cbinterview2012

KATHLEEN HANNA: Yeah definitely! I was with Tobi [Vail] and Kathi [Wilcox] from Bikini Kill too. We really bonded on the fact that we had just experienced such an amazing, life-changing thing. That show! Kat Bjellend played guitar better than Greg Sage from The Wipers! She was wearing a tiny dress with a huge bow in her hair and she looked so beautiful and so fucked up; she was doing the craziest shit with her voice. Lori Barbero hit the drums harder than anyone I had ever seen and Michelle Leon was just sexy as hell and could totally play the bass. I was like, wow! You really can have it all! You can make this amazing music which was about how beautiful anger can be to me. I’d never heard anything like it and haven’t heard anything since like it. It was just at somebody’s house in the middle of the woods.

Afterwards we went outside and there was this bonfire. I didn’t really know Tobi and Kathi very well but somehow we ended up standing together because everyone else at that show was talking about how much they hated it and how bad the band was. They were like, “They’re too pretty”. That was the big thing: they’re too pretty to be in a band. I didn’t even get it. They were totally stunning women but that wasn’t the main thing to us, it was definitely the music. It was also the fact that they were women and they looked how they wanted to look, they didn’t have to hide the fact that they were women to play this totally intense music; the combination of the femininity with the strength in the music in saying that femininity and strength weren’t the opposite of each other. It was really an intense experience. Me, Tobi and Kathi were like, that is the best thing we’ve ever seen! Everyone else thought it was the worst so it kind of became clear that we were going to be in a band together. No one else probably wanted to be in a band with us.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh my home! [laughs]. I kind of describe it as it’s like ‘The Little Match Girl’, that fairy tale but, it’s like if she had some money [laughs]. If she married someone rich this is what her house would look like. I like bright colours. I like to be comfortable. I think my house is cosy and comfy. We always have people staying with us and lots of life and energy in our house. My whole design thing was making it a place where people feel comfortable. I’m so corny it really is unbelievable! [laughs]. You get this way when you get older. I still have like seven years on you so you just wait! You’ll start talking about your soul and love …

INTERVIEWER: Ha! It’s funny that you mention that because I already do, I’m all about that kind of stuff. I have a project on punk and spirituality.

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh how interesting! Are people willing to share that information? That just seems so … I won’t talk about sex because … like I can say someone is cute or a guitar riff is sexy but I don’t talk to people about sex. It’s just very personal. There’s certain things to me that are very personal. Spirituality seems like one of those things. I can’t believe or imagine … what are people saying?

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: In every way imaginable! I really can’t say enough about the guy. I think he is … [pauses] have you ever seen that movie Evita with Madonna in it?

INTERVIEWER: I actually haven’t.

KATHLEEN HANNA: There’s this scene in Evita and she is dying, it’s super sad. Her husband is standing over her (she’s playing Eva Peron) and she sings this really beautiful song. The lyrics are like: you must love me. She just figured it out as she was dying. She never really felt loved. It was on her deathbed that she was like [sings] you must love me.

I guess I just feel that I’m really lucky that through him [Adam] I have realised how much love I have in my life. Not just him but he has helped me see how much my friends care for me, I mean I already know how much I adore and totally love my friends but, I always kind of saw myself in the kind of ‘dad role’ taking care of people; giving up stuff I wanted to do to make other people happy. I think a lot of women get trapped in that role. People sometimes see it as the ‘mom role’ but I always see it as the dad role: the provider, the protector. I really saw through him how to ask for help and get it. Just realising that I don’t want to be on my deathbed saying, oh my god you loved me. I want to experience that every single day. I learned how to let that into my life.

How are you making me open up so much? This is crazy! You’re a really good interviewer [laughs]. It’s really bad because I never tell people corny shit like this. I’m going to be really embarrassed tomorrow [laughs].

INTERVIEWER: Truthfully, I just think it’s because I really, really care about the people that I interview. I love hearing people’s stories, I love sharing that with others and I hope when someone reads the work they will be inspired to do rad, positive things in their own life. That’s pretty much the main reason I do it. I’m not getting paid for this.

KATHLEEN HANNA: Labour of love!

INTERVIEWER: This is my gift.

KATHLEEN HANNA: Well you’re really good at it because I usually just tell people, the album has this many songs and this is when it’s coming out.

INTERVIEWER: I believe that people are fascinating regardless of their latest record or tour.

KATHLEEN HANNA: It’s just nice to be able to have a conversation and be totally honest. I don’t want to be guarded anymore. I don’t want to say the thing I’m supposed to say to sell the five records I’m going to sell [laughs]. Who cares at this point! Hopefully when people read interviews with people that are supposedly ‘big deals’ because they get on stage, they realise, oh I’m totally like this person, I could do that too if I felt like it.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA:  You know I haven’t seen much more of it than you’ve seen. I saw the same thing that they used on Kickstarter pretty much. The thing that I was most shocked about was what Kathi from Bikini Kill (and now The Julie Ruin band) said, this really sweet thing: she’s a perfect front person. I never knew she thought that. That’s not the kind of thing you say to somebody’s face. The whole way she said it was just so nonchalant. I was like, wow! That is really sweet. I don’t think of myself as the prefect front person. She just said it like, oh yeah it’s totally obvious and who wouldn’t want to be in a band with her. I was like, whoa! That was probably the most shocking thing to me.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

Neal Medlyn’s Wicked Clown Love: link

KATHLEEN HANNA: Yes! I worked on a piece about the Juggalos [laughs]. It’s really interesting because ICP [Insane Clown Posse] which is the really big band that the Juggalos have formed around, I think they’ve only played in New York once or twice, in the Midwest they’re absolutely, horrendously huge. I think a lot of what Neal’s show was about was class. Also, geographical location and how snobby New York can be and how snobby the New York art scene can be [laughs]. There’s so many great things about the New York art scene but it was a really gutsy move on his part to be like, I’m making art about this total phenomenon that means a lot to certain people. Neal also comes from a small town and didn’t have a lot of money growing up; he related to the Juggalos and wanted to explore the masculinity within their culture. It was really, really strange watching very sophisticated New York audiences react to this phenomenon they didn’t know very much about and to point out this huge phenomenon that a lot of people don’t even know exists. It actually made me think a lot about Riot Grrrl. About how to me and my friends it was such a big deal but if you ask nine out of 10 people, they have no idea of what it is or what it was — it’s been such a huge part of my life.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

youtube

THE JULIE RUIN feat. KATHLEEN HANNA
"Cookie Road"

KNITTING FACTORY, NYC
December 11, 2010

KATHLEEN HANNA: I think when I went to college. I was away from my parents and away from some negative influences in my life. I was able to start making stuff. I was excited about it and I kind of couldn’t stop. It was almost as if I felt like I had been dead. I started college when I was 17. It really felt like I had been walking through my life numb up until I left for college. It was like I woke up. I was like, oh shit! I wasted 17 years of my life, I need to make up for that lost time. I just started making everything I could. Some of it was really terrible … really terrible! [laughs]

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Yeah and it lasts! How crazy! It’s really amazing when you realise, wow! This just keeps getting better. I keep waiting for it to suck [laughs]. There’s been bad times for sure but you just think, when is this going to start sucking? and it hasn’t happened.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh wow! Well, I’m obsessed with watching downtown performance artists such as Neal Medlyn and Erin Markey who is just a fucking genius! Cole Escola. I just really like seeing performance art in New York and just all of the great things that are going on here. That’s what I’m obsessed with more than going to shows. Shows for me became work because I toured so much that walking into a club became this experience of … I’ve always had horrible stage fright, every show I have ever played I’ve had horrible, horrible stage fright!

I think it adds to the tension of the performance. So when I walk into a club … unless it’s to see a band like Comet Gain which is one of my favourite bands and whenever they come to New York and I see them I just feel so super happy. I went to Diamond Rings’ show and I really love that guy, he has such a beautiful voice and beautiful presence. I still do like going to music shows but I much prefer to go see performance art.

I’m also obsessed with the 10 minutes I spend talking to my husband before I fall asleep. We have a thing that we talk for 10 minutes before we go to sleep [laughs]. We see each other all through the day and we talk all through the day too but it’s just like a special “what happened today?” conversation. I’m super into my husband! I love being around him.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

The Punk Singer: link

KATHLEEN HANNA: That’s a good question. I mean I want to lie really bad right now [laughs]. I want to say that I never think about things like that and that I always live in the present but, I just donated all of my archival stuff to the Riot Grrrl collection at NYU so I would be a complete liar if I said, no I didn’t want to leave my mark. For me, the kind of mark that I want to leave, I really desperately want to be a part of the feminist continuum. I really want to make sure that what my peers have done and will continue to do doesn’t get erased. It took me a long time, in the pre-internet world of the 80s, to find out about feminism and to find out about feminist art. It was a difficult process and something that I did on my own. More than making my mark I want to make sure that I leave something behind that is a part of feminist history, for better or for worse, that people can build on. That part is really, really important to me.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Wow! I mean it’s a whole different world now. We have American Idol and that new ‘the whole package’ idea where it’s like you have to be a model first and a singer second. I think there’s a whole other way to keep women from playing music, it’s to say that you have to look a certain way. The thing is there is always some kind of thing!

Getting back to the Babes In Toyland show, people were saying that they are “too pretty” and if Kat was someone that people considered by traditional standards to be unattractive people would have been saying they’re “too ugly”. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re not a straight white male you’re going to get more harshly criticised than other people so you might as well just do whatever the fuck you want. It really is true that they are always going to find fault but yes, it is totally depressing. It’s depressing to be an older lady, who is doing music and is feeling like, is anybody going to want to listen to my music because I’m not a model that has a contract with an agency, who also happens to make music.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: I used to do dance class when I was a really little kid, when I was about five or six. They had specially made singles for our dance class [laughs]. I remember getting them and playing them. I remember being really into Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family, which was kind of like our teen sensation, kind of like our Justin Bieber of the 70s. Probably my biggest record was Carole King’s Tapestry that my mom had that I just listened to over and over and over again and the soundtrack from Chorus Line [laughs]. I loved music when I was little, I just never really had very much of it. I had the 7 inch of ‘Dancing Machine’ by The Jackson 5. Probably one of my biggest musical moments was listening to that song over and over again and making up dances to it in the basement.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh my god Sara is such a good guitar player! I love rockabilly guitar and I love surf guitar, love it! She does too. She’s somebody that is very technically good and a total distortion pedal and amp nerd, I say that with total admiration and respect. She knows when not to play and when to play. Do you know what I mean?

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Well I hope there is. There is this one sing called, ‘Oh Come On’. I was really thinking about Lydia Lunch when we started writing. We wrote a song that was like if Lydia Lunch was singing a Stooges song. I was really proud of it and loved the practice tape of it. It just sounded like the way she clips stuff at the end of phrases and yet sounds like she’s doing this total wild abandonment. It just sounds out of control. That’s actually the last song that I need to record. I recorded it once but it just doesn’t have that same feel as in practice. I’m working on it. I’m hoping that it comes out with a little bit of a homage to her because I’m a big fan. I don’t want to copy what she does. There’s a lot of references of other singers on the record. I love that.

INTERVIEWER: What other singers?

KATHLEEN HANNA: Lesley Gore. A lot of 60s girl group stuff. There’s a little bit of Bikini Kill-era Kathleen coming through which was completely unexpected. I’m referencing myself when I was younger which is probably the most narcissistic, creepy thing I could do [laughs]. We were playing a song for somebody and they were shocked because they thought that the way that I was talking about it was like, oh you know, I’m really exploring my soft side [laughs]. They heard it and they said, “It sounded like you’ve always sounded — loud, pissed off and projecting”. I thought, oh well, I guess I always just go to that sweet spot. There’s definitely some anger on the record.

It’s funny that it’s taken us so long to finish it. We’re just working at our own pace so it stays fun and doesn’t become a 9 to 5 job. I’ve been in bands that have been like 9 to 5 jobs and they always become a drag and end. I just don’t want to be in that kind of band anymore. A lot of the things that I was angry about that I was singing about at the beginning of writing the record, I’m not angry about anymore. I wrote the songs and have been singing them and as corny as it sounds, I kind of worked it out through the songs.

INTERVIEWER: That’s awesome! That’s one of the greatest things about music I think.

KATHLEEN HANNA: Yeah! I’d heard of it happening [laughs]. It actually does happen in real life! I’ve had to experience a lot of times where I’ve written songs that I don’t really understand why I was writing it but then five years later it became completely clear why I was writing it.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: It’s different. Right now I’m at the end of finishing our [The Julie Ruin] album and I can’t watch singing on TV, I’m having a weird relationship with it, it feels like work right now. I’m stressed out because I have a little bit of a sore throat and I’m like, am I going to be able to get these songs done? Will they sound how I want them to sound? In general, I find singing just lets me explore different parts of myself. I know that sounds so fucking corny. When I’ve been singing lately, up in my home studio, I might have a rough idea of what the song is about or rough lyrics but a lot of the time just weird stuff comes out and I don’t know what’s going to happen. To me letting something happen and to not control it is a real new experience [laughs]. For me that’s what singing is about — letting go and not trying to control an experience. Then there is the technical side of going back in and getting what I want out of it.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: I totally have to work at my lyrics. The way that I usually work is that I have some kind of music going on like a loop I’ve made or something that the band plays and I just start singing what feels natural to me or I try a more formal idea that I’ve always wanted to try. Sometimes the lyrics just start coming. A lot of times though, I sing nonsense for a long time. There was a song in Bikini Kill called ‘Demirep’ and we used to play that song live all of the time and I never knew the lyrics, I made them up every night. I would sing nonsense or whatever I was thinking. The day before we recorded it and we were in England, I had to go to a coffee shop and be like, these are the final lyrics. I had taped it on a cassette of me singing it and I just listened to what the words sounded like [laughs] and wrote them down and they became the lyrics. I’ve been working that way ever since. Sometimes I’ll craft it more into the thing that I think it’s about. When I started I’d write the lyrics first and now I do it totally the opposite.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh I didn’t know about that. Oh that is so scary! I’m not going to look at that but … you’re obviously going to tell me [laughs].

INTERVIEWER: Some of the ideas people had about the meaning of the song were: it’s your alter egos battling; it’s a song about two people looking at the same thing differently; it’s a response to the ‘Kill Rock Stars’ song Nofx wrote…

KATHLEEN HANNA: Oh, I have definitely never written anything in relation to that band [laughs]. The people that said it was about two sides of myself were in a way totally right, a lot of it is about battling addiction. You can make a choice whether to be in “the dark bar getting wasted” or to be “enjoying the moon in Texas at night” you can make that choice. It’s a lot harder if you have addiction in your life. At the same time it was directed towards the part of myself that can be a real addict. It was also directed at the fact that I was living in Olympia at the time and there was a lot of heroin and people were dying. I was really frustrated with it. I really wanted to be the one to help people; I really wanted to be somebody that helped people get rehab. In that song I am angry, I was a little bit fucking sick of it. I was singing like, look at me! I’m having this great fucking life because I’m not doing heroin and look at you, you’re stuck in this bummer situation because you’re getting wasted all of the time and you’re ruining your life and all of your friends are watching you ruin your life. That’s what it is about to me but really it’s about what anyone thinks it’s about to them. I can’t even believe that anybody listened to that song.

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at CollapseBoard.com