Flames of Durga

Enjoy the Burn of Flames of Durga – Female-Fronted Rock Propulsion

“Durga”: A Hindu fire goddess that embodies fierce, feminine energy.

By Lisa Lynn Morgan

Flames of Durga will cement their place on your rock favorites playlist like a fire tattoo at first listen. But once you’ve seen them live, it’s a hopeless addiction, one for which there is no program. Powerful, emotionally manipulating vocal blends are the icing on a tasty cake of dynamically gritty riffs and tight rhythms from identical twin sisters, Cecilia (bass/vocals) and Beah Romero (guitar/vocals). They are backed by the equally commanding and articulate rhythmic assaults rendered by drummer, Nate Million.

The trio spent a summer with rock and roll’s favored son, Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal, earthlings?, Mojave Lords, and more) at Rancho De La Luna – that place where rock and roll demi-gods like Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and Arctic Monkeys, drive miles out of their way to record or just hang. Laying down tracks of their songs, some new, some that had waited almost a decade to be captured, at this historied venue with a producer known for his empathic ability to translate dreams into recorded reality, Flames of Durga have created something very special. And the Joshua Tree community has shown up in droves to show their support.

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Following a sold-out limited vinyl record release show at the world-renowned Pappy and Harriet’s, Flames of Durga was voted Outstanding Rock Group at The Joshuas Honors Gala, having been nominated by peers and then voted for by the community. All this happened before a full record release and after only a handful of hi-desert shows. Now, on March 24, 2023, Flames of Durga’s full-length LP will finally become available to the world on all streaming services.

But perhaps what is bleeding into their craft and what locals have been sensing in their performances, is something that has sprung from trauma and near tragedy. These sisters miraculously survived a crash that should have maimed them for life if not ended them altogether. Beah and Cecilia remember it all too well.

“After a fun weekend camping with friends, we were on our way home,” Beah recalls. “Cecilia and I were sitting next to each other in the back seat of our friend’s car who was driving with another friend in the passenger seat. We all fell asleep, including the driver. We were awakened by lots of turbulence when I realized our friend was asleep at the wheel. The car had veered off the side of the road still going fast, bumping against the gravel on the side of the highway. He woke up after I screamed out, and then he overcorrected the car, flipping us multiple times. Miraculously, we landed back on the wheels. Somehow, we all survived, thankfully! But my sister and I had the worst of the physical injuries. I’ll never forget seeing the windshield slow down as it began to turn and all I could think was, ‘This can’t be it. I still have so much to do here!’”

“It was a month before I could work again,” Beah continued, “and well over a month before both our injuries healed completely. I got stitches on my head and face while Cecilia had a gaping wound on her knee. It’s a miracle I had no internal bleeding (even the doctor couldn’t believe it) and another miracle Cecilia’s mobility and tendons were somehow ok. I’ll always be grateful for all our lives being spared that day and grateful for the silver linings that experience brought into my life – like this band we finally started. We got on a stage three weeks later as an acoustic guitar and bass duo. I still had a scarf on my head covering my wound, but nothing could keep me from sharing my music and performing from my heart and soul. Music is truly our medicine and was the antidote for the trauma we had been through.”

Cecilia added, “This accident holds significant meaning within the depth of my heart and soul and has been a great teacher and reminder to me of what really matters in this fleeting life journey. Not only did this experience change me to my core, it also saved me and woke me up to fully live an authentic life of passion. I was shaken, hurt, and tested to the depth of my physical and existential being. I am grateful, as it opened my eyes to how fleeting and fragile this body and this life really are. My twin sister and I have a bond like no other, and this accident bonded us even closer as we pushed through the trauma and our warrior wounds together. During the physical healing process, we dressed each other’s wounds, ultimately rising from this rebirth, finally ready to boldly share our music with the world! This whole experience has inspired many songs and always will.”

Drummer Nate Millions, a tenured rock n roll road dog, has had a bird’s eye view of the sisters as they’ve developed since they met in Echo Park years ago. “The thing that sets them apart is the energy they bring to every performance, and their dedication to their look and presentation. The music is unique because of the similarities and the differences in their voices and playing. The songs are about real-life experiences, not just some story.”

The heavy rock genre is sparce when it comes to female-fronted bands. To even approach a career in the genre as a woman takes courage. But as the sisters tell it, they really had no choice.

“When I plug in my electric guitar,” says Beah, “something else takes hold, and when I play in a band with loud drums and ripping bass, hard rock is what feels right. I was especially drawn to playing heavier music after going through that near-death car crash, because it gave me a place to channel my pain, anger, and unrest into something fun, creative, and cathartic. There are not many women in music that play instruments, let alone who play hard rock or heavier genres. Part of my personal rebellion against the patriarchy is not always singing pretty, but also making ugly guitar faces and screaming when the song calls for it.”

“I love dirty bass lines,” shared Cecilia, “from the moment we started Flames of Durga, it was always natural to play heavier, driving riffs with strong vocals. When playing acoustically, I sing a bit more bluesy and melodic, but when I plug in and play electric, a different kind of rock n’ roll monster takes hold that I need to let out. Women are still the minority in music, let alone in heavy rock, so I definitely feel a calling to represent and embrace it. There is a beautiful, emotional freedom in rock n’ roll that gives me a special kind of release that I can’t get from anywhere else.”

Not only is rock and roll therapeutic individually, but it has become a place of even deeper connection. “We’ve both always loved the performing arts,” explained Cecilia. “We grew up performing together throughout our childhood in LA, so performing as adults is something that came very natural to us. We also find solace and bliss in songwriting together. It’s something else that keeps our bond strong. Of course, we didn’t always get along growing up, but our love for each other always outweighs any disagreements or tension, especially when we have a creative outlet that brings us together. Our connection runs deep and everything we’ve gone through has brought us closer together. Our sister synergy is what supports and guides us on this musical journey. We always want to give it all we’ve got at every show. Any day could be our last, and life is short. We bring this mentality with us whenever we hit the stage!”

Three singles have been released off the self-titled album: “White Owl,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Alpha Woman.” “We are so stoked to have our long-awaited debut album out everywhere, March 24th!

A new music video will be released March 3rd on their YouTube channel. “We worked with badass female director, Greta Valenti, and DP, Robin Davey, of Grow Vision, to create a very visually exciting video, with imaginative sci-fi elements,” share the sisters. “We were also welcomed into the Gibson Guitar family recently who supplied guitars for this video. This music video was our first time using a green screen and is like nothing else we’ve created. We can’t wait to release it! Our full album will be out on all streaming platforms March 24th and is available for pre-order.”

Flames of Durga is a band to watch. If luck meets their hard work and preparation, the sky’s the limit. You’ll want the bragging rights of saying you were there with them from the beginning. Follow their socials to keep up with upcoming tour dates, music videos, merch, and more.

Also, mark your calendars for their Album Release Party at Red Dog Saloon, Friday March 24th.

IG: @flamesofdurga
TikTok: @flamesofdurga

Album Art: Cecilia Romero
Photos by David Fearn

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