a new future bible heroes interview!


future bible heroes is a songwriting collaboration between stephin merritt and christopher ewen (figures on a beach, the hiddle variable, famous boston DJ) with vocals from claudia gonson and merritt. in addition to reissuing their earlier recordings, they’re about to release their first album in 11 years, titled partygoing, and it’s effing ace (as good as their debut, memories of love). they will play chickfactor 21 on june 12 along with the aluminum group, honeybunch and true love always, mc gaylord fields and special guests. stephin will not perform due to ear issues; the live lineup will feature gonson, ewen, magnetic fields singer shirley simms and anthony kaczynski (figures on a beach). see you at bell house!

I did this interview to write their bio for merge records, but I wanted to print it here. I interviewed them back in chickfactor 11 also! interview by gail

chickfactor: the previous FBH album came out in 2002. now it’s 2013. have you been working on it for 11 years or did you begin more recently? what took so long?

stephin: since 2002 I’ve made four stage musicals and four magnetic fields albums, a gothic archies album and a through-sung live score to a silent film. but in fact chris and I have been working on FBH too, and parts of the songs “when evening falls on tinseltown” and “a drink is just the thing” are quite old. the first describes my experience of living in los angeles—and leaving it, which I did while recording partygoing; the second describes solving all your problems with alcohol, which I don’t do much anymore either. writing true and heartfelt lyrics is pointless because once you get around to singing them, they’re lies.

cf: do you feel freer and more playful making FBH music because it’s not your “day job”? your singing—especially on “how very strange” and “drink nothing but champagne”—is very funny.

stephin: thank you. I had other funny voices that didn’t make it onto the record, but they should be available as either bonus tracks or blackmail fodder. after singing exactly like angela lansbury on “mr. punch,” claudia has retired her stage-cockney voice, but I hope she changes her mind for the concerts. I want to see that.

cf: do you know when you write a song whether it will be for FBH, TMF or something else?

stephin: I only write FBH songs to chris’s instrumental songs (which are often perfectly listenable and finished before I get them), so I always know whose song I’m writing. I don’t always know what album I’m writing for, though: this album has less science fiction than before, but I had dozens of half-finished songs in that j.g. ballard universe mapped so much better by gary numan and john foxx.

cf: was there a theme for this record? I know it’s called partygoing but it seems like aging, rejection, death and austerity are recurring themes.

stephin: write what you know (as they tell you in school, when you don’t know anything yet). those happen to be the themes of most of my work, I’m happy to report. aging is a great theme for any writer, because one never runs out of material, and everyone over 12 is obsessed with it.

cf: do you have a different lyrical approach for FBH than for TMF?

stephin: other than a tendency toward science fiction, which sort of matches the “futuristic” synthesizers, I’m not aware of any difference. I’m still just sitting around in bars with a song in my head, rhyming “arcade” and “rodomontade.”

cf: how has FBH’s recording process changed since the previous releases?

stephin: for partygoing I encouraged chris to let me do more of the work, and just give me skeletal fragments, and then we could toss them back and forth as though we were playing a “sport” of some kind. and I did some remixing, not like junior vasquez, but like me, and the results sound a bit more like me than chris sometimes. which some will hate of course.

cf: are there any ’80s-sounding new bands that you’re fond of? contemporary acts?

stephin: the “electroclash” moment came and went without anyone ever contacting us about it, but I always quite liked ladytron, miss kittin, robyn, peaches, goldfrapp and their imitators. they’re all women. what can I say, I’m a gay man, I cried in public when donna summer died. my favorite country song of the last ten years is “you and I” by lady gaga (closely followed by trailer choir’s “rockin’ the beer gut,” a major feminist accomplishment which could never have been in the country charts I grew up on). our roots are in new wave.

cf: you seem to be able to get away with writing about anything as a lyricist. has anyone ever been offended by something you wrote? whose lyrics inspire you?

stephin: when the new york times trashed my first chinese opera adaptation, the reviewer was shocked that I used the word “fucking” in a song, and implied that it indicated a lack of seriousness on my part. now, on my planet, any medium that can’t use the word “fucking” is aimed at pre-school american children, a demographic not known for its patronage of opera, chinese or no. I’ve been listening to nothing but felt recently.

cf: any plans for the 6ths, the gothic archies, TMF? theater and film?

stephin: I’m writing a lot these days for all of the above, but nothing I can talk about yet.

cf: how does recording for FBH differ from working on TMF records?

claudia: chris first composes lots of sonic ideas, like dozens of them, and sends them to stephin. then, stephin makes melody lines over some of them, and decides which are the ones he wants to use for the album. the process goes back and forth. sometimes chris adjusts the pitch or tempo or adds a new section to accommodate the melody stephin has written. once the songs are written, we record lead vocals and harmonies, and a few more instruments.

cf: you sing on partygoing—do you contribute any other sounds / ideas?

claudia: on one song, there is a musique concrète solo. each member was instructed to go out and do field recordings of various ambient sounds, and stephin and his engineer charles knitted together all these sounds to make the solo. on other songs too, stephin added a few other instrumental lines. but the instrumental backing tracks, for the most part, are chris’s work.

cf: why do FBH play live so rarely?

claudia: we put out albums so rarely, that we didn’t have much occasion to tour. we did tour a bit after the first two albums, but back then it was incredibly difficult to get a stage set up with all those enormous bulky synths. we may do some shows for this album release, but the issue will revolve around the opposite problem, how to perform live in an interesting way without just hitting a button on a computer.

cf: do you feel freer and more playful making FBH music because it’s not your “day job”?

claudia: as the band’s manager, I can certainly say yes. but I also feel this way about playing with the magnetic fields. I enjoy my creative role with the band, since most of my time is spent wrangling over deals and contracts.

cf: who is pretending to be david bowie?

claudia: stephin.

cf: is the FBH fan different from the TMF fan?

claudia: I think we have a lot of crossover but I have discovered that people, like my daughter and my parents, really enjoy FBH, because it’s got a synth-based sound and catchy beats. It’s very accessible to the disco set.

cf: how do you feel this album compares with the previous releases?

claudia: I really like the album. stephin and chris wrote some exceptional songs. it’s a bit depressing, lots of songs about suicide, and a nostalgic yearning for youth and happiness. but I think most of the FBH albums are like that.

cf: can we expect another FBH album in 2024?

claudia: hope so!

cf: the previous FBH album came out in 2002. now it’s 2013. what took so long? have you been working on it for 11 years or did you begin more recently?

chris: we began more recently. part of the reason it took so long is that stephin is obviously involved with a lot of other musical projects. another is that—since we all live in different cities, especially when stephin was living in los angeles—it was a bit more of a challenge for us to coordinate everything. back when we were recording eternal youth, we were both experimenting with different recording technologies, and successfully integrating them was somewhat of a hurdle. technology has finally caught up with what we want to do, so it seemed like the right time to collaborate again. I started coming up with some new ideas for FBH towards the end of 2009. a couple of TMF albums happened between then and now, so 2013 has turned out to be the year we’re releasing a new album.

cf: there are a lot of modern-day new bands that try to sound 1980s. are there any that match up to those from the original decade?

chris: when we released memories of love back in 1997, I was very surprised that the american press were quick to dub us an ’80s “new wave” band. it wasn’t our intention to be classified that way, and it certainly wasn’t what was in my head as we were writing and recording the album. I think that happened because we used a lot of synthesizers, which wasn’t very much in fashion back then. the times seem to have changed, and synthesizers are back in vogue, but this time around we didn’t make a conscious decision to make a blatantly new wave revival record either. however, we did use a lot of synths. ¶ one of the things that continues to attract me to a lot of music that came out in the ’80s is that it sounded like itself. it was new, fresh and surprising at the time…some of it still sounds that way. musical approaches and points of reference were blurred or sometimes completely obliterated. these days, it’s pretty easy for me to pick out what ’80s band influenced the sound of any particular new band, so the element of wonder is I experience listening to them isn’t as apparent. that said, I’m currently really enjoying the most recent albums by the soft moon, the knife / fever ray, freezepop, yan wagner and the horrors, to name a few.

cf: what kind of changes in technology have had an effect on the way FBH works?

chris: when we recorded our first two albums, we used our phones and the mail a lot, and sent things to each other on cassette or DAT. or we had to be in the same city. these days, it’s a lot easier for us to send music & ideas back and forth and develop them more fully. my studio set-up now is a lot more conducive to multi-track recording, and I’m not a slave to MIDI anymore. overall, the ways we work together have become much more flexible.

cf: there are scant details on the two first FBH albums about the “sounds” you make. can you share more info here and do SM / CG contribute to the music also?

chris: on those first two albums, I would basically come up with some song idea, and record all or most of the instruments at my studio in boston, usually MIDI sequences driven by a hardware sequencer live to two track. stephin would then get these fully formed instrumental tracks and have to write the lyrics and vocal melodies either around what I had come up with, or complementing it in some way. It became a process unto itself, as the instrumental tracks were already fully mixed, and any changes would mean lots of editing and completely re-recording the track on my end, or completely rewriting the lyrics on his. as far as the sounds go, I enjoy experimenting in my studio, and am quite content to just play around with sound manipulation. some songs came about because of a certain sound I was happy with…a full track could be inspired by something very simple. I also like to write at a piano, and then arrange those pieces for a fuller instrumentation. on the first couple of albums, since the music was already pretty much finished by the time stephin got the tracks, he & claudia would come up with elaborate backing vocal tracks, and in a few instances, stephin would add a lead instrument. these days, we have a lot more options.

cf: the house of tomorrow site says: “future bible heroes are a songwriting collaboration between stephin merritt (words and melodies) and chris ewen (instruments).” can you clarify your roles?

chris: nowadays we are much more of an integrated collaboration, and there isn’t one particular way a song will develop. “living, loving, partygoing” began as an idea stephin sang into my voicemail one night. “love is a luxury” began with the lyrics. as far as the tracks I instigated go, I made a point of sending stephin a lot of demos or song sketches, which I’d then develop more fully as necessary. this time around, we were able to write songs together using different approaches, and were able to arrange them along the way.

cf: whose music gives you inspiration?

chris: I love producers who love experimenting in the studio…conny plank, martin hannett, joe meek, lindsey buckingham. I continue to admire the magnetic fields of course, all of yellow magic orchestra, abba, brian eno, the gentlemen in cluster (or now, qluster), vince clarke, the throbbing gristle family, the human league and a lot of french and german synth-pop. recent inspirations include laurie spiegel’s the expanding universe re-issue, and everything john foxx has been doing lately.

cf: how long have you known stephin and claudia? how have they changed?

chris: we go back a while… we met around 1987 or 1988 I think, during the buffalo rome days. it’s hard to pinpoint exact changes—we’ve remained good friends over the years and through many scenarios, which means that they continue to possess the qualities that drew us together in the first place. claudia has become more self-assured. stephin’s become a more social creature. I think we’ve all grown up, which is probably something I’ve needed to do.

cf: are you involved in other musical projects these days?

chris: I’ve decided to completely revamp a project I started a few years ago called the hidden variable. It was a collaboration I instigated with several dark fiction authors, whose lyrics I set to music. besides a song I wrote with neil gaiman that claudia sings on, and one with gahan wilson that cosey fanni tutti sings, I’m planning on re-recording the entire album. there may also be the possibility of some instrumental solo material, and I’ll continue to come up with new ideas for FBH, in case we feel the urge to record a new album at some point.



a new james mcnew / dump interview!


most people know james mcnew from his other band, the condo fucks (and yo la tengo). as long as he has been in yo la tengo, he has been making his own recordings under the name dump. dump songs have sort have been filtered into yo la tengo these days so he is less prolific. we interviewed dump + yo la tengo for chickfactor 8 back in the mid-90s and again later, but here we are doing it again! we love dump and gilmore tamny conducts the interview this time and asks some excellent Qs. ps. dump performs at chickfactor 21 on june 13 with the pastels, lois and jim ruiz set. he also plays with the condo fucks and the pastels on june 15 at maxwell’s!

chickfactor: what chickfactor show do you remember best? missed but wished you’d attended? any particular fond/joyful/amusing chickfactor memories?

james: I think I Ioved every one I ever saw, and I definitely loved playing at them. I saw a lot of them. getting to see nice at under acme was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. same goes for the georgia hubley trio at fez. versus were just bloodthirsty at the bell house last year (“another face”!). gail was really the only person who ever asked dump to play, and that always meant a great deal to me. I will always remember the sight of magnetic fields fans in the front row with their fingers in their ears while I played my opening set.

who else will be playing with you for the chickfactor show unless that’s ruining a surprise? are you getting besieged with requests?

that shit’s top secret.

how has your relationship with the dump songs (if it does) change over time? the things that you like/that bug you tend to be the same when you revisit?

I cringed a few times while putting together the reissues, but I guess everybody does that, like when you see old photos of yourself. unless you’re really good-looking. but I still liked most of the songs, or at least the ideas. I feel like I have gotten a lot better at writing songs since then, but I can still relate to old me. depression is timeless.

many are superstoked about superpowerless and I can hear music getting reissued—tell us a bit about how that came about?

I was approached by thomas moor of the/his moor music label, of berlin. I was already a fan of their catalog & bands; he was a fan of the dump records. I am always kinda surprised when anyone says that, since they were so difficult to find. I dragged my heels on doing the project until he finally convinced me. so I spent a LOT of time turning it into a deluxe package; bonus tracks, photos, a bunch of new artwork and a ton of new notes I wrote for them. there’s no doubt at least one frustrated moor employee will punch me one day. still, I am very happy with the results. I’m glad he thought of it.

I read once that charles barkley was so keyed up after his games that afterward he’d often vacuum the house to relax. do you have to do any such similar things after shows?

I love charles, so I’ll try that. I also heard he would get his lady friends to shave his head for him. normally I like to pretend like I didn’t just play, and get on with my life, then scrutinize it later.

I’d think touring so much would—if you were inclined—turn one into a bit of armchair sociologist/anthropologist, noting regional differences or ways fans interact, or bass player vs. guitar personalities, etc. any thoughts?

everyone, everywhere, is nuts.

who do you know or admire that might prompt you to say: “that gentlewoman or gentleman, __. _______ _______, has exquisite taste.”?

walt “clyde” frazier.

are there any human virtues you admire or weaknesses that depress you that, when manifesting themselves in music, make you admire/loathe even more? like: subtlety. or: showoffyness.  or, the opposite?

traditional “weaknesses” like not being a virtuoso, or having an unusual voice or take on reality, can be total pluses. fearlessness, whether to express yourself or challenge yourself, or just in general, is definitely something to strive for. also, personally, I don’t like when artists supply me with answers. I like mystery; I don’t want them to tell me what their songs mean. I don’t even want a lyric sheet. I prefer to use my imagination and come up with my own meanings.

what show have you played that has most felt like a hallucination? place you’d like to play you haven’t (parthenon, etc.?)

many of them feel hallucinatory, if all goes according to plan. the shows I played as a member of man forever were all that way. I have been insanely lucky to play at some pretty sweet places. that said, I would like to play at an aquarium.

what’s your perspective on musical literacy? If it isn’t too nosey, how technically literate are you or have you had to become? how would you say or observed it being a help/hindrance?

not very. I have learned to do some stuff. I am mostly self-taught, and completely self-taught on bass (I learned by watching and studying the greats, namely sue garner). I took guitar lessons from age 9 to about 12. one day my teacher refused (in disgust) to teach me a van halen song, instead trying to get me to play some fingerpicky blues thing. That was it for lessons. Technical proficiency is by no means a prerequisite for great, important music. by itself, without feeling or ideas behind it, it’s just dumb. to me, few use it for good. But just to name some who do, glenn jones, william tyler, mary halvorson, tortoise and the boredoms all make music I absolutely love.

what non-musical (piece of?) art(s) has had the biggest influence on your music?

the work of jim woodring, for sure.

do you ever feel like you glimpse, out of the corner of your mind’s eye, some instrument not yet invented that you wish was? can you describe?

no, but I would love it if I could get a car horn that is not only deafening but is also a flamethrower.

would you ever—presuming you haven’t, pardon if my internet research skills are lacking—like to do some sort of sound installation à la christo or spiral jetty (etc.)?

oh, most definitely. when do you need it by?

a new chickfactor interview with lois!



basically if olympia, washington, singer-songwriter lois maffeo isn’t there, then it’s not really a chickfactor party. even though we interviewed miss lois for chickfactor #5 back in 1994, we are interviewing her again! she performs at the bell house in brooklyn on thursday, june 13 with the pastels, dump and jim ruiz set, mc sukhdev sandhu and special guests.

interview by gilmore tamny (of the yips & wiglet fame)

chickfactor: tell us a bit about the last your experience playing the last chickfactor show yonder brooklyn? highlights? unexpected pleasures? things you’re looking forward to this time?

lois: there’s a reason that gail always calls her chickfactor shows parties. there is a togetherness on these nights that doesn’t exist on most (any?) festival bills. It’s like everyone there, bands and audience, has this connection through these shared loves. It’s really magical.

any dish on chickfactor or gail or pam you wanna share? gaudy nights? bank jobs pulled? musical japes not yet known to adoring chickfactor public?

gail o’hara and a magnum of veuve cliquot is a dangerous combination. the last time that lois and dump shared a bill, gail, james and I sat on some steps at NYU (or was it columbia?—editor) and drank this massive bottle of champagne in scavenged paper cups. needless to say, I don’t remember much about that show and fear my set may have been a disaster.

how do you view the songwriting process these days?

sadness and torment are such invigorating tools for songwriting. but handily enough, I have avoided them for a long time and as such, my output has languished. but I’m not complaining.

what are the upsides/downside to playing out less? what do you miss or how do you feel freed up?

I miss being lost. so often we would be on the outskirts of a city and running late and having to ask someone on the roadside how to get to the club. inevitably the answer was “just turn there by the kroger. you can’t miss it.” and lo, we missed it every time.

how has birdie’s variety changed/enhanced your relationship to inatmate objects? history/the past?

I’ll just note here that birdie’s variety is both the name of my fanzine and the once-a-year sale of recycled cookware and useful things that I hold. (this year it will be at the unknown in anacortes, washington, on july 20.) apart from helping people get their hands on non-toxic and durable cookware, the appeal of the birdie’s sale comes in writing the pricetags. that is where I get to detail my thoughts on each object. (see photos.)

Is there (a) holy grail or grails of objects you’d like to find?

I don’t really search for things. I like to just come across them. what I like about finding things in thrift stores is that a person donated the object so it could benefit someone else. and estate sales can be fascinating in the way they illustrate a life through the stuff that was acquired along the way. In short, there are other ways of establishing value beyond looking up the price of something on ebay.

do you feel like lovejoy with nose for authenticity?

Your question hits upon one of the few ye olde TV sleuths that I don’t follow!

any lois maffeo recipes for cobbler/pesto/drinky-winkies you can share?

just some advice: grow herbs and put them in everything.

any artists (bands/writers/painters/what have you) of late that are driving you wild?

I’ve been listening to troubadours like idiot glee and karl blau, studying the songs of leslie bricusse & anthony newley, rocking out to hot hooves and faithfully following jarvis cocker’s sunday service on BBC 6. and gail introduced me to connie converse and molly drake who both made these spare and perfect songs that get right to the heart of things.

gilmore tamny wrote a novel, my days with millicent, which is being serialized on-line, and has a tumblr of line drawings here.

photograph by tae won yu

thalia zedek: chickfactor interview


thalia zedek is kind of an indie-rock bad-ass. before she formed come with chris brokaw, she was in uzi, live skull and dangerous birds. this spring, she is touring solo to support her new thrill jockey release via, and then touring with come as matador gets ready to reissue 11: 11 in may. gilmore tamny (from wiglet/the yips) managed to ask thalia a few questions to get the dirt.

chickfactor: any opinions on the “roadrunner” official song for massachusetts?

thalia: I’m all for it. I think that jonathan richman is an american icon right up there with woody guthrie and massachusetts should take advantage of the bragging rights

cf: touring for via with low (portland, san francisco, etc.) coming up and then I think with the come reissue—sounds like a great lineup. Any plans beyond the spring or later with come?

I have got some new material that I’m really excited about working on and hopefully recording in the near future. I don’t want to wait 4 years this time!

cf: what do you like/love/find not awesome/hate about touring?

I love traveling and looking out the window from a van, meeting new cool people and exploring new cities. and reconnecting with old friends. what I don’t like is flying and club promoters who don’t appreciate musicians and the effort that it takes to tour.

cf: writers like to talk about their writerly routines and I’m curious if you have a particular sort with song-writing or practicing. is it cyclic? daily? inspiration based? do you work better under looming deadlines or slogging along day-in/day-out (etc.)?

I’m definitely inspiration based but looming deadlines definitely speed up my process. I find that sitting down and just noodling around on my guitar is how most of my songs start out. sometimes finishing them is a problem for me!

cf: how do you write the lyrics for your songs? go they come first/second or hatch as the song does? who are some of your favorite lyricists?

lyrics pretty much always come last for me, but on the rare occasion that the music and words come at the same time, that is truly magic and those songs are my favorite. some of my favorite lyricists are nick cave, leonard cohen, vic chesnutt.

cf: first few favorite-favorite songs as kid/young person?

“the boxer” by simon and garfunkel. I used to sing the La Di Li part over and over again!

cf: are there any artists–books, painters, dancers, whatever–that you would say have influenced you a lot in last 10 years?

carla bozulich is doing some really cool things these days. she used to be in geraldine fibbers but has a new project now called evangelista that has put out a lot of cool records on constellation records. I find her music and her work ethic really inspiring!

cf: tell us a little about the recording process for via. I imagine you are pretty technically conversant at this point with so much recording under your belt. what sort of sound were you looking for, if you had an idea ahead of time, and then how you went about executing it?

we worked with andrew schneider again as the engineer and producer. I personally think he is a genius. he just makes us sound like us and sounding natural in the studio is actually no mean feat. I wanted the record to sound warm and deep, but I don’t really like getting into the technical aspects of it. it’s just not my thing so  I just try and record with really talented engineers.

cf: is there any show you were dying to see that you are still kicking yourself for having missed?

I had the chance to see rowland howard perform in melbourne in 2005 but I was too jetlagged and exhausted from touring to make the show. he has since passed away , and I really really regret not seeing him that night. he was a big influence on my guitar playing.

cf: how many guitars do you own? What are some of your favorites?

4 electric guitars and 1 acoustic. I have a tele deluxe that I used on the early come records and two black hagstrom I guitars. also a pale blue kalamazoo. my first hagstrom which I got as a birthday gift from a bunch of my friends in the ’90s is my favorite. they knew that I had put a down payment on it and they pooled together the rest and gave it to me for my birthday. it was amazing!

cf: is there any folk music from a region or tradition you particularly dig?

rebetica, which are greek “hash songs,” indian music, as well turkish and romanian music too.

cf: what are some things you do outside of playing music that best ‘feed’ your music? I mean, like: biking? reading? watching bad TV? cooking? etc.

I love cooking, especially BBQ in the summer and biking around!

cf: I know you’ve done some volunteering with girls rock camp boston. could you talk a bit about your experience?

it was great. I volunteered at the first boston rock camp for girls as a guitar instructor and band coach and also at a ladies rock camp as a band coach. kids love making noise so it was a lot of fun to encourage them to thrash away and see them just break out with these huge smiles! I also discovered what I had already suspected, that I’m not that great at teaching people instruments. I’m a great band coach though!

cf: short list of places you’d like to travel, either touring or not?

lithuania, latvia, indonesia, new zealand, israel for a start. china and japan too!

cf: I’ve always thought you were a very stylish gal. any influences in that area? anyone whose style you admire?

thanks! ’70s-era mick jagger meets goodwill is what I’m going for. not sure if I’ve achieved it or not.

cf: do you have any animal cam weaknesses?

I love to watch baby seals frolic!
photograph by lana caplan

interview from CF16: jennifer o’connor

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.


trish keenan from broadcast: the chickfactor interview (2001)


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

an interview with scrawl!


it is an honor and a privilege to present a long-overdue interview with scrawl. gilmore tamny (the yips, wiglet fame) chatted with sue harshe in november and got the scoop on the trio’s recent reunion and other stuff.

chickfactor: how was ATP? highlights? lowlights?

sue: ATP NYC was a lot of fun. we played very well, we had a nice place to stay, we saw a lot of long-time dear friends. I can’t ask for much more than that. for me, there were two highlights: watching these two young men sing every single word of every single song we were playing. I sought them out after the show because I was so shocked and touched. the other highlight was watching marcy sing “my curse” with the afghan whigs. she looked so beautiful and tiny up there and when she began singing, the whole place erupted. I was bawling like a baby. I can’t really think of any low points. I wished there had been more people there but more for the bands who had to play on the indoor stage during the day. it was a little cavernous. ¶ I’m glad I got to see afterhours, an italian metal band with violin. truly amazing. and I was able to see about half of dirty three’s set, which I liked very much.

cf: I see you played with cobra verde at ace of cups—very exciting! you have more shows coming up? how are you pacing it?

sue: we just played with cobra verde and tim lee 3. we (I don’t think) had ever played with cv before, which is odd, considering they live in cleveland. tim lee 3 is from knoxville and we’ve known tim & his wife susan (who plays kick-ass bass in tim lee 3) for years and years. it is always so much fun to play in columbus and to play at marcy’s bar. the sound is always good, the vibe is great, and most bands (unless they’re prima donnas) leave there pretty happy. ¶ this has been an unusually active year for scrawl. we usually play once every couple of years. this year, we’ll have played 8 shows in 6 months. that’s a veritable world tour for us! being asked to play ATP NYC and also being asked to play ATP UK has been a dream, something we feel proud of because you can’t submit to play; you have to be invited. and the two bands who knew us best (afghan whigs and shellac) did the asking. that makes me happy. so, we leave for england after thanksgiving for a week and then play a new year’s eve show in cincinnati with the afghan whigs, and then it’s goodbye 2012.

cf: columbus has really changed in the last 20 years, including the music scene. could you talk about that at all? interesting happenings? things that are irritating? etc. I think too of ace of cups (which I’ve been enjoying seeing video of shows shirley posts from time to time) and how that’s opened, etc.

sue: marcy is better positioned to talk about the columbus music scene because she sees more of it, owning the bar. I think in some respects the last few years have been very healthy and robust (times new viking did well), but I’m just old enough now that I could slip into that very annoying back-in-the-day sentimentality, so I best keep my mouth shut. same with your question “most irritating” (faux folk revival). oops.

cf: I’ve been prowling around the internet—forgive me if I’ve missed an article etc.—but I’ve (long) wondered what has been your songwriting process with scrawl?  how has it changed?

sue: we don’t write much these days, though we have about three or four newer songs, but the process is very much the same: play a riff one thousand times in practice, add and take away, rewrite and rewrite, and then the lyrics are usually added as the last sprinkle on top. we’ve always put a lot of work into songwriting and so, for us, there’s no getting around the sometimes arduous process.

cf: how has playing live changed (presuming it has)?

sue: playing live feels very different for me now. I think it’s just a mindset, but it feels liberating in a completely different way, now that I’m pushing 50. a little more zen, a little less stroppy. regardless of why/what/how, it’s a total blast for me right now.

cf: any chance of a new scrawl record?

sue: we will never say never. I could play music with marcy until I’m 95 and be perfectly happy.

cf: who has been (some of) the most unlikely or unexpected scrawl fan(s)?

sue: hmm. for a while, we attracted very young men to our shows, who would come up to us afterward with tears streaming down their faces. that was always a little disconcerting.

cf: when / why / where you wrote your first song and what was it about?

sue: I can’t even remember. I think it was a hardcore song.

cf: do you come from musical families / upbringing?

sue: my family wanted to be musical but really wasn’t. the best thing my mom did musically was force me to keep taking piano lessons. she said that I would thank her one day. she was absolutely right. she also tap danced and played ukulele as a teenager. I think that’s pretty great.

cf: what are you reading these days?

sue: my husband found half-dozen old classics in the hallway of his office, waiting to be thrown out, so I vowed to read them all this winter. the first one I read was of human bondage by somerset maugham. fantastic! it is so over-the-top. next is tristam shandy by laurence sterne. after that it will be tom jones by henry fielding, and then david copperfield by dickens. If I’m not reading books rescued from the trash, I’ll read the scandinavian crime writers (mankell, larsson, nesbo, alvtegen).

cf: who do you have a crush on and you are welcome to take that in traditional sense or artistic sense or metaphysical sense etc. etc. etc.!

sue: my perennial 25-year crush is on the actor gary oldman. and, after seeing leonard cohen perform a year or so ago, I’ll include him too.

cf: any artists—bands, visual artists, writers, poets, dancers etc—you’re nuts for/intrigued by right now? pourquoi?

sue: there’s a woman from dresden germany called anna matur, who is very intriguing. she’s part performance artist and all musician. I very much like wussy’s record buckeye as well. It’s damn near perfect.

cf: sue, you have a new (fort shame) record coming out? how is that going? are you still scoring films as well?

sue: I haven’t scored any film music lately, but I was invited (along with 11 other composers) to write music for “finding time: columbus public art 2012,” in conjunction with columbus’ bicentennial celebrations this year. that was pretty exciting. and fort shame just released its first CD. it took forever to make but I’m very proud of it.

hear more from scrawl here. photo courtesy of scrawl.

the very long-overdue debsey wykes interview.

debsey wykes is one of the coolest pop girls on earth. when she was a mere teen, she formed the dolly mixture with her mates hester and rachel and they recorded some of the acest songs ever. later she formed birdie with her now-hubby paul kelly, who is a great photographer and makes films with the saint etienne gang. debs has also been singing with saint etienne since 1993; that is her voice you hear on “who do you think you are?“ along with the lovely sarah cracknell. we tried to interview debs back in nyc after a way-too-short birdie gig at fez, but it didn’t seem to work out. but when we got to see the dolly mixture documentary a couple summers ago, we were re-inspired. we caught up with the lady somewhat recently at the phoenix theatre bar in london…

chickfactor: I’ve wanted to interview you for a long tme. I don’t know if you remember this. we had a plan in new york once but it didn’t happen for some reason. after the dolly mixture documentary screening, I realized that it’s only a matter of time before the world discovers the dolly mixture.
debsey wykes: I wonder! it’s taking an awfully long time gail.
cf: when is the dvd coming out?
debs: it might come out at some point in the future. we haven’t been able to get in touch with the person who made it [the dolly mixture documentary]. he’s in hollywood I guess.
cf: would you like to see it come out?
debs: in a way because it makes me squirm a bit and makes me laugh but it’s also quite an unusual record of something that was going on. when you see things that were filmed over 20 years, well, it’s over 25 years ago, it’s amazing to see yourself and what you looked like because you sort of think you look the same and you don’t and also just the surroundings — what the other people looked like and all the cars! the clothes and the gig places and who was around, that’s sort of fascinating. there weren’t that many female bands.
cf: were there any that you were aware of at the time?
debs: we were aware of the slits and the modettes and the raincoats and there were other names whose music we’d never heard. we used to play a lot with a band called the gymslips and they became really good friends of ours. they were a three-piece. we just sort of gigged a lot together. of course there were the go-gos, who were terribly successful as far as we could see.
cf: they were a teenybopper band. they were kind of like the spice girls in the u.s.
debs: you’re kidding!
cf: they had top 40 songs and they did come from that l.a. hipster scene but they were like a mainstream band.
debs: they seemed very hip when we first knew them.
cf: they were hipper than the spice girls.
debs: when they first played in london they were supporting madness for a tour…
cf: what about the bangles? were they on your radar?
debs: not until we finished playing really.
cf: they were really good in their early days.
debs: they were brilliant. I remember hearing “going down to liverpool” on john peel’s show in ’85 or ’86, and I thought it was gorgeous. we had stopped playing by then, as dolly mixture, but there was more to come!
cf: what about the marine girls?
debs: a little bit. they got a lot more press coverage than us. I liked the marine girls, I thought they were really good. of course there was bananarama, but they were a different thing. more like a girl band now.

cf: you formed the dolly mixture when you were teenagers…
debs: yeah, we were at school.
cf: in the old photos you look like you were about 12.
debs: what happened was hester and I had a pretend band. this was before punk. we just play acted it at home and wrote fake newspaper articles and things. and just made up hilarious lyrics and stuff. at school suddenly everybody was forming bands. we were at a sixth form college. everybody was doing it. this girl we knew said “oh I’m singing at the school concert,” and we said “you lucky thing, you’re in a band?” and she said “yeah yeah yeah, you should come along, you can do backing vocals.” so we did backing vocals and it was so appalling that we split up immediately afterwards. and we said, let’s form our own band and we’ll play instruments. so we got rachel in, she was from the road that I lived in, and luckily she had a brother who was in cambridge’s big punk band the users, and they had equipment around their house. so we just went round and played on the equipment at her house and formed. and then somebody said “play at my party” and we said “yeah!” two months after we formed we had a set, and we could barely play but we did it. when we started, everyone loved it — they were just so impressed! probably just so surprised. it was hilarious.
cf: the word ‘indie’ hadn’t been invented yet in those days but that’s kind of what you guys were. what indie is now.
debs: we were sort of what it turned into.
cf: bob said he went to see you and that you guys were having so much fun onstage and just laughing a lot.
debs: we did laugh a lot onstage.
cf: other bands didn’t really do that. other girls in bands were trying to be really cool or something.
debs: yeah.
cf: what were your fans like?
debs: a real collection of…
cf: all boys?
debs: they weren’t all boys. there were so many different types. mods and punks and just people in sort of straight trousers and winkle pickers, all sorts of people.
cf: rock critics?
debs: a few…
cf: john peel?
debs: he didn’t come and see us but we played where he was djing so he saw us there. we did a road show with him and he was djing. and bless him he gave us half his money from the night and gently advised us to do fewer cover versions and more of our own stuff, cause we were doing half and half a set at the time. he was so wonderful and so brilliant. we were totally shy of him cause he just seemed so important to everyone’s existence. and then we were invited to do another one of his nights and then we did the session and then we never heard from him again. we did one in norwich and one in northampton somewhere.
cf: were you excitable fangirls about other groups?
debs: at the time we started, we’d been to gigs. we liked x-ray spex and the damned and blondie. blondie were a huge influence on us. when we listened to the first blondie tracks it was as if our band almost materialized. there were always certain songs that made you think, our band really exists. we could have a really good band. we were absolutely mad about the undertones for about three albums. we were obsessed and we supported them. we were keen on the jam too. I think we wanted to be the undertones. we were always listening and we were always being given stuff actually. the minute we started a band and did a gig, people would come up and say “i’ve got this record, maybe you’d like it?” and just give it to us. and say maybe you should listen to such-and-such. it was amazing what it generated with people around us. we were introduced to motown and velvet underground and all sorts of things. it was brilliant. punk was sort of happening alongside.
cf: were your parents worried about you going to gigs?
debs: oh yeah, terribly.
cf: did you go out on the road when you were teenagers?
debs: we did when we were 19 or so. we didn’t tour until a couple of years in, when we had left school and everything. it was when we sort of moved up to london. that’s when they started to get a bit worried! they always thought we were going to take drugs all the time.
cf: so what was the dolly mixture’s flat like?
debs: it was our manager’s flat and it was absolutely dire. he lived in these flats on charing cross road, they’ve been knocked down now, which overlooked soho market and chinatown. there were about two flats left that were occupied because they were gearing up to knock them down and he had one of them and it was basically two rooms and a toilet. there were junkies on the roof and on the stairs, it was a complete shock for us from our comfortable homes and our cats and our pianos.

(photo by gail o)
cf: there’s a thing called the rock & roll camp for girls. have you heard of it?
debs: wow, no.
cf: they’re starting one over here. in portland, oregon, they had one for 8 to 18 year old girls. they get there, they form bands and at the end of a week they have a gig.
debs: that’s crazy. it seems so normal — parents encourage it now. when we did it, it was a bit… not disgusting but there was still an edge of disapproval.
cf: you guys look so young and wholesome and innocent in those old photos, especially the other two, not that you don’t! it’s hard to imagine you in this punk scene where everyone was spitting…
debs: we were always in dirty places and we were always sort of grubby ourselves. we’d stayed in this dirty flat and we’d go home filthy. but we never got that enticed by…
cf: …debauchery?
debs: not really. we didn’t really have that much opportunity I suppose. but you see everyone we knew took drugs. it was all around us. but we hardly even drank. and it wasn’t even a conscious decision. I think we were very tunnel-visioned in a way, and a bit self-obsessed. we wanted to have a nice time but not realizing that some people had a nice time by getting completely out of it. I mean, obviously we probably tried the odd thing but it wasn’t what we were there for. we really were into our music, and also we just wanted to be loved.
cf: I wish I had known about bands like yours at the time. I didn’t really find out about any music like that until I went to college. I knew about blondie and patti smith.
debs: I used to love patti smith. it was before punk that I was really into patti smith. I used to listen to lots of heavy music as well — led zeppelin, black sabbath and deep purple and things. patti smith was slightly cooler.
cf: that was the funny thing about music at the time. you were only supposed to be into one or the other, you weren’t supposed to be into both. what’s wrong with liking everything that you like?
debs: it was definitely our sort of thing. it was always the song’s the thing. we didn’t care where it came from. we definitely started with the 60s thing and just got obsessed with anything that sounded like 60s music. it was all so undiscovered as well, there was so much to discover. which isn’t the same nowadays. then things were like gold dust — you hear something for the first time it was magical.
cf: nowadays it’s covers of things that we heard on the radio growing up.
debs: and everything’s an advert as well. paul’s and my favourite song — it was almost like ‘our song’— suddenly was in this advert. really disappointing! I didn’t think anybody had that.
cf: I guess it’s a real money-making temptation for a lot of bands.
debs: oh, I’d do it, especially now. I’ve never made any money out of music, apart from birdie, we got a bit of money from it records.
cf: growing up, was your family musical?
debs: my dad’s a musician. by night. he worked in an office in the daytime. he used to go and play music hall. he grew up playing classical piano. I used to play on my own when I was young, and then when I was 12 I started learning the piano. so they were really keen for me to do classical music. rachel’s parents were classical musicians — they were both violinists — so they were really quite surprised by their children who both went into bands. our ears were open.
cf: when did you decide, I want to write a song?
debs: when we started. once we had the band and we had to do something, we were so enthusiastic. it was accidental and then you start to get really serious about it. it’s funny, that transition from where you’re playing other people’s songs, which you love, and then your little stumbling efforts — two chords, three chords — and you’re really pleased you actually wrote a song. then you start to feel you’ve got a knack for it. then we became really, really serious about it.
cf: obviously you’ve been in a band [birdie] with your husband too, what was that like?
debs: kind of the same as not being in a band. we got together after we formed a band together. we’d already started writing things together.
cf: so you must have liked each other enough to form a band in the first place?
debs: oh yes. terribly keen. we’d spent a lot of time together on the road with saint etienne in the live band. we’d spent long hours together, we used to drink together and chat together. then saint etienne took a break, and we decided to form birdie. we had a few names before that. he used to come around and we’d play together and go to the pub. finally we decided to do a recording and jason [reynolds, summershine] put our first single out. I think it’s our best! that encouraged us. then we got signed on the promise that music would be good. so it records put out our first record.
cf: what about your own kids: are they musical at all?
debs: actually they are! sadie [nearly 10] won’t do any formal lessons but she loves picking out tunes. and I think donovan, who’s only just 2, is singing already.
cf: with a name like donovan…
debs: there’s some spirit in there!
cf: sadie will be ready for the girls rock! camp soon.
debs: she’d love it. she loves school of rock.
cf: the u.s. camps teach kids about body image and they learn self-defense as well.
debs: that’s quite good. it is really hard when you don’t have other people doing the same thing as you and people to identify with. I think it’s wonderful. it’s interesting to see what makes them different.
cf: what about rachel and hester? are you pals? do you see them?
debs: they both live in brighton. hester lives in brighton. I don’t see her. rachel I see every few months and we speak every now and then. she’s got a big family. she’s very busy in her village. I don’t know what she does all the time! I just know she’s very busy. she took her cello out again. she and her husband have been playing together a bit, in fields and at little festivals near brighton. we keep in touch and have a laugh about the old days.
cf: are you writing music these days?
debs: I try. I try. I don’t get much time. I’m quite exhausted really with the boy, family life in a cramped flat, it wears me out. I’ve got few little songs that I play on the guitar that are quite folky. three string songs they are, that I’d like to record one day because they’re different to what I’ve done before.
cf: how long have you been in saint etienne?
debs: I met them in 1992. in 1993, we did a duet, “who do you think you are?”, and I toured with them. it was great fun to do. I toured with them for a couple of years, and then it all stopped for years and years and years.
cf: and now you’re married into the same family.
debs: oh, I know I know. we all love each other so much.
cf: those crazy kelly brothers.
debs: it’s wonderful, it’s great. it’s a very close circle. they were going to do a greatest hits show at the palladium and they said “come and do ‘who do you think you are?’” and I said, “fantastic, I’d love to.” and they said, “would you like to do backing vocals for the rest of the set?” and it was great fun. and every time they’ve played since, I’ve been involved. I love it — it’s such fun.
cf: what’s it like going on tour with them? really sedate?
debs: no, it’s not sedate. especially the early gigs, that wasn’t sedate at all! we managed to stay up a lot. we did a lot of drinking. the best thing about it is that everyone is so hilarious. well, you know how funny they are.
cf: you and sarah both have two kids but you haven’t gained a pound. how do you do it?
debs: oh, I have!
cf: where?
debs: I can hide it under my cardigan and smock top. sarah actually is really skinny. after her kids, she’s just gotten skinny.
cf: have you ever had a day job?
debs: unfortunately, yeah. I’m not very well equipped at day jobs. the longest time I’ve ever worked at a day job was 10 months at a china and glass department in this big department store.
cf: sounds scary. did you knock things over?
debs: oh I did. so many near misses! I just looked at things and they fell down. I couldn’t bear it — I was so bored.
cf: so now the filmmaking supports you, is that it?
debs: something supports me, I certainly don’t know.
cf: is there a lot of unreleased dolly mixture stuff laying around?
debs: well, unfortunately, most of it’s been played on the internet. this really nice person in america took it off because we were thinking of re-releasing it ourselves. we said “keep the live gigs.” there are songs we did that I wish we had copies of, really peculiar things, more experimental things or stupid things. I’ve lost our first demo. none of us have it. I’ve lost rehearsal tapes. there’s loads I haven’t got.
cf: what about coming up roses?
debs: hmmm. the best thing about coming up roses was I met one of my best friends through that. that’s about it. we kept thinking we were going to be successful. we almost got signed to creation. we actually really weren’t that good. it was a bit of a mess. on the rebound from being in dolly mixture, a bit lost. I don’t like coming up roses.
cf: did you ever have to put up with hecklers?
debs: yes, we did, a lot, as dolly mixture.
cf: did you have comebacks ready for them?
debs: we never had any comebacks. we always did on the hoof and it was always either meaningless or luckily hit the spot. the one I remember hitting the spot most was when this boy was waving a condom at me and I was convinced he was saying “it’s too small! it’s too small!” or something — no, it was “it’s too big! it’s too big!” so I said, “oh, is it too big?” so everyone thought I was so brilliant saying is it too big. but in fact he’d given me the line already. the worst time was actually getting spat at.
cf: that is just so wrong.
debs: we did this tour supporting bad manners and they had a huge skinhead following who really hated us. we did over 20 dates on this tour and every night we got showered with spit. one night there was this foot-long thing hanging from the end of my bass for the entire gig, which we just found hilarious by then. they were so horrible, really nasty. we were just really determined to get to the end of the set. you don’t like us but we’re here! my parents came to see us in leicester and they just watched us get spattered. not pleasant. we supported the damned once as well and we got spat at as well but that was a sort of habit because it was a damned gig. that’s what we do.
cf: did you meet some appalling music biz people in those days?
debs: we met loads of appalling people! just about everybody who was in a record company at that point was vile. they were so big-headed!
cf: you say that as though things have changed…
debs: well, I don’t know. I imagine that people are more imaginative now. but there still must be some assholes. the guys were totally out of touch but they sort of assumed that they were in touch. they knew everything and they were sure that girls can’t play. almost everyone who ever wanted to sign us said, “we’ll sign you but you’ve got to have people playing on your record.” we were so angry about that. there were loads of bands who probably couldn’t play much better than us but because they weren’t female it was different. they just couldn’t sort of work out what we were. I suppose we couldn’t really work out what we were either. it was just weird.
cf: you were postpunk.
debs: we were postpunk but we didn’t sound postpunk. to me postpunk was something that certainly didn’t sound like us.
cf: another meaningless genre name, but I love that the term still exists.
debs: I remember reading one of those music magazines that did a whole issue about postpunk and apparently there was this whole ethic about it and they were doing some serious experimenting with sound. I couldn’t bear it!
cf: they couldn’t think of what to call music then.
debs: it’s like “punk” and “new wave.”
cf: who were you swooning over in those days?
debs: well, eventually one of the undertones. we swooned over the captain a bit, captain sensible. we were all a bit taken with him. he was wonderful. so interesting and funny. people like that really.
cf: what about now?
debs: there’s no one I swoon over now! the only band I’ve seen recently are the magic numbers, I love them. I don’t swoon over them, but I do like their music. the first time I saw them I was pregnant with my last child, and I was trembling with tears the whole time. I was blown over. they were doing things that I love, like playing the glockenspiel and singing girl-group harmonies, lovely pauses in the songs, and they just take their time. I love harmonies. that’s what I want to do, I just want to sing harmonies with people.
cf: are you being deprived of that?
debs: totally!
cf: is it because your filmmaker husband doesn’t have time for that?
debs: it’s because he’s never home! and because saint etienne don’t do enough. yeah. they’re not busy in a live sense at all. I have no time.
cf: what have you been listening to?
debs: northern soul. I keep harking back to old-school house music. I hear little bits on adverts and I want to have the record, the “I can’t wait for the weekend” sort of thing. some folk compilations that bob made for us that are absolutely magical. I don’t get much chance to hear music. I’m even going back into my past now. I’m addicted to christmas carols. [we go on and on about the ultra-fab phil spector christmas album] sometimes when you don’t get the chance to listen to music that much, especially your favorite songs, you realize how powerful they are. one song that always gets me is “lay lady lay” — every time I hear it I just collapse. I love hearing choral things this time of year.
cf: bob said you guys used to apologise between every song.
debs: we did do a lot of apologizing actually.
cf: thanks debs.
• listen to and learn about the dolly mixture here and here
• it’s easy to find footage of the dolly mixture’s “been teen”, a video for birdie’s “folk singer” and saint etienne performing “who do you think you are?” on youtube.com

it’s a dump.

dump is a lazy band from brooklyn. they never do enough music for the kids. they go on the road with some other band, which is really annoying! get to work, dump. for chrissakes, we need a new dump box set. we tracked down the dump guy for an exclusive interview.

cf: where is my new dump album?
dump: it’s not done yet.
cf: what has dump been watching on tv? now that dump is a tv star who has starred on the gilmore girls and the simpsons, what other shows does he want to be on?
dump: I’ve been watching heroes, the wire, lucky louie, pitagora suichi and talk sex with sue johanson. I wouldn’t mind being in the audience of a judge judy.
cf: what is dump eating on the road with his other band?
dump: I’ve been eating cuban food in miami, somewhere near the corner of stab whitey and kill whitey. bbq from dreamland (the tuscaloosa branch, but delivered to us in birmingham) was stout and soulful. I couldn’t find anything to eat in orlando so instead I bought records (eddie bo, skull snaps, chubb rock, beach boys “breakway” 45, released the day I was born!). fried chicken in tallahassee. very good cheeseburger at pete’s in knoxville. jonathan marx brought me cookies from nashville’s best bakery, becker’s.
cf: what does dump download, listen to, watch, whatever, on the innernet?
dump: recipes, sports scores, directions, occasionally music, “can’t stop the bleeding,” hardcore pornography, flipper videos on youtube, and streaming wfmu.
cf: where is my dump box set? badges? promotional vinyl carrying case?
dump: I don’t know where your dump box set is. same goes for the badges. I don’t even know how to address the matter of the promotional vinyl carrying case. those would all be pretty cool, because the first two things could fit inside the third thing, and you could carry them all around like that, and then it’d be really easy to know exactly where they all were. but I haven’t made any of those things yet.
cf: why is dump ignoring the fans? when will he deliver the goods?
dump: I’m not ignoring dump fans, quite the contrary. I finally started a dump myspace spage, where I am conversing freely, practically like a normal person. I’m posting new, unreleased and hard-to-find songs there from time to time, as well as original artwork.
cf: normal, hmm? ha ha, keep trying.

dump is on myspace apparently, but we would prefer a new vinyl product

pipas are people.

just like dead can dance, pipas have become one of those bands that reside in various locales, currently lupe is in london and mark’s in brooklyn. we caught up with the big-haired chanteuse/songcrafter/multi-tasker lupe nunez-fernandez and she was kind enough to answer our mini-interview questions. she says that they plan to record a new album in march, “might play some shows after that,” have cds for sale and t-shirts (the sorry tour design) and maybe a bag or two via pipasforthepeople.com…..

what is the weirdest thing someone has said about your new album sorry love?
that it’s too long. no just kidding, I think I dreamt that. the weirdest thing anyone’s said is that they thought we’d broken up! you go quiet for a while… no people, we’re here to stay, at least for a while.
what do the pipas fans look like?
many different ways. too tall too short too skinny and too fat all rolled into one, and let me tell you, they always look damn good. they always look like they’re high on caffeine. generally they look happy. they usually go for the natural cruelty free look. big hair and glasses. you dig what I’m saying? can’t complain.
we hear that mark powell is the pipas fashion stylist. what does he tell you to wear?
he tells me all sorts of stuff but it’s pearls before swine, I never listen. I used to try to cleverly mis-match t-shirt slogans, like he’d wear his ‘I’m an army wife’ shirt and I’d obviously reach for my ‘sweet burger’ number (my other band. I mean my other-other-other band gail!). in general the plaid button down look never fails. I won’t include my mariachi shirt in that category, that’s not such a popular number in our dressing room. I wanna dress like pidg [mark’s nickname] and one day I will.
where have you received the best vegan food and or hospitality on tour?
well many places! our recent show in leipzig was unexpectedly preceded by our friend’s delicious vegetable gratin — so decadent, total stick to the ribs sort of half, double, and quadruple soy cream involved. we were practically licking the dishes. everyone treats us too nicely. germany in general fantastic for vegans — it’s the land that produced among other things green peppercorn streich, now a staple in our tour bag. if you’ve never had this… gothenburg was extraordinary this past time, we stayed with our heroic friend who is a vegan chef in his free hours… so it was a long and delicious 4 course meal, including the biggest artichokes we’ve ever seen and homemade swedish waffles with lots of sauces. genoa for the farinata (deliciously unctuous savory chickpea crepe bought at a bakery at 3 in the morning). finland, finland, what did we eat in finland? great coffee across the street from kiasma in helsinki. barcelona for annika’s gorgeous toy kitchen stocked with all kinds of friendly delights. madrid for, um, churros. utrera outside seville gave us ajoblanco, that vinegary white garlic soup otherwise known as the nectar of life. athens was good to us — good beans eating in, good beans eating out, and ecstatically good olives all around. if we look back over the last few years, it would be hard to overlook australia and california as wholes — best tofu scrambles, flat whites, homemade baked beans, waffles, etc etc. in new york I find there is too much fake meat, too much tofu, too much salt. not complaining! but things don’t have to be the same always. we also enjoyed the humble diet-like vegetables in tomato sauce and garlic rye croutons in estonia. as long as there’s something to put in our stomach — preferably involving bread, olive oil and coffee — we ok.
for more details on the dyn-o-mite duo, head to pipas blog and pipas site

photograph: gail o’hara