Freshmen musical therapy majors and identical twin sisters Nicky and Donna Unverricht have been performing since the age of 12. While juggling college life at Montclair State University, they are bandmates in a ’90s grunge band called Baelfire. Donna is the band’s lead singer, songwriter and keyboard player while Nicky is the band’s composer and bass guitarist. Like legends Pat Benatar and Joan Jett, the Unverricht sisters hope to pave the way for more aspiring female rock artists.
Q: How did you two decide on your major?
Donna: We wanted to choose a major that combines psychology or mental health with music, so we thought the musical therapy major was the best choice for us.
Q: How do you think Montclair State is fostering you as artists?
Donna: The professors are giving us more structure as musicians and we are being more challenged than what we have been used to.
Q: Where do you think your love for music came from?
Donna: Our grandmother was a dancer on Alan Freed’s Big Beat Dance Party show [in the 1950s] and [our] grandfather performed in a doo-wop band. Our parents also have a huge love of various types of music and exposed them to us at an early age.
Q: Describe some of your previous songs, albums and EPs while performing in Baelfire. Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Donna: We have three EPs so far and we’re working on our fourth this summer, which does not have a title yet. Our first ever EP was called “Neverland,” then came “7 Candles” and our most recent one is called “30 Seconds to Life,” which is a song about the struggle with drug abuse.
Q: When it comes to creating music, what are your creative processes like?
Donna: I get inspired by reading a poem or [watching a] movie usually. I love literature especially Edgar Allan Poe.
Nicky: Then I generate a beat to go along with the songs that Donna creates. I focus on the hook of the song and think about how it can be enjoyable to audiences. One time, a song was written in a text message. It can take hours or months for both of us to create one song.
Q: What venues have you two performed at?
Nicky: We’ve performed at [several venues in New Jersey such as] the Starland Ballroom [in Sayreville], the Food Truck and Rock Carnival [in Lakewood], Blue Claw Stadium [Lakewood] and the Stone Pony [in Asbury Park].
Q: How do you feel when you’re performing on stage?
Nicky: It’s the only place where I have no problems and no one can hurt us.
Donna: Whenever we perform together, it just clicks and it brings us closer together.
Q: Have you ever had a memorable fan encounter?
Donna: We have a fan who is a veteran in the armed forces and he got a tattoo of our band’s name on his forearm. We were all so surprised and shocked, but it also showed us just how powerful our music is and how it makes a difference to our fan base.
Q: You mentioned that you have received negative backlash from men that do not support female artists in rock bands. Why do you think that is?
Donna: Some men have called us “little girls” and were confused as to why we were on stage. Men have this attitude about women in rock music, but we just let our music do the talking. Rock music is a man’s world, but we’re ready for it.
Q: Is there a motto you live by?
Donna: Keep moving forward.
Nicky: Only dead fish follow the stream. If you follow what everyone else is doing, you aren’t following your true self.