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Seven Quick Questions... Lydia Lunch

Seven Quick Questions... Lydia Lunch

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Tuesday 4th August, 2015 3:47PM

Lydia Lunch's contributions to the underground cultural landscape are far too lengthy to list here. The 56-year-old poet, writer, actor, artist and musician first emerged on the New York scene in the late 1970s and was dubbed with the name "Lunch" by Willy DeVille because she often stole food for punk rock group The Dead Boys. Over the decades she has had a prolific output of music, having played with outfits like Teenage Jesus And The Jerks and 8 Eyed Spy, and collaborated with the likes of Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave, Kim Gordon, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, as well as releasing her own solo work.

Outside of music, she has writes poetry to curl your toes and has penned books detailing her sexual deviancies, substance abuse and mental health issues. No matter what the format, Lunch certainly doesn't hold back. She is brutally and unashamedly honest. Such is the case when UnderTheRadar got in contact to ask a Seven Quick Questions ahead of her New Zealand shows this week with her group Retrovirus...

1. Retrovirus is an incredible amalgamation of musicians. Can you tell us what brought you together?

It might have been three years ago, or three millenniums ago, when I had an offer to put a project together for an art exhibition on the West Coast. I figured an overview of some of my more bloodyminded musical atrocities would be in order, so I assessed the landscape and began to assemble a unit. After drafting Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, etc.) on drums, Weasel Walter (Cellular Chaos and expert on all things No Wave) stepped to bat on guitar and eventually brought in Tim Dahl (Child Abuse), and we have systematically terrorized the globe ever since. Retrovirus mates a calculated faithfulness to the intent of the original performances/ethos with a cruel, contemporary sense of modernism.

2. You recently released Retrovirus’ second album Urge To Kill, which was recorded in one afternoon. Was that intentional? What are the benefits and challenges of laying down a whole record in a timeframe like that?

Because Retrovirus is a functioning unit, there was no issue cutting the tracks for Urge To Kill essentially live in the studio, in one session. The music is more about the quality of rawness and mood than endless polishing, so the urgency of the performances is appropriate. In response to overinflated blimps like Courtney Love (don’t blame me for her crimes), who took four years and two million dollars to write her last album, I thought this was an appropriate method. This isn’t fussy artwork – what we do individually and as a group must writhe and moan aurally. Urge To Kill is not a soundtrack for your Granny’s tea party - more like the Donner Party.

3. You have been releasing music for several decades, both solo and with various band projects. What drives you forward and motivates you to keep making music?

Because my blood burns so hot I would be a homicidal maniac if I didn’t have a vehicle to express my violent urges or sympathetic tendencies.

4. With your writing, how have you found the themes have shifted compared to what you were penning 10, 20, 30 years ago?

Like most writers, I focus on my obsessions and they have not changed. I merely look for different voices with which to express them, so I write stories, poems, lyrics, etcetera, which center on themes vacillating between the darkest of romantic obsessions, or the murderous nature of modern politics.

5. In a 1997 interview you described yourself as a “feminazi”. Do you still relate to that term? And what does that mean to you?

There is no title sufficient enough to truly describe my misanthropy.

6. Feminism is getting discussed in the media a lot lately, with mainstream artists such as Taylor Swift speaking aligning themselves with the ideology. What are your thoughts on pop music and feminism co-existing, can people like Swift be feminist role models?

If that’s as good as it gets, I’m committing homicide immediately. First of all, get your pants on, women. I really don’t feel that women who run around on stage in leotards in 2015 have much to say about it, especially if they’re shilling for the corporate pimp of a major record company.

7. Possibly a grim question to end on, but somewhat following on from the idea of role models... if you were to disappear off the face of the earth, how would you like people to remember you?

First off, I WILL disappear of the face of the earth. How people remember me is up to them. I have no idea what they think about me to begin with. That is not why I do what I do. If you’re asking me to write my own tombstone, forget it. There won’t be one.

Lydia Lunch's Retrovirus is performing this Wednesday 5th August at Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland, and then on Thursday 6th August at Bodega in Wellington. Head over here for more information and to buy tickets.


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