Woman Rock - May 2005
Rasputina's Radical Recitals
By Aaron Alper
Rasputina call their live shows recitals, and for good reason; complex cello compositions, bizarre song subjects (mayflies, vampires, and Howard Hughes to name a few) and music best described as “cello rock” have made Rasputina one of the most unparalleled presences in pop music today.
As the group heads out for a national tour to promote their new live CD (aptly named A Radical Recital), lead singer/songwriter Melora Creager stopped to chat with Woman Rock about a variety of things, including touring, cover songs, and why her manager sent flowers to Sharon Osbourne.
So Melora, are you excited about the new tour?Yes.
Sorry, that question sucked. How long have you been playing cello?Since I was nine.
Did you always plan to become a 'rock star' with your cello?(laughs) No. The thought didn't enter my head until my twenties.
How did you go about forming Rasputina?I played in other rock bands as the cellist. Everyone always seemed to crazy for the cello and love it so much so I thought if it was all cellos it would be that much cooler. It was very difficult to get started and find people who would do it.
How do you feel Rasputina has evolved?Always making progress is really important to us. Not to stay the same and get better and better. Musical issues are important to us, to become better players and better singers, but the concept stays the same, like a personality would.
Which album are you most proud of?I guess [2003's] Frustration Plantation. It might be because it's newest but I think it's really good and I don't have to make excuses for it.
I read you're going to be releasing your second album How We Quit the Forest. Is that true?Yeah, we're trying to do that. It's hard because that record is with Sony and Sony is such a huge corporation, but we're making progress.
Sophie B. Hawkins had a high old time getting her record back from them.Well, she is was a lot more popular than we were so it would be a bigger deal. We're so tiny people tend to be nice to us. (laughs).
In your press kit you say that you're haunted by your song, “Transylvanian Concubine,” which was remixed by Marilyn Manson. What did you mean?That was the first song I wrote for Rasputina and we just kept needing to use it. It was really exciting to have Marilyn Manson want to remix something and then it was like, “Transylvanian”? Oh no! (laughs).
But it's so good! I hope you guys are proud of it!Yeah, but when something's old and you have to do it a for a long time, you get tired of it. But we have changed it around so we enjoy playing it live.
Where do you get that information for your interesting inner set discussions, such as Stevie Nicks getting cocaine blown in her ass by roadie?(giggles) Well, it's things I hear on the road that have a very round about way of pertaining to the song and things that, I think, are funny.
How do manage to get the rights to perform the prominent cover songs you do? You got Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin…Most people don't know how songwriting works but you don't have to get somebody's permission. You just have to pay them.
Is it just a one time thing or do you have pay them everyone time you use the song?You have to pay them for every CD you sell. You can do anyone's song anywhere you like.
Have you gotten any responses from those people?I know that I stole the “Crazy Train” riff by Ozzy Osbourne in our song “Leechwife” and my manager sent flowers to Sharon Osbourne so they would say O.K. That's the only story like that I have.
How is the new record coming?I'm writing now. We'll do the tour and then we'll record.
What's the theme of it?It's a fantastical Broadway show cast album without the show.
Are you going to be doing any collage art for it? I know people miss that.I miss doing it. They're great. They have such a fairytale quality to them.
Have you ever considered doing a children's book?I would like to do that; I am doing a children's song for a benefit album with Belle & Sebastian. That will be fun.
When did you start doing your comedy monologues?I've always done it; in between songs everyone would have to adjust their cellos. I am still pretty shy and it felt like an embarrassing eternity up on the stage, so I just filled it with ramblings.
What's the strangest interaction you've had with a fan?There are many strange people but they are always very sweet.
When I saw you last year this girl kept asking you to sign her breasts. You were so nice about it. You tried to say no…(laughs) Oh, I've done it. Believe you me, I've done it.
Anything you'd like to add that we need to know about?I don't think so. I am sure there is but I can't think what it is.
Excellent.Thank you very much.
Oh Melora you're so intimidating.(laughs) I know.