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Pandoras, The

The Pandoras – an all-female rock band from Los Angeles – were associated with the Paisley Underground era in Hollywood’s alternative rock scene, along with bands such as Redd KrossThe Dream Syndicate and The Rain Parade.

The Pandoras were formed when singer-guitarist Paula Pierce, met singer-guitarist/bass player Deborah Mendoza (aka. Mende or Menday) in college, around 1982-83.

Mendoza (an art major) answered an advertisement that Pierce (a graphic art major) had posted on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. The ad read, “Wanted, another female musician to jam with! Influenced by sixties garage punk.”

They got together and clicked, and started bringing their guitars to school and jamming between classes.

Pierce brought in musician Gwynne Kahn on keyboards (granddaughter of 1920s/1930s Tin Pan Alley songwriter Gus Kahn), and Mendoza brought in drummer Casey Gomez.

After recording the It’s About Time EP, Mendoza left the group and was replaced by Bambi Conway, who then appeared on the It’s About Time album.

After that, The Pandoras went through many personnel changes, beginning with the bitter departure of Gwynne Kahn in 1984. Kahn formed a rival Pandoras that included Lisa Rae Black and Jennifer Finch.

Pierce’s Pandoras, “The Pauladoras”, included Julie Patchouli on bass guitar, Melanie Vammen on keyboards and Karen Blankfeld on drums, they went to enjoy modest success with the release of Hot Generation on Voxx Records. They toured the east coast to promote the single. In 1986, The Mr. T Experience recorded a song, I’m In Love With Paula Pierce, for their album, Everybody’s Entitled To Their Own Opinion.

pandoras_01In 1986, the Bill Inglot-produced Stop Pretending was released on Rhino Records. The song was originally recorded by Pierce with her pre-Pandora’s band, Action Now.

Kim Shattuck joined the band in July 1985 after Julie Patchouli was fired. Briefly, after Patchouli left the band, Gayle (last name unknown) played two shows with the band. Once Shattuck was settled in and they learned all of the new songs, The Pandoras recorded the basic tracks for Stop Pretending during the winter of 1985.

After being signed by Elektra Records, the Pandoras de-emphasised their 60s sound and began chasing the Sunset Strip hair metal crowd.

They were dropped almost immediately afterwards, although they continued to play for the rest of the decade. Remarkably, they never managed to alienate their original audience, and continued to be a top live draw outside of Los Angeles.

During this time the band toured as a five-piece that at times included Rita D’Albert, Susan Hyatt, and Lissa Belltri, all performing on the second guitar. Restless Records released Live Nymphomania, a sound desk recording from a 1989 Dallas gig.

Pierce fired Melanie Vammen, who joined up with Kim Shattuck (who had quit in September 1990) to form The Muffs. When Drummer Sheri Kaplan quit, the Pandoras stopped for about nine months while Pierce regrouped.

Pierce had recorded a number of new songs and recruited new members when she died of a brain aneurysm after exercising in her apartment in 1991. She was 31.

Paula Pierce
Vocals, guitar
Gwynne Kelly (Kahn)
Keyboards, guitar, vocals
Bambi Conway
Casey Gomez
Melanie Vammen
Julie Patchouli
Karen Blankfeld
Kim Shattuck
Sheri Kaplin
Lissa Beltri
Deborah Mendoza
Vocals, guitar, bass