photo manipulation by nacrowe
i love the idea of long-form interviews as the basis of a research project.
in fact i've made no secret, writing before (linked HERE, HERE and HERE) about my experience as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA where i spearheaded an oral history project aimed at the impact of the KOSOVO conflict on how both sides of the border dealt with the influx of refugees in 1999. it was a taboo subject internally but i thought it was information worth pursuing from the older generation (along with other unrelated topics such as life under the communist ENVER HOXHA regime) so that there was a record for future generations. similarly the questions themselves werent mine but my students at the UNIVERSITY OF VLORA where i was stationed at. my prompt to them was what questions they thought their grand-children would would want to ask their great-great-grandparents. talk about epic, a four generation question! it got them thinking in that scale and those were the questions i asked, not mine as an AMERICAN, i was just the conduit.
i came across the WOMEN OF ROCK ORAL HISTORY project recently online and i thought it was the coolest thing. the contributions of women to the cultural achievements surrounding ROCK N ROLL cannot be understated but are often overlooked.
i feel that i am guilty of this as well. when i look at past playlists for my DEER GOD RADIO show on nonprofit radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC i am often confronted with a list of male artists. while there have been past shows specifically on the RIOT GRRRL movement and prominent artists such as BJORK, KIM DEAL and LADYTRON, as well as other shows that prominently investigate female musicians and artists within wider constructs (example: CAROLE KAYE contributions with THE WRECKING CREW), there is a lack of balance that i recognize. that is something i am working on. in the future i plan to add shows focused on PJ HARVEY, COURTNEY LOVE, KRISTIN GUNDRED, LUSCIOUS JACKSON, NO DOUBT, CHARLI XCX, PATTI SMITH, JOAN JETT, BLONDIE and producer SYLVIA MASSY (MELVINS, TOOL) to the mix. it is a work in progress.
these filmed interviews with the likes of PUNK ROCK / ALTERNATIVE ROCK / NO WAVE / INDIE ROCK luminaries like ALICE BAG (THE BAGS), LYDIA LUNCH, GAIL ANN DORSEY (DAVID BOWIE), KATE SCHELLENBACH (LUSCIOUS JACKSON, BEASTIE BOYS), EXENE CERVENKA (X), DONITA SPARKS (L7), MELISSA AUF DER MAUR (HOLE, SMASHING PUMPKINS), AMANDA PALMER (THE DRESDEN DOLLS), KRISTIN HERSCH (THROWING MUSES) and SHIRLEY MANSON (GARBAGE) among many others are a great resource for all musicians to receive a fuller understanding of the real history of ROCK N ROLL. its pretty exciting since this project is still very much a current operation especially in recent months with the advent of effective COVID-19 vaccines providing an opportunity for in-person, on-camera interviews again.
the WOMEN OF ROCK ORAL HISTORY is definitely worth checking out and revisiting. what a gift to music fans.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i saw THE DRESDEN DOLLS way back in the day opening for MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE at a small club in MANHATTAN in the mid-2000s. one of the things i always appreciated about going to a MINDLESS show was that their openers were always eclectic and often confrontational. once they had a jug band open that play with a clown singer that never sang, just kept honking a bulb horn.
obviously the BOSTON-based THE DRESDEN DOLLS and their minimalist-yet-baroque, cabaret-influenced sound proved in retrospect to be quite influential on the INDIE ROCK scene. songwriter AMANDA PALMAR confronted gender expectations head-on with her inventive lyrics that often dealt with themes surrounding sexual politics and the nature of identity. i can see her forceful outspoken presence and inclusive politics in everyone from PARAMORE to ST. VINCENT and even fellow scene colleagues TEGAN & SARA.
i always appreciated their fearlessness and musicianship. BRIAN VIGLIONE was a monster behind the kit who was also the rare drummer capable of expressive moments which were crucial in selling THE DRESDEN DOLLS idiosyncratic, off-kilter tempo-shifts. almost like a cross between GINGER BAKER and ALAN MYERS of DEVO. in the years since their 2008 hiatus and subsequent one-off reunions, he has kept busy with stints in VIOLENT FEMMES, BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL and various solo projects as well as collaborating on recordings with NINE INCH NAILS, WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY and even RADIATOR KING (released by STATEN ISLAND's own SOUNDEVOLUTION MUSIC).
reportedly set to release new music this year, THE DRESDEN DOLLS are definitely worth checking out.