Chaos Control - December 2001
By Bob Gourley
"The Lost & Found, " the EP that marks the long-awaited return of Rasputina, is one of the more unusual collections of covers out there. Who would have thought that Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" would sound great played on cellos? The disc also features songs originally by Marilyn Manson, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, and a rendition of "This Little Piggy." Rasputina don't fall into the trap of thinking that simply putting a song into a new, unexpected context makes it good; they truly re-interpret the songs to make them their own.
Rasputina are currently selling "The Lost & Found" exclusively over their website. Having parted ways with Sony, they are in talks with Instinct about releasing their new album in late Feb. or March (the label with probably re-issue "The Lost & Found" after that's out.) Rasputina's line-up has changed since their last album, currently consisting of cellists Melora Creager, Kris Cowperthwaite, NaNa Bornant and drummer Jonathon TeBeest. We sat down with Melora in early December to talk about the covers ep, label situation, and whatever else came up.
What made you decide to do a covers ep?I just wanted to get back into doing music. Being pregnant and having a baby, I didn't do much music and I wanted something to ease my way back into it. And then the recordings were good, so I released it.
How did you pick the songs to do?I had a few more than that. I wanted to do a T-Rex song because I like T-Rex a lot, but all the lyrics are really silly. They're too silly for me, so that was too bad. I wanted to do an Elton John song, 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight.' But those just seemed to be the right ones, the other ones didn't get done, or there was a reason not to use them.
When you do a cover and are singing someone else's lyrics, do you try to get into them and re-interpret?A lot of the covers I'd chosen to do in the past were easy to do, because they were from a woman's point of view and had the kind of emotions I would be into exploring , so there wasn't anything to change. With the Marilyn Manson one it made sense to me just to make it all from the girl's point of view. 'Wish You We Here,' I can't imagine what's going on in there. I don't really know, that's just like pure emotion. There's definitely a story, but I don't know what it is!
What happened with Sony?I just had a 2 record real with them, and the 2 records were done and we didn't do anywhere near the numbers they need for that kind of big company. It's funny to be such a weird group, but my only experience on a professional level has been with a major label. I don't know how they possibly could have marketed us to get the kind of numbers they need, I don't hold any grudge or anything like that . I wouldn't have known how to do it. So we're going to sign to Instinct any day now I think, and it's a completely different attitude about working. The numbers are way smaller, but it feels a lot more like I'm doing it, rather than businessmen I don't know. It's always been in the past 'we have to bring in a producer, and it's going to cost a lot of money.' I don't have to work like that anymore.
How has it been going selling the ep over the internet?I'm glad we did it, just because I didn't really know if the recordings were good enough, or if it was a lame thing to do. But our fans are so passionate and affectionate and they love it so much. It's not huge numbers of people, but it's people that feel strongly. I don't know what those kind of numbers mean, but I think we sold 1000 in 2 months with no push at all.
How has the website been working out for you? What are your feelings about the Internet in general?It's really, really important to us as a way to communicate with people fairly directly. A lot of our fans communicate that way . We're not communicating with anyone through ROLLING STONE, it's all on the Internet. I have mixed feelings about how it's easy to get music. As a songwriter, I have a lot of mixed feelings about that. But it seems like it will all be positive in the end, as it allows people to be able to hear stuff and find stuff. When I was a kid growing up in Kansas before the Internet, you couldn't find anything different. You couldn't buy it or steal it or anything, you couldn't get it.
Can you describe the upcoming album?I recorded it by myself, Kris played on it too. With changes in equipment, you can do by yourself what you couldn't do years ago. You don't need the expensive studios. I did the drum programming myself out of samples and it sounds great, really symphonic. With drummers, I could never get them to do exactly what I wanted them to do. But if I'm sampling, I can get it to do just what I want. I was thinking kind of rustic, more blues-based.
What else have you been up to lately?We played with the Goo Goo Dolls, that was really fun. It was funny. I hadn't done any big session work in a while, and for them to call, it was like 'WHAT? I didn't know you were into what we're doing, Goo Goo Dolls!' So they flew us out to LA, and Kris had never been there before. That was really fun.
We played at an alternative cello festival that takes place every year, this was at the University of Connecticut. You'd think we'd rule an alternative cello festival, but this was more jazz oriented so they never had us before. But it was a great experience, I gave a few workshops. Then we played a show, it was great to play in an academic setting . The sound in a recital hall is fantastic compared to the clubs, we're used to crappy sound everywhere. Plus all our gothic teenage fans traveled far to go to this really academic kind of setting. It was really fun.