Amber Taylor grew up in Dallas before moving to Atlanta, Ga., and fronting the Sexual Side Effects, a scrappy rock band with a fierce live presence. But Houston — shhh — has emerged as her favorite Lone Star destination.
“Being a Texan will always be a part of me,” she said. “But of all the cities in Texas and across the nation, Houston has been really receptive to what we are doing. We have met so many new friends here. We were here last year during the Pride Festival to perform, and it was amazing.”
SSE is skipping Dallas for Houston twice this time. The band heads to Cactus Music for a free in-store before performing at Mango’s as part of their Franken-Tour. But first, Taylor talked inspiration, motivation and naked fan photos.
What’s the story behind the band name?
I kept on hearing all the drug companies running commercials on TV that said, “May have a low occurrence of sexual side effects,” and it hit me one day that this name was just too epic not be used. It was intended for us by way of rock ’n’ roll destiny.
Why is your current run called the Franken-Tour?
We started in our hometown, Atlanta, Ga., where we had Franken-Party, which was about throwing all kinds of epic stuff into one night. Music, art, burlesque, bodypainting, costumes, go-go dancers, a light show, half-naked drunk people. The same concept goes for Franken-Tour. A different line up every night.
You’ve always been up front and matter of fact about being transgendered. What sorts of challenges has it presented as a musician?
At first, we didn’t really tell anyone, and life went on as normal. Of course, it’s kind of staring back at people in the name. People have been really supportive for the most part, especially if they are a part of the music first. It’s been so long since I have changed that I forget sometimes. I’m just a human being and glad I got to be the person I am and didn’t run and hide from it.
Who do you look to as a role model, musically and as a person?
As a performer and musician, I have always admired David Bowie. His career and music really inspired my own from the beginning. As a touring musician I really admire Martin Atkins of P.I.L. and Pigface. He wrote a book called “Tour:Smart” that is the definitive guide in how to do all this. It’s been really empowering to take your career into your own hands as an independent artist and to have a resource on how to do it.
If you had to pick one song to introduce people to the band, what would it be and why?
“Aurora” really captures the haunting and majestic qualities of the music we strive to write. A lot of the new songs we perform are not recorded yet, and they are all in the sonic direction of “Aurora.”
When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a rock star?
I started to get messages from people about how much one of our songs meant to them or helped them through a hard time in their life. It’s that moment where all the selfish and self-centered aspirations go out the window, and you realize this is something greater than yourself. That’s when it becomes a truly inspired obligation to others for the greater good.
Must-haves when you’re on the road?
Tea — it keeps the cold away, and there is whiskey involved. Blankets — when it’s time to tour, it’s time to sleep as much as possible because it’s usually never possible. Naked photos of people we meet on the road. Seriously, we have a collection going, started by a couple of crazy hot girls in Orlando. The smallest bag possible to fit everything you can into.
The last album you bought?
“Year of the Rabbit.” Kevin Andrews is amazing. Also Doves! I use Spotify a lot, and people always turn me on to new music. If you know any good music, please send it to me.
The very first album you bought with your own money.
The Cure’s “Disintegration,” “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” I bought these as cassette tapes for a girl I liked in sixth grade. I somehow ended up with the tapes and listened to that band a lot before I turned into a punk rocker. The Cure still has a parallel to our sound today.
The Sexual Side Effects
When: 9 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: Mango’s, 403 Westheimer
Tickets: Free; 713-522-8903 or thesexualsideeffects.com
Also: 2 p.m. Sunday at Cactus, 2110 Portsmouth