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Enemy Star

An interview with Paris Ortiz and Kassy Gruszkowski

Milwaukee's Enemy Star CD: Light It Up
Artist's Facebook
by Mike Huberty
October 2010

After the demise of the COCKSMITHS in 2009, Milwaukee guitar slinger Paris Ortiz (formerly of popular Brewcity rock bands like PSYCHADELICASI and BIG DUMB DICK) had a new sound in mind. Presumably, he was looking for a band that didn’t have a word for penis in the name, but also he was looking to create a more melodic kind of hard music. And ENEMY STAR, the band that eventually would come out of his idea, definitely has both the sweet-sounding and feminine element.

“I was on Myspace and saw an ad from the singer of 9MM SOLUTION.” Paris says. “It said, ‘My vocal teacher is looking for a band’ and I thought it was a gag. I mean, I was like, ‘Who’s your vocal teacher? Satan?’ But then I heard her [ENEMY STAR singer, Kassy Gruszkowski], and I knew it wasn’t a joke and I thought the voice was unique and refined.” A longtime Milwaukee singer, Kassy, was on the lookout for a new band as well. As she says, “The band I was in, THERESBEENAFIRE, broke up and I was out there kind of like ‘Will Rock For Gigs’. It was hard to find a good band at the time and Paris calling me was really, really awesome.”

They quickly bonded over a shared love of the obscure Finnish monster costume-wearing hard rockers, LORDI, and found quickly that their writing styles worked well together. As Paris was engineering and producing the songs, he describes what amazed him about her. “We were recording once and we stopped around 10 or 10:30pm.”, he says. “I send her a new song and she sends me an email at 1am and she’d recorded lyrics and a melody already! What a work ethic!” Kassy agrees, saying that Paris is “just a pleasure to work with.” He continues, “It’s just my love of melodic, aggressive music. We’re like Beauty and the Beast. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to write really aggressive pop tunes. You have got to have a melody. I need a chorus, I need a hook. I want people to walk away singing. I don’t think anyone’s heard this kind of music from me before. There’s a saying that a really good drummer can make any band sound better, her lyrics and her vocals are making my guitar sound better.”

Milwaukee's Enemy StarKassy wrote all of the lyrics on the record and describes one of the album’s main themes as “personal struggle, fighting against the rest of the world. The various battles that a person encounters and how to overcome them.” This is most evident in the album’s track, “Heroes.” As she explains,”It’s about euphoric love, and that’s heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. It’s about overcoming and sticking it out as a couple.” Paris loves the line in the song, “The Next Big Thing”. “‘I’ll sell out to get out’”, he quotes from the song, “I want that to be on a t-shirt!”

Their new album, “Light It Up”, drops on October 9th at G-Daddy’s BBC in Milwaukee and the rest of the band is filled in with Brew City rock vets, bassist, Dave Benton (CHIEF, BEATALLICA), and drummer, Dave Schoepke (COCKSMITHS, WILLY PORTER). The CD Release party will also be the first time that the band has played out live. Kassy is excited and describes the thought of gigging out with this band for the first time. She says, “I really don’t know what to expect, it’s been so long since I’ve been in a band of my own. To actually be onstage and lead the audience, but I have complete confidence with the other guys.” And Paris cannot wait to unleash the new band on Milwaukee. As he puts it, “I think the big thing is ‘old meets new’. We’re hardened, grizzled veterans of the Milwaukee scene, but we’re backing and introducing this new voice. Kassy’s got such a refined classical style. It’s something different and no one’s heard something like this before.”

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