Antigone Rising storms into the new year with a foot stompin' new single and a founding band member on the cover of Time Magazine. When the New York based, alt-country female rockers do something, they do it big. Catapulted into the national spotlight in 2005 with a groundbreaking major label debut that landed them in the top 20 of the Billboard Heatseekers chart for an entire year, the ladies love outdoing their past accomplishments.
Best known for relentless touring and masterful musicianship, the band played upwards of 280 shows a year in their early days. Whether it was an open mic on a Monday night or a jam packed New York City hometown show, the ladies and their infamous Vanna White (the band's beloved 15 passenger van) eventually blazed a trail straight to arenas alongside The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith.
Founding sisters Cathy and Kristen Henderson have always had the same philosophy. Play better than the boys and make sure the fans feel like part of the family. That philosophy plus writing undeniably catchy songs has allowed this self sustained group to maintain her independence and leave an indelible mark on an industry best known for leaving girl (bands) behind.
In a business riddled with pitfalls, the fans have been the one thing Antigone Rising count on. Their first independent fan funded CD (2000's "Rock Album") raised ten thousand dollars via checks through snail mail before the internet ever kicked into high gear. Their latest fan funded effort (2011's critically acclaimed "23 Red") raised quadruple that number, with fan perks including bowling and kickball with the band, private house concerts and band members making personal happy birthday phone calls. The fans are the lifeblood of Antigone Rising. They've always been the most critical part of the formula.
Those loyal fans and the soaring three-part harmonies are what eventually caught music industry icon Jason Flom's attention. He signed the girls to Warner Music Group's Lava Records in 2004. Shortly thereafter, he finessed a deal with Starbucks Hear Music, and the band's first major label release hit Starbucks shelves on May 11, 2005. The acoustic based live album, "From The Ground Up," included a hit single, "Don't Look Back," co-written with grammy award winning songwriter, Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty). A video for the song played in regular rotation on CMT and VH-1 throughout the summer and fall of 2005, and a half hour documentary special about the band aired on VH-1 (Listen Up! Antigone Rising). Appearances on The Today Show and The Tonight Show pushed sales over ten thousand units a week, launching "From The Ground Up" into the top twenty of Billboard's "Heatseekers Chart" well into the winter of that year. Tour dates alongside The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Allman Brothers Band, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and Rob Thomas followed. Jason Flom's departure from Warner Music Group in 2006 left the band's major label future uncertain. Never comfortable leaving their fate in the hand's of others, the ladies left Lava Records on their own terms with an ever growing loyal fanbase strongly intact.
2009 was a year of birth and re-birth for the band, as founding member Kristen Ellis-Henderson and wife, Sarah, became pregnant simultaneously; giving birth to their son and daughter in February. Longtime friend Nini Camps, having made several guest appearances with the band, officially joined the fold as lead singer and rhythm guitarist. She too gave birth to a son in December. Ellis-Henderson shifted roles from rhythm guitarist to bass guitarist, mother of twins, and author, landing a book deal with Simon and Schuster. Kristen and Sarah penned a memoir about their family's unique conception, titled "Times Two, Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made." The book's success pushed Kristen and Sarah into the spotlight in a way they'd never expected, being tapped by GLAAD as media spokeswomen and becoming vocal advocates in the fight for Marriage Equality. That fight landed the legally married couple on the cover of April 8, 2013's issue of Time Magazine - "Gay Marriage Already Won."
With the band's line up officially cemented as a quartet, and their signature three-part harmonies more intact than ever, Antigone Rising released a live five song EP recorded at their favorite New York City stomping ground, The Bitter End. Simply titled "Live From NYC," the EP was certainly transitional in sound, largely intended to introduce fans to the new songwriting partnership of Ellis-Henderson and Camps. A little more country than rock n' roll, the songs were becoming less of a personal diary and more a collection of relatable stories. The band's live spontaneous improvisational moments, led by Cathy Henderson's extraordinary lead guitar playing, coupled with Nini Camps' spanish influenced slide guitar, all firmly anchored by Dena Tauriello's precise and consistent drumming helped push the band's musical landscape beyond that of traditional jam bands. The sound was enough to convince fans they liked the new direction, and the 2010 Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for their next recording shattered the band's expectations, nearly doubling the intended goal.
Released in August, 2011, the full length CD "23 Red," included singles, "Everywhere is Home," "One Foot In" and the ballad "Borrowed Time," inspired by the births of Camps and Ellis-Henderson's babies. With the money raised from Kickstarter, the band was able to create their own Rising Shine Record label, and with the help of Joan Jett's Blackheart Records Group, a distribution deal was secured. Starbucks once again jumped aboard in support of the band's music, adding several songs from "23 Red" into regular rotation in all of its locations throughout the United States and Canada. An east coast tour with The Bangles as well as several festival appearances followed.
Antigone Rising's career has been marked by outdoing past accomplishments. As if touring with The Rollings Stones and Aerosmith could ever be outdone, in 2012 the women were invited by the United States Government to travel and perform throughout the Middle East as cultural ambassadors. Headlining arenas in Bethlehem and Tel Aviv at night, performing outreach workshops in remote villages along the West Bank by day, the band soaked in the culture and brought home an understanding of a part of the world most only see via negative news reports. Given the opportunity to see first hand how music can bridge cultures, unify and bring people together, Antigone Rising wrapped promotion for their "23 Red" CD feeling invigorated and eager for the next chapter.
The next chapter starts now. Antigone Rising's latest single, "That Was The Whiskey" was co-written with good friend and song writer Lori McKenna (Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Hunter Hayes). "Whiskey" is getting praise from critics as a foot stompin' mash up, perfectly blending the band's ability to rock with their gift for writing undeniably catchy songs. The video for single is in rotation with CMT.com and various internet outlets, and the new CD is due out in early 2014.
"Antigone Rising is carrying on the feral spirit of The Runaways." - Joan Jett
Antigone Rising has appeared in a national print (Cosmo, Elle, Vanity Fair) and television campaign for designer clothing company 7 Jeans. They have enjoyed sponsorships with Mustang and Motorola. VH1 aired a half-hour special featuring the band and both VH-1 & CMT also embraced them by playing the video of their single, "Don't Look Back" on heavy rotation. The band has also appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Emeril Live, A&E's Breakfast with the Arts & several VH-1 programs including "I Love the 70s" & "I Love the 80s" episodes.