Former Cure Drummer Lol Tolhurst on Memory, Music, and the Abyss

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Lol Tolhurst founded iconic punk band The Cure with lead vocalist Robert Smith in Crawley, UK in 1976. After performing as the band’s drummer and keyboardist for over a decade, his alcoholism caused him to leave the band. After a quarter of a century of legal battles, divorce, and pain, Tolhurst and his lifelong friends in The Cure made amends and played a series of reunion shows at the Sydney Opera House in 2011.

Chronicling his journey to international stardom, down to the darkest depths of addiction and isolation, and back to inner peace and creative fulfillment, Tolhurst has penned a memoir of his time with Smith in The Cure and on his own, aptly titled Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys, out tomorrow. We chatted with the artist about what it was like reliving such wild, sometimes painful memories, and what it means to be a true artist.

The book feels like a celebration of the band, and then an admission of guilt, an apology, and an atonement. What prompted the book? Was it part of your healing process? Did you feel like you owed fans the whole story? 

That’s an interesting question – I wanted to explain my life to myself. I got to a point where I was wondering, “What has gone on?” And I had an epiphany in 2013. I was in Hawaii, on vacation, and I went to see Robert, because The Cure were playing for the first time in Honolulu. I went to see them play, and we were sitting on the beach at 4 o’clock in the morning, chatting away, and I woke up the next day and thought, “I have to write this down. I have to record this, because otherwise I’m not going to understand the story.”
But also, as I went along in it, I realized, “Ok, there’s a bunch of people out there who I haven’t seen in years, who would like to know as well.” I wanted to set things right. I don’t want to leave all of that crap for other people to deal with. I want to be rid of it, because I want to go out just the way I came in.

In the process of writing the book, and talking to all these people you wanted to give the story to, did you find there to be a lot of difficult conversations you had to have in your research? Or was it mostly positive reunions?

Mostly positive – I didn’t really call people up and go, “Do you remember what happened?” Because I didn’t want it to be somebody else’s view of what happened. You’re bound to incorporate that into your thought process. So I thought, “I’m just going to mine my memories and find out what I want to write from them.” But what I did do, is if I hadn’t seen these people, I’d talk to them and say, “Ok, get out all your old albums.” And that’s what they’d do. And I went to London last year, because I live in California, and I visited people I hadn’t seen in 25-30 years, and I said, “Show me your photo albums. With me in it.” And that way we’d start a conversation.

Have Robert, or Porl, or Simon (other Cure members) been able to read the manuscript? Have they had any reactions?

Definitely Porl has, because he designed the cover. He lives in California now. I gave the manuscript to Robert in probably April or May – this year’s very busy for The Cure, and the thing about it is, I know that with Robert, if I don’t hear anything from him, that’s fine. Because if he doesn’t like something, he’ll call me up straight away and be very direct with me. We’ve known each other for a million years. I did hear from Simon – he told me he thinks it’s a great idea I’m writing a book. I think overall it’s all positive. A lot of memoirs tend to be score-settling exercises, and I really didn’t want to do that – the book was a vehicle for something a bit different for me. I didn’t want to be “Behind The Music Part 1000.” I wanted something that would evolve. That would be the framework, but it wasn’t going to be the story. I really loved Patti Smith’s book about her and Robert Mapplethorpe. That’s a beautiful story about two people finding themselves in a very different world. So that’s how I felt I could write about me and Robert, and then out of that comes the healing. 

You get super personal in the book. You talk about your mom passing. And that’s what you’re saying – it’s not just a “Behind the Music” story, but an emotional chronicle of feelings and experiences. So I wonder how this compared to writing a song. Did you find it to be more emotional?

If you look at the whole catalogue of The Cure’s material, that’s the area we go into anyway. It’s always very connected with emotions, and that outsider stance. So for me, writing the book, to connect to my emotions, it seemed very natural. But unlike a song, it’s a much longer process. It was a year of being in that space, every day. That’s what I did. I thought, “If I sit at home and try and write it, it won’t happen.” I rented myself a little office about a mile from where I live. It was a co-working space. I went in there every day 5 days a week, and tried to bash out as many words as I could. Sometimes I’d be sitting there, and one of them would go, “Are you OK?” There’d be a tear that had come up, because when you write something like that, that’s close to the emotional side, it’s like reliving it. Writing about my mother was very painful. I wanted the book to have weight and depth. Before I wrote it I read a bunch of memoirs – the ones that struck me the best were always the ones that were honest and open about their emotions. Not just a commercial for somebody’s life. 

Whose memoirs did you like best?

A couple I found really good. One was surprising, but not really since I’ve talked to him. It was Duff McKagan’s, from Guns N’ Roses. And I also liked Steve Martin’s, Born Standing Up. It’s the ones where people reveal themselves. It’s much more human.

There’s a passage in the book where you talk about the process of songwriting that you and Robert experienced, where you go into “the abyss.” And you and Robert were able to go into the abyss and come out unscathed. I’m wondering if you can say any more about that, because it’s so fascinating.

My basic premise there is what unites most artists of any fashion is that they are willing to look at things that most of the time the rest of society tells us we have to keep hidden. And that’s the abyss. I know that for us, our most intense moments as musicians were going a little further and looking at this stuff, and writing about it, or reliving it. Sometimes, though, you can fall over into the abyss. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to me for a couple years. And I’m just glad I came out the other side, and didn’t fall into this club – most people in bands die at about 27, if they’re going to die from misadventure, it’s about then. Luckily, I’m about twice that.

You talked about going to these dark times with alcoholism. And you mention a few different low points in the book, with the divorce, and the court drama. What would you imagine is your lowest low and highest high, if you can pick.

My lowest low in lots of ways is that point, and I can see it in my mind as I’m talking to you about it, where I got the letter (asking Tolhurst to leave the band) from Robert after Disintegration, and I went for a walk with my dog and I’m sitting up in the Moors, which is a very lonely, wild place – there’s nobody there, and there’s stormy skies, it’s very evocative. And I lay on a rock, and I started crying. And I couldn’t feel anything. That was about my lowest point. I had the emotional response, but I felt dead. Highs – it might sound cliche, but having this book done and finished is pretty much a high for me. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and it’s surreal at the moment because I’m going through a whirlwind of press. But that’s what I’d call a high-class problem. 

When did you first have the idea to do this book?

Twenty years ago, I got a tattoo on my arm that’s two feathers my son found, crossed like writing quills. So somewhere in there, twenty years ago, I wanted to write this. I’ve talked to my book agent, who said “I have clients in their thirties who are writing books about their lives, and they have no perspective. Things that happened in their twenties are really close, so they can’t see what the true meaning of those events were. You’re at the perfect time to do it, because you’re not so old you can’t remember, but you also have a little space between the events.” I’ve always thought about our music – people will say “some of it’s depressing.” It’s not depressing, it’s a willingness to feel how you feel. It’s not always pretty.

Musically, do you have a proudest contribution or moment? A song, a moment onstage that’s your proudest moment in the band?

I think it was really awesome, in 1985 we played a festival in Athens. One of the other bands that was playing was Culture Club, and Boy George had a terrible time, because he had to stand behind a screen, because people in the audience were throwing rocks at him. And about a week ago George and I did the same TV show in England. And I was talking to him, we’ve known each other from back in the club days, and I said “Do you remember that? Remember the festival?” And he was laughing, but he said, basically, “I’m still here.” That’s one of my best memories. It’s awesome to walk onstage to a hundred thousand people, but it’s also awesome to remember, “I’m still here. I’m still doing stuff.” When you think about memories, you bring them from the past into the present.

Do you have a favorite gig?

I liked in 2011 when I met up with everybody again and we went down to Australia and played at the Opera House. In the space of about a few minutes onstage I was transported back to being a teenager, instantly. We were doing the same thing again that we used to do. It felt great. It was a high point.

Are there any musicians of the moment now who you like, and listen to?

It’s funny, because a lot of people my age will say “There’s no good bands anymore.” And I’ll tell them, “That’s not true!” What’s true is you don’t know where to look anymore, you’ve forgotten where to look for it.” My son is 24, he lives in San Francisco. So I go to him, and I say, “Show me what you’re listening to. Something you think I’d like.” And he showed me an electronic artist, Caribou, who I liked a lot. Things like that. I try to keep an open mind. Although I do know that as I get older, there’s not that much new. There’s variations on a theme from a while back, but there’s not much startlingly original. But there are good permutations. Meg Myers, I saw recently. I liked her. So I like different things. I like anything that’s honest.

Cured is available for pre-order now and in bookstores tomorrow.

Is Wendy Bevan the New Siouxsie Sioux? BlackBook Premieres New EP ‘Sweet Dedication’

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“Burn down the houses where once I lay dreaming,” Wendy Bevan hauntedly implores on her strikingly evocative new single “Sweet Dedication.” The shadowy Brit beauty (who’s also appeared in the alt theatre production Sleep No More) cites a particularly lugubrious cast of influences, including Depeche Mode, Suicide and The Cure.

And the song—produced by Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin—resulted from a read of Aleister Crowley’s brilliantly sinister Book Of Lies. It’s part of the eponymous EP, released Friday though Kwaidan Records/K7 Records. It will also appear on her debut album, Rose and Thorn, due this autumn.

Like her forebears, she has a gift for funereally romantic imagery. And the track’s minimalist rhythms, spooky organ breaks and echo-drenched guitars hit all the most sublime gothic notes. But it’s her astonishingly eerie ability to channel Siouxsie Sioux that is most startling, rising far above so many pale imitators.

Indeed, in a most Sioux-like turn of phrase, Bevan despairs, “I drank all night and danced with doubt / She never forgives.” Pray for her.

Listen to the BlackBook premiere of her three song EP, below:

Explosions In the Sky’s Mark T. Smith + Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper on Their Influences and Inventions

Inventions, Music, Mark T. Smith, Matthew Cooper
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Inexplicably drawn to understanding the beauty and poetry in the mundane, I find myself connecting to art which helps to get at the ineffable of everyday existence. When it comes to music, I gravitate towards artists whose sonic universe is able to translate or articulate that emotion, occupying a space that lives inside both its chaos and its silence. I fall in love with the work of artists who sound can tingle and pervade the senses, possessing an expansiveness that transports me outside of myself and into a world of feeling. For musicians Matthew Robert Cooper of Eluvium and Mark T. Smith of Explosions in the Sky, whether it’s their myriad projects as solo artists or collaborators, for me, their music has always delivered just that—and with their ongoing project, Inventions, their simpatico aural affinities merge to create a sound that beautifully echoes Cooper’s description from one of their biggest influences, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams:

… a strange universe of sound that occurred in whorls and stillness and a mixture of emotions and then disappeared forever.

Last year I spoke with Cooper and Smith for their eponymous debut release as Inventions, and less than a year later they’re back with their sophomore album Maze of Woods. As an even more explosive and complex record than their last, the album stems from a deep desire for exploration and a willingness to find themselves lost in the wilderness of the mind. With a stronger emphasis on vocal accompaniment and a refined evolution of their work together, the result is a wholly captivating musical experience that envelops you in its warmth and makes the world feel like a more beautiful place to inhabit.

To celebrate Maze of Woods’ release, I spoke with Cooper and Smith about their process of working with one another, the nonverbal ways that people communicate, and how they pushed one another into new creative territories. In addition, Smith and Cooper shared with me their most influential songs and what makes them so special. Check out their lists, as well as my conversation with Cooper and Smith below.

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***MARK T. SMITH***

PLAINSONG, The Cure

My favorite album opener. It’s just immense in its mesmerizing loveliness and mystery. Along with “Bedhead”, they were probably the biggest influence on how I play guitar. 

ASHTRAY WASP, Burial

The gold standard for hypnotic dark instrumental music with fragmented vocal samples. It’s a tone, it’s a feeling, that you can look out the windows and it colors the way you see life around you. It’s serious and haunting, in the best way. 

THE DARK AGES, Bedhead

Like I said earlier, these guys helped me learn how the simplest guitar lines can be the most lyrical and memorable. It’s in how you play them, and how you don’t play them. 

MY ANGELS ROCKS BACK AND FORTH, Four Tet

Huge fan of how he puts songs together.

FRATRES, Arvo Part

Jaw-dropping. It has just such a raw power and beauty it’s impossible to not be affected by it.

DJED, Tortoise

I still find the scope and flow of this song to be eminently pleasing. Such a great mix of instrumentation and electronics, and melodicism and atmosphere. I never get bored in its 20 minutes.

DECORA, Yo La Tango

Gets me every time. Love this band. Always a sense of humanity and love.

REQUIEM FOR THE STATIC KING, VOL. 2, A Winged Victory for the Sullen

We think this band is incredible. Their sense of space and gravity feels so right.

AN EAGLE IN YOUR MIND, Boards of Canada

The gateway into electronic music for me. much like bedhead, they showed me a little bit goes a long way. I love simple music where each note or swell or tone or repetition makes an impact. 

TAKE PILLS, Panda Bear

Whenever I need a comfort album, I find myself coming back to this album. When Matthew and I first started writing for Inventions, I wanted our album to have that quality of warm solace and comfort and losing yourself in it. 

BE GOOD TO THEM ALWAYS, The Books

This band really opened up my mind to the possibilities of samples, mostly vocal samples, and the endless inventiveness of using them. thank you the books. 

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***MATTHEW COOPER***

CORPOREAL, Broadcast

Basics and weirdness and loveliness – Broadcast is ever inspiring.

SPIDER AND I, Brian Eno

A strange and wondrous chord progression that slowly finds itself and glorifies its journey in notes every step of the way.

KINDRED, Burial

A little less of a new sound or direction at the time but to me an epiphany all the same.

BROS, Panda Bear

How this song becomes 12 and half minutes is phenomenal.

ARUNDEL, Papa M

Classical notation as far as I’m concerned – or perhaps just sitting down and pouring out a little necessary feeling.

FLIM, Aphex Twin

A curious blend of gentleness and profundity against a smart and difficult drum-line that seems effortless.

EXCESS STRAUSSESS, The Books

An old friend of mind showed me their first album and somewhere along the line, unrelated, I ended up becoming fascinated with nick’s early sound works as well – years later lost and safe became one of my favorite albums ever.

FRONTWARDS, Pavement

Neat band – neat session.

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As the second collaboration between the two of you, was beginning this album a more organic process than the last time–being able to intuit each other’s strength and weaknesses?

Matthew Robert Cooper: It feels like we didn’t so much begin this album as we just continued working after the first album was finished. We definitely had hit a rhythm and just felt like we could go a lot further, so we just kept making things for the sake of making things and then at some point in time it became clear to us that we had written another album. I’m not sure either of us ever know what the other is going to bring to the table, compositionally speaking, which is part of the enjoyment. 

Mark T. Smith: Indeed the process was simply continuous. After the first album we just kept sending and started naturally taking some of the more strange forks in the road that just really fit together for us. One of my favorite things about making this album was the shocking lack of talk about tracklist order–that is always something about an album that gets endlessly discussed when writing, but this tracklist just seemed to write itself. I took that as a sign that we were pretty dialed in to a similar way of thinking by this point. As a matter of degree we perhaps understand how to work with each other a little more now, but honestly, from being friends for so long before we started playing, it just worked from the very beginning things we sent each other.  

How did you conceive of the themes and ideas for the album, and were you consciously trying to evolve from the last record? Were there any influences or aspects of creation you drew from one another?

MRC: We both definitely had ideas churning in our heads, and a lot of it came from themes in exploration. There’s a speech by Charlie Kaufman and a paragraph from a novella called “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson that used the term “moanmusic.” It described a strange universe of sound that occurred in whorls and stillness and a mixture of emotions and then disappeared forever. There seemed to be a lot of feeling “around” these ideas, and talk of universal language.

MTS: This talk was often admittedly sort of vague, but honestly that’s where the feelings came from–we would just start talking in between sound ideas, and before I know it, Matthew and I are talking about some pretty heady stuff. I don’t generally spend much of my usual life thinking about life in precolonial days, but we found ourselves talking about the actual true unknowns of exploration and discovery in precolonial days. I mean, it must have been just insanely terrifying as well as wondrous.

And then it somehow leads to music that derives from that feeling, or vice versa. So yeah, more than anything else in the whole process, we latched onto that term “moanmusic” from the Denis Johnson paragraph. That word became the working title for the album (eventually it just was used as a song title). We knew it would be impossible to replicate his description of an all-encompassing, all-meaning vortex in actual audio, so we concentrated on the mostly nonverbal ways that people communicate, the moans and hums and howls and murmurs, and those became our voices on the album.  

As far as the aspects of creation, I think we just found that we drew inspiration from finding that each of us was as sort of obsessed as the other. We both make music nearly every day, and if we’re not making it, we’re thinking about it. It’s really inspiring when you find this reflected back to you, and I hope it shows on the album.  

MRC: Agreed. It is interesting when you see people assuming certain sounds were made by me and certain sounds were made by Mark, as if it must be that way based off of our other projects.  It’s understandable why people assume these things, but generally part of the idea behind our working together is to remove those stipulations and allow us to both do things we may not normally do, and hopefully, for people to not think of the music in terms of who did what, or “that sounds like a guitar, and this sounds like a keyboard” because they would probably be surprised. 

Mark was really excellent at heralding this part of the band and it helped push me to wander into ways of attempting sounds that were new for me as well. I think we ultimately ended up inspiring and feeding off each other a lot this way. We are always pushing each other into strange new territories.  It can be quite exhilarating to have an original sound one of us made come back torn apart or thrown off a cliff or chopped and reversed and made into a new language,.. discovering its humanity from an entirely different perspective.

As individual artists, you both make music that operates on a very sensory, internal level. Do you find that requires inhabiting a certain psychological or physical space while working and does that change when collaborating?

MRC: I don’t know where I heard this, but recently I heard an interview or something where an artist talked about how songs are in the air, you just have to reach out and pluck one, and that an important part of this happening is being able to sit still and wait for however long it takes for that to happen. I can relate to this analogy very much so.  A lot of my creative work is actually done by just waiting and not forcing anything, or when working on something, not going so far as to expect anything from it.  Though some things are different working together, this process hasn’t really changed for me.  It’s really just a matter of deciding what it is that you are looking for.

MTS: I am so super grateful to be able to spend large chunks of my life just going down the rabbit-hole, so to speak. Because doing that is one of my favorite things—just having no preconceived idea what you’re planning on doing, and playing a few notes, or hearing a certain tone, or a rhythm. Then before you know it, you’re just seeing where that takes you, and it will often lead somewhere you have never been before, or if it doesn’t, you backtrack and try a different way.

Like Matthew says, the main psychological thing for me is not forcing it, and not judging it right away. As you might expect, working in that way takes a lot of time, so more than anything else I just have to find time to keep trying things. The great thing about Inventions and working with Matthew is that collaborating doesn’t change that in the least–collaborating actually is that. We work in our places across the country from each other, in whatever way we want, and then send to each other, and then repeat. 

Synth-Pop Singer-Songwriter Charli XCX Talks True Romance, Tasting Sweat, & Lena Dunham

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Charli XCX is no newbie to the music scene, though her age might indicate otherwise to those not in the know. The 20-year-old Brit, born Charlotte Aitchison but recognized by her hotly debated stage name, has been making people move since she was an adolescent.

At 14, XCX was already on the radar, albeit far from mainstream, discovered on MySpace and invited to play raves at the weekend. An only child, her parents would drive her to and from performances—sometimes staying, watching on like ever-adoring chaperones—then take her to school come Monday. What might have remained a fond memory or a passing phase, however, evolved into a career, with a capital “c,” her warehouse party past giving rise to a girl who knew her pop hooks and dance beats.

The past half-decade has seen her morph from girl to woman, as well as release several solid songs, among them one of her best, “Nuclear Seasons.” At 16 she signed a record deal, catapulting the former club kid from promising act to legitimate artist with a single signature. For the past four years she’s worked towards today, which sees her major label release of True Romance. Her lyrical prowess and knack for catchiness continue to impress with this sweeping and anthemic debut, a 13-track album featuring favorites like “Lock You Up,” “What I Like” and “Cloud Aura.”

XCX, who also co-wrote Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” (which, if you’ll recall, was a huge hit following a particularly entertaining episode of HBO’s Girls) is currently touring Europe and the U.K. with Ellie Goulding, and will touch down in the States come May. New Yorkers can catch her supporting Marina and the Diamonds at Rumsey Playfield on May 29 and alongside Little Daylight on May 31 at Glasslands Gallery.

In the meantime, hear from the hard-hitting goth-pop princess herself. She’s got plenty to say, from her outlook on love (which she’s in, with Ryan Andrews) to her fantasies surrounding calling all the concert shots (think outlandish creative direction as it pertains to set design, à la Girls dreamboat douchebag Booth Jonathan).

You titled the album True Romance. Is this record the embodiment of “true romance,” to you? It’s such a bold statement to make. To say, like, Here it is. This is the definition.
This record is, for me, what true romance is. I’ve been writing the record for the past two to three years, but one song I wrote when I was 16. So, I feel like I’ve been writing this album as I’ve been growing up. Your views on love and life change over time. You experience different relationships, that kind of thing, and I think the record is kind of about that. It’s about love from different angles. Different periods of your life. There’s a bratty breakup song, when you went out with a bad boy. Then there’s a song about falling in epic, amazing, real, true love. And I feel like that’s what happened to me during the process of writing this album. I feel like I’ve fallen in love, massively. I feel like the record looks at how you can be on this love trip, in this dream state, but at the same time you can feel lonely and isolated. I think it’s interesting how schizophrenic love is. And that’s what the record is to me. It’s schizophrenic. It sounds that way. It sounds like love.

Did the title come at the end?
The title came last, actually. It was kind of, like, a reflection. I never wanted to make a concept album and come up with the title track and write songs around the title. I wanted to write the songs as naturally as possible and as naturally as they came to me. It just so happened they were about love. Once I started writing them, I supposed that was an appropriate title.

Makes sense. Can you tell me a bit about being so young coming up in the music scene?  
It was kind of crazy. At the beginning, I was very, very excited about everything. I was 15, signing a record deal. I was so elated by it. So, whenever there were highs and lows—which there definitely were, and still are—I took them really personally. It was a quite traumatic experience making this album, especially when I was younger. It can be emotional making an album, putting all your thoughts and feelings on a CD. I found the industry very difficult. There were so many expectations I thought I had to live up to. I was unsure who I was. I wrote the song “Stay Away” then. I began to find myself and what kind of music I wanted to make. I feel like I’ve changed a lot. I realized I don’t have any criteria I need to meet. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not feeling like I have to please anyone.

Even with the tumult, it had to have been a blast.
It was really fun. When I was younger, I’d go to raves, and that was crazy. Then, I’d go to school on Monday, and that was weird. But, it was cool. I kind of feel like I got sucked into that. I’m glad I left that scene and started making real music on my own.

Oh, yes. You’re talented, your debut’s a gem and, on top of that, you’ve traveled the world touring in support of Coldplay, Santigold, Ellie Goulding. Was it difficult to adjust to the limelight? MySpace and late-night raves are one thing, but stadiums are another thing all together. That’s rock star status.
For me, I can’t think about going on stage as the “limelight.” I think about it as playing my songs for people and losing my mind. When I’m on stage, I feel completely free. I feel completely inspired. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m getting lost in the moment. It’s like one big trip.

Speaking of trip, do you have a favorite place to play?
I love America. I love L.A. and I love New York. And I haven’t been there yet, but I know I’m going to love Tokyo so much when I go. It sounds so magical.

It does. So, which one: New York or L.A.?
I don’t know. People compare them, but they’re so different. It’s so difficult to compare the two. I feel like L.A., maybe, for me, just because it’s so different from London. Whereas New York is so similar.

Aww, shucks. So, do you have any down time when you tour?
Never. It’s constant. But, that’s fine. It feels good to play shows and have people come listen to my music. That’s really nice. I mean, it’s weird doing promo every day. You have to talk about yourself all the time, and I don’t really like doing that. It’s just strange. I’m starting to get used to it. It’s all right.

You’re adjusting. How’s tour going so far with Ellie?
It’s fun. The crowds are big. She’s cool. I think I managed to convert her into a platform shoe-lover. She tried on my Buffalo platforms and was like, Oh my god, these are amazing!

How would you compare the experience of performing at big venues versus small?
Playing big venues is always less personal. Like, when I was doing the Coldplay tour, there were, like, seven screens. Only the front, like, five rows can see you up close. But, in a club it’s wild. You can taste everyone’s sweat, which I really like. I feel so much more alive. You can really get in touch with the crowd and make it, like, an apocalyptic, end of the world party. So, I really like that. Obviously, it’s a dream to play in front of as many people as possible, so big stages are good. But, when I have my own massive shows, I want the walls and ceilings and floors to be made of screens. So you’re in a screen box. And it’s, like, my favorite videos and mash-ups of my favorite movies playing. It’d be a mindfuck.

Do you watch Girls?
Yeah! Like that artist [Booth Jonathan]’s thing. Exactly like that, except on a massive scale.

That’s also, as you know, the episode featuring the song you wrote, performed by Icona Pop.
That was really cool. I’m a big Lena Dunham fan. I feel like she’s this sexy, hilarious, fierce super-girl. So, it was really cool seeing her singing that song. It was quite funny.

Is Hannah your favorite character on the show?
I don’t know. I also really like Adam. And I really like Shoshanna. And I love to hate Jessa, because I know so many people like that and they’re so frustrating.

Do you have a lot of super-fans?
I do, actually. They’re all sweet, but they’re crazy. It’s cute, though. They’re all young. They message me all the time. Like, everyday. It freaks me out that my music can mean that much to someone. I didn’t have that. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have had the power to tell them, because I didn’t have Twitter. Now, everyday, you can build up this false relationship in your mind. It’s scary. It’s mad.

I’d agree with that. After all this, the journey so far, what do your parents think?
They’re proud. Whenever I’m in London they’ll come to my show. They’re really supportive. They took me to the raves when I was younger, came with me and were really cool. I’m really thankful for that, actually.

That’s awesome. I imagine a lot of parents wouldn’t be as nurturing when it comes to their young daughter rocking the sometimes seedy rave scene. You also dress pretty provocatively. From where does your aesthetic sensibility derive?
I’m really inspired by movies. The Craft. Clueless. Empire Records. I just love that nineties aesthetic. I like basics, grungy stuff. I’m a big fan of the Spice Girls. Some of their music videos are my favorites. Like, “Say You’ll Be There.” I feel like I came through the third wave of the club kids in London. I was watching Party Monster, finding out who Michael Alig was. Part of me will always be interested in that world. DIY, but high fashion at the same time.

So, do you have a dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Bjork. She’s incredible. I admire everything she does. Her voice is like butter. So angry but so sweet and beautiful at the same time. I think she’s wonderful.  

Whose music are you really into right now?
Jai Paul. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Kitty Pryde. I think she’s really cute. I love her lyrics. I always listen to the same stuff on repeat. Like, Uffie, Kate Bush, The Cure. Robert Smith is, like, my hero.

Last but not least, what would you be doing if not this?
I’d be crying probably. 

Here’s A Perplexing Pothole Press Release Pundown

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At the end of last week, the communications team for the Chicago Department of Transportation was tasked with making citizens aware of the campaign to report potholes in need of repair. Getting people to care about and be proactive potholes is not always easy, and although it is important to make those who can fix the potholes aware of the problem, it’s not always the most fun or engaging topic to write about. So the PR person for CDOT did what any normal communications professional needing to spice up a topic would do: ride the heels of a more popular Chicago event (Lollapalooza, whose lineup had just been announced) and lay on the band name puns as thick as possible. The result? The most ridiculous press release we’ve seen in a while.

"Tired of Drivin ‘N Cryin’ in Traffic over the Minor Threat of potholes in the Pavement?  Ready to see nothing but The White Stripes on the roadway and not worry about The Cars swerving to avoid potholes?

This weekend, if you are motorist or a Motörhead, participate in the first-ever “Potholepalooza,”  the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) call to Chicagoans to report as many street potholes as possible.  Then watch the show next week as CDOT has The Cure for your Moody Blues and fills all of the potholes reported from Friday, April 5 through Sunday April 6 so that your car doesn’t do the Harlem Shake and give you Divine Fits."

Wow. As a lover of bad wordplay, this is a goldmine. But I feel like by working with mostly only band names, even if there are some truly masterful stretches ("Men At Work gave Blood, Sweat and Tears"), the writer really missed out on some quality references. Like, you’re really going to do a music reference-packed press release about potholes and not include a nod to De La Soul’s classic, "Potholes In My Lawn?" Or maybe the writer knew that’s what people who pay too much attention to things like this were expecting and decided to deviate.

Maybe this could become a series for CDOT. Maybe the next one will be all covert references to the raunchiest tracks in the writer’s iTunes catalog. "When you’re on the road and feel a little ‘Bump ‘n’ Grind’ in your tires, be sure to let us know." "Be careful with potholes, or whiplash may have you screaming ‘My Neck, My Back!’" It would certainly get people talking about the important issue of local infrastructure. 

Watch Tilda Swinton and David Bowie Play House in ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ Video

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Tilda Swinton as David Bowie, David Bowie as Tilda Swinton, David Bowie and Tilda Swinton sitting on a couch—really any combination of those two other-worldly genius creatures is a dream come true. And with Bowie’s new reemergence into the spotlight, we get to see the two together in his video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).”

Artist and director Floria Sigismondi, who has given us videos from Fiona Apple and The Cure to The White Stripes and Bowie’s “Dead Man Walking," works her magic yet again to give us Swinton and Bowie as a married couple who find their lives tormented by young celebrities. Running almost six minutes long, we get a well-shot and well-edited look at the two in both in peaceful and obsessive domesticity. Take a look.

The Cure’s ‘4:13 Dream’ Drops Tomorrow

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Robert Smith adores us far too much to ever deprive us of pop gems like the Cure’s new single “The Only One,” an exuberant declaration of amour. But, alas, the specter of death lurks — and 4:13 Dream is, for the most part, a harrowing and metallic affair, rife with the gothic terror of mortality. From the desperate romanticism of epic opener “Underneath the Stars” to the album’s ominous closers — “The Scream” and “It’s Over” — this is another masterpiece of human uncertainty, a soundtrack to the onset of winter’s chill.