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Hired Guns

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Hired Guns: Portraits of Women in Alternative Music is a look across several decades of the music industry through the experiences and careers of a selection of professional female musicians. Those women profiled are members of influential, acclaimed bands and touring musicians with major acts; they each represent important music scenes and movements, having respectively emerged from and thrived in seminal moments of music such as the California hardcore punk scene, the Minneapolis alternative boom, and much more. This book presents a frank and unique female perspective on the music business, charting their professional challenges and triumphs, providing an insight into the machinations of the industry, and offering a glimpse into the education, work, and lifestyle required of such professionals.

This book is the collaboration of musician Amanda Kramer and author Wayne Byrne. Together they conduct candid interviews with their subjects and compose an insightful cultural and historical discourse, drawing readers into the artistic, social, and industrial contexts of several seminal musical movements as they give voice to these female road warriors who have enthralled millions of fans across the world while remaining largely anonymous to the public. Kramer and Byrne now bring them center-stage to tell their story.

This book features a foreword written by L7 bassist Jennifer Finch and comprehensive chapters on the following musicians…
Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie, Tears for Fears, Indigo Girls)
Sue Hadjopoulos (Joe Jackson, Simple Minds, Cyndi Lauper)
Clare Kenny (Sinead O’Connor, Orange Juice, Shakespeare’s Sister)
Susan Miller (Frightwig, Bad Posture)
Tracy Wormworth (The Waitresses, Sting, B-52’s)
Joy Askew (Joe Jackson, Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel)
Sara Lee (Gang of Four, Robyn Hitchcock, Thompson Twins)
Lori Barbero (Babes in Toyland)
Caroline Dale (David Gilmour, U2, David Gray, Page and Plant)
Angie Pollock (The Lightning Seeds, Goldfrapp, Peter Gabriel)

Published: Feb 22, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Foreword Jennifer Finch
Introduction Amanda Kramer
Chapter 1
Gail Ann Dorsey Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 2
Clare Kenny Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 3
Susan Miller Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 4
Tracy Wormworth Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 5
Joy Askew Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 6
Sara Lee Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 7
Lori Barbero Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 8
Caroline Dale Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 9
Angie Pollock Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Chapter 10
Sue Hadjopoulos Amanda Kramer, Wayne Byrne
Postscript Wayne Byrne


The approach of Hired Guns: Portraits of Women in Alternative Music offers a distinct view of these ten musicians’ lives. Instead of the usual hype one expects, Kramer and Byrne encourage their subjects to tell their stories from lived experiences so that we may better understand how they navigated the world without the added self-promotion or publicity machines that we all court for our commercial success.
To read this collection is not simply to read about ten random lives of recording and touring musicians but ten impactful lives of dedicated souls who beat the odds through their unique blending of resilience and effort.

From the Foreword by Jennifer Finch

The key to the book's success is the breadth of musicians interviewed. From musicians that clued-in fans would recognise to those that have laboured mostly beyond the fringes of mainstream commercial success, all have fascinating career journeys to tell.
The Irish Times

The storytelling is reminiscent of a bygone era, of lives well lived. The reader will find the distinct casualness captivating, as if, at any time, any of us could be as brilliant just by taking an opportunity; however, the theme of vulnerability is obvious and reveals that great success comes with great sacrifice. One moment leads into the next, and each new moment is more spectacular than the last.
As you gently flip through the pages of this book, you will stumble upon a most noteworthy compilation of imagery that captures the essence of various moments briefly described amongst the pages. With its timeless allure, the deliberate choice of monochrome adds a touch of artistic sophistication to the visuals and further amplifies the storytelling narrative woven throughout the book.
Hired Guns exemplify female artists’ challenges and triumphs in the music industry and the importance of finding a supportive and appreciative audience. Despite their obstacles, their talent and determination allowed them to gain global recognition; whilst you may think this story is strictly aimed at a female crowd, it speaks equally to all audiences. Wayne Byrne closes with a genuinely touching postscript crediting Amanda Kramer’s ability to take the interviewing lead, and praising the women, “By the very nature of their work, they are there to support the music in the moment while remaining in relative anonymity working in the shadows of a frontperson. Their role is to bring skill, not ego.”
Louder than War