"It's hard to keep track of when stuff happened," she says with a chuckle during a call from Detroit. "I was just hanging around with them, and they were like, 'Why don't you come with us?' And I did, in the clothes I was wearing. And that was it. Went on the road. Luckily, I could fit into the same-sized clothes as Syl [Sylvain, the Dolls' guitarist], so I borrowed his."
To the type of people whose radios are dialled to Little Steven's Underground Garage and Bryce Dunn's Tuesday slot on CiTR; and nothing in between; Nikki Corvette is something of a holy creature. She appeals to a certain rock 'n' roll sensibility, not just for her exploits as a prototypical Riff Randell who left home at 16 because her mother wouldn't let her see the MC5, but also for a brief, if beautiful, career belting out innocently snotty bubblegum punk with the gutter-budget girl group Nikki and the Corvettes. Their solitary, highly prized 1980 album is still launching new bands and teenage-misfit boners, though Corvette herself didn't realize its impact until a reissue in 2000.
"For years I thought everyone I met was lying to me," says Corvette, who was working as a waitress in Los Angeles around the time the Donnas were somewhat conspicuously pouting "I wanna be like Nikki Corvette" in "Gimmie My Radio". "I didn't really think anybody knew who I was. I'd be like, 'Okay, sure,' until I started meeting people who had my records and were covering my songs. That was kind of fun."
Eventually, Corvette was coaxed back into the studio by Travis Ramin of the Fevers, who also furnished her with a whole new band, the Stingrays. "For some reason, Travis can talk me into anything," she says with a sigh. A single, "Love Me", emerged in 2003, after which Nikki Corvette and the Stingrays were officially made official with last year's Back to Detroit. Picking up where the 1980 album left off, the disc is the Shangri-Las meets the Ramones all over again.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's the next progression of the Corvettes," she states. "It's got the same quality to some of it, but I grew up a little bit. Which is good, since it's only what, 27 years later?"
Nikki Corvette plays Pub 340 on Monday (June 25).