BLONDE REDHEAD: SOMETHING I ENCOURAGE ALL PEOPLE TO DO
Blonde Redhead released their most recent album 23 in April on 4AD. Drummer Simone Pace speaks while cooking a delicious meal of ragu and leftovers. This interview by Nikki Darling.
On Misery Is a Butterfly, it’s said that a lot of the album is a reflection on Kazu Makino’s time recovering from her equestrian accident—is this true?
Yes, it affected the record because it put us on hold for a long while, and it affected her lyrics. I think the most important thing is that it made us feel a little more vulnerable then we usually are—it made us realize how something can just happen and then you’re on your own. It did affect her and how she wrote—the lyrics changed after that. So things definitely did change. It’s strange because it definitely gave us time to improve the record, too. If we had recorded the record then, it would have been a totally different record, and so something positive came out of the tragedy. We improved all around and it absolutely changed her. When things like this happen, the tendency is to become stronger in some way—it’s like being in a relationship. If you can make it, your relationship becomes stronger.
What sort of non-musical things inspire you? Or do you think all things are musical?
I love motorcycles and vintage bikes—like Italian vintage bikes, I don’t know how musical they can be, but I love the sound that they make and the way that they look and how beautiful it can be if it’s built by hand and not by computers. Those are the kind I like. I listen to music when I’m working on them, and it relaxes me—it calms me. So I guess the answer is yes, I do think everything is musical to an extent.
Out of all your albums, which one was the hardest for you personally to make?
For me, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. Misery was hard because of obvious reasons—hard to come out of that pressing time—but I think Melody was a turning point. A time when we started to change, and change is difficult. We were reinventing ourselves then, and we had done other albums. And also it was our fourth album and we were feeling more insecure—like, ‘How is this one going to be? Is it going to be good or better than the others or are we going to fall?’
Each album seems to have an underlying theme—is this intentional? How do you go about picking a theme?
Before we write an album, we think about what we want to do. But I think so much comes into play, and everybody has a style and everybody has an idea, and we always work with the same people for each record. Like for the last record—we wanted the last record to be more in your face, more focused, more to the point. And we wanted it to have a certain atmosphere as well, and that goes through the whole album. But I don’t think Amedeo and Kazu think about that when they write lyrics.
What’s it like being in a band with your twin brother?
I don’t really know how to answer that because he is my brother. I realize that it’s curious to some people, but I don’t really know how to answer that because it’s all I know. You know sometimes we fight and we get competitive, but most of the time I don’t really know how to answer that. He’s my family. I’ve only been in one band and it’s always been with him.
If you could play in any band that wasn’t Blonde Redhead, what band would that be?
I don’t know. I don’t think I could replace anyone in any band—I mean, I can’t imagine the Rolling Stones without Charlie Watts, right? I mean, I’m not Charlie Watts. I guess if I could do anything, I would play a different instrument.
OK, if you could play a different instrument, what would it be?
Are you a good cook?
Yeah, well, excellent! Yeah, I’m really good.
What are you cooking now?
I’m cooking dinner for my girlfriend. I made this thing over the weekend that was chicken with a lot of vegetables with capers and now were making ragu with leftovers and then I’m going to make pasta—really, really good.
What’s the most outrageous thing a fan’s ever done to get your attention?
I don’t think we have that kind of crowd. In Italy, it gets a little strange sometimes—they get really obsessed and want a piece of you—but nothing that outrageous.
Are you more famous in Europe than in America?
It depends. We’re better in certain places than others. All the real big cities we do well in—like L.A. and San Francisco and New York. We’ve got it pretty even. In Europe, some places will be a little bit different than others. I think it’s pretty even, though.
Are you most popular in Italy?
I think to some extent—people are very happy and proud when we go there and it generates more interest. It does help, I think.
What’s the biggest misconception about the band?
I think everybody has the right to concieve as they want to. But I think that when we were first starting out, people would compare us to Sonic Youth viciously—record after record—and we weren’t trying to do that at all. That was the worst conception that we had to deal with. But that changed after Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons.
If you had one thing to say to your fans that has nothing to do with your music, what would it be?
The first thing that comes to mind—I would tell them to eat really well because you can get a lot of pleasure from it. I think once you learn to do it, it’s really wonderful. And it is something I encourage all people to do.
BLONDE REDHEAD PLAY SAT., AUG. 18, WITH AUTOLUX, THE PITY PARTY, THE BROKEN WEST AND MANY MORE AT SUNSET JUNCTION’S BATES STAGE, 4200 SUNSET BLVD., SILVERLAKE. FEST STARTS AT NOON; BLONDE REDHEAD PLAY AT 7:30 PM / $12-$15 / ALL AGES. WWW.SUNSETJUNCTION.ORG. AND ALSO SUN., AUG. 19, WITH MIDNIGHT MOVIES AT THE GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. 2ND ST., POMONA. 7 PM / $18-$20 / ALL AGES. WWW.THEGLASSHOUSE.US.