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Jessica Pimentel: Jailhouse Rocker

Did you know Maria Ruiz from Orange Is The New Black is in two heavy metal bands?

When she's not donning her orange jumpsuit to play prisoner Maria Ruiz in Orange Is The New Black, the dark comedy about life in a women's prison, Brooklyn-based actress Jessica Pimentel plays in not one but two metal bands! We talk to her about her love of New York hardcore, balancing her passions and how she gained her nickname, 'The Crusher'...

Which came first for you: playing music or acting?
“I started off as a musician. I began playing classical violin when I was very young, and I got a scholarship to this music school in Brooklyn when I was 12. But I was playing very vigorously, and with a demanding schedule, and around age 14 or so my hands started hurting. I was told that I had done some nerve damage, so I changed my major to drama but I was still taking sight reading classes and composition classes. It was around then that I got into hardcore, metal and punk. I taught myself guitar, and my friends and I started to play music together, hanging out after school and playing covers.”

**You're in two bands, Alekhine's Gun, in which you do vocals, and also Desolate, where you play bass. What different sides of you do they bring out?
**“Desolate has rotating members, and it's our band for pure pleasure. It's a groove metal/hardcore band. Whenever we forget that playing music is fun, we play a Desolate show! For our 10 year anniversary, we played this one song that requires cowbell and gave a cowbell to everyone in the audience. Turns out drunk people and cowbells are good friends: they played the cowbells for the entire show!

“In Alekhine's Gun, I'm the vocalist and co-composer. The music style is a mix of everything we all like: At The Gates, Carcass, Meshuggah, and we all come from the New York hardcore scene so that's very much instilled in us, like Minor Threat and Bad Brains. We have two EPs out already that you can listen to on our Bandcamp, and we're working on our new album.”

Season three of Orange Is The New Black is out now on Netflix.

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