issue 1 :: 1994

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Interview: Lida Husik

Not the Match Girl from Mars — After having released three wonderful records on Shimmy-Disc, Bozo, Your Bag and the Return of Red Emma, I felt the least I could do was interview Lida Husik for the first issue of my zine. To pinpoint these records is difficult, as Husik does what she wants on all of them, whether that means long, acid-grunge guitar jams, or dancey techno songs or lazy rockers or… Here’s what she had to say:
Fire away, Josh.
OK, first let me ask you about the planet Mars.
The planet Mars?
Yes, I’ve noticed that there are at least two references to the planet Mars on your records.
Well, what’s the other one? I know “Match from Mars” …oh yeah yeah yeah yeah; “Bozo.” [“Let’s go to Mars, it might be a gas.”]

So tell me about the planet Mars.
Uh, it’s very clean. Um, well, I have to fess up here, Josh, I’ve never been there.

I didn’t think so. Tell me about the title “Match from Mars.”
We were in a club, me and Jamie Harley, who worked with me on both Your Bag and Red Emma, and we were in a freezing club. We were going to try to this show in New York… which became aborted. It was right around the time we recorded Your Bag, and it was freezing as shit, and we couldn’t find any matches, we couldn’t find anything. I don’t know, it was Hell. OK? And Jamie had these matches and someone said “where did you get those matches?” I said, “Mars.” I said “I went to Mars and all I got were these lousy matches.” You know, it’s like a club thing. And the next day when we did our little house song, we decided to call it “The Match from Mars.”
I really like that song, how, um, why, uh...
How did we do it? Why did we do it?
Why did you do it? I mean it’s not completely out of place [on the LP], but it’s sort of different.
Well, it’s in place because it’s what I like to listen to. I listen to total ambient house and shit, and what happened was, we knew we wanted to do a really cool house-y thing, using a lot of samples, and we only had our sampler equipment for an hour. So all we could sample were the drums. And then I had collected some choice movie quotes—no that was for another one. That was for the final movement of “Marcel.” For “The Match from Mars” we only had it for an hour, so we did the drums and everything else was done by hand. And Jamie had this really cool drug thing; in England you can call up and choose your drug and get your warning. We thought that was rather appropriate. I love that tune.
When are you going to do an album of all techno music?
Soon.
Soon? Really?
Well, right now...
That’s my next question: what are you doing right now?
I am playing CBGB’s on February 18th. I’ve written four new songs that I’m going to perform. I’m looking around as to where my next album is coming from. I don’t know yet. I have an attorney and am doing the thing, doing the shopping thing.
I think a techno record would be great.
I agree. I think some guitar songs, the ones I wrote, they’re very dreamy, but they’re guitar based, but definitely some more techno stuff. Have you heard the new Aphex Twin, and the new Ultramarine? It’s really good, really happening with Robert Wyatt.
Robert Wyatt from Soft Machine?
He does vocals on that. Kevin Ayers does the other album, their first album, and that’s pretty good, too. I just need to get where there’s a lot of equipment, and then I’ll just go crazy.
On Your Bag, all the songs seem to be really long, and on the next record, Red Emma, all the songs are really short.
Hey, Josh? They seem to be shorter songs, shorter in length. Well, what happened was, there was a misunderstanding between myself and Kramer about how many songs I was going to do. I originally thought it was going to be an EP. So when I got to New York, Kramer said [in nasally voice] “you’ve got 40 minutes, don’tchya?” which I didn’t, so I said “Yeah!” Then Jamie and I proceeded to take these songs and just stretch the fuck out of them. So that’s where you get your little McCartney and Wings break in “Whirlybird,” et cetera, et cetera.
I love those.
Oh I love it! We just went in and played it by ear. I just played more. I just inserted these breaks into everything. In “Marcel,” the only real part I had was the first two minutes and then it went off on that whole thing in the end. I love that.
I think it is one of the highlights of the album.
Really? The end of “Marcel?” Yeah, I really dig it. That’s where the movie stuff is from. There’s a Fritz Lang movie called “Behind the Door” that’s in there, and there is “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone,” a movie with Vivian Leigh, and actually, ha!, Warren Beatty with the most pitiful Italian accent is in there.
On “Ship Going Down,” you sing “that’s as lonely as a tennis shoe hanging from a telephone wire.”
Indeed it is.
Here in Austin, by a record store, there’s a power wire that has 30 or 40 shoes hanging from it in a big mass, like a huge shoe hive or something.
Well, that doesn’t sound quite as lonely, frankly.
I just realized today that I’ve actually seen shoes hanging from telephone wires.
It’s a widespread practice, cause I know I used to always see that in my neighborhood in D.C., that was just a little, crappy urban look. I thought it was kind of sad looking. Just one show, you know. Many shoes, that doesn’t sound bad at all.
It’s like overkill.
Well, it sounds like a party. I’ve never been to Austin, but I sure as hell saw “Slacker.” Dang! It’s like a party over there.
“Slacker” is a great movie.
So is his next one, the high school one. Awesome. Totally awesome.
Tell me what your live shows are like.
When I first started playing live I was in San Francisco for a year and a half, I came back into town and hooked up with Charles Steck on bass, who was an original Velvet Monkey with Don Flemming and was in a band called the High Backed Chairs after that. He and I were playing around for a while we had a second guitarist and a drummer and we played a Coney Island show.
I read about that somewhere.
In Puncture?
I think so.
Yeah, that was a gas, but that wasn’t quite where we were headed, because the drummer was a very Discord band type person, and it really wasn’t ambient enough. After that, I did two shows by myself at Brownies in New York and the Pyramid Club back in November just solo on electric guitar and I enjoyed that a lot. Then me and Charles have been working together. Our drummer just blew us off for that one, so I decided it would be better to do it alone, and then Charles and I played just the two of us, guitar and bass, here in DC at the Black Cat, which is a cool new club. We are meeting with a drummer this coming week and rehearsing for the 18th show, so that should be a nifty three piece. It’s going to be almost all new material, the only thing I do from the albums live are “Ship Going Down” and I do “To Virginia” from Bozo by myself. But everything else is new. It’s dreamy and rocky.
On your records, you do most of the instrumentation. How do you feel about playing with other musicians in a live setting?
To tell you the truth, I felt that I didn’t want to compete vocally with a lot of other noise, and I felt that if I wrote guitar parts—I mean, that’s part of the reason why I only do “Ship Going Down” and “To Virginia” from the albums, because I felt that it compromised the sound too much to choose just one guitar part. I felt that it didn’t sound right. I’ve been writing songs with the idea of doing them live, and I try to make them interesting, you know I don’t do the power chord thing, I do a lot of diddeling around and then break into a chord say here and there so there is a balance and it’s not boring. It’s dreamy and Charles’ playing is very fluid and musical and all over the place so I feel there is a balance with that, and we don’t get too boring. But I think the main focus is the voice, for the live thing. Then is becomes so much more fun to go into the studio after that because the pressure is off, you can do whatever you want. In the new stuff it’s real minimal, simple, one guitar single-note line over things, and I’ve been using an E-Bow, which is pretty neat. It makes the guitar sound like an organ. I’ve often thought of adding guitars and stuff, but I don’t like to dictate to people what to play, although I do write all of the guitar parts and I really need control over that, because it’s part of the composition, but I don’t want to tell people what to play, and plus I don’t feel they would be earning their bread, they would only have one line here and there, it’s not really heavy.
What’s your favorite magazine?
My favorite magazine? Um.. I like Vanity Fair, and um… music magazine?
Any magazine.
OK, I like Vanity Fair, I like Spy, I like, um… Vogue, no, I like Mirabella. I like Movie Line because I am a movie fanatic. I used to like all those dang hippie rags, but I don’t read them anymore. I already know it; I know the world sucks, I don’t have to read about it.
If you could be in any band throughout history, what band would it be?
The Rolling Stones… as long as I didn’t have to sleep with any of them.
That would be sickening.
[laughs] I agree.
Would you play guitar?
Hell yea, because I learned to play guitar by listening to the Rolling Stones. So I feel that I already know a lot of the material, and it wouldn’t be a lot of rehearsal time, I could just fit right in and go tour and shit. Plus, it doesn’t matter what you play with the Rolling Stones, you just get up there, all fucked up, and be in the same key and it’s cool.
What’s your favorite Stones record?
Well, I love Exile on Main Street, and I love Goats Head Soup a lot, I love “Silver Train,” I love that whole side. The later shit… after Some Girls I didn’t really pay attention to them anymore.
Yeah, Tattoo You was the last one I really liked.
With that creepy foot on the cover, yeah. That’s the last one I was trying to think of. “Start Me Up” is on there, “Waiting on a Friend…”
They’re making a new record, which scares me.
Without Bill Wyman.
They’re an unstoppable machine.
I know. What puzzles me is you have all the money on Earth, OK, you’re 90, and you can’t study botany or something? It seems like they are limited scope. I would just start a whole different scene up, you know. I would not be fitting around in sportswear at that age.
And whatever they do gets so much press and hype that people end up buying it just because it is the Rolling Stones, not because it is interesting or good for that matter.
It’s not right. It gets really tired. But in terms of lyrics and music and history I think they are the greatest band, in the ‘70s they were they greatest band.
What is the story behind “Hateful Hippy Girls?”
Well, one night, my best friend Carey, her boyfriend Bob and I went to the circus, went to Ringling Brothers, and we got really stoned in the van and we got out and went into RingIing Brothers and we were on another world, it was like we could not believe—we’re walking with our eyes and our mouths hanging open because, you’ve just gotten n high and you go into this huge arena and there is this sea of billions of tiny black kids and balloons. Like the perfect high thing you could possibly see. We watched the show; it was stupendous. We get home, here’s the bit about this whole crazy night: we had assembled some sugary treats, in the knowledge that we would be, you know, imbibing and using drugs, so we had assembled an array of treats, and lo and behold Carey’s roommate and her friend had gotten into the treats, and they were pawing through them and eating them. Then we started listening to the University of Maryland radio station and they were doing some horrendous art thing. They were making animal noises and shit. Bob does this really tremendous black voice, that line “Bob is doing his black voice, he hasn’t shut up yet.” He calls up the station and says “mutha-fuckers! You betta cut that shit out! I’m gonna come down there and kick your white ass!” It was fun. So then we decided, what’s the natural progression? Let’s get in the car and go to the station. It just so happened that Bob knew somebody there, and the guy came out [in “college DJ” voice] “man, it’s been the weirdest night: this crazy black guy is calling us and threatening us.” So we start walking around, and Carey and I just indiscrimately open this door and there were all these hippy chicks, with flowers, and it was no joke, they had this whole table of prothisthea, and they look up and they were hating us, so we slam that door, and then we got chased out by security. And that was that.
That should have been in the liner notes.
Maybe maybe maybe I’ll write it down. It was a great night though.
Well, it’s going to be in the zine now.
Oh good. You’ve got the scoop now, Josh, that’s it. What’s the name of the zine again?
Monk Mink Pink Punk.
[Laughs] I like that.
Tell me about the song “AZT NO” on Red Emma.
I was living in San Francisco for a long time and a lot of my friends are gay and I got so embroiled in the whole thing, and I still am. I had a lot of friends who just rejected the establishment approach to the disease and a lot of the people I knew who were on AZT were totally ill and it was killing them. I’m so against fighting disease that way, I’m very Eastern, holistic in my approach. I don’t go to the doctor or any of that shit. Just floss twice a day and you’ll be fine. And the song is about the feelings of trying to comfort someone.

 

Lida Husik’s web page is http://www.lidahusik.net/.
The offical video for the song Bozo is here.
The offical video for the song Mother Richard is here.
A 1995 interview appears in Reign of Toads # 4
A 1996 interview is in Warped Reality #4. There is also a 2006 interview in the Warped Reality blog.
There is an interview in Chickfactor #9.
Two
Joyride style songs appeared on the Gargoyle #46 compilation CD. Her two songs are worth the $10.
A 2011 interview is on the Words Away blog.
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