Monday, November 28, 2016

Q&A with Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh is the author of the new book Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, which includes two accompanying CDs. A musician as well as an author, she founded the band Throwing Muses. She also performs as a solo artist and with the group 50FootWave. Her other books include Don't Suck, Don't Die and Rat Girl.

Q: How do you see the relationships between the song lyrics and the stories in Wyatt at the Coyote Palace?

A: I like the idea of publishing a book rather than releasing a cd because a book can be a beautiful piece of art, whereas none of us really value a little plastic disc. Even vinyl is kind of presumptuous, because offering someone your soundtrack is a little like suggesting they adopt your religion.

So I tell stories the songs remind me of and include photographs and Dave Narcizo's amazing design work, so that I can give the listener a nice gift of a product (and I sleazily sneak plastic discs into it in the hope that they adopt my religion).

Q: How did you choose the title for the album and the book, and what does it signify for you?

A: Three of my sons are so deeply bored by the recording studio that they fall asleep as soon as distorted guitar comes out of the speakers (which is what they heard in utero, on tour), but my son Wyatt goes wandering.

Behind my studio, he found an abandoned apartment building called the Coyote Palace that coyotes had moved into when the humans left. His obsession with this place was catching, and it made me articulate what obsession is.

I knew I had to be that flushed with excitement every time I walked into the studio to make this record or the music wouldn't be realized in that timeless way that makes a work matter.

Q: You begin the book with the line, "How many times would you say you guys've almost died?" What role do you see the concept of death playing in the album and the book?

A: Well, one day, Wyatt refused to go into the Coyote Palace. That time and place were over for him. I was shattered, because I had mirrored his love of that place in my work.

But Dave Narcizo, the drummer for Throwing Muses, guessed that Wyatt was merely encapsulating a sensory experience in order to let it resonate. The finite then becomes necessary if you want to be a giver rather than a receiver.

For me, the studio is a selfish endeavor - I love it so much, I would never leave unless my engineer kicked me out. This time I made it last five years. Wyatt taught me that I needed to walk away.

Q: Is your writing process different depending on what you're writing, or are there overall similarities?

A: My first book was a reworking of my teenage diary, so I was essentially creating a non-fiction novel out of a book that always existed. Crooked, Purgatory/Paradise and Don't Suck, Don't Die are more mature and more esoteric. Hopefully the funny stuff helps pull them out of the mire of pretense.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Not sure this tour I'm on has a distinct ending, which is probably a good thing. 50FootWave just released "Bath White" which we'll tour soon-ish. Throwing Muses is in the process of recording with Mudrock in LA and I just signed a five book deal. The Rat Girl tv series is also in early days of development. Really, it's probably time for me to just shut the f*** up, in other words.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Geez, I hope not...I'm sick of me ;)

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Kristin Hersh's U.S. tour runs from Nov. 29-Dec. 18, 2016, and includes stops at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles on Dec. 4 and The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver on Dec. 8.

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