We sat down with The Aces in late 2022 amid the band’s biggest string of support gigs to date, and we’re tipping them to have an even bigger 2023.
By Danny Munro (he/him)
Having emerged as a by-product of the One Direction era back in the early 2010s, The Vamps have, impressively, maintained a following solid enough to embark on a nationwide arena tour nearly 10 years after the release of their debut single.
The winter ’22 Greatest Hits tour saw the boys take on twelve giant stages across the UK, and tasked with lifting the crowds from their seats each night was The Aces – a four-piece girl band who, now two albums deep, look set to start headlining their own big stages this year.
Consisting of McKenna Petty on bass, lead guitarist Katie Henderson and sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez on vocals/guitar and drums respectively, the quartet have played together in some capacity since the late 2000s, and the chance to warm up for The Vamps saw the group perform in front of their biggest crowds yet.
Having formed while still in school before deciding as a group to throw everything they had at music at the end of their studies, the road to the Hyro has certainly been a long one for The Aces. I joined the group halfway through the Vamps tour in a quiet restaurant in the West End of Glasgow, and I couldn’t help but ask how they weren’t sick of one another yet.
To my surprise though, there appeared to be no cynicism among the group. After 14 years of practicing together, Katie explained how the group stayed as close as ever: “We just care about each other, we communicate, we love what we do. And we just try to keep it fresh, try to always make it exciting and do things differently and work on things – it’s why we’re here!”
A couple of hours after our chat, the band were set to take the stage at the city’s landmark arena. While the thought of performing for crowds of 10,000+ would be daunting for most, The Aces appear to thrive off the pressure.
The eternal struggle of the support act is trying to win over a crowd who have paid to see a headliner, though it’s this very pressure that McKenna says makes supporting fun: “You go in and nobody knows who you are so you’re kind of winning over fans instead of like pulling up to a venue full of people who already love and know your music.”
“But it’s really fun to have that challenge and see people switch in the matter of a twenty-minute set.”
Of course, McKenna was right to be confident. The Aces looked a well-oiled machine, seemingly unphased by the endless rows of seats lined ahead of them, as they glided their way through a carefully selected handful of tracks.
The likes of ‘My Phone is Trying to Kill Me’, ‘Daydream’ and ‘Stuck’ all struck a cord with the young crowd but the highlight, and perhaps the most exciting part of The Aces project just now, was ‘Girls Make Me Wanna Die’.
The infectious, two-minute banger was released as a loose cut last summer, where it was a regular fixture across various Pride festivals in the US. Described to me by the band as “a cat that got out of the bag”, Wanna Die has been lapped up by fans online, and, hopefully, is an indicator of what is to come from the girls from Utah.
Thankfully, The Aces assure me that the track is set to be attached to everything The Aces release in 2023 – though what their plans are for their next ‘era’, remains unclear. I tried my best to pry, but beyond promising me that the next set of Aces releases would “slay” and claiming that listeners will soon be ushered into a state of gay or bi panic, the band remained tight-lipped.
Unsurprisingly, I left our conversation somewhat unsure about what exactly to expect from The Aces in 2023. What was clear though is The Aces’ perfect combination of experience, humour and self-awareness, combined with their catchy hooks and relatable lyrics mean that they are my band to watch in 2023.
Check out The Aces here.