A Luscious Fever

by Matt Blackett
Et Cetera
October 31, 1996

Luscious Jackson burst on to music scene in 1992 with the release of their EP In Search of Manny. The all female quartet combine funk, rock and jazz into their music. Et Cetera met with exhausted members Vivian Trimble (keyboards) and Kate Schellenbach (drums) last Friday.

Et Cetera: When Luscious Jackson first came out the media pegged you as female Beastie Boys. Do you feel you have shaken that image?

Kate: I should hope so. I think when someone new comes out there is a need to tag them. We were hard to describe and I think the Beastie Boys tag was very obvious to use: similar sounds like funk, hip-hop and samples, and we are on their Grand Royal label and my past with them [Kate was the original drummer for the Beastie Boys]. But I don’t think it’s accurate. I think that comparison is less likely to happen with this record.

Et Cetera: But how important is the association with them?

Kate: Being on a label that is run by someone who is in a band is very important because they have empathy for tours, schedules, recording, what it’s like to create music…

Vivian: They really help us in terms of things they have already done, places they’ve been. Their advice is great.

Kate: They give us time and space. If Mike D tells gives us a suggestion it has weight rather than someone in a record company that has never been in a band or doesn’t know what it’s like to tour.

Vivian: Like this promo tour…

Et Cetera: Are you dissatisfied about this tour?

Vivian: Only in the sense that I feel this promotional tour was put together by people who have never ever been out on the road … They forgot to leave in time for sleep. We play late shows. We don’t work nine to five jobs. We work until three a.m. To catch a nine o’clock flight means we get three or four hours of sleep. That adds ups and before you know it you’re shot. When you think you’re touring for a year or a year and a half you have to pace it.

Et Cetera: What did you hear about Toronto regarding the city shutdown before you got here today?

Vivian: We heard there would be traffic jams, road closures, no transportation, Customs and Immigration were part of the strike, that we’d spend ten hours at the airport,

Et Cetera: But it was the exact opposite…

Vivian: It was fabulous! The only thing that happened was a there was a couch in the middle of the highway and all the cars had to swerve around it…

Kate:…cuz the couch picker-uppers were on strike, too. (Vivian laughs)

Et Cetera: Your new CD, Fever In Fever Out, has a trippy, deeply grooved sound to it. Was the experience of recording it as trippy and groovy as the CD sounds?

Vivian: Sometimes, and sometimes not. A lot of things happened in the mix. But our stuff has had the trippy sound to it so we continued with that general flavor.

Et Cetera: Fever…. was recorded in three different spots; two studios in New York and at producers Daniel Lanois’s house in New Orleans. Do the attitudes and moods of your songs reflect where they were recorded?

Kate: Kinda. The first round [of songs] done at my house were loose and we were getting down our jams. In New Orleans, we entered a whole new atmosphere that was very below sea level. At Baby Monster [Studio] we felt we needed some upbeat songs like “Under Your Skin” and “Naked Eye” [the first released single].

Et Cetera: Did you feel rushed to put out Natural Ingredients after the success of In Search of Manny?

Kate: The recording process got interrupted during Natural Ingredients. It was spread out over a long time. But with Fever… we set aside large chunks of time to record. We had a month off between my place and New Orleans.

Et Cetera: What do you do between recording sessions? It must be weird going from two or three weeks of intense recording to doing nothing for a month…

Vivian: We did laundry. Hung out with friends. Played basketball. Got into trouble. Got arrested.

Kate: Nothing worth talking about (laughing).

Et Cetera: How important is it for you as musicians to do side projects [Vivian is in Ko-Stars with Jill Cunniff and Kate is in Ladies Who Lunch with girlfriend and Breeders bassist Josephine Wiggs]?

Vivian: It think its always a good idea. The [Luscious Jackson] CD is coming out now and we could be on the road for a year so it becomes a grind. So it’s kinda fun to step away from it with someone else…

Kate: … And sometimes you get interested in a particular type of music that you want to express yourself with but may not be appropriate for Luscious Jackson.

Et Cetera: It that what happened with Ko-Stars?

Vivian: We wrote these songs that were more like country songs while we were on tour. And it became a lot of fun. We had some time off in the summer of ’95 so we recorded the songs.

Et Cetera: The media has picked Alanis Morisette to represent the strong female voice in popular music. While there are other bands and artists, like yourself, that write, play and perform your music and are twice as opinionated and talented…

Kate: I don’t know anybody that enters the arena thinking they are going to represent women in general. If they want to be a pop star and have someone write their songs more power to them. Hopefully that’ll be enough for them and they’ll live happily ever after. There are different types of entertainers in the world; Frank Sinatra never wrote a song but was a great crooner and interpreter of music. Then there are people like Bob Dylan; you can’t call his voice nice but was a great song writer. Hopefully we fall in between Frank and Bob.

Et Cetera: What’s so luscious about Luscious Jackson?

Kate: …our blood-shot eyes, the black bags under my eyes, Vivian’s comatose demeanor.

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©1996-2007 The Luscious Jackson Source