Le Tigre

Silent Uproar: What do you think about the demise of Mr.Lady Records? Was it bound to happen, or did the label meet an unexpected end?

JP: I’m definitely really sad and everyone is really sad, they had a really great roster of bands and video artists. It was really amazing to see out in the world and they did a good job but it was the right time to stop.

SU: Do you think this had any part in leading you guys to start your own label?

JP: Yeah, definitely. We decided to put out all of our old records on Le Tigre Records which is our new label, distributed through Touch and Go Records. We’re really psyched about that and it’s something that we really wanted to do. Hopefully in the future we can put out some other records on that label.

SU: So right now you’re not looking for bands, it’s more to get your stuff out?

JP: Yeah for now, hopefully in the future we can find time to do that and get some more bands.

SU: Do you find it rarer to find like-minded people such as yourself or do you think that the world is opening up right now and there is a lot more free thought out there?

JP: It is really exciting to have the internet and so many interesting websites that people can go to that for so many types of communities and I think that’s really amazing, bringing people together. The mainstream is still a mainstream and is still pretty conservative and capitalist. So I wouldn’t say that we’ve made some crazy step. I think that I’m hoping that the world can take something new and different things and that’s why we are excited to be on a major label right now because I feel like it is possible for people to accept what we are doing and the voice that we have and the community that we are a part of. I just feel like, it might be the time and it might be the time for people to open their minds up right now.

SU: Do you worry about being criticized for hooking up with Universal?

JP: Universal is just our new record, but the whole back catalog is going out completely independently. In terms of that and there are going to be a handful of people who feel uncomfortable with our move to a major label and I can understand that, but I think for us we just really wanted to get our message out to as many people as we could. And we felt like if we were going to have a chance to do that it’s the right time.

SU: Do feel like bands should have to explain actions like that? You know you hear a lot about that when a band makes a move like this, there is a fuss. It seems like if it’s just getting the music out there then why does it matter?

JP: Yeah, I mean I agree, sometimes people don’t understand because it’s not their life. And I can understand why people say, “I can’t believe you’re on a major label.” Hopefully with our response they can understand more of what it’s like to be in a band on an independent label or be in a band at all and not make that much money. Living day by day, spending 24 hours on your band, being on call all the time, feeling like “Do you really want to milk this for what it is. And we want to reach all these people?” It’s an interesting thing because it is a job you know?

SU: I think a lot of fans fail to see that side of it, they forget that you have to do this to put food on your table and there is money in it somehow. Well as the band gets bigger and more popular, do you find it harder to maintain the punk rock attitude approach to things?

JP: Definitely not. Like what we have backstage is so minimal. We have water, coffee and stuff and people laugh at us because you can have anything you want like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or pizza and we’re just like “no thanks”. We don’t spend money, we are really frugal, and we make sure the people who are working for us are happy more than anything. I don’t’ see us being a band having a hard time being punk rock. We never shower (laughs).

SU: Who do you think is admirably living up to the feminist music scene right now?

JP: Lesbians on Ecstasy, who are actually from Montreal. They are a band and cover old women’s songs like Tracy Chapman, KD Lang, and Melissa Etheridge. Their music is really, it’s like techno music, it’s totally incredible. It’s homage to this time and women’s music but also it’s really fun and it’s for a new community of feminists which I appreciate. I really like the band The Gossip and Tracy and The Plastics, who are actually playing this weekend.

SU: In Durham?

JP: Yeah, there.

SU: Along the same lines, who do you think is failing miserably?

JP: In the feminist music scene?

SU: Not so much.

JP: As a feminist? Um, I don’t know, if you want me to say Brittany Spears, I would never bring down something she did because I feel like she’s doing something that she wants to do and that’s totally fine. She’s not saying anything that is particularly inspiring to me. Or Christina or any of those people.

SU: I guess a better way to word it would be, who is someone who is out there saying that they are supporting feminists’ ideas or beliefs, but totally has it wrong?

JP: George Bush (laughs) & Laura Bush. Right now I’m kind of Bush inundated because the republican convention is happening right now in NY and it’s pretty intense and that’s the crazy part is hearing these people say “I’m a Feminist.” But you are a Republican.

SU: Speaking of NY, I see that you are playing at the Plaza for Halloween? Was that intentionally planned or is that how the tour fell together?

JP: It’s just how the tour fell together.

SU: Well if you could be anywhere in the world on Halloween where would want to be and what would you want to be doing?

JP: Halloween kind of freaks me out, so I would like to be home and in my house because that makes me feel safe. I get really freaked out about all that crazy costumes and stuff. How you can’t see anyone’s face (laughs).

SU: I noticed you often play festivals like Coachella. How does your music go over in that environment? It seems like it might lose some of its energy or urgency in a massive open air venue.

JP: We worried about that, but it actually was pretty amazing. Because of the fact the people that are going to Coachella are such music lovers that they were so genuinely interested in what we were doing even if they weren’t total fans already. It was really great to look out and see people’s mouths were open and were like “Whoa.” It was really weird too because 3 little people on stage but before us was the Basement Jaxx who had monkeys on stage and all this crazy wild stuff. And we were like, “Oh my god, our stage is so minimal.” I think it really worked out to our advantage because people were ‘wowed’ by the sound that was coming out of it.

SU: It seems that the music that Le Tigre plays has come back into the spotlight again with bands like The Faint and The Killers, it’s not the exact same sound but it hints to what seems to be doing really well lately. Do people seem to be more receptive to your music?

JP: Not really. I mean, I think we have such a different fan base. Our fan base is young girls, feminists, career people like professors and intellectuals. I think we are really happy to invite any others into our fan base such as people who are interested in this new dance rock new genre. I don’t really like seeing us as taking up the same space.

SU: Your audience seems to be pretty mature would be one way to put it.

JP: Yeah I think our audience is thinking a little more maybe? I think a lot of people and I think the music is made in a similar way, but I don’t think the music sounds that much alike because I’m making the music and am too close to it but I think it’s interesting that everyone is doing this right now and I’m really interested in some of the bands that are involved in this whole new scene. But we are not part of the electro-clash.

SU: The song “New Kicks” seems appropriately themed for the time period. Do you think when bands release politically themed music like this it has an effect or impact on the public?

JP: We hope so; it’s funny because this song was just going to be an album track for us. On our last record we had Dyke March 2001 which was a song where we had sampled from the Dyke March in NYC. This was just kind of another song following that whole theme and we really excited to have it on our record. We didn’t really think of it as something as a song we would release before the record came out or as a single or as a video or anything. Universal actually was excited about it and they thought that this was the song that needed to be put out before the election and the Republican National Convention and all this stuff going on. I think it was a really great idea they had. I definitely think this is a time in the US history where we need to try everything we can to reach more people about saying No to war and no to this president and to the regime he’s created.

SU: You’ve stated that you’ve wanted to challenge mainstream system. But it’s such a controlled and tight system do you think you can get through the filters that are in place to keep exactly that kind of thought of challenging ideas out of the mainstream?

JP: Well it’s interesting we were told that we weren’t allowed to wear our stop Bush outfits in the video. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video for New Kicks, but we wore these outfits that had Stop Bush written all over them and we were told that was too partisan but we could say something like No War or something like that. And we wore them anyway and it’s being played all over the place and it’s exciting that we can make a statement that’s so specific and it is getting aired. Also stuff like that song “Viz” that I wrote on the record that is about being a butch lesbian. I didn’t think that was going to be on a major label record but nobody has said anything. I don’t think that people are going to stop us from saying anything and I don’t’ think that the mainstream is going to say anything either. I think people are accepting it and they just want you to make the art.

SU: That has to be pretty rewarding to not only have the ideas and make them but then actually get them out there too and not get stuck with them saying, “Sorry you can’t put that out there.”

JP: Yeah it’s a great feeling because I think people really like us because we are political. That’s why people were interested in signing us here at Universal but it was a good thing for us because they didn’t want us to change. We were already what people wanted when we got here.

SU: Is Le Tigre something you see doing for the next 10-15 years? Or do you think it will be time for something new before then?

JP: I don’t know, it’s kind of complicated, we’re unsure about it. We’re doing well and we are excited and we’ll see what happens, I think we have a couple more records in us.

SU: Briefly hitting on the record, I know I read somewhere that you each have a home studio set up now?

JP: Yeah.

SU: How is that shift changed the way you write songs?

JP: It’s done so much. One thing is that it lends it self so well to the bands music and it’s a non-linear process where we can just patch stuff up and also having the time. But plus it made us stuck for years on the record because we were so picky.

SU: What other projects do you have right now?

JP: I am in a side project band right now called New England Roses that we might have a record coming out next year and it’s really different than Le Tigre. It’s kind of folk music and it’s an exploration of feelings, some of my really great friends and I are in this band, they are from LA. One of my friends, he’s a rapper, Barr he’s in it.

Sep 1 2004