As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 15 – Spring 2021 – Electrified!
Stuffed toy is a new all-female rock band from New York City, with members all under the age of twenty-one. Don’t let their age fool you, this is a band on a mission to bring an all-female rock band to the forefront of the genre. Stuffed toy consists of Moria Formica vocals and guitar, Brooke Colucci on the battery, Ashley Suppa on bass and lead guitarist, Bella Perron.
The band’s singer, Moriah Formica, was a contestant on NBC’s hit reality show, The Voice, during season 13, when she was sixteen years old. Moriah is remembered as the girl who had all four judges spinning with her stunning cover of Heart’s “Crazy On You.” Pageant judges Miley Cyrus and Adam Levine have openly expressed their fascination and expectations of Moriah joining Team Miley.
During the pandemic, Moriah has been busy on social media responding to fan requests for coverage and posting those covers on her platforms. Several of them have received millions of views. One such cover was Heart’s “Barracuda,” performed on social media by Moriah and drummer Brooke Colucci. This performance garnered 7 million views on their two social media platforms. This left Moriah with the desire to create an all-female rock band. “I’ve always, always wanted to be in a band, not just Moriah Formica or the Moriah Formica band. I wanted to be part of a cohesive group where we all work together. And boom, the idea of an all-female group popped up,” Moriah says. “I just started chasing him. I had met Brooke, our drummer, via Instagram and found out that she only lived about forty minutes from me, and I was like, ‘Well, if it’s not fate, I don’t don’t know what it is.” We were both a bit stuck and were ready to find other players.
They added Brooke’s friend, Ashley Suppa – who has been dubbed the “female version of Cliff Burton” – as bassist. Moriah shared, “We had a little jam session together – me, Brooke and Ashley at Brooke’s house and it went really well. I couldn’t believe it. It was so perfect.
So a lead guitarist was all that was needed. Moriah’s management company, Surface Management, posted an announcement on social media. As fate would have it, one of Moriah’s biggest influences and supporters, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, saw the ad and reposted it on his platforms.
This message caught the attention of Bella Perron, a freshman at Berklee College of Music. Bella shared her experience. “That’s how I found out about them, actually. i saw it on her [Lzzy Hale’s] Instagram. I’ve been a huge Halestorm fan since I was ten years old. When I saw it, I thought there was nothing to lose by just reaching out and sending in my information and an audition video. And everything went well. »
Bella has a passion for rock. From a family with a musical background. His father plays guitar and owns a music store. She started playing the guitar at the age of five. “When my dad got me into bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Kiss and Black Sabbath, I was just addicted to the guitar. As I thought, Ace Frehley was really the coolest. I was watching their videos gig and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” She remembers her first guitar: “My first guitar was a Squier Bullet Strat. It was hot pink, the Hello Kitty model.
Together, these four young and talented musicians formed Plush. Despite the sweet and cutesy name, don’t think for a moment that these talented young ladies aren’t serious. Fusing the sounds of rock bands like Aerosmith, Evanescence and Halestorm, they released their debut single, “Hate”, which garnered rave reviews and airplay. More recently, SiriusXM Octane added the single to their playlist. The song was also toured by iconic stations like 955KLOS and 95 WIIL Rock.
Moriah describes the band’s new single as “pretty punchy. It’s not like metal, but it is. It’s just pure and simple rock’n’roll. I guess that’s a good way to describe it. It was inspired by someone I really, really loved. So they betray you in the worst way; it really is what it is – typical grief and all the emotions and all the hate and pain that goes with it. At the same time, you want to hate this person, but you love him. And that’s what you hate.
Regarding songwriting for the band, Bella shared, “Usually Moriah comes up with a song idea, she’ll send it over and we’ll practice with it. We’ll learn the parts or make our own adjustments, and then when we get together about once a month, it’s like we’re all prepared. Moriah replied, “For me, maybe I have a riff popping up in my head, or maybe I’ll start writing like a verse and a chorus or whatever. Then I show some ideas to the other band members and say, “Hey, what do you think?” We sort of start from there.
Speaking of guitar riffs, Bella has a few that inspired her. “I feel like there are a lot of those moments. I mean, I still get them. But one of the first ones was Kiss’ ‘Shock Me.’ is also super melodic. And I remember my dad once telling me that it was one of their best solos because anyone could sing it too. The first time I heard the album Surfing with the Alien by Joe Satriani, actually the title track, because I hadn’t really listened to a lot of the instrumental stuff yet, was another one for me. had brought in. I just thought it was so cool that no words were said – a forty minute album, and it’s all that guitar. It feels like we’ve done a whole travel.
Like all budding musicians, the members of Plush have their female role models they seek out for inspiration and hope. For example, Moriah names American rocker Lzzy Hale of hard rock band Halestorm and Amy Lee of Evanescence. She also likes Nita Strauss, Joan Jett and Lita Ford.
“Lzzy Hale, I love her. She’s amazing. I really, really love Nita Strauss too. I’m not going to lie – I mean, she’s just ridiculous; she just looks so powerful when she plays too – you look at her, and there’s like a kind of power. It’s like, ‘Wow, I want to be that.’ I really like Joan Jett too. I always really, really respected that she always had her guitar with her. And honestly, Lita Ford too because I saw her pop-up videos from the 80s, and I thought that she was so badass and so cool.
Much like Moriah, Bella was also inspired by Lita Ford and Nita Strauss.
“Growing up, the feminine aspect wasn’t even something I really thought about until I was twelve. It was like, ‘Wait a second, I don’t know any other girls who play guitar, at least in my community.’ But then, when I was about 12, I saw Nita Strauss live. She blew my mind. Alice Cooper was opening for Mötley Crüe, and I was right upstage. You just have to see a woman with power who is just badass – an incredibly talented player on a stage full of guys. It was just cool, and it’s awesome. So she’s definitely been like my main female influence. Also, Lzzy Hale too. I actually saw Lita Ford open once for Halestorm. And that was another show that just blew my mind; they are both so powerful.
As far as gear goes, Moriah plays and is endorsed by ESP Guitars. “I just like them. Honestly, I won’t play anything else. I just think they look good and sound good. I like that they’re compact, not all of them, but the ones I play. J love their size. It’s perfect because I’m a little girl, so it’s super, super refreshing to have a lighter, smaller guitar, especially as a lead singer.
For Bella, it’s Ibanez. “It’s my reference. It’s special to me because it’s not really an Ibanez model. It was my dad’s Prestige from the 90s. It’s special to me because it’s been through so many modifications that it’s not really a specific model. “Being a big fan of Steve Vai, he put the body with the monkey grip, then he stopped playing. So I took it and put DiMarzio pickups with a new pickguard on it, so it was all white. And then my other is also my blue RG, which seems very comfortable to me. I have small hands, so I like super thin necks; they are really fast and comfortable to play. And I also have a Washburn Nuno Bettencourt model, the N1, and an Epiphone Les Paul. But I would say for the last two years, Ibanez has kind of been my mainstay.
Plush wants people to be able to connect with their music. They want their songs to resonate in people’s minds. Moriah shared, “Honestly, my dream has always been to help people. I want to give them something to resonate with. When I first heard a song that could express exactly how I felt in words, it changed my life, and it still does. As someone struggling with mental health issues, she understands. She went on to tell us, “I’ve struggled with mental health all my life, and it’s a daily struggle, and it’s going to be there for the rest of my life. But sometimes knowing you have someone who understands is enough to keep you going and staying alive. So, I hope to be that – that’s one of the many things I hope to do for people with this band. And with the help of the other girls, it’s going to be huge.
And to all budding young musicians, Plush says she can take constructive criticism. Also, “follow your instincts” and “seize an opportunity” no matter how cliché that sounds.
By Tara Low and Cece Gair