Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Interview with Maria Temelkos, vet nurse who rocks

The awesome Maria T brings her enthusiasm in spades wherever she goes.
This week SAT interviewed Maria Temelkos, veterinary nurse by day and vocalist for all-girl, award winning cover band The Frocks. Having experienced their raw energy I count myself among their fans – of which there are oodles. Just a fortnight ago the Frocks took out a MO Award for the best dance show band in Sydney (it’s like the Logies for live entertainment - you can read about the MO Awards here).

Go the Frocks!
At the time Maria got the news, she was feeding a kitten. I don't know about you, but I like my dance/show bands to be compassionate to all critters. Here's what Maria had to share with us.

What is your day job?

I’m a veterinary nurse at Sydney Animal Hospitals. I just completed my Certificate 4 in vet nursing and I’m looking at doing emergency care at TAFE next year. I also take any chance I get to manage The Frocks as well as events and fund raisers. I really enjoy collaborating with venue managers, building a rapport with entertainment managers and agents. I’m very lucky, I work part time and they are very flexible at work in terms of what I do and what I want to do.

Maria cops a lick from a grateful patient.
How long have you been rocking?

I’ve been in bands since I was 18. My mum was a singer and I used to do choir and little performances at school so I knew I could sing, but it really developed when I joined my brother’s band (Big Bad Wolf). He had me fill in at rehearsals now and then, and then I said I wanted to join the band. The only reason my parents let me was because my brother was in the band. I had a bit of a break in my 20s but I’ve been singing again since I was 29.

How did The Frocks come about?

It happened when I had basically stopped performing for a short period of time, I was at a party with a group of friends, sitting around, having a few drinks. We found out that each of us had a musical background - someone could play guitar, someone could play bass, someone could sing. We laughed and said we should get together and start an all-girl band.

Within a week we had started jamming at someone’s house and the Frocks was formed. Originally we didn’t have a drummer, so we played without drums and a backing track for a year and a half. We’ve generally had the same line up, although we have had some changes as with any band. Our guitarist left – so Lisa moved over to playing guitar as she was playing bass. It’s much easier to find a female bass player than it is finding a female guitarist. Our new bass player would only join if her friend Raelene could join – and Raelene was a drummer. So its been Marnie, Raelene, Lisa, Louise and me. Marnie and Raelene are leaving so we have a new singer and a new drummer coming on board, so it’s a big change but it will bring new life to the band, and a new look.

How did you get our first gig?

We were lucky enough that our first gig was at the Newtown Hotel. Roger Z who was manager at the time needed a band, it just came about through networking. We ended up with less than twenty bucks each that night but we didn’t care, we wanted to get our name out. There’s only so much you can do in a garage or someone’s lounge room. That one gig turned to two then four then eight. I was not manager material, I didn’t know how to do that at the time, so it was a learning process for me as well.

Maria belts out a tune.
Over the years I got to learn how to network, interact with event managers from other venues and build rapport with those clients. It was also about our name, The Frocks. Once word got around people would come to see us. And managers from one venue know other managers, and would call them and say “Hey listen, try them out”. To this day when you say the Frocks people say “I know that band!” Event managers started calling me instead of the other way around.

The Frocks have loyal fans that turn up to every gig. Can you tell us a bit about them?

We do have loyal fans, we are a band that performs music that people love, its a great night out for everybody. We also try to create an environment that is friendly – it doesn’t matter what age, sex, background, whether you’re straight or gay, we make sure people feel safe to have fun and be themselves. We’re also an approachable band. We don’t just get up off stage and leave, we like to interact with the crowd and our fans and thank them at the end of the night. For our loyal fans it’s a gig that they can look forward to at the end of the week.

The Frocks seems to raise an awful lot of money for charity?

That is my number one, the girls and I love doing charity work, whether it’s raising money for kids with cancer, or WSPA or Oscar’s Law. We’re actually planning a fundraiser for bears through WSPA, which will be called Frocks, Fur, Feathers and Fins. I’m looking at doing a lot more fundraisers…anywhere we can help anybody raise money for a good cause, we’re there.

The Frocks want Oscar's Law to abolish puppy factories.
There’s a bit of a contrast between vet nursing and fronting a band. Would you pick one over the other?

There’s a huge contrast, but I am blessed and thank God every day because I am doing two things I am passionate about. I am passionate about helping animals and I am passionate about singing and performing. I can’t pick one over the other, I will always be working with animals and I will always be singing. And they help people in different ways. I’ve had people come up to me after a gig and say “you helped me forget about my problems” or “you put a smile on my face”. I love hearing that.

Do you live with any non-human animals?

I’ve got five cats: Tabitha, Gia, Mac, DK and CK, a Spoodle called Cargo and a Pomeranian-Papillion cross called Jet. The cats are all from work.

Cat adoption. An occupational hazard for vet nurses? Maria can handle it.
One more question. Your top five guaranteed floor-fillerz right now?

Definitely Blurred Lines; Sex is On Fire; Moves Like Jagger and our Pat Benetar double-shot classic Hit Me with Your Best Shot and All Fired Up. There’s also the Frocks version of What’s Up by 4NonBlondes. We Frocked it up and made it into a dance version.

Thanks Maria. You can catch The Frocks this weekend at the George’s River Sailing Club or check out the Frocks website here for details of their other gigs.