The members of Piefight started out as volunteers and parents of campers at Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls. After spending a weekend writing and performing songs at the nonprofit organization’s Ladies Rock Camp fundraiser, the women decided to make music a part of their everyday lives.
Bassist Kim Meyers, guitarist Leah Robbins, former drummer Ann Topping, and keyboard player Susan Yudt formed Piefight in 2012 and released their debut EP, “Ripe,” the following year, with members sharing vocal duties. As their songwriting grew in complexity, Piefight added a new element to the mix — lead singer Michelle Panulla. With this expanded lineup, the band amped up their live outings, playing at venues like Slabtown, the White Eagle, Ash Street Saloon, and the Foggy Notion.
In late 2014, Piefight returned to the studio to record “This Changes Everything,” produced by Larry Crane (Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists). Released in February 2015, the new EP serves up a dynamic sampling of the band’s moody, angular rock, from the upbeat anthem “Right Here” to hypnotic throb of “Beg.”
2016 brought a smooth transition as Ann Topping stepped aside, and Piefight added new drummer Sarah Stratton. Stratton’s style is a seamless fit with the band’s sound, providing a new twist on old favorites and bolstering the group’s latest songwriting.
Piefight has drawn comparisons to a range of alt-rock women artists from the ’90s; Panulla’s voice ranges from Natalie Merchant’s hushed tones to Corin Tucker’s urgent wail, and you might hear the vulnerability of Liz Phair’s early recordings in Robbins’ guitar. Other names dropped run the gamut from the Pixies to the Doors.