First, she once held a recurring role on The King of Queens, the painfully benign, now (thankfully) defunct CBS sitcom. Second, after eight years of being the frontwoman of Killola, she’s able to admit, “I’ve done every function the human body can have on stage.” With a chuckle, she quickly adds, “I don’t know if you should even write that,” before elaborating on her revelation a few seconds later. “Oftentimes, I get too excited when we’re [performing] and I’ll throw up, which is always fun for the people watching. You get so in the moment and your body is like, ‘I can only go so hard right now. You need to calm down or I’m going to vomit.’ And that happens.”
Instead of being embarrassed by her unfortunate habit, Rieffel’s delighted by it. Minutes later, she rattles off an anecdote in which a fellow actress once called Rieffel “disgusting” to her face. The vocalist embraces that epithet as a kind of rock & roll honor. While she’s “a little bit more reserved” when it’s time to act, Rieffel’s stage persona amps up her side as a “really bad girl.” Often coated in glam-rock makeup, she wails, purrs and croons alongside her band’s punchy garage/punk rock, moving where her whims take her. “Some nights, it’s calm, and some nights, I’m literally hanging from the rafters,” she says. “It depends on the night and the moment. I’ve been told I get a little nuts.” Blacking out during sets isn’t an infrequent occurrence. That sensation isn’t really due to boozing, but rather is a byproduct of her manic, full-throttle antics. Sometimes, she can only recall pieces of a show when discussing it the next day—a case of memory loss she regards as positive.
Rieffel started acting at the age of 5 and was performing in musicals soon thereafter, gradually building toward being part of a rock outfit. As she went through a handful of groups (the first was “really, really, really shitty”), she became particularly frustrated with one project that ended up with a producer trying to market her in a way she abhorred. “My manager at the time was into making me the hot pop star, and would take me to labels and be like, ‘She’s sexy, right?’ ” she says. “It was so degrading. I have so much more to offer than just being fuckin’ cute, and it made me want to stab everyone in the office.”
Killola, on the other hand, allows her to exorcise her aggression and get introspective in a way she prefers. Let’s Get Associated, the four-piece’s latest, is stuffed with multi-hued bric-a-brac: straightforward rock rhythms, mopey confessions, unabashed come-ons, an acoustic guitar, overbearing electronica and a track intro that cribs the famous Tetris theme. Even on record, Rieffel’s presence cannot be ignored. She contorts her voice with an impressive fearlessness, changing tones constantly. On “Traffic,” she emulates Divinyls’ Christina Amphlett, but a song later, on “She’s a Bitch,” she’s slithering around like Peaches. Associated isn’t mind-blowing or particularly provocative, and its production does lend it unnecessary polish when some grime would work better, but the sum experience is ambitious and consistently entertaining.
In the upcoming film adaptation of Girltrash!, Angela Robinson’s online television series, Rieffel will get a chance to combine her talents as she both appears in the movie and scores it with Killola. Even though Associated was just released Aug. 10, Rieffel already has a hefty list of Killola projects still forthcoming: Three songs have been written for the next record, there’s Girltrash! and its soundtrack and then perhaps another Killola DVD. Though she carries herself without limits in shows, she can’t fathom the notion of her band burning out any time soon. “Oh, no, no, get used to us. If we weren’t doing this, I don’t know what we’d do,” she says, before cobbling together a strange alternative and laughing again. “We’d be serial killers, so thank your lucky stars there’s Killola.”
w/The Cliks, Hunter Valentine