Maddie May Scott graduated from MVRHS in 2014, and since has followed the beat of her own drums up to UMass Lowell and into a stellar-sounding all-female heavy rock band, Flight of Fire. She said if it wasn’t for all those open-mic nights at Alex’s Place when she was in high school, she wouldn’t have conquered her stage fright.
“I probably would have had crazy stage fright if it weren’t for that place. I owe them a lot,” Maddie told the Times last weekend. “Drums were the perfect instrument for me because I used to be a really shy person, and I used to kind of hide behind the drums on stage while also being as loud and obnoxious as I wanted, and doing my job of keeping the group solid and on time without having all eyes on me.”
The confidence she now has onstage comes from all those times she played as a high schooler on Martha’s Vineyard.
“I am now confident enough to do solos on stage by myself, which I think is mostly because of Alex’s Place and Tony Lombardi and Laurel Reddington when I was in high school. When I first performed there, I performed in groups, then after being lovingly pushed to do more by them, I got up on the stage by myself,” Maddie said.
Now 21, she’s a senior at university, working on a double major in music performance and modern languages (French and Spanish).
Every weekend she’s out playing bars in the Boston area with Flight of Fire. They haven’t played on-Island yet, but she’s working on it.
“I’d love to play this summer on the Island; it books really quickly,” she said.
The band has already stacked up some major kudos: They were winners of the Hollywood Music in Media Awards’ folk/acoustic/Americana award in 2017.
“We got a really great table at the front of the awards show,” Maddie said. “Earth, Wind & Fire were sitting at the table next to us … it was surreal. We ended up getting a makeup sponsorship with MAC cosmetics.” The band’s look tends toward heavy metal, with hot pink, blue, and purple in their hair, and thick black eyeliner. Two members of the group are identical twins — lead guitarist Tanya Venom and bass player Tia Mayhem — rhythm guitarist and lead singer Maverick rounds out the group.
Maddie joined Flight of Fire in January 2017 after they’d searched for a drummer on the Hit Like a Girl website. “I had been a finalist in the Hit Like a Girl contest; there were hundreds of drummers on the site, and they thought it’d be cool to have a girl drummer for this all-girl band; they liked the way I played, so they contacted me,” Maddie said. Ironically, the band members were based in Boston already; all three of her bandmates are graduates of Berklee College of Music.
They were silver medalists at the Mohegan Sun Locals’ Live Battle of the Bands, and winners of Best in State, Massachusetts–New England Music Awards 2017. They recently recorded with Cherie Currie from the 1970s all-girl band the Runaways, back then made up of Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, and Jackie Fox.
“Hopefully that will be released in the spring, and then in the summer we’re planning a European tour of the U.K. and Germany in June,” Maddie said.
It seems a long way from high school on the Island to her current life, but Maddie said she tries to spend every school break on the Vineyard with her family — mom Pauline, dad Nik, and little brother Jake.
“The Island is huge in supporting young musicians,” Maddie said, “especially those who graduated from the Island schools.”
She grew up in Europe before arriving on the Island, mostly in France, and her parents moved the family to Martha’s Vineyard in 2011 because there were more opportunities for the children to explore music and other interests. Her accent gives away her European roots.
“I’ve moved a lot, so my accent is kind of warped,” Maddie laughed. “My dad was born in Boston, and our cousin lived on the Island, so he had a connection.”
Maddie explained that her family was living in a town in rural France when she picked up her first drumsticks: “I started drumming when I was 11. My mom went to a concert at a bar, and the drummer was a girl. She came home and said to me, ‘I think I want you to try to play the drums.’ We found a drum set, and I took lessons from the drummer in that band.”
She kept up with lessons, and then in the summer of her junior year at MVRHS Maddie attended a five-week performance program at Berklee and went again the following summer, eventually deciding to study music and landing at UMass Lowell.
She said Flight of Fire were guests at Girls Rock Campaign Boston, and she took a minute to think about being part of an all-girl band in the era of the #timesup and #MeToo initiatives.
“The female thing … I think it’s cool to be doing it. It’s kind of a new thing [playing in an all-girl band],” Maddie said. “I’ve never felt anyone thought of me as ‘a girl playing the drums,’ but this band is all girls, and it seems different. You can tell people don’t expect us to sound very heavy metal, and they’re surprised.”
Maddie said she gets “into a zone” when she’s playing the drums, and she’d rather not think about what she’s doing or it may sound too planned, not organic.
“I’m never really thinking about what I’m playing, unless I don’t know the song too well,” she said. “I’m usually paying attention to the crowd or the other people in the band so that I can follow along if they decide to do something cool on the spot.”
Any little girls, or boys, who think they may want to take up the drums should move ahead without looking back. Maddie said the drums are unique because they don’t require a pitch component, and you can practice anyplace.
“Once you get the feel of drumming and the coordination down, you can pretty much play on anything — pots, pans, tables, steering wheels — you can pretty much make anything sound musical, which is a cool trick and also allows you to practice anywhere or anytime, including at the dinner table, sorry Mum.”
Listen to Flight of Fire on YouTube, and look for Island shows in upcoming editions of The Times.