chickfactor 17!

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chickfactor 17 features interviews with grass widow, bill callahan, black tambourine, caitlin moran, fence records / king creosote, frankie rose, joe boyd, joe pernice, liam hayes / plush, maira kalman, rachel blumberg, sharon van etten and tae won yu; a jukebox jury with the corin tucker band; lots of silly polls and expertly written music and book reviews. click here to mail order a copy or pick one up at these prestigious establishments….

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interview from CF16: jennifer o’connor

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jennifer o’connor is a smoky-voiced new york songwriter, bartender, ebay enthusiast and all-around pop girl extraordinaire. we caught up with ms. jen at the magician on the lower east side in the early days of summer. (this interview originally ran in chickfactor 16 and took place in 2004 in manhattan). interview by gail

chickfactor: when did you write your first song and what was it called and what was it about?

jennifer o’connor: it was in 1996 and it was called “circus” and it was for a band I had just joined—well, it wasn’t even a band yet. I didn’t really play music yet. this guy told me I should be in this band. I went to an open mike with him one night and played bass, then the next day I wrote a song. it was sort of about playing music. it was in atlanta, right after college.

cf: did you want to be a singer when you were little?

jennifer: not realistically. I wanted to be a basketball player. music was always my favorite thing but I didn’t really think of it as something I would ever really do. I played basketball from age 9 to 20.

cf: what was your first concert?

jennifer: van halen in 1987.

cf: they were so past their prime!

jennifer: I know. it was right when hagar joined the band. my first small club show was the replacements in 1991.

cf: first record you bought?

jennifer: probably “physical” by olivia newton-john. I used to buy top 40 singles every week. I used to have a notebook and write it down, the top 40.

cf: me too!

jennifer: you did that? I listened to it on my walkman and I would figure out which ones I wanted to go buy.

cf: you grew up in the south?

jennifer: I grew up in a small town in connecticut until I was 13, a really small town. we moved to florida before I started high school.

cf: when did you play your first show?

jennifer: after I moved here. it was at acme underground. I sent out a bunch of tapes after I moved here. that was in ’99. I tried to get shows at better places after that.

cf: what’s the best venue in nyc?

jennifer: I like, I play at the knitting factory a lot, it’s not my favorite, but I worked there. I like southpaw.

cf: has anything really embarrassing happened onstage?

jennifer: the last show I played was pretty embarrassing. a few weeks ago I played a show and there was no soundcheck as usual and it was the guy’s first night doing sound. I started playing and there was no guitar and somebody went to help him. they turned the guitar on and it fed back really loud. I picked the quietest prettiest song first. I spilled beer and thought I was going to electrocute myself. the snare was moving on the drum kit behind me. just a series of bad things.

cf: what did you do at the knitting factory?

jennifer: marketing and promotion. I wrote to writers such as yourself trying to get them to come to shows or preview shows. flyering and stuff.

cf: when’s the new album out?

jennifer: I don’t know. the beginning of ’05?

cf: do you record at home?

jennifer: a little bit. ultimately I would like to have the ability to do it all at home. I would like to have someone do the levels.

cf: are you bartending these days?

jennifer: no. I was. I really liked it but I was drinking a lot. I quit cause there was a gas leak in the bar and they weren’t fixing it and it made me really nervous.

cf: no one smokes anymore, it’s not that dangerous. do people smoke after hours?

jennifer: and even before.

cf: people are breaking the law?!

jennifer: they are, they do. a lot of places in new york start smoking around 2. but I haven’t had a cigarette in 18 days. but I want one right now.

cf: what’s the best bar in brooklyn?

jennifer: I like o’connors which is right down the street from me. I don’t go to bars that much.

cf: why would you want to play solo anyway? isn’t it scary?

jennifer: it is scary. I do it because…when I first started playing I was in a band and I don’t know. I like playing in a band but I also like having more control. I don’t like to rehearse so having a band…and I like playing with different people. I can’t commit to it. I like being able to do it when I want to do it. maybe eventually I’ll have a band but I like having it mine. plus when I was in a band I had some situations with other members, it’s hard to play with other people. I wasn’t treated very well in some instances and I guess I hold a grudge.

cf: you played at the new york party for the saddest music in the world, the fabulous guy maddin film. who won?

jennifer: did anybody win? I think I won. I was the saddest. no, it wasn’t a competition.

cf: there was a similar party in london, and they had a lot of crappy bands who weren’t nearly sad enough for me and I thought competing to see who was the saddest.

jennifer: we did have to give away tickets for the movie but that was the only contest of the night. kendall’s set was pretty sad too.

cf: what song do you wish you’d written?

jennifer: there’s a lot probably. “your song” by elton john. although I always think it’s weird that he didn’t write his own lyrics.

cf: even weirder that courtney love hired bernie taupin to write some lyrics for her.

jennifer: yeah! so weird. she’s just, sad.

cf: were you a fan?

jennifer: huge fan. huge hole fan. huge nirvana fan. I was in my freshman year of college when the whole nirvana thing broke. I saw hole in ’94. she was a mess then. she was talking to the ceiling and talking to him. I wish I’d written a lot of elliott smith songs. dylan songs. mark eitzel songs. I hung out with him one night on the lower east side, me and him drinking for hours, it was fun.

cf: what are your songs about?

jennifer: death. endurance. continuing. I used to write more about love and stuff but I don’t do that much anymore.

cf: what about driving?

jennifer: there’s a lot of driving and moving in my songs. I write a lot or come up with things when I’m driving. I like new york better with a car actually. I don’t feel trapped as much.

cf: are you still doing the ebay thing?

jennifer: I do that and I do a little promoting for bars.

cf: do you buy or sell stuff on ebay?

jennifer: I sell stuff. I can’t afford to buy anything! mostly I look to see what sells. I do mostly music stuff but I like it because I have a revolving record collection. and this time of year I go to a lot of stoop sales in brooklyn and find stuff. it’s like having a record store without having to buy anything.

cf: what made you the most money?

jennifer: I sold a couple of loren mazzacane connors records for $200 or $300 to jim o’rourke! it was pretty exciting. and I did a good deed because they’re using them to remaster and make the records.

cf: you couldn’t just give them to him?

jennifer: I didn’t know he needed them! he has the money! two records I sold allowed me to pay my rent and continue working on my music.

cf: you’re the middle man.

jennifer: I’m a recyclist.

cf: I hear you signed to red panda records.

jennifer: it’s a big up and coming indie label.

cf: why did you choose to go with them after that huge bidding war?

jennifer: I love the idea behind it and the people running it and I trust them.

cf: what’s in your fridge?

jennifer: romaine lettuce. tomato paste. seltzer water. milk. that’s it.

cf: what were you doing touring france? are you big in france?

jennifer: I used to know a lady in new york who’s french and moved back and she was helping put on a festival in lille and they wanted to do a night or a series of nights of new york artists and they liked my record so they flew me out there and paid me.

cf: didn’t you play a ladyfest once?

jennifer: I didn’t make it. I was supposed to play ladyfest richmond.

cf: didn’t you play one in new york?

jennifer: I was on a compilation but I didn’t actually play.

cf: what’s the pop scene like in nyc?

jennifer: I don’t know. there’s so much here but most of it is williamsburg type stuff. I haven’t found much of a community but I think red panda might change that.

cf: who’s your favorite new york band?

jennifer: I don’t know. I suddenly like the yeah yeah yeahs—they were on mtv awards the other night and it was so gorgeous.

cf: aren’t they from new jersey? have you ever dreamt about a song and remembered it?

jennifer: I do but I don’t remember it to write it.

cf: have you had a dream with rock stars in them?

jennifer: I’ve had dreams with courtney love and nirvana…oh, you mean a hot sex dream?

cf: have you had a hot sex dream with someone you really don’t like?

jennifer: oh yeah.

cf: what melody is stuck in your head?

jennifer: that britney song “toxic.”

cf: do you like any mainstream bitches?

jennifer: not really. I listen to a lot of mainstream hip-hop. I like the franz ferdinand single. I didn’t buy it but I listened to courtney love’s album at the jukebox where I worked. didn’t really stick for me. I probably should buy it—the last album was like that for me at first too.

cf: if you buy it maybe it’ll keep her out of prison.

jennifer: it’s so sad, it really is. did you read that interview in something online? I couldn’t believe how sad it was. she’s broke.

cf: not another behind the music story.

jennifer: that’s what it was like.

cf: kurt must sell a lot of records. sounds like she hasn’t done a very good job of managing her money.

jennifer: no, she hasn’t. that’s exactly what the article is about.

cf: it’s kind of embarrassing to be a celebrity and to talk about that stuff in public.

jennifer: I guess that’s part of the job.

cf: she doesn’t hold back.

jennifer: she doesn’t hold anything back.

cf: if courtney asked you to be in her band, would you do it?

jennifer: you know it’s funny that you should ask that. did you know they took out a full page ad in the village voice last year for a bassist. and I thought about it for a whole day. the ad said they wanted somebody who looked a certain way.

cf: a goth metal chick like auf der maur?

jennifer: I was like that’s not me.

cf: they could do your hair and makeup.

jennifer: they wanted someone who behaved like flea but didn’t play like flea or something.

cf: why do you think they wanted a girl?

jennifer: um, I think that’s pretty cool. that’s something I waffled about if I put a band together. I prefer to play with women if they’re good. it’s easier. my first band was with two guys and that’s part of the reason I don’t want to have a band anymore. some bad shit happened and I think it was in some ways because I was a girl just learning how to play. I’m not saying all guys are like that because they’re not.

cf: do you like to sing karaoke?

jennifer: not really. I’m kinda shy about it. I like watching people.

cf: what’s your sign?

jennifer: scorpio.

cf: ever been to a psychic?

jennifer: yeah.

cf: what did they tell you?

jennifer: stupid shit. when I lived in florida a while ago, I wanted to find out if I should move back to new york. said I was going to be very famous and rich. of course I’m still waiting for that. have you been to a psychic?

cf: hasn’t everyone? are you going to check out the spongebob movie?

jennifer: I want to.

cf: who’s your idol?

jennifer: sleater-kinney. as a group.

cf: all three of them?

jennifer: yeah, they’re great.

cf: better than hole?

jennifer: they’re better than hole.

cf: they’re definitely better than hole. who’s your favorite writer?

jennifer: I like michael chabon a lot. I read the mysteries of pittsburgh in high school. I read a lot of music stuff. I just read the bob dylan bio.

cf: you have any phobias?

jennifer: I don’t like to fly. I don’t like heights. I don’t like the subway. I have a lot of anxiety issues in general but I’m working on them. I don’t like elevators either. I don’t like to feel like I’m out of control even though I’m really not anyway.

cf: who do you have a crush on?

jennifer: I have a crush on the brenda character on six feet under. I also have a crush on the amy character on judging amy. she’s sexy. david berman. I love him.

kendall: maybe gail can introduce you.

cf: talented man.

jennifer: is he a jerk? I used to have a big crush on carrie brownstein but I think I’m over it. don’t print that.

cf: right, we won’t. off the record. you’re the first one to have a crush on her.

jennifer: I’m more interested in corin at the moment. I really like the song she wrote about her kid. they’re good rock stars.

cf: who would you want to collaborate with?

jennifer: the guy from neutral milk hotel. kevin shields. dizzee rascal.

cf: what are your top 5 records?

jennifer: the self-titled elliott smith record; bringing it all back home; what would the community think; blue; american water; plastic ono band.

photograph by amy bezunartea. jennifer runs a label called kiam records and her latest LP is called I want what you want.

 

cf poll: the musical taste of your offspring

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describe your kid’s/kids’ taste in music.

alicia the aislers set / magic trick: well, she is very moved by music. her current favorites are journey, katy perry, elvis presley, david bowie. she’ll occasionally ask for alice cooper, the ramones, joan jett, stevie nicks, the grease soundtrack. her first vinyl lp that she would put on and dance to was steely dan. she knows what’s good when she hears it. nothing but honesty from that kid! if it’s a bad song on the radio, she’s like “turn this off! put on some journey!!!”

jessica would-be-goods: bowie, t rex, early elvis costello, classic disney songs (e.g. “everybody wants to be a cat” and “I wanna be like you”) — and the would-be-goods, which is very touching. she used to threaten to kill me if I told any of her friends I was in a band but now she thinks it’s OK and even plays them our music.

mark teenbeat/unrest: one likes lady gaga and the other classical music, though they won’t complain when the kinks are on the hi-fi.

corin tucker: it’s ever changing, but this week it’s skrillex and deadmau5.

dawn cf / agoraphone: it’s a strange mix. folk music of all sorts: woody guthrie, pete seeger, fairport convention, laura viers. then wild flag, ramones, and the fave david bowie (mostly ziggy stardust). I can’t really explain it.

daniel handler: otto started out loving late-period kraftwerk, went through a beatles phase, is now a big fan of stars, metric and (not my fault) chromeo.

andrew eggs/talk it: my oldest son likes music with loud guitars and melodies. he loves melodic punk music like strike anywhere as well as airborne toxic event and stuff that comes on DC101. my younger son’s two favorite songs are “donald where’s your troosers [sic]” and “tie me kangaroo down,” so he’s harder to classify. sometimes he requests music with “people screaming.”

claudia the magnetic fields: I think at this age, the parents dictate that. my friends keep telling me to play her shonen knife or the ramones, or other upbeat punk music. and she does respond well to that. she also seems to love rihanna, from her outbreak of dancing in restaurants to her. but at home we play pretty much peaceful folksy kids records, elizabeth mitchell, putumayo collections, dan zanes, some other kids records like wiggleworms, a bit of latin female vocalists like cesaria evora, some country female singers, some classical, some joni, etc. I think if I were a jazz fan, eve would probably be into jazz right now. she just attaches on to whatever’s playing, including dancing to embarrassing electronics that make little songs.

matt lorelei: ursula likes the family cat, vince guaraldi, polyrock, and burl ives. stephen’s son niko has a brazilian nanny so he’s listening to and digging os mutantes quite a bit.

kim baxter: his current favorites are vampire weekend and the english beat. I play nick drake in his room every night as he’s going to bed but the other night he asked for jeremy enigk instead.

kelly velocity girl: whatever it is they like, they listen to incessantly. here is the honest to god play count from itunes for the past few months from songs the girls picked themselves:

“goody two shoes” – adam ant 146 plays

“sensible”- small factory 154 plays

“dancing queen” – abba 192 plays

“choco la la la” – mr. g 137 plays

“crystal days” – echo & the bunnymen 140 plays

“under the rotunda” – the lucksmiths 138 plays

“suggestions” – small factory 105 plays

“do they know it’s christmas” – band aid 169 plays

“the ramblin’ rover” – silly wizard 146 plays

when they’re born one thinks please let them like good music. when they do they listen to music, good/bad/indifferent it is with such repetition that one prays please let them take up literature.

pete paphides: our 11-year-old is obsessed with coldplay. which is fine. I’d rather not have “edgy” children. she also loves goldfrapp. the 8-year-old is partial to dexys’ too ry-aye album.

gordon the fan modine: my littlest is always turing the radio up and bobbing his head no matter the genre. his older brother can’t get enough rick james.

mike black tambourine / manatee: theo’s gone through a few phases, getting really into one band of genre for a while and then moving on, though he always likes the old stuff too. the first music I think he stated a strong affinity for was jazz, specifically late 50s/60s hard-bop. then he went on a beatles jag, concurrent big troubles and teenage fanclub crazes, and has more recently moved on to punk rock, which he will happily state is the best music and that he’ll “love punk music forever” and “funky” music like james brown and the meters. a chip off the kid frostbite block, I’d say!

bridget st john: definitely in spirit and in desire to play different instruments. she has a great feeling for and love of music. and is an extraordinary poet and writer.

tim dagger: the beatles.

photograph of alicia the aislers set by tae won yu. 

cf poll: have your kids inherited your musical genes?

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have your kids inherited your musical genes?

claudia the magnetic fields: eve is definitely musical. she was singing in tune along with records (or with me) at 6 months old. she sits and listens to albums in a way that people watch TV. she just sits on the couch and stares off, clearly trying to understand how songs go. she also retains melodies that she has only heard once. this was amusingly demonstrated when I took her to a christmas lightshow event which featured a parody of toto’s “africa.” within minutes, she was walking down the street singing the hook intro line to that song, and now she still sings it. ¶ the thing that she appears to have also inherited is my uninhibited attitude toward singing. while occasionally she drops to a self-conscious whisper when asked to perform a song (lately it is “rain rain, go away”), I frequently witness her singing quite proudly to herself on buses and subways. story songs, where she processes events of the day, or memories, or sensory experiences in a sort of abstract melody.

corin tucker: my son definitely has some musical talent, and my daughter loves to sing as well.

kim baxter: yes, he loves playing music, dancing, learning the lyrics to songs, and making up his own songs.

daniel handler: no, but he has my wife’s sense of rhythm, and you can keep your dirty jokes to yourself, buster.

jessica would-be-goods: my daughter taught herself to play the guitar (aged about 12) by listening to early bowie songs and has a lovely singing voice.

matt lorelei: ursula certainly likes to make noise. she’s finally embraced dancing so we have dance party before bath time complete with shakers, drum, sleigh bells, and glockenspiel.

bridget st john: definitely in spirit and in desire to play different instruments. she has a great feeling for and love of music. and is an extraordinary poet and writer.

kelly velocity girl: the youngest certainly has inherited the show(off)manship gene. I know there is a slumberland supergroup in all of these kids somewhere.

alicia the aislers set / magic trick: yes, she is insane! she has the most incredible ear.  ever since she was really small, she could sing songs, with melody lines, in the key that she originally heard it, by memory! my grandma was a music teacher, and always thought that I had perfect pitch as a kid. sometimes I think that about lida. she’s playing a lot of piano right now. recently learned “home sweet home” by the crew…

andrew eggs/talk it: if they do I will strongly discourage them.

mike black tambourine / manatee: so far theo hasn’t shown much interest in making music, but he definitely likes listening to it and can be quite opinionated. he’s a quite a good listener, picking out lyrics I never even noticed (sometimes not a good thing) and learning his subgenres with some accuracy—punk, funk, ska, etc.

gordon the fan modine: they both sing little ditties all the time. it’s wonderful.

tim dagger: sophia has rhythm and loves playing instruments (she was recently spotted banging away on stew and jen’s mini drum kit in their house).

photograph of claudia by gail o’hara. 

cf poll: how has your munchkin(s) affected your musical career?

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how have your offspring affected your musical career?

jessica would-be-goods: what career?

stephen the real tuesday weld: “dad, is this your music?”“YES!” “it’s not very good, is it?”

kim baxter: after having our son, it was definitely a struggle trying to figure out how and when to play music. but since my husband and I are both musicians, it was a no brainer that we had to figure out a way to keep playing. we’re both happiest when playing, recording, and touring, and we wanted our son (who’s now 3) to see us working really hard at doing something that we love.

corin tucker: it’s tricky to tour when you have young kids. mine are both in school now so we’ll see if it’s any easier.

gordon the fan modine: made it necessary.

matt lorelei: well, stephen and I have toddlers so being away from home to tour isn’t really an option. but that’s ok since touring is sort of a drag anyway. it mainly makes logistics difficult. but on the other hand…

kelly velocity girl: they’ve actually encouraged me to play again. my oldest constantly begs me to play guitar, showing the complete lack of a critical faculty in this regards on her part. when I do play she prefers only the strumming songs, none of this fancy dancy finger picking slow sappy nonsense thank you very much. total rockist.

daniel handler: fun to have a kid at soundcheck.

claudia the magnetic fields: the birth of my daughter two years ago has affected absolutely every aspect of my life. I solo parent a two and a half year old, which means that my brain is almost constantly fogged in and I have limited free time. so the music management work that I used to rip through in a week, now can take me months. emails are dropped, calls not responded to. ¶ we took her on the road in 2012 for nearly 9 weeks. it was ridiculously intense. there was a lot that was fun and joyful, but I can’t say I’d want to do it again, at least not with that aged a person. just the 24 airplane flights alone with an 18 to 20 month old spinning around on my lap was enough to wipe me out. not to mention all the cars and trains and new hotels each day, constant moving and rushing about. ¶ musically speaking, I find myself newly engaged in singing and playing instruments. she inspires me to engage creatively more, building and drawing things, reading books aloud, singing songs together. and I purchase a lot of kids albums and kid-friendly folksy or pop albums. so perhaps the great upside to this relationship is that I have a newfound curiosity in the musical world and in my musical self, which perhaps I had lost sight of.

mike black tambourine / manatee: not much, since I don’t have one. I still have a band (manatee) and manage to write and rehearse once a week, and play some shows here and there. theo is actually a bit of a fan of manatee and has come to a few of our gigs, which is quite fun.

andrew eggs/talk it: it is just the greatest thrill when your kids like a song you wrote. sometimes I hear my oldest son singing the melody of one of a song by my new band and it’s just the coolest thing.

bridget st john: I’ve written children’s songs I probably would not have otherwise written. I gladly put my career on major hold to raise her. she is trying to help me get more involved with all that current technology can provide to help my career.

alicia the aislers set / magic trick: well, I was skeptical at first and didn’t fully absorb that it would really affect things on such a drastic level. I remember seeing rose melberg when I was pregnant and she was like, yeah, the first three years it’s pretty impossible to do much else. I was like, nawww!, I can do it!! and then, low and behold, things were much harder to balance. I just wasn’t physically able to tour or get enough hours to give as much of myself to music. I was able to record with still flyin, which I was grateful for, as it was such a large band that they weren’t necessarily depending on me to tour or whatever. I was super stoked for the support I got from them in that I was able to take lida on tour for two weeks when she was 1 1/2. that was awesome. these days I have a new band called magic trick, and we just released our second record. I’m not able to go on all the tours. it’s financially and family-wise not the easiest thing to do to pack up and leave for 3-4 weeks at a time. but tim, my bandmate, is awesome in that we knew this from the beginning. and we started off working together primarily in the studio. we didn’t envision a band, that tours, etc. they are actually out on tour now across the states touring with father john misty, with a friend sitting in for me. and that’s ok. it’s my choice.  I do the west coast shows, local stuff. lord knows I’ve spent enough time on the road.  (I’ll pass on the boredom of soundcheck, ha ha). it’s just not worth it for me to miss my daughter for that whole time. I find real satisfaction in the studio and local shows. the occasional adventure, like with the aislers set, or something, is cool, but I feel like I am much more able to prioritize in a healthy way. sometimes, like now, I miss them (the band), but until we as musicians can actually support a family on touring, etc. that’s just not gonna be a possibility. at the same time, sometimes playing a show or something, there are those transcendent moments when I feel like this (music) is what I should be doing all the time. it’s what I’m good at.

photo of jessica griffin of would-be-goods, london, 2001, by gail o’hara.

cf poll: what dish do you wish you could re-create at home?

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what meal do you wish you could re-create at home?

fran cannane: really great curries especially those from malabar restaurant crows nest in sydney. (listen to a new cannanes tune, “bumper,” from their forthcoming small batch EP out on march 19)

corin tucker: japanese traditional udon soup. I’ve tried making it at home but there’s a lot of expertise there.

james dump/yo la tengo: cookie puss. (yo la tengo has an ace new album out called fade; two dump LPs are being reissued this spring on morr music)

kim baxter: conveyor belt sushi with the conveyor belt coming out of the kitchen into the dining room. (kim baxter’s latest album comes out march 15 on blue vinyl; her band is touring europe in april)

daniel handler: cruda at esca.

stephin the magnetic fields: the tomato cobbler at mary mac’s tea room in atlanta, GA. I bought the cookbook, but I can barely boil water.

rachel blumberg: I once had these tomatoes at a venue in italy. the tomatoes were the reddest red I’ve ever seen. they were grown in the volcanic loam on the side of mt. etna in sicily. they were served with fresh basil and olive oil. it was amazing. so good it made me weep. we had that with the most amazing bread and there were mushrooms too, sauteed in garlic and wonderful wine. it was all so simple and perfect. the only way I could ever recreate it would be to transport those tomatoes through a portal. I dream about those tomatoes. (rachel, who is interviewed in the latest chickfactor paper issue, has a new shop here)

gordon the fan modine: coal-fired pizza. (fan modine have a new one out this year)

hannah grass widow: pierogis.

joe pines / foxgloves: a steak that stephen wood would consider worth eating.

matt lorelei: I’ve been trying to re-create tartine bakery’s sourdough bread at home. getting close.

ian musical chairs: burekas!

tim dagger: that pasta/sausage with vodka sauce at la buca in portland.

bridget st john: a meal made entirely of ‘raw’ food.

pete paphides: a generic chinese beef curry like the ones you get at take-aways; a lamb balti like the ones you get at brilliant birmingham balti houses. once in a while, a big mac.

gail cf: everything on the menu at angelica kitchen (I have come close to mastering the miso tahini spread, soba sensation and noodle salads) and the mushroom ale pie at mildreds.

cf poll: what drink goes with what album?

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what drink goes with what album? (question by daniel handler)

gail cf: veuve clicquot goes with everything. I would imagine the special 20th anniversary “chickfactor” cocktail, created by the acclaimed booze handler daniel searing (from such bands as big jesus trash can, the saturday people and glo-worm), would go nicely with the chickfactor mixtape (pictured below).

daniel handler: rye neat, fire! you liked me five minutes ago

delmonico served up followed by bottle of chianti, divine comedy, casanova

chartreuse martini, st. etienne the sound of water

constantly warmed-up highball, the clash sandinista!

empty out the cabinet and experiment with weird liqueurs, 69 love songs

I could play this all night. and have.

stephen the real tuesday weld: tea, with anything.

james dump/yo la tengo: coffee and/or seltzer pair perfectly with all records.

stephin the magnetic fields: still trying to figure that out.

corin tucker: for me it was whiskey and “my aim is true” by elvis costello. these days it is kombucha and fiona apple.

the legendary jim ruiz: gary mcfarland’s “soft samba” album is best enjoyed with the soft samba coctail. pour two ounces of dry (fino) spanish sherry over two ice cubes in an old fashioned glass. add half an ounce of tropical fruit juice or pineapple juice. add a dash of angostura bitters.

gordon the fan modine: J&B scotch and soda and the kingston trio’s “goin’ places” will take you somewhere pretty specific.

matt lorelei: a shandy for smiley smile. or maybe a dolores park swizzle with st. george’s absinthe (rum, lime, maraschino, absinthe, bitters).

bridget st john: a good red wine goes with most albums in my collection!

fran cannane: red wine goes with all cannanes albums…increasing in price and quality over the years.

joe pines / foxgloves: red wine with loveless, early-evening white wine with bryter later, late-night whiskey with magnetic fields’ distortion, tea and panettone with u2’s war, tea and a biscuit with reading, writing & arithmetic, hot chocolate with deacon blue’s oooh las vegas.

kelly velocity girl:
heavenly vs satan – heavenly
harviestoun bitter & twisted
playing lightly, stinging ever so slightly. best ingested on a mild early summer afternoon.

“strawberry wine” – my bloody valentine
jj prum wehlener sonnenuhr riesling kabinett (cool vintage please)
while the title seems to beg some fruitified concoction, let the mild sweetness and filigreed acidity take you where you need to go. for the spring time please.

suburban light – the clientele
jw lees moonraker
a gentle warm up after “the football crowds have all gone home”. is there is a bit of mist on a late fall afternoon? check.

for if you cannot fly – small factory
corpse reviver #2
turns winter into summer. the punch bowl serves a as suitable object to jump off of when in the throes of pop ecstasy.

photograph of the chickfactor cocktail by daniel searing.

 

cf food poll: what is in your rider?

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rachel blumberg: common items on most riders for tours I’ve been a part of include synergy kombucha, emergen-c, hummus, tofurkey, veggie tray. very healthy. matt had one dill pickle on his rider. maybe to make sure people are paying attention to detail, sort of like the brown m&ms.

corin tucker: coconut water. the young people like it.

hannah grass widow: lily is gluten free. so lots of rice cakes, hummus, veggies. also cider instead of beer.

stephen the real tuesday weld: absinthe, water, grapes, the times.

bridget st john: water backstage and onstage. a good red wine for after I play. only vegetarian food – light and lots of green! 2 direct boxes. a piano if possible. 2 guitar stands (if I am away from home and cannot pack them to fly).

stephin the magnetic fields: hummus…which I can no longer tolerate the sight of.

gordon the fan modine: chartreuse but nobody takes us seriously. or is frightened of what would happen.

james dump/yo la tengo: office supplies, local yellow pages, shoelaces, old newspapers, champagne.

matt lorelei: ho ho ho. good one, gail. um, “please pay us”?

darren hanlon: lundberg santa fe BBQ rice chips and a map to the nearest pinball machine (both requests have only been fulfilled once).

jennifer o’connor: amstel light and seltzer.

daniel handler: water, coke, uniball pens.

fran cannane: anything we can get.

joe pines / foxgloves: microbrewery-quality lager and a copy of the london review of books signed by robert forster. if every other band soundchecking has 6 members or more, then better add a copy of the cantos of ezra pound.

photo of rachel by gail o’hara.

trish keenan from broadcast: the chickfactor interview (2001)

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trish keenan from broadcast

today (28 september 1968) is the birthday of the leading lady of broadcast, trish keenan, who passed away in 2011. when I went to her birmingham flat on a warm spring day in may 2001, I found a warm, lovely and smart person who was far friendlier than her onstage persona might have suggested. she was charming and candid and I feel lucky to have met her. we are sharing this interview from our 14th print issue (we have a few copies left btw). 

interview by gail o’hara

chickfactor: what was your best experience at this year’s all tomorrow’s parties? any revelations? were you there for the whole thing?

trish: no, we missed the first night. I didn’t actually, I didn’t like anything. I think because if you’re down front you can get the best sound in that room—it’s not a great room. I don’t think it’s a great place to hold gigs at all [pontin’s in camber sands]. the biggest revelation for me and it’s nothing to do with music, is that there was damp in the chalets. the bands get the best of the chalets, but when I went down to a friend’s chalet who paid 100 pounds for a ticket, it was damp and it smelled. and I thought to myself, god, poor british families save up all year round for this holiday? it’s the granny and the kids and it’s supposed to encompass something for everybody and it’s just a damp chalet. there were lots of americans there, and I thought, what must they all be thinking? steve from tommy boy was with us and you know that entrance with the big blue sign, and I heard him in the back of the van going, “fucking hell.” I was like, “yeah, you’re right, it is fucking hell.” I didn’t see many bands; I had a good time. the bands I did see, I was right at the back and it was terrible sound so I didn’t get to see the best of television. couldn’t see all of yo la tengo’s set because we were on before them and we were packing up.

cf: if you curated one of those, who would you invite to play?

trish: they’re all dead. I’ve love for joe meek to play. I’d do a joe meek night, so you’ve got glenda collins and the tornados and what have you. a phil spector night. they should do a producers weekend—that’s what I’d like. three, four nights of just one thing. then maybe a little talk afterwards about how we recorded…

cf: any living producers you’d want to be there? I guess phil spector still works…

trish: good question, I don’t really… in the 50s and 60s when producers were the new phenomenon, they had one sound and they weren’t worried about what the bands wanted and how they wanted to sound, which is what the producers nowadays seem to be more concerned with—they want the band to be happy, which is good. back then, you came as a musician or vocalist to fit in with the producer’s sound. that’s what made it so interesting, that’s what made it one thing, like the spector group, and it had so many connections—the brill building singer-songwriters, and all these fantastic singers could come in and sing their songs. it was almost like this network—it was just like the beatles were. it was like an institute of songwriters and no. 1s and top 20 hits…

cf: surely britney spears is following in that tradition….

trish: see, I like the song but I don’t like the artist. “I did it again” was a phenomenal, amazing song and brilliant vocal performance but she’s crap. she’s crap. I can’t have that.

cf: it’s just a sequel of the formula.

trish: it’s like “oops, I did it again, I wrote the last song again and got a no. 1.” the idea of producers now, I think the bands have got far too much power in the recording studio now. a producer’s job is to somehow throw a net over the five band members’ ideas somehow bring them together. whereas I prefer the producer to go “shut the fuck up and play this.” then you’ve got one mind pushing the whole thing forward. there’s nothing worse than having five babbling voices all wanting to be the greatest thing.

cf: is that how broadcast is?

trish: well, you know, every band can get like that. even if you’re putting a magazine together and everyone has their own ambitions for what they want out of it and you have to be able to compromise. with the producers of the 60s there was no compromise. it was one thing and you joined it, you fitted in with it.

cf: what is the most ridiculous assessment of broadcast that you’ve read?

trish: “futuristic von trapp family.” sometimes writers come up with these things, and it was maybe before the broadcast gig even happened.

cf: what is the best fan gift you’ve gotten?

trish: I have a crocheted brooch. I don’t get things thrown up onstage very often, that’s why I remember the brooch.

cf: what do your fans look like?

trish: it’s quite a mixture actually. ha ha ha. I suppose the one type I’ve come across more than any other is this short, small gay computer or website type guy. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t say they’re nerds. when I meet these people, I say “I know he’s gay and I bet he works in computers,” and it will come out and I think “how bizarre.”

cf: you’re a total heartthrob with straight boys.

trish: I don’t think so. I’m not getting hassled by anybody. boys aren’t like that. girls have got that kind of… especially from 17 to early 20s, if you’re into pop music and chart music, it seems like the girl fans will throw their all at you and they don’t care, they’ve got the confidence. they don’t care if they’re pushed back. boys are different. a girl fronting a band, you don’t get it so much. you just wouldn’t get a group of boys screaming at a girl—it’s just not in their nature.

cf: were you a fangirl at 17?

trish: I was probably just getting into the smiths. coming out of bowie and all the glam 70s things. I was a big bowie fan from about 13 to 16. it’s the age I was growing up. when I started school it was 1980. it was all new romantic stuff as well. I remember throwing myself at morrissey one time; I got up onstage and tried…I don’t know what I tried to do.

cf: he’s very magnetic.

trish: he’s fantastic.

cf: where is broadcast most famous?

trish: san francisco. that’s where we’ve sold the most records. followed very closely by new york.

cf: who would you want to play you in the trish keenan story?

trish: that’s a wicked question! I’m trying to think of someone who looks really irish and pale. um, I can’t think of anyone.

cf: what’s your favorite soundtrack?

trish: I quite like ravi shankar’s soundtrack stuff. I like chappaqua and charly, I’ve been playing those albums for six or seven months. I love krzysztof komeda, especially the knife in the water soundtrack. morricone goes without saying I suppose. I really like the badlands soundtrack actually, the music used in that. but I wouldn’t say I’ve got one guy. james is really into ennio morricone and that would be his answer.

cf: has broadcast been used in films?

trish: we get used occasionally in channel 4 adverts but we’ve been asked to do something but we’re awaiting the arrival of some tapes. if it’s crap, you can send it back.

cf: is there a director you would say yes straightaway to?

trish: no. there’s plenty of good directors out there. I don’t feel that we—not to try and dis the band but the greatest soundtracks have come from composers that are really steeped in the history of music, they can play classical pieces off by heart, they can sight read. all the brill building songwriters were classically trained, and it really puts you on good footing if you’ve got that behind you. if you’re postmodern and you knew punk happened, you don’t need to have that knowledge to put some good sounds together. that’s all right if you’re making an album, but if you’re making a soundtrack all of a sudden you have to represent that scene or those moods and that’s where training would come in handy. for us it would have to be a really good film—we’ll probably end up doing a shit soundtrack for a shit film at some point. right now it would really have to blow us away for us to take it on.

cf: you could always learn to read music. elvis costello learned it when he was 35.

trish: did he? I can read a little bit and I do have a go every now and again. I know I could do it, but it’s just like taking that time out. then you worry about how it will rub off on the writing technique you’ve managed to accumulate up until this point. all of a sudden I’ll start sounding like james galway.

cf: what was your first band called?

trish: pan am flightbag. this was ’90 or ’91, with two members of broadcast. we did two gigs then split off. for a moment there, we were the best local band there was.

cf: were you musical as a child?

trish: I don’t think I stood out, particularly. I didn’t really apply myself in any way and I wasn’t pushed into it from my parents, though they were really into music.

cf: what kind?

trish: I grew up with bob dylan, neil diamond. we had a pontin’s holiday in the ’70s and there was a talent competition and my mom and dad said “you’ve got to get something ready for the talent competition.”

cf: what a riot.

trish: they were there, “go on, get up onstage.” my mom used to do a bit of singing in clubs when she was younger. she didn’t really take it seriously. for the talent competition my dad said, “why don’t you learn ‘love is in the air’ on your recorder?” he taught me all the notes and I wrote them all down. we had our auditions and my mom didn’t get into the final thing. I got in with my recorder. she must have been terrible. a strange thing happened, we were in the chalet. I must have been getting worried about going onstage to play my recorder, my mom said, “come on, it’s 7:30, they want us all backstage and getting ready.” I wouldn’t go. like a 7-year-old kid, I was like, “nooo, moooom.” I must have been nervous though I didn’t feel nervous. my eyes were all red from crying cause I didn’t want to go but I got up and did it. that was it. that was my pontin’s holiday. it’s funny, the second time I would go to pontin’s it would be for music as well…

cf: do you like brazilian music?

trish: I like os mutantes, jorge ben, gal costa…

cf: caetano veloso?

trish: yeah, yeah.

cf: he wrote all the best mutantes songs. what french pop do you like?

trish: dutronc. françoise hardy will always get put on. brigitte fontaine. even a bit of charles aznavour.

cf: what causes a ruckus when it gets put on in the tour bus?

trish: joan baez. I like her, rog likes her, james hates her, and I don’t think tim likes her. for james, I think me liking joan baez represents something that he really hates. that whimsical folk thing, I’ve definitely got that in my taste and in my writing.

cf: you grew up with dylan!

trish: when I saw her sing that song in don’t look back, I had to go and find out what her best albums were. I like that record with all the poems on it.

cf: what melody or lyric do you have stuck in your head?

trish: I’m reading the art of bob dylan at the moment. I do have sections that come into my mind. I have lines going through my head all the time. for me, I’ll like one section of the song; I’ll hate the verse and the chorus but I’ll love the bridge.

cf: weirdest gig?

trish: I think it was in arizona. it was just in somebody’s living room. it was just weird because we were really tired, and we were just looking for a chance to go, “no, we’re not doing it.” and this was our opportunity. there was no PA, there wasn’t even a kettle. we did the gig in the end. I hadn’t seen one person on the street all day. there was a church 100 yards away with barbed wire all around it. we were like, “we’ve gotta get out of this place, it’s horrible.” and all of a sudden like 90 people come out of nowhere and cram into this little room and there was a gig on. you’ll drive to a gig for 40 or 60 miles away, that’s nothing to you. that’s half the length of this country—I couldn’t possibly go that far for a gig. if it’s not a bike ride, most of the time I won’t go. terribly british and lazy.

cf: if someone came to birmingham for the day, what would you show them?

trish: I’d go and see the canals. I think they’re the best thing we’ve got. we’ve got more canal miles than venice. birmingham was the heart of the industrial revolution, and if it wasn’t for the little waterways that were already built, we would have never been anything. you’d never have had black sabbath if it wasn’t for those canals, that’s my theory.

cf: are you from birmingham?

trish: yes, I was born here.

cf: who is the most underappreciated artist in this country?

trish: autechre. I think they’re fantastic. there’s no compromise with what they do. they’re not massive either; they’ll pull a decent crowd, like at camber sands they pulled a good crowd. the autechre fans are always boys that can’t walk properly, they’ll push your pint into you. rude, horrible boys go to autechre gigs. I always get a laugh out of it. if they wanted to do a commercial track, it would be no. 1.

cf: what’s in your fridge?

trish: two very dark brown bananas—I like them that color. easy-peel satsumas, half a tin of baked beans, some salmon, a bag of carrots, there’s usually much more than this. red cabbage, orange juice, mixed salad.

cf: most people just have beer.

trish: I don’t drink. I smoke blow though I don’t keep that in the fridge. I’m not really into alcohol. don’t like it. not a very good buzz. it’s a bit overrated. if they’d legalize some other drugs, alcohol would go right down the pan. that’s why they don’t want to legalize cannabis, especially here because there’s so much tax on alcohol and cigarettes, offer somebody another escape and those two industries will go down the pan.

cf: if your house was on fire, what would you grab on the way out?

trish: I don’t think I’d grab anything. I’d just get the hell out. I’d take my APC shirt and my vivienne westwood shirt, because they’re close to the window.

cf: who is the funniest person in the band?

trish: they’re all really funny. I couldn’t say one’s funnier than the other. roj I’d say he’s the quickest. his comic timing is genius. he really should be on telly. they’re funny but if you put them under pressure to be funny they won’t be. the three of them together (roj, james and tim) are hilarious. they make the tough parts easy. I’m an audience for them, they get a laugh out of me every time.

cf: are you addicted to anything?

trish: cigarettes, cannabis.

cf: do you collect anything?

trish: I mean, if you call records collecting. if you’re into music, that’s just part of what you do. I’m not really that mentality, and there aren’t many girls that are. it’s a boys’ thing, that collecting, and I think it’s innate. I’m not saying no girls can be collecting nerdy types like that, but it attracts the male mind to get into detail about that. you need both, you need the airhead and the one who knows everything. I’m the airhead. I can’t remember names, I’m terrible with band names and track names.

cf: with CDs, no one even looks at the track names. it’s like “I love track 5!” have you ever had something embarrassing happen onstage?

trish: I’ll tell you what I always do, and it really pisses me off. I always end up hitting my mouth on the microphone. I’m not very comfortable onstage. when I walk into a room I like to be unnoticed. I like to slip in. I’m not the kind of person who wants to rule the room with my conversation. I’m a quiet person.

cf: but you ended up the frontman.

trish: I don’t know why. it’s only cause I could sing. I don’t know whether I could sing or can sing…

cf: you can sing!

trish: because my mom and dad always sang, my mom has a karaoke machine, my dad’s irish and they love a good song, and singing is just something you do. you don’t have to be a performer, you can just sing at any point.

cf: what’s your next record like?

trish: it’s not written yet. what’ll usually happen is I’ll put a few songs together on my own, upstairs is where we recorded the last EP, and james will put production ideas together as far as sounds and if he’s got a chord structure that he’s put down, I’ll get it on minidisc and stick it on my four-track and I’ll try and do a vocal on it. hopefully we’ll have a combination of tracks that I’ve just written on my guitar, four-track tracks, and tracks that james put together that I can put a vocal on. then we’ll go to the studio and we’ll take it someplace further.

cf: do you look at music websites?

trish: I do. I don’t download music, I tend to print lyrics. I always go to olga, the online guitar site and get chords and lyrics. and maybe some creative writing websites that give you some exercises to do—just when I feel I need a kick, a boost. looking at a track on paper—I just looked at “you don’t own me”—that’s a real inspiration for me. the biggest inspiration to me is other people’s music and working it out. CF

photo on the cover of chickfactor 14 by gail o’hara