The Rolling Hills Derby Dames will try to keep their unblemished record at Beasley Coliseum intact when they face the Wine Country Crushers and Hellgate Rollergirls in a pair of bouts Saturday.
With numerous rule changes and only one loss the entire season, the Dames have had a wild year.
Now, every penalty is a major penalty, so players are sent to the penalty box more often. And, it used to be that the jammer — roller derby’s fancy name for the player who attempts to pass the pack of opponents, scoring a point for each one she passes — started 10 feet behind the blockers. But now, the line is one and the same.
“Everybody starts at the whistle, at the same location and same time,” Pettit said.
Saturday’s “Dames of the Dead” event is the first-ever doubleheader for the Dames, but Pettit is confident in their ability.
“We have a pretty solid fan base,” she said. “This is our fourth bout that we’ve had here, and we’ve drawn about 2,000 people every time. With being in a small town, usually we skate for 200-300 people. Never anywhere else do we see 2,000 people.”
The Dames will face the Crushers of Yakima at 5 p.m. and the Rollergirls of Missoula at 7 p.m.
Alternative rock band Monster Birdle will play before the first bout and between bouts, and Washington State University’s bellydancing club also will perform between bouts. Vendors will be located on the concourse and a beer garden is available for those over 21.
A donation of $5 is suggested at the door, and proceeds go toward the floor of Gladish Community and Cultural Center, where the Dames practice. An after-party will take place at Zeppoz and Mr. Z’s Casino shortly after the second bout ends.
Monster Birdle rocks halftime
Pullman band Monster Birdle will perform at the Dames of the Dead event Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. Guitarist Ken Ellsworth and lead vocalist and bassist Nathan Tarlyn discussed their history, music and hopes for the year. Monster Birdle’s drummer Eric Schwartz will join them Saturday. The band plans to release its first album next spring.
360: How did you guys start the band?
Nathan: It’s not like in 2008, we said ‘OK, let’s start a band.’ We just started playing together and then it was like, well, ‘Do you know this song?’ ‘Sorta.’ ‘Do you know this song?’ ‘Kinda.’ So, then we started working on our own stuff. There was a very slow curve until things have gotten going in the last couple years.
360: What’s your musical backgrounds?
Nathan: Eric is more formally trained and he actually taught music to middle-schoolers. … Me, I have a very slow learning curve. I got my first bass in 1986. I still have that instrument. When I bought the bass, didn’t know anything about it, didn’t want to spend the time learning it, so I just dabbled with it a lot. You grow up a bit more, you get married, you have kids, it gets put in the corner. Then, 10 or so years ago, I started playing with some other guys in the basement. I’m self-taught, so I’m used to playing by ear or trying to pick up a song.
Ken: It was about 10 years ago that I picked up the guitar. Never had any musical training, never played any musical instruments growing up. So, I picked this up, started messing around a bit. … Music theory is a passion of mine.
360: What are your future plans?
Nathan: A lot of bands are like, ‘This is what we want to do.’ Our goals now are just like, ‘We like to play live.’ We like the energy that you can get when there’s an audience that’s even slightly engaged. We’re not trying to make a living at it, we have jobs. It started out as indulging our own pleasures. We’re not looking to be rock stars, or go on tour, or cut or sell albums. We are working to record our own album, it’s just that none of us have time.
Ken: It’s a stress relief. It’s the reason I work. Seriously.
Nathan: Everyone has to have their outlets, and things that they like to do. I’m reluctant to use the word hobby, because that sort of cheapens it.
Ken: I’d call it a passion.
360: How does your music writing process work?
Nathan: Generally, Ken will come up with various little bits and pieces. … I’ve written all the lyrics. I don’t usually sit and say, ‘OK, I’m going to write a song about this.’ What often happens is I’ll be walking around or some phrase will pop in my head or I’ll see something. … So, it’s a back-and-forth process.
360: How’d you come up with the name Monster Birdle?
Nathan: We often practice at Ken’s house. Ken and his wife Sue are fond of all kinds of animals, pets. They’ve had lots of different varieties of animals. Currently, they acquired a cockatiel named Monty. He’s a bit of an aggressive thing.
Ken: He’s drawn blood many times.
Nathan: He’ll bite you. Monty, they started calling him Monty the Monster. His name now is Monster. Monster Bird is an actual cockatiel. We were just gonna call the band Monster Bird. So, where’s the Birdle come from? Well, they also rescued this little red-eared slider turtle from this family that didn’t know how to take care of it and were feeding it tortilla chips from a little bowl. Ken’s wife Sue nursed this little guy back to health, and he’s all big and robust now. He’s the turtle. The bird, when we practice, is really into rhythms and music, so he sometimes comes down to the room and sings and dances up and down. My friend, Tyler, from the now-defunct band Yarn Owl, he was like how about “Birdle?” It just sounded funny, “Monster Birdle,” and that’s how it came to be.
It’s all the in the name
You can’t play roller derby without a great name — there’s even an International Rollergirls’ Master Roster so repeats don’t occur. Here’s a list of favorites, in no particular order, from the Rolling Hills Derby Dames:
1. Curls Gone Wild
2. Bruisin Bunny
3. Dixie Derailer
4. Kyro Smakchick
5. Letha Lee Blonde
6. Wikked Whit of da West
7. Don’t Care Bear
8. Syn with a Gryn
9. Takillya Rose
10. Heck No Techno