Lydia Lunch Isn’t as intimidating as you think (unless you let her be)
Ever since Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and the restless No Wave movement, Lydia Lunch has aggressively made noise (or made aggression, noisily) her primary color palette in which to paint pictures of haunted, hunted souls, rabid sexuality, amber decay or something in-between the three, with provocative albums and new bands to represent such tones and changes.
Lunch’s newest ensemble – Brutal Measures, a live-in-the-studio duo with drummer/electronic manipulator Weasel Walter – is what Philadelphia audiences will see October 22 at PhilaMOCA when she graces this city with one of a fleeting few rare appearances. Then again, she was here last year producing the funhouse art-rock locals Pissed Jeans, so maybe this will become a habit.
The Key: You exiled yourself to Barcelona in 2005 to leave behind, what was then an incoming sense of fascism in this country? Why go to Spain – though I could guess – and why come back now, which is a move I just can’t fathom?
Lydia Lunch: It’s easy to see why I would have left under Bush Jr. stealing the second election to a country that was 30 years out of fascism…and why it’s urgent to be back now as America is under the outrageous domination of an authoritarian idiot.
TK: Do you feel as if age – your age – has given any way to nostalgia or warm feelings about your previous work or environment? You seem usually to be uninterested in reliving any of it, save for your work with Retrovirus?
LL: Time is one long second that goes on forever. I am not nostalgic about anything. I just keep plowing straight ahead.
TK: So many musical permutations since TJ&theJ: what is the most immediate thing that you need a bourgeoning musical project to be…THEN… what do you need for that same project to have so to grow and maintain your interest?
LL: The concept always comes first. Then I decide which collaborators best suit bringing the idea to fruition. Every project has a life of its own.
TK: How would you say that what you are doing with Mr. Walter satisfies those parameters? And why him, anyway?
LL: Weasel is one of the most creative musicians I have ever met. He works as hard if not harder than I do. He’s funny, smart and hot. He gets me and understands what I do better than I ever expect anyone to. He’s always looking for new forms of expression.
TK: Outside of, say, covering Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop,” is Brutal Measures all improvisational? Is your verse always free form? And what’s guiding you there and now as opposed to say what’s guided you or pushed your buttons any other time with any other band?
LL: We only covered Frankie once…That’s RETROVIRUS terrain. Weasel improvises, the text always changes. It’s more of a living creation than just a normal band covering songs. The performance and direction it takes is inspired by the mood of the specific night.
TK: Your history in Philly is pretty recent – the last Pissed Jeans album for the Allentown outfit: how and why did you come to work with them on Why Love Now at Spice House Sound studio? What specifically grabbed you about them? And what did you bring to the proceedings beyond sound choices?
LL: Pissed Jeans approached me. I like their lyrics, that they rock…are weird, fun, and irreverent. What I brought to them is what I bring to everyone I work with…encouragement, fun and a bit of raunch.
TK: Do you still think of Hillary Clinton as the ‘war whore’ as you’ve said in the past?
LL: She’s hideous, but so are 99% of all political puppets.
TK: What’s your poison – wine or whiskey?
LL: Poison…I view myself as the anti-christ…I turn wine into water.
TK: I’ve interviewed you on several outings and in person yet, and quite frankly, haven’t been or felt threatened or intimidated. Am I a glutton for punishment?
LL: I hope you are a glutton, but perhaps you’re just too smart to paint your fear onto my face, which so many lesser mortals have been prone to do. Just because I’m articulate and no bullshit doesn’t mean I’m going to chew your face off. Unless I’m extremely hungry. (laughs)
Brutal Measures performs at PhilaMOCA on Sunday, October 22nd; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.