fall, and don’t do anything you don’t feel right about, but do everything you feel right about.