Arizona Daily Star - November 2005
Quirky comments contribute to Rasputina's unusual shows
By Gerald M. Gay
Fans of the cello-rock trio Rasputina know lead cellist Melora Creager has a lot to say about nothing. It is not unusual to hear the corseted songstress convey quirky, bizarre comments at live performances. Topics have included everything from the increase in government implants in humans to the dangers of mad cow disease.
"The comments began when the other cellists would want to tune a little or adjust their instruments between songs and I would be really uncomfortable," Creager said in a recent phone interview from New York City. "It would feel like I was up there waiting for them forever. I would fill the time with rambling, nervous, nonsensical thoughts."
Fans of the trio need not wait until the band's appearance at Club Congress Sunday to hear Creager's commentary or listen to the group's dark, often melancholy cello rock. Earlier this year the band released its first live album, "A Radical Recital," on the group's own imprint, Filthy Bonnet.
Recorded in 2004 at Pittsburgh's intimate Mr. Smalls Theatre, the album covers a wide selection of Rasputina's repertoire, going all the way back to the group's early years. "I tried to make a setlist for that show that covered all of the different eras and materials," Creager said. "I think a lot of times musicians will dominate their records with new material. We have so much material, we try to include everything."
Aside from macabre, cello-laden covers of Heart's "Barracuda" and Led Zeppelin's "Rock 'n' Roll," the majority of the songs on the album are penned by Creager and are loosely inspired by historical events.
Songs like "Rose K." - about Rosemary Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's mentally disabled sister - and "Rats" - a song about Bolivia's replacement of fish with rats during a great famine - receive generous applause from recorded audience members.
"They (the songs) tend to come from recreational reading," Creager said. "Some of these events and figures get me really excited and get me feeling really creative. I want to dwell on it or write about it myself. Usually, I don't do great research before I write the song. I'll just work off my energy and excitement. After it is written, I go back and do more research and find out the facts."
"Radical Recital" stands as the band's first release on Filthy Bonnet Records, which could be considered a step back for the group.
Rasputina started out on powerhouse label Columbia Records in the early '90s. The label's promotion of the group's songs like "Transylvanian Concubine" earned the band high record sales and tours with popular artists like Marilyn Manson.
But Creager said there are advantages to running your own label. "The music business has changed so much from when we started with Columbia," she commented. "It has gotten a lot better for the artist. You are able to record professional quality by yourself. You don't have to pay a million bucks to a fancy studio. You don't need a big record label. I enjoy being able to have a personal aspect in everything. I enjoy it more and more as we get smaller and smaller."