A Piece Of Ground Where I Can Lay My Head: A Conversation With Kristin Hersh

rat girl

Oh, man, where to begin with this interview? Ever since I was a moody 14 year old, I’ve been in love with Throwing Muses, and all of its associated acts. So to sit down with lead Muse Kristin Hersh was and is a tremendous honor. Sure, I’ve communicated with her before—in the decade after Y2K, she’s helped break the walls between fan and artist, via her organization CASH Music, and her own subscription series—but I’ve never had the opportunity to sit down with her one on one. Until last month.

Hersh’s music resonated with me at a very young age, and still does to this day. It does so in part because of my recognizing of a kindred spirited-ness, an honesty and truth in performance that cannot be described or quantified, and, well, just plain ol’ autistic redneck weirdness. Unbeknownst at the time, I was a (supposedly) undiagnosed teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, a fact not learned about until recently, and one that I no longer am afraid to admit. I’ve written about it quietly elsewhere, and in the near future will continue to write about it not so quietly here and elsewhere. (Please visit Drunk In A Midnight Choir for me ruminating on one of the condition’s more interesting phenomenon, aural stimming.)

So…yeah. I sat down with Kristin Hersh. We had an awesome conversation. I’ll keep this short, ‘cuz you’ve got a lot of reading ahead of you. 

Thanks go out to Mike Turner at HHBTM Records, who set me up with this incredible opportunity. This week, they will be releasing the excellent, potent Bath White EP. Kristin’s newest record with her other power trio band 50FOOTWAVE.

Me: I forgot to hit the speakerphone button. (Laughs) It’s been one of those mornings.

Aw, same here!

It’s been one of those days.

It’s been one of those weeks!

It’s been one of those years!


It’s been one of those lifetimes!!

Now you’re talkin’! (Laughs) I know exactly how you feel. I had one of those lifetimes once a few years ago. I always seem to come out of it alive, so don’t fret too much about it. Ya just gotta soldier through it.

You’ve got quite a busy year ahead of you.

Indeed I do!  I’ve got the 50FOOTWAVE record that’s coming out in a red hot minute or so, and then I’m putting the finishing touches on my next solo album; it’s a double album, and with a book, so it’s a bit like Purgatory/Paradise in that regard. Here in a few days I fly off to Australia to do some of the last promotion on Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, which will be both fun and relieving, and then, when I get back from that, I’m going straight into the studio in LA to work on the next Throwing Muses record. Oh! And on top of all of that, I apparently have a five-book deal. Trouble is…I don’t have five books in me! (Laughs)  50FOOTWAVE is an ongoing concern. Perhaps it’s been too long between releases, and as I really don’t have anything planned for 2016, maybe i’ll do a new one! (Laughs)

So do you see 50FOOTWAVE as your fallback band, something to do when you’re tired of doing the Muses thing, which is ironic, because Bernie.

(Loud, hysterical laughter)  They are quite convenient, though! It made life a little bit easier when 50FOOTWAVE opened for Throwing Muses—get paid for two bands, only needing an extra ticket for the drummer, who can serve as our tech guy and merch guy while Muses plays, and vice versa.

What really blew me away with Bath White is how there’s a newfound sense of clarity to your work. I know there have been some tough things going on with you lately, It ties in with an interview I read with you last night about how in the last year or two you’ve started to approach yourself differently and can hear yourself onstage now with a new sense of awareness that you had never had before, thanks to you undergoing EMDR therapy.

I quit writing entirely after EMDR because one of my symptoms was that i would hear music, and with EMDR, if it’s successful, all of those negative things are gone. One of my symptoms was hearing music and that is where my songs came from, and when that symptom was cured, I didn’t have these songs any more. So my work, then, was to sit down and complete and finish and conjure up the spirit of the songs that I had put to tape or had written down before I began EMDR therapy. This really presented me with a completely different relationship with my music; furthermore, this backlog of songs and things—I could now see them in a completely different light. 

I had two years of silence-I just didn’t hear songs anymore. Then one day, while I was practicing, I knew how new songs went. They came back, but now it’s different. I didn’t have to “hear” them, these songs weren’t symptomatic of anything, they just are. You know, a song—or any artistic creation, really—is an expression of will, and as the songs started to come back, I realized that I’m still here. In fact, there’s more of me here now than there was before, because I’ve reunited both personalities—the Kristin that writes songs, and the Kristin who’s just everyday Kristin, mother and human being.

Do you feel less anxiety about your music and the music-making process now?

I’m new to it. You know, I’ve never known what my songs were about, unless I was performing them, and then I understood them, until I came off stage, when I went back to not knowing them. It feels like a weird form of amnesia after waking up from a coma. I knew all these personalities in my bones but I didn’t recognize them in my conscious life, so now I do. I’m being introduced to them again when I play them, and this time I’m understanding them more. Now that I’m doing book tours, where I talk and play my songs, means that the text informs the songs, the conversation that goes on between songs allows me to not only discuss what the song is about to an audience in ways I couldn’t do before, but it also helps to create a dialogue that helps me understand my own work. It’s a very, very interesting experience. It would seem strange, except that it’s really familiar.

Has it changed your opinion on some of your songs, or has it simply given you an opinion on your songs?

That’s a very good question! I think I always knew that they were what they were, but now I’m able to articulate a multidimensionality to them, whereas before, I’d simply have a bewildered confusion about them. In fact, I’d say there was some fear of them. Some of them I’d considered demons, creatures that would haunt me, and they were dark and scary little devils. I still feel that way about some of them. But this new multidimensionality I’ve developed, it encourages me to not be so scared of them, to give them a silver lining that they never had before. I swear, some of them, they have this glow around them and sweetness and a kindness that I never saw before. The people in my life, the stories, and the events that they cover, they’re dealt with in a touching manner that is often belied by the fact that I’m often yelling, even when it’s a gentle ballad. A yell, it’s an intensity, but then again, so is a whisper. I had to learn that—I didn’t know. I thought it was my soul puking, but what it was, it was a vivid orientation that’s often too intense for daily life, and done so through song. Yet that’s what music is—not just mine. 

It’s who you are, you can’t change who you are…until you can!

(Laughs) I suppose so, though for a few years I was tryin’ really hard! Then I found out what was actually wrong with me, which is a dissociative disorder. For decades, i’d been misdiagnosed as being bipolar, but I was never really comfortable with that summation. In fact, I never believed it, even though the professional people who know these things felt otherwise, so yet I couldn’t fully dismiss it, either. They’re in a position to know, right? But  deep down I never really thought I was bipolar simply because I was neither manic nor depressive. (Laughs) They’d always say, “Well, then, it’s just sort of a mixed state for you,” and then I’d say, “well, then, that’s not really bipolar, is it?” (Laughs heartily)  What was wrong really wasn’t what you would call a disorder, but it was a coping and surviving mechanism, but my problem now is that I lost that. And that can be scary.

I know exactly what you mean. My former therapist had brought up EMDR as a way of dealing with some of my issues dealing with some of my Spectrum issues. I read up on it, and it just seemed too radical for me, so I never went through with it, because I was…I was scared of it.

Be glad you didn’t. It’s very difficult—it kills people! People have heart attacks because of it, or they’ll kill themselves, becase your whole psychological system is geared towards keeping those traumatic events repressed, and to open up that vault and reliving them, it’s very dangerous. I don’t think we’re supposed to do that. Why would you want to relive the worst things that ever happened to?

To me, it wasn’t just that—it was that the promises that were being made were terrifying. The promises the guy was making me about the results, it just didn’t seem realistic. “You won’t be depressed anymore!” “You’ll be better able to cope!” and things of that nature. I likened it to having your soul-teeth pulled out, with no Novocaine.

Yes, absolutely! And yet, if you live on Novocaine, you’re going to experience tensions that are also problematic. There is definitely a trade-off, when you have a cleansing that removes all of your symptoms of your issues. I mean, if you lose your ability to cope, and you’re a sensitive person, you might not be around here for much longer.

Do you regret that decision?

Sometimes. I didn’t really know that was what I was doing. It surprised both me and my therapist. See, I was undergoing treatment for PTSD from when my oldest son was kidnapped by his father when he was three years old, and I had no idea that the therapy that cured the PTSD, the one that was going to help me get over that trauma, would have radically changed everything else about my coping mechanisms and my personality. Had I known, I definitely would not have signed up for that.

It reminds me of how there are artists who have mental health issues and who are afraid to get help, because they’re afraid that the cure will fundamentally change them to the point where they won’t be the creative mind they once were. They’re stuck with the conundrum of getting healed, yet possibly losing what makes you, you.

Oh yes, exactly. I totally understand that, because that’s what happened. I can still disappear when I want to, though. (Laughs) Happily I still have that ability. It mainly happens now when I am weak or tired or sad. If I feel compromised in any way while I’m playing live, I will definitely disappear, so that I feel safe and I can cope. I had a friend of mine who is a psychiatrist, she called me the other and apologized, saying that she was sorry that for watching me play live for twenty-five years, she had totally missed the classic symptoms of dissociative disorder, that I was switching into a different place, and not recognizing it. She’s like, “Oh, I just thought it was art.” I told her that it was weird because I would sink away, like in water, and I always felt cold—I’m a warm natured person by design—but the only time I would get cold was right before I went on stage. I would be shivering, shaking, just freezing, and then I would walk out on stage, and as soon as we played the first note, my eyes would glaze over, I couldn’t blink, I’d stare off into the distance, and then I could play. Then, afterwards, I would have no recollection about what happened, because the Kristin who was on stage wasn’t there offstage.  People would ask me something about what had taken place during the show, and I’d be like, “Uh, what?” I simply didn’t know. Thankfully my bandmates would step in and were very good at keeping me protected afterwards. Sometimes that can read wrong to people who don’t understand it, and they got that, and were very protective.

A couple of years ago, I accidentally discovered I had Aspergers Syndrome, in a truly happenstance manner. It explained a lot about me. This gets back to how I discovered you and how I wanted to thank you for your music and how wonderful it was that Throwing Muses scared the crap out of me when I was fourteen years old. (Kristin bursts into laughter). My sister, when she was in college, she had a friend from Boston, and one weekend, she brought her friend home for a visit—this friend had never been in the country before—and she had Throwing Muses on tape. When they left to go back to school, her friend accidentally left it here, and I picked it up and put it on…I was fourteen, and it freaked the fuck outta me…but I loved it!

(Impressed) Wow, oh my god, that’s so amazing! (Laughs)

What really got me was that there’s just a total primal scream going on there, and I really connected with it, and it really made an impression on me.

This is sooooo cool to hear! I mean, I wasn’t lying when we recorded that, yet I have had a hard time connecting with that record. I listen to it, and I think to myself, “Who could listen to this music? This is the sound of psychosis! Who would want to listen to that?” And I guess the only thing I could say is that I wasn’t lying with my songs, I wasn’t flirting or selling or cheating or bragging or trying to fool anyone-in fact I probably should have been doing a little bit more of that, truth be told, to make it easier to swallow. And that means a lot to me to hear you connected with that; it says a lot about your resonance and your ability to recognize something greater. Fourteen? Wow. Then again, I was fourteen years old when I wrote some of those songs, so maybe there is something there that is totally true for fourteen year olds—but only the crazy, neglected, weird, social reject fourteen year olds! (Laughs)

And what makes it even weirder is that I’m—I’m not ashamed to admit it—but I’m a redneck. I’m an autistic redneck. (Kristin laughs heartily, as she will throughout the rest of this question) I live in the woods in rural East Texas, and this was 1987, I was getting into Yoko Ono, and Yoko Ono was not exactly the sort of thing that made you friends in the world of 1987 East Texas. I even wrote about it once, and how the music I was getting into at the time, and growing up an exile and martyr for Yoko Ono. I guess what I’m getting at is that with that record and the other music I was listening to at the time, there was this resonance, a recognition of otherness, and an honesty to it. One thing I can always pick up on is honesty in music and art. It’s the first thing I look for.

Yes! I talk about this a lot with my son Wyatt. He’s an animator, and he’s on the autism spectrum  as well—I am, too—and we talk about how our brains work. We both consider ourselves to be intellectual animals, and we have this almost animal instinct to pick up on that softening agent that allows for social norms, for lack of a better phrase, that allows people to lie to one another or exaggerate the truth. And we can’t be fooled by it, and we even have trouble following those social cues sometimes, because they’re so non-transparent and confusing.  It’s exactly like you say—you relate to the integrity of the piece because there’s nothing more basic that you could relate to.

I just have this curiosity and drive—I call it gobbling. Like, I gobble up everything. It’s so random, that I can’t tie myself down or commit myself to being this or that in terms of artistic tastes. Picture this art-loving Pac Man, running around the mazes of the world, just gobbling it all up and avoiding ghosts.

Good for you for allowing yourself to do that. It’s not something I can do—I get my feelings hurt and I’m afraid of hurting the feelings of others, because there’s just so much out there in the world, so many lives and so many forms of creativity and expression, that I just don’t have the freedom to get caught up in exploration. It doesn’t help either, being an artist who’s recognized in the world for a certain thing and having to avoid sharing your feelings, because there are other feelings involved. I just wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

In the arts world—especially in the music world—there are a lot of people who are out there, and they’re trying to fool you, they’re trying to lull you in with “friendship,” when all they’re trying to do is sell you something, and that engenders a certain amount of disingenuousness. I get so sad seeing honestly good people who get caught up in this, presenting themselves in this false manner, and they think they’re winning and being successful using this disingenuousness in order to get ahead.

In fact, they’re only destroying themselves.

It’s so sad, watching people create these personas, using them to sell themselves, and more often than not, it’s the worst parts of themselves that they’re using to sell themselves. I don’t know why we celebrate the false, the superficial, the bimbo in everyone.

I was reading Facebook post of an artist friend of mine, and this other person was criticizing her work for being juvenile, amateurish, and saying she didn’t know how to use lines properly or acrylics properly, and I’m sitting there thinking, if she did know how to make ‘proper’ art, I wouldn’t like her art at all! I wouldn’t respond to it if it was “properly” done, though when it comes to outsider art, I….wait, scratch that, I don’t care for that term “outsider”—

Yeah, but I get what you’re saying. People like you and me, we’re always going to be outsiders, and that’s okay. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the term “outsider” was co-opted in the 1990s by mainstream culture. “Indie” they called it, or “alternative” or “punk rock” or “DIY.” Whatever you call it, you need to find your subculture, whatever it is, even if it’s halfway across the globe.

Do you find that since you’ve taken on this new direction as an author, do you find yourself still coming into your own as an artist, challenged and learning how to master the craft? 

But I don’t think you ever not stop learning your craft, no matter how experienced you are or how many years you’ve done it. It’s a continual thing. As for writing books and novels, I’m nowhere near being out of the apprentice phase. (Laughs) My first book, Rat Girl, it took two years to get it out of me, and then the next two years, it just kept on writing itself. If anything, I never actually finished the book; Penguin finally said, “Pencil down, Kris, and turn in your work,” and it formed itself out of what I’d written. For the Vic Chesnutt book and the Throwing Muses book, those were both very stream-of-consciousness, and the letting go part of it, it really wasn’t the same as songwriting, in that a book offers a much bigger frame, and as cliche as it sounds, you sort of let the book write itself. Because I prefer to not have much to do with my work, I like to think that not only am I working in a vacuum and no one is ever gonna read it or listen to it, but I don’t have much to do with the process of creating it, and that my self would just get in the way. Once I got to the point where I was so raw with those books, I discovered that I couldn’t get in the way, I found I had nothing to say; I’d get lost in the memories of the past, and I found I didn’t really have to do anything—the text was just waiting there for me, to tell its own story.

When I read Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, it was—I don’t want to say I liked the book, but I appreciated the book. Obviously you can’t like what is going on inside the pages of that book, but I felt a certain detachment—like you said, it felt like someone else was writing this book, that it was coming through you, and that maybe the cover should have properly read, “Kristin Hersh, editor.” It felt like you were allowing us to see your catharsis in dealing with the deaths that took place in the book.

Yeah, very much, that story wrote itself, and thank god for that, because it is self-indulgent enough to write that story, and had I been in charge, it might have been even whinier. (Laughs)

But it’s okay to be whiny, if it’s the way you happen to feel at the time!

(Laughs) I don’t think we should be allowed to use our egos that way. It’s only egos that whine; I don’t think souls know how, they just manage the intensity of this plane and how we deal with it.

To me, the book has that same intensity as the first album. I read it once in one sitting, and I sort of told myself that I didn’t think I could read it again any time soon. It was just intense, raw, and scary-sad, yet not in any bad way; it’s just that I felt a little bit wrong reading it, that I shouldn’t be reading this.


I mean, I love confessional, voyeuristic work. But when you’re dealing with that style of writing, there comes a fine line where you wonder how much is truth, how much is embellishing, and how much is creatively false. There was none of that with your book—you knew it was real, and as someone who was following the story of what happened that Christmas day, it was just way too real. Don’t Suck ,Don’t Die had no embellishment. no creative lying—NONE. It’s one hundred pure, undiluted reality. You take it in small doses, in a closely monitored environment, and you run as far away from it as you can when you get free of it.

I know what you mean! I don’t expect to read it any time soon, and I’m the one who wrote it and is about to go on a book tour promoting it! (Laughs)

Is it hard to promote?

I’ve done okay with it so far, but I am aware how it could turn on me if I’m not careful. I sort of find myself feeling awkward before I do my readings because I don’t know what’s going to happen, and you can’t make contingencies or allowances in the same way you can when you play a show and a string breaks or a mic stops working. So I’ve chosen the passages I read from very carefully; I allow myself some leeway when it comes to the pacing of things, because I know that i could get very emotional very quickly if I didn’t.  There are so many reasons to cry now, and it’s funny, but I was never that person. Some days, though, I don’t know anything else to do.

I know what you mean by that, and I’ll tell you how I deal with it. I organize cries.

Organized cries?

When I’m feeling the rumblings that I’m about to lapse into an emotional state, I’ll do something that I know will cause me to tear up, and so I head it off at the pass. Fight fire with fire, as they say.

Wow, that’s amazing! I’ve never thought of that, but you know, I actually think my son does that. Tell me more!

Okay, lemme think. Last week, I had some issues going on and was feeling rather emotional, so I sat down at my computer and listened to Red Sovine’s “Teddy Bear.” God, it’s such a downer! (Kristin laughs) I posted a video to it on my Facebook and I said, “If Red Sovine can’t sing this song without breaking down in tears, who the fuck do you think you are, to think you can make it through the song without doing the same?

(Long laughter) I love that!

I find doing that healing, to manage your emotions yourself. It took me a lot of years and a lot of tears to learn how to do that, but boy, when I did, it’s really been a good tool to have in my emotional tackle box!

For me, my songs were my tears, as well as my yells. From a very young age, I picked up the guitar, and that was it for me; that was the only way I knew how to express my feelings, and you can be very coy with songwriting, and walk away from them superficially seeming unmoved.

It got deceptive, because here I was, seemingly a nice lady, a good mother, a loving wife, a great bandmate, a generous songwriter, and yet the emotional side of me, the real emotions I might be feeling, they were all there in the music, left behind when I walked out of the studio or turned the tape machine off or went home from a gig. I didn’t really have a choice, and I really don’t know how to do it any other way.

It’s just one of things that, as much as I hate to say it, it’s very much a “one day at a time” sort of thing, even though I know that sounds  like such a cliched, so self-help, twelve-step therapy kind of answer.

There really is nothing better that you can do, truthfully. I’m kind of a “one hour at a time” kinda gal right now, which is a lot better from when I was at one minute at a time, I tell you. It’s small steps. And those hours, they bounce around like crazy! They’re all different, but if it’s just an hour, then hey, I can handle that. I remember being in labor with one of my boys, and I’d always been one to go for natural childbirth, I didn’t take the epidurals at all. So I’m in labor, the pain is intense, and the midwife turns to me and says the most amazing thing: “What is your goal for this labor?” And I said I didn’t want to pass out from the pain, that I wanted to stay awake. So she starts reading me these seismograph readings of the contractions, and she would tell me when it was right at its worst, and that would be right before I passed out from the pain. Her letting me know that I was at that point, that it wasn’t going to get any more painful than at that moment, it really motivated me. So I’d look at these readings and I’d think to myself, “Okay, Kristin, what are you going to do now, now that you know it’s not going to get any worse? So I would stay awake.

It’s like panic attacks. I hate ‘em because the moment you feel ‘em comin’ on,  you get more anxious, fueling the panic even further, making it worse. It’s an evil tarpit, you have to not fight it to get out of it.

And how do you know you’re even strong enough, when you’re feeling weak, and you’ve not been through it yet. That’s the rough part about it—you can say you are ready to face anything…but are you?

It’s interesting to me, because I’m thinking about what you were saying about getting super nervous before going onstage and how it changes when you get on there and when you leave. Believe it or not, I’m actually a super shy person. Don’t do a lot of chit-chat, can’t approach a stranger at all, yet I can sit here and interview you with no problem. I get in my truck, I shut the door, I turn the phone on, and I become someone else. When the interview is over, I have no recollection about the conversation. Sometimes, I even forget that I just did an interview. So, like, if you ask me, “How was the interview,” about the only thing I could say would be, “it was about twenty minutes long!” 

A therapist friend calls it “The Flow.” When you’re in the moment, you have no need to reflect. You’re just going with the flow. That knowing that I threw myself into the music to the point where I don’t even exist anymore, and I just go with the flow of where that music is taking me, and it’s just another state of being. But when I get too far into the flow, I become the other Kristin. And with other people, it would get awkward–they’d quote  or make a reference to one of my song lyrics to me and would get a blank look in response. Awkward! (Laughs)

I was staying with an actor friend of mine in London, at the very end of this last Muses European tour, and we were up in his kitchen at 3 AM, and he turned to me and said, “I hate to say this, but you were disappearing. Does that mean you’re not better? I thought you were cured!” I said, yeah, me too! But I’m starting to look at it less as a condition and more as a skill,  and view it as an aspect of making music, because that Kristin, she’s better at it than I am! She’s been doing it longer. (Laughs) If we distance ourselves from each other, it can be okay, as long as we don’t get symptomatic about it. I mean, you don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you because you’re really good at doing an interview, right?

(Pauses) Ummm…that’s a complicated question!

(Laughs) Exactly! It is! It’s never easy to explain things, is it?

Well, see, what it is, I really just allow myself to be immersed in the conversation. I always do a lot of homework and I try to organize myself to the point where I think I can have a marginally good chat. But what happens to me is that when i disassociate from the experience, I don’t usually reflect on what I’ve just done, and it’s not until I’m listening back to the tape—which can be its own form of hell—that I can see what it is I’ve done. This is sort of one of my character flaws in that I remove myself so far from that conversation, sometimes I get too reflective and that manifests itself as self-doubt. I know it drives me crazy and it bugs people close to me, but it is what it is.

That’s almost a Zen-like approach, but I can appreciate how it can really affect your self-image, because when you totally detach from the interview Joseph, that world is a mystery, and you know it’s there, and that you’ve done it, but sometimes you just can’t see yourself from another person’s point of view.

I have on my computer just a few little sayings that will keep me focused. I have one that says, s “Your fingertips are your paintbrushes, keep them clean and wash them after every use.” That’s not like I’m a germaphobe or anything—just a reminder to keep myself truthful.

I’ve discovered that if you keep a clean heart and a clean mind about all things, you’ll notice a lot. If I get a lyric wrong, I choke on it, and I notice, because that song isn’t truthful. The truth, when it happens, it just flies out, even when it’s too much truth and you’re embarrassed. When you choke on a line, it’s freaky, it’s jagged, and it’s ugly. Real music, it doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty, but it should always be beautiful.  But I like that. Keep your fingers clean to keep yourself honest. It’s a good way to live!

Speaking of honesty, it’s the thirtieth anniversary of Throwing Muses. Do you and 4AD have anything planned in terms of reissuing the album or doing some sort of celebratory release.

(Awkward Pause) Uh..no? (Laughs heartily) Is that a good answer? Thirty years? (Counts backwards) Well, shit, I guess you’re right! (Laughs) Maybe I should look into doing something like that, perhaps?


(Laughs) Okay. Thirty years? That’s weird to me. You know, that album, it still scares me a little. But it was never ever released in the US, so that might be something cool. Well, it was kinda released here, as part of that Ryko In The Doghouse set, but it’s never been released as is, with the original artwork. Dave, he did that, that was his baby. That was a fun collection of all our little teenage weird fuck you songs to the world, trying to figure things out. That’s why I don’t necessarily think about Throwing Muses as our debut; we’d done tapes and put out a little EP, so to us, it was just another record, except this time, on 4AD.

Who doesn’t sign American bands, sorry.

(Laughs) Poor Ivo, we’ll never let him live that down! (Laughs) We were so young and innocent back then, when we wanted to do the album, we could have—and now that we’re older, we definitely would have—been offended by the way that came about. We let 4AD alter our image a bit in accordance to the songs on the album. See, the record we had in mind was to have been different. We had a bunch of demo songs, and we had this real country-punk vibe to us, more sing-songy, a lot like the Violent Femmes, except sung by real, never-violent femmes. Our style of music, they didn’t understand it, because they were English, and that element of tradition and Americana, it was lost on them. But we didn’t take 4AD seriously! I mean, it wasn’t coming out in America, they weren’t even going to try to get it released via another label over here, and  since England’s the size of Pennsylvania, we thought, sure, go ahead, nobody’s going to hear this, do what you want. So they took out all of our “fun” songs and our “happy” songs, and left only the crazy, psychotic songs. If I hadn’t been so young, and if I had exercised a bit more control over what I wanted, then that album might not have scared the shit out of you thirty years ago! (Laughs)

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