There are not enough words to describe how glad we feel to host an interview with the legendary singer, songwriter & author Kristin Hersh, who answered our questions about her latest work, her future plans and more. She has been an active musician since 1981 as a co-founder of the indie rock & (early) alternative band Throwing Muses. Also, she has been fronting 50FOOTWAVE since 2003. As a solo artist, she has released ten albums since 1994. The latest double album ‘Wyatt At The Coyote Palace’ which is a very interesting project as it combines music with literature in one package. On April 7, Kristin’s album gets a new release date – this time for a double gatefold vinyl release via Athens-based Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records (HHBTM).
Between your two bands – Throwing Muses, which you ‘ve never really given up and 50 Foot Wave – plus a solo career, what made you decide to release another solo album instead of pursuing one with your bands?
I let my guitars make that call. A flawed system, probably. Throwing Muses songs are written on my Tele or my Strat, 50 Foot Wave songs on my SG’s or Les Paul and solo songs on my Collings or X-tones. This material is also so dense that no other musicians would have had the patience for it!
Can you share some words about your current record/book deal with Omnibus Press? How did ‘Wyatt At The Coyote Palace’ end up being released with them? Was it because of the format of this release as a combined CD and book? What happened to Throwing Records?
I was actually shocked that they were so open to this package. A double record is its own a headache…add a book and it just gets weird. But it does open doors. I can do literary as well as musical events, sell books in record stores, play in bookstores. Mixing media is like playing in 3D.
Can you tell us about your format for a CD/Book of stories, essays and not only lyrics. Ηow did the idea all come about and how was it created?
CD’s are boring and books are sneaky. So I sneak CD’S into books. If you tell a story next to a song without trying to explain the song, it helps bring the listener into the atmosphere of a piece, not unlike the field recordings I use to amplify the room mic on this record. Like opening the door and saying, “THIS is where we are!”
The lyrics are autobiographical or stories you want to narrate with words and music. Could you share some words with us about ‘Bubble Net’ and the repeated phrase “There is no tomorrow“?
All the stories are true on this record, but sometimes it’s hard to find other words for them. In this case, my life froze in a moment and didn’t seem to take a step forward through time the way lives are supposed to. If there’s no tomorrow, maybe it’s because all lives happen “today.”
Why did you decide on a double album? Was it because there were too many unreleased songs stuffed in your drawers?
I wrote songs continuously, without stopping, for a long, long time. I recorded 45 songs for the Muses record a few years ago and there were 45 more written for this one. I only recorded about 30, though. It gets expensive!
What about your guitar composition – do you still find inspiration in being punk and alternative? You have folk elements, but you do not let it emerge so much, which is very common for musicians of your generation, i.e. to release something like a folk solo album once in a while.
I tried to make this an acoustic record but the songs wouldn’t have it. They wanted dynamics, noise, drums. Or maybe that was me. I loved being in the studio for ‘Wyatt…’ and I was living in a farmhouse right up the road where the only things to do were bake pies and make this record. And I don’t really like pie.
How do you feel about the recent election result in the USA? Would you like to share your thoughts on this with us?
Anyone who has lived through real trauma tends to keep more trauma in perspective. Listening to people who’ve lived through real fear and frustration may help us keep our heads above water in the short term.
As we all know you’re also an author and you’ve published two memoirs and a children’s book with lullabies. Your last book was published in 2015. Are there any new writing drafts in progress?
There is a lyric book on its way, and a novel and I’ve written some of the scripts for the ‘‘Rat Girl’’ series.
Do you have any plans to schedule a live tour in Europe?
I have a few legs left on this tour: Europe, Australia and Asia. Then back to the U.K. and the U.S. Tours don’t actually ever stop they just go to other places. Home is where the stuff is.
Photo credits: Peter Mellekas (1st one), Billy O’Connell (2nd one)