chickfactor: how are things with helium?
mary: pretty good. we’re gonna have an ep coming out on matador and we’re doing a video for one of the new songs so I guess things are going pretty well.
cf: pretty fast.
mary: yeah, it has been fast.
cf: so tell us what is the deal.
mary: I grew up in d.c. and went to college in boston so I had played with christina, who is now in slant 6, when we were in high school. we were always looking for people to play with when we were 17 or 18…actually the first time we ever played together was when we were in 9th grade. we had this friend who was really into ska, we tried to start a ska band but it didn’t work out. then, a couple years later, we met again and tried to find different drummers. we found this girl who lived way out in the suburbs but that didn’t really work out. but anyway, she was in this band hazmat and I went to play with them once but it turned out that hazmat broke up and it turned into autoclave. and that was when I lived in boston. it happened during one christmas and then I’d go back whenever I was on vacation.
cf: and then you moved back to d.c.?
mary: I did move back there but it was after the band had already broken up.
cf: so what’s better: boston or d.c.?
mary: well, I like d.c. as a city a lot better. my heart’s there cause I grew up there. it’s just a really cool city. it’s really culturally diverse. but I don’t know, I’m probably going to be in boston for another couple of years.
cf: do you have a job there?
mary: right now I’m just temping. I’ve had jobs, but nothing for too long.
cf: what do you think of slant 6?
mary: I like them. I think they’re good.
cf: do you still keep in contact with christina?
mary: I haven’t talked to her in a while, no.
cf: how’d you hook up with brian [helium]?
mary: my plan was to move back to d.c. after I graduated, which I did. but four months before I graduated there was this band called cheap-o that my friend jason was in. jason ended up totally freaking out. he left the band and then brian and sean and I were together and we just started playing my songs.
cf: were you a dumptruck fan?
mary: mmmm. I never knew who dumptruck was. I just recently heard their stuff. I had never heard of them before.
cf: what’s your most embarrassing moment?
mary: I’ve had a lot of them. when we were recording…this doesn’t sound that bad to you, but it really embarrassed me…I did all of this, well, it didn’t turn out so loud on the final record. we always have that problem. I do all this little stuff like talking and scratchy guitar sounds and somehow they get lost. I did a lot of talking under the song called “TV,” and I couldn’t really hear what I was saying, I was just saying all this stuff over the music so it wasn’t very audible and then brian went back down to philadelphia to remix all the stuff. I wasn’t there. brian took just my voice out of it and recorded this whole track of me talking and saying really weird shit. and he played it in the car for me and I was really embarrassed because I was making all these noises.
cf: what kind of stuff were you saying?
mary: a lot of it was total nonsense. I don’t know if I can remember it. well, the lyrics were things like about being sleazy and cheap. “I wanna be your TV, I wanna be your movie, I wanna be your little floozy.” I sounded like I was on drugs. and was a total freak. I sounded like I was out of my mind insane, a sex-crazed weirdo.
cf: it’s not like they played it publicly though.
mary: no, but they have this way of making me feel like I’m crazy. I come up with most of the musical ideas–and they think I’m weird. they don’t usually come up with ideas, so they can only give opinions about what I do.
cf: so what about this rumored solo album?
mary: I don’t know. what the hell is that? where did you hear that?
cf: it was written on a 7″ insert.
mary: it’s my friend george. he’s starting this label and they asked me to do that and I said I wasn’t sure. but I guess they thought I said yes. but I really don’t think I’m going to do it. I haven’t though about it or recorded anything. I don’t know if I can.
cf: why did you guys choose to sign with matador?
mary: because it seemed like the coolest thing we were being offered. they’re really nice people and I think they’re really good about artistic freedom.
cf: is the EP a one-off?
mary: no, we’re doing three things for them.
cf: do you have any pop-star crushes?
mary: I had this huge crush on boy george when I was in 8th grade. it took me a couple years to get over it. he’s so awesome. I just think it’s so amazing that he got to be as popular as he did, as a drag queen. he never really said anything about it and nobody asked him.
cf: did you have a bunch of tiny pins with boy george and culture club on them?
mary: yeah, and I wore ribbons in my hair. and one of his little hats. yeah, I had a huge crush on him, although I don’t think I even knew what it was. I just thought he was so cool.
cf: what’s your favorite snack?
mary: see, right now I don’t have too much money, so my favorite snack is whatever I come across. like today I have $2 so I went to the store and bought a chicken pot pie. but I wouldn’t say that is my favorite.
cf: if money weren’t a problem?
mary: I’m so utilitarian about food I can’t think about what I really like.
cf: are you guys doing a tour?
mary: yeah, for a couple weeks in feb.
cf: do you have a rider?
mary: no, we haven’t gotten that far in planning yet.
cf: ever been arrested?
mary: nope. I got busted for swimming in someone’s pool once. I was 18. we used to go swimming in this private school’s pool in d.c. if the police see you it’s hard to get away. but I decided I would try and escape. under the fence. I ended up getting caught and they just lectured us. my neighbor just got arrested. she was my nice neighbor who always came and borrowed matches from me.
cf: do you ever read horoscopes?
mary: all the time. actually I had this really weird experience recently. my friend came over and she said she was going to get her palm read and I just went along with her and it was the weirdest thing. have you ever had your palm read?
mary: this woman just knew all this stuff which was totally true. she gave me some warnings. I’ve never been the kind of person who believed in that kind of knowledge. I guess because it’s not the kind of thing that’s valued in our culture. we value science more. I finally feel it’s valid.
cf: you have to be open to it.
mary: yeah, you have to be open, because it’s intuitive. like when I was in school I did a project on witches. it just opened my mind to that way of thinking. I just started to sense stupid things like when the phone was going to ring.
cf: what’s your favorite book?
mary: I’m really into mary daly. she’s this feminine philosopher who writes about stuff like patriarchy and the fall of patriarchy. she’s created her own world of myths and she’s escaped this world by doing that.
cf: do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
mary: I like fiction too. I like margaret atwood.
cf: thanks, mary! CF