October 20th, 2005 | Interviews

The Gossip moved from Searcy County, Arkansas, to Olympia, Washington for reasons scholastic and romantic and found out that people were ready for their three-person take on the Dr. Isaiah Ross sound. They have just released a dance remix 12” and currently live in Portland with their new drummer Hannah. Singer Beth Ditto speaks from a hotel room in Tucson, Arizona, where their van was broken down.

Did your hometown in Arkansas have a traffic light?
Where we grew up, no. I grew up trailer-park style. COPS really will make me homesick! And until the day I graduated, you could still get a paddling in school. And still to this day, when me and Nathan see like Nanny 911, we’re like ‘Whup that kid!’ We know that it’s wrong, but our first instinct is to whup that kid’s ass–so we’re never gonna have children. Arkansas is alive and well. If you’re from a shitty place–not like Texas where they fool themselves!–you have a lot of pride, though. It makes you a completely different person.
How does Arkansas stick with you?
It’s harder for me to relate to people who grew up with money, who didn’t grow up with a hundred kids in the family–I feel a lot different about business and what’s fair than a lot of people I deal with. Me and Nathan would just give everything away–not because we were naive–well, part of it was because we were young and naive, but part of it was because we never had anything! And for me, I try to be as down to earth as possible and I try to be as fair as possible because I never want anyone to feel shitty. Though people still make me feel shitty sometimes. I definitely still have that small town mentality.
You said in an interview that you were anti-lessons, like anti-singing lessons or anti-guitar lessons. What did you mean?
We’ve played with a shitload of bands who went to art school, went to college and all this stuff–we’re not anti-lessons because bettering yourself is great, but we never had the chance to have those things. We had to find out about it for ourselves–it had to come out of our brains and bodies naturally, and it does. I was born with a voice that just worked out–it always kept me safe, and it makes me a living now. And I think you can become a little resentful, like, ‘Fuckin’ art school kids!’ I mean, art school is great, but ick! You can smell from a mile away when they were taught to do these things–you can tell, and they all act the fucking same. If you’re a trust-fund art kid and you’re totally boring and you’re doing the same silkscreen bullshit, then I’m bored and it’s annoying.
And you also once said you hate rock ‘n’ roll and you think it should die.
I pretty much hate rock ‘n’ roll–I think it’s a waste of time. Rock ‘n’ roll is not what it used to be–that’s all there is to it. Punk did things and hip-hop is amazing and rock ‘n’ roll stayed the fucking same. I have no desire to be lumped in with a band like the Von Bondies–I don’t wish them any harm, but they’re so run-of-the-mill generic. Playing the same chords, talking about girls and getting kicks–really boring and I don’t care. Rock ‘n’ roll: what is it? And why would you want it to keep going? I think other movements were so amazing–and it’s time to move on. Like Led Zeppelin and how fucked up those idiots were–I do not care!
It was better before Elvis.
Big Mama Thornton did ”Hound Dog” before Elvis–before there were pop stars and you had to put a face on it.
If you aren’t playing music in ten years, what will you be doing?
Oh God, I’d be doing hair. Hands down. No question about it. I’ve always been good at it–I always liked it. When I was at school, all the jocky girls would ask me to come over to do their hair for prom.
Whose hair would you like to work with?
Jessica Tandy, but she’s dead. But she would have been awesome.