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