November 29th, 2008 | Interviews

shea M gauer

Stream: Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs “My 45”


(from Dirt Don’t Hurt out now on Damaged Goods)

Holly Golightly is Britain’s overdue echo of Wanda Jackson or Ella Mae Morse and from her seaborne homestead in Kent she released years worth of restorative rock ‘n’ roll. She has a new record called Dirt Don’t Hurt with her Brokeoffs out now and she speaks from a bar at 3:30 PM to Daiana Feuer.

You’re just moved to Georgia, right?
Down in Georgia? I haven’t really moved in yet. All my stuff is in a container at seas somewhere. We took off on tour straightaway. I haven’t even unpacked anything yet or planted a flower.
How long is the tour?
It’s five weeks—just over five weeks.
How many years of touring?
Probably about fifteen years. That’s not all always long tours but I’ve been traveling playing music for about that long.
What do you think you would do if you hadn’t done this?
I know what I’d be doing. The only other thing I’m qualified to do, which is training horses.
How many horses do you have?
Now I have three in England. I haven’t got any here. I haven’t put fencing up. The property’s just pretty much wild at the moment. So the idea is I can have some horses when I get around to being there.
Could you tell me any good horse-related anecdotes? How about something startling that happened?
Something startling that happened? I had my elbow joint come through the skin once from an accident and I had to walk home leading a horse for three miles with my arm broken in half. That’s pretty startling. More recently, I got jumped on when I was unloading a horse and had my foot broken and it’s never healed. So I still have a broken foot from a horse related accident. I’ve got pins and plates—there’s a lot of startling accidents. That’s the nature of the business really. I’m in the same shape as most rodeo riders.
Do you have all your teeth?
I’ve got all my teeth. I’ve had a broken nose. I have lost a tooth actually. I did lose lone years ago. And various concussions and broken legs, ankles, shoulders, cracked nerve. I’ve done tours on crutches. Many tours on crutches.
And now you’re at a bar at 3:30 in the afternoon?
Well, I’m not drinking. I’m drinking a cup of tea. I try not to drink until the sun’s gone down if I can help it.
What’s the most disastrous tour disaster you’ve had?
My drummer got mugged with all the tour money once in New York. About 13,000 dollars. There’s been others but that’s probably the one that’s had the most impact. He got mugged in Brooklyn and was not hurt but we did lose all our tour money. When you’re on tour, you get paid in cash and it was at the end of the tour. And he was just walking from the restaurant to the club. Had it on him—I don’t know why. He shouldn’t have had it on him. I should have had it on me because every other time I’ve had it on me. They’d have to cut my arm off to get it off me. It was four guys—he had to give it to them.
How about a shiny memory? Something great—a dazzling moment?
I think seeing friends. Being able to travel around and meet new ones but also see the old ones. Because that’s the only time I get to see a lot of people. And that’s something I relish. It’s not a journey you would do unless you had a purpose. I wouldn’t travel around the country in a van just visiting friends. So I get to do that—that’s the highlight for me. I’ve been doing it for a long time so I’ve got a big dysfunctional extended family at this point. And you see people—they move around, they go from one city to another and you stay with friends houses and you get to have breakfast with them. Socially, that’s the only time I see them. Other than at a show.
Have you visited places that resemble the music you make? Honky-tonky small towns?
We live in Georgia and I guess home is the biggest influence or it ought to be But that’s a relatively new development. We’ll see how we get on. I picked Georgia because we could get the most land for the money. We were looking at Kentucky and we were looking a Tennessee and the right house came up in Georgia. I have a good British girl friend there so I’ve spent a bit of time in Georgia.
Maybe a safer weather choice?
Well, we’ll get the tornadoes in the spring but for the most part you get pretty good weather. We both lived in San Francisco for years a long time ago. And we don’t like the cold very much.
If you could fly all over the place, as high as you wanted, for one day or swim to the deepest part of the ocean for one day, which would you choose and why?
I’d dive for sure. I’d dive. Dave’s a diver. Dave’s a commercial diver so I know he would dive, for sure. I would dive because I think that’s where the treasure is. That’s probably where all my fucking treasure is because it’s coming over in a container on a boat. So I’d dive and find the stuff that fell off the boat. I’m not very good at flying. I don’t like it. I lived on a boat for a very long time. I’m much more of a water person than air person.
How long did you live on a boat?
Twelve years. On the River Medway in Kent. I had a Dutch barge.
What’s a Dutch barge?
It’s a commercial boat. It was 80 foot long and 20 foot wide—a big boat, big iron boat. The engine had been taken out when the boat was converted into a house boat so the boat had to be tugged whenever I moved. I did move around quite a bit. But I always organized it so I would be tugged up the river and dropped off wherever I needed to be dropped off. I only sold it in the last ten years. I kept it for a quite a while—rented it out— and then I couldn’t do the work that needed to be done on it. And it needed someone to love it more than I could. But I gave it up very begrudgingly.
Sounds like a dream.
We like the water.
If you had to take three foods for an indefinite period of time on a boat, what would you take?
What I would never get tired of… I would take unsalted butter, Marmite, which is yeast extract spread that’s a very British thing to have on toast, and I would take garlic.
What would you put them on?
Anything I eat I would crush garlic and put butter on it. And I would have toast and put Marmite on it. We carry a load of sauces in France so we can make the food taste like something. We have everything from the hot sauces to the peach pea sauce and we say that’s how you make food taste the way you want it. It’s a very sparse food landscape out there on the road in America. Everything’s golden brown. Between each state everything’s deep-fried. So the only place we can eat when we’re on tour is Cracker Barrel. That’s the one place everybody goes I know because that’s the only place that you can go get food that isn’t deep-fried.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Yeah, we were talking about this the other day. I do. Actually, I’d like to see one to confirm it entirely. I like the idea that they exist.
What’s the last thing you heard a stranger say that you remember?
In a hotel the other night, about four o clock in the morning. In Boise, Idaho. We had just got to sleep after the show. And this party came in. It was Saturday night, and they were on a big night out, and they came in yelling, if you can sort of understand—Mormons don’t swear, but they cuss in their own way, so they say ‘Heck.’ And there were people yelling that stuff at the top of their voices. ‘Oh ship! We’ve got to get up at eight in the morning!’ It woke us all up. They were high on life in Boise, Idaho, in the hotel at about 4 in the morning.
I read that every town can be the most exciting town if you just look or something.
I like Fargo. We played there last year. It’s a very well kept secret. I don’t think many bands play there. But we really had a good night. It was one of the highlights of the last tour, actually. We arrived at about 6 in the evening in the main strip. There’s only one of those. And all the bars are jam-packed. At six in the evening, everything was heaving. People are just off work and they’re going straight to the bar. And then we went to the club to soundcheck and it didn’t look like anyone was going to come. It just seemed unlikely on a Wednesday night in Fargo, that anyone would come out. And the promoter said, ‘Oh, everyone will come out—they just won’t show up until midnight.’ And he was right. They all turned up at midnight. Hundreds!
What were the people like?
They were great. There’s no scene. It’s just people go and see what’s going on ‘in town.’ Because that is all that was going on in town that night. So a lot of people were very curious and they came along and had a really good time. And they bought all our shit. Write to us now. We made ourselves friends.
What would be the ideal environment you’d picture yourself playing in? Is it a one-strip main street town?
I think probably it would be a little country bar somewhere, where three generations of the same family come and everybody dances.
What attracted you to this kind of music?
I have always collected records and I started when I was 15, collecting soul stuff and collecting R&B stuff. In those days I was a punk rocker and it was sort of unusual for me to be seeking out this stuff. And I’d buy in bulk and it was this very underground thing in London. I loathed dancing but I was into playing music. So I had a huge collection to draw from. And the essence of that record collection is church music—is gospel. I got into it from finding out about it and regressing rather than looking for new music. I immersed myself from when I first heard the first bar of a Stax single.
If you could have an afternoon boat ride with three people from history, who would you choose?
I think I’d have Queen Elizabeth I, Emmeline Pankhurst, and probably my granddad.
If you had to tell them what to wear?
Something warm and waterproof.