We’ve Got A File On You options interviews through which artists share the tales behind the extracurricular actions that dot their careers: appearing gigs, visitor appearances, random web ephemera, and many others.
After I caught up with Juliana Hatfield by cellphone final month, she’d simply been landscaping somebody’s yard, changing faux grass with stones. “We needed to dig the entire thing, after which haul all of the dust, after which we put down a sub-base and a few cloth, and now we’re doing the pebbles on prime,” she says, catching her breath.
She’s merely serving to a pal with this “very repetitive and tiring” job, Hatfield explains; it isn’t her new aspect hustle. Not that it will be so shocking if a profitable indie artist pivoted to handbook labor through the pandemic that’s halted all live performance excursions.
When she does hit the highway, the singer/songwriter can have a sharply hooky and darkly comedian new batch of tunes in Blood, out at this time. It’s Hatfield’s nineteenth (!) solo album, together with a pair credited to the Juliana Hatfield Three, however not counting those from Some Ladies (her band with Heidi Gluck and Freda Love Smith), Minor Alps (with Matthew Caws), the I Don’t Cares (with Paul Westerberg), or her first group, Blake Infants. She performed bass within the Lemonheads, too.
Hatfield lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone’s throw from the golf equipment and studios that incubated the vibrant Boston college rock scene Blake Infants helped domesticate within the late ‘80s alongside the Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Throwing Muses, and others. It’s the place she’s been producing and taking part in virtually all of the devices on her albums for many years. However caught at house like everybody else final 12 months, she gave in and (with tech assist from distant collaborator Jed Davis) discovered the right way to use GarageBand.
The result’s a set of scruffy and purgative power-pop impressed by the violence of the Trump period, a world “managed by fascist blood-sucking thugs” as she sings on “Nightmary.” Over a bouncy riff and distorted beats in “Chunks” she warns her goal that somebody’s gonna chop them up and put them into rubbish baggage. Within the fluttery new wave fantasia “Had A Dream” she stabs a traitor within the neck: “then I pulled it out and I stabbed you once more.” However her vengeance isn’t essentially directed at one particular person, short-fingered or in any other case “There’s an limitless listing of people that should be punished,” Hatfield clarifies.
Her biting sentiments are carried in sugary melodies and a fragile, distinctive voice early followers and critics alike all the time described as “girlish, angelic, virginal, coy,” she remembers. It’s a juxtaposition that made songs like “My Sister” and “All people Loves Me However You” favorites of the MTV Buzz Bin period.
It doesn’t fairly qualify for the ephemera we embody in these career-spanning interviews, however in getting ready for our journey down reminiscence lane I got here throughout a brief clip for Blender again when it was a CD-ROM journal. Hatfield’s sitting on a mushroom sculpture, saying, “I assume I’m the angel-type to some folks, however my evil aspect will come out certainly one of nowadays.” That’s true, she admits, however her lyrics have all the time been darkish. “There’s quite a lot of violence in my lyrics going again to the Blake Infants, so I positively am in contact with my darkish aspect,” Hatfield factors out. “Hopefully, it’ll solely come out in songs, and never in actual life. I’m actually not a violent particular person. I can’t even kill bugs.”
Take a look at our Q&A under, which touches on a few of her many recording initiatives, Beavis And Butt-Head, music business frustrations, Evan Dando, and Phil Collins.
“Torture,” “Mouthful Of Blood,” “Nightmary” … I might ask if you happen to’ve been watching quite a lot of horror films or simply residing in America for the previous 4 years.
JULIANA HATFIELD: Yeah, simply the previous 4 years of all that impressed the document. Plus, I do watch quite a lot of films, and a few of them are horror films, Italian horror films and others. I really like that stuff. They’re type of campy and actually overdramatic, and a few are dubbed actually badly so there’s a comedy factor to a few of them.
Some individuals are afraid of their darkish aspect, so that they fake it doesn’t exist, and people are the those who go and explode. You bought to simply settle for it.
Like within the tune, “Had A Dream,” everybody has these revenge fantasies. It’s regular. It’s a part of being human, however you don’t need to go and act out these horrible acts. You don’t need to do these horrible issues in actual life.
It’s frowned upon.
HATFIELD: It positively is, and I don’t assume it will truly really feel good if you happen to carried a few of the violent fantasies. It in all probability would really feel actually unhealthy.
I noticed your final present earlier than lockdown, at Music Corridor in Williamsburg, and I’ve watched a few of the current livestreams through which you performed your albums in full. The vibe was fairly comparable, however I used to be questioning how you are feeling these digital occasions have been going.
HATFIELD: I all the time really feel like I didn’t do a adequate job. I’ve the identical previous self-criticism that I’ve of all my performances, in order that’s the one downside I’ve. I really feel like I haven’t actually fully nailed a present but, a livestream present, however that doesn’t actually have something to do with the format.
It’s type of good to have the ability to simply rise up and drive a pair miles to the studio, after which play an album, and have folks all around the world be capable of test it out totally free, and it appears to make sure folks joyful, which is sweet.
I’m not utilizing any third social gathering or intermediary. I’m simply doing it. There’s no ticketing system. It’s simply on to the folks, in order that makes it simpler for me. I initially was testing a pair firms that did the ticketing and the broadcasting of it, however I simply couldn’t cope with… I didn’t have sufficient autonomy inside their techniques, and I simply wished the liberty to have it simply be my very own factor, so thankfully Q Division [Studios] was capable of do it with me, they usually’re my buddies, so it’s good.
The reveals are free, however viewers can donate.
HATFIELD: Yeah, they usually have.
Blake Infants – “Nirvana” (1991)
A number of years in the past you wrote about this letter you obtained from Kurt Cobain, and the way you had thought of promoting it. I’m assuming you didn’t promote it.
HATFIELD: I didn’t promote it. I actually don’t need to promote it. It’s not that I’m a collector of stuff like that. I don’t have quite a lot of memorabilia. I don’t have it framed or something. It’s simply in a drawer someplace, however yeah… I wasn’t truly going to promote it.
Generally after I write one thing, I look again and assume, “Wow, why did I share that stuff with folks?” As a result of it was a private letter from Kurt to me, and perhaps I shouldn’t have shared it, however I don’t assume Kurt would thoughts, actually, wanting down on it. I don’t assume he actually would have minded if I shared it.
Your tune “Nirvana” was one of many final issues folks heard from Blake Infants, earlier than you went solo. After all you guys reunited a decade later, however that ultimate 1991 tour was tense. At one level Freda left within the center and was changed by your brother.
HATFIELD: Yeah, and he wasn’t actually a drummer. It was type of an terrible time. I don’t even keep in mind why Freda left, however she wasn’t joyful, after which the remainder of the tour was depressing as a result of the drummer… We have been simply scrambling to play these reveals, and it was actually not enjoyable.
Is that this the brother whose girlfriend took you to Violent Femmes and the Del Fuegos or a special brother?
HATFIELD: No, it was a special brother.
Hey Babe & The Lemonheads’ It’s A Disgrace About Ray (1992)
You rerecorded “Nirvana” for Hey Babe. Former Blake Child Evan Dando performed on that album, and also you performed on Lemonheads’ It’s A Disgrace About Ray, which got here out a number of months later. What do you keep in mind about that busy time?
HATFIELD: I keep in mind happening tour opening for the Lemonheads, and it was me and a drummer and bass participant. I believe it was Bob Weston on bass who performed within the Volcano Suns and Shellac. He performed bass, and this man Paul Trudeau performed drums, after which a part of the Hey Babe tour was that, opening for the Lemonheads. I keep in mind a number of of their reveals, however not many. It was type of thrilling for me as a result of it was my first time as the one guitar participant in a band, so I used to be actually scared earlier than the tour like, “Can I deal with being the one guitar participant?”
Did you see Evan taking part in “Confetti” in a Walgreens for somebody that discovered his pockets a number of months in the past?
HATFIELD: I did see that, yeah. That was cute. I believe it’s the Falmouth, Massachusetts Walgreens. It’s the city the place the ferry to Martha’s Winery is as a result of Evan lives on Martha’s Winery.
“Common Heartbeat” On The Late Present (1995)
You performed all of the guitars on Solely Every little thing; it’s humorous on this Letterman clip there’s like 5 guitars on stage. Evan’s in there too.
HATFIELD: They requested us, “Are you able to play tomorrow evening on Letterman?” I believe Aretha Franklin had cancelled, so that they wanted a musical act, after which I used to be like, “Oh, shit, that is actually scary. I want a pal,” so I referred to as Evan simply to… Not as a result of I actually wanted one other guitar participant, however as a result of I simply wanted a pal with me as a result of I used to be scared.
Appearing On “The Adventures Of Pete & Pete” & “My So-Referred to as Life” (1994)
By that time you had finished a few TV cameos. Did you hope these would result in extra appearing gigs?
HATFIELD: I didn’t actually have appearing ambitions. [“My Sister” video director] Phil Morrison was a pal of mine, and he requested me to do this Pete & Pete. The My So-Referred to as Life folks initially requested me simply to jot down a tune, after which after they met me, they supplied me the half.
I attempted to behave and to get into it, however I by no means actually took to it. Appearing is rather like such an odd world to me. I used to be not good at it or I simply by no means might actually lose myself in that to have the ability to perceive one other character, what it means to turn out to be one other character.
Beavis And Butt-Head (1995 & 1996)
You additionally landed two movies from the identical album on a season of Beavis And Butt-Head, which is kind of a coup.
HATFIELD: Yeah, that was the spotlight of my profession, I believe, being on Beavis And Butt-Head twice. These are additionally Phil Morrison-directed movies. Even again then, I used to be exploring blood, so it’s a theme in my work.
Yeah, and I imply, in My So-Referred to as Life I performed a lifeless woman. I used to be an angel. She had died, so darkness is a theme.
Unreleased God’s Foot Album (1997)
In that Kurt letter, he talked about the way you have been each in good fingers with [Nirvana manager and Atlantic president] Danny Goldberg. I take it by the point the label rejected your Solely Every little thing followup God’s Foot, he was not there anymore.
HATFIELD: I believe he was gone earlier than Solely Every little thing, even, or he left round that point, and I knew… “I’m screwed with this label.” I simply type of sank right down to the underside of the roster, as quickly as Danny left. I used to be not a precedence anymore, and nobody cared, in order that’s what occurred.
God’s Foot is a type of well-known lost albums and I do know you weren’t thrilled when it will definitely leaked unmastered and unsequenced, and introduced like an album. You tweeted some time again asking if must you rerecord it, and hinted that perhaps you’d get the masters again?
HATFIELD: Generally I give it some thought, like after I get the masters again, will I launch it? Is there any level to that, after which I assumed for a minute about rerecording the songs, and I used to be like, I don’t have the power to do these songs that don’t actually really feel so present to me, to my pondering anymore. It may be bizarre to sing a few of the songs now, and I solely was fascinated by these things as a result of folks on the market appear to need it to be launched formally.
I don’t actually care that a lot, however it’s not one thing that I’ve a burning need to do, to launch the album formally. If I did personal the masters, I’d launch it simply so folks might have an official model of it within the sequence that I would like as a result of there are some songs on the market that I’d not have placed on the album.
“Fade Away” and “Mountains Of Love” have been rescued in your best hits CD, however they’re not on streaming companies.
HATFIELD: I believe the label on the time, which was Zoë/Rounder, they have been capable of negotiate [with] Disney or Atlantic a license for a certain quantity of years. I’ve investigated attempting to purchase again the masters, and it was approach, approach too costly for what they wished.
I by no means understood. They wouldn’t give them again to me, however additionally they didn’t launch it. The label might have made cash in the event that they launched it, or they wouldn’t have made cash, however they perhaps would have misplaced much less.
I’m glad that folks have been capable of steal the songs out to the web, I assume. And I believe folks need to pay me for the album as a result of they’ve it already. That’s very beneficiant.
After Solely Every little thing followers could not have understood how inhospitable the business was for you. And the subsequent Juliana Hatfield tune anybody heard, mockingly, was “Sellout,” which opened the Please Do Not Disturb EP. Underneath completely different circumstances, it might have been such an enormous, cult rock hit.
HATFIELD: Yeah, I really feel that approach about quite a lot of my stuff. I really feel like, “Why isn’t this big? What’s improper? Am I cursed or one thing?” As a result of there’s some songs and a few albums that I really feel like might have been obtained otherwise on the planet, however I don’t know why. I assume it’s simply my destiny that I’m going to dwell in relative obscurity, which I believe type of fits me. I believe my timing is all the time improper… or [joking] I’m simply an disagreeable bitch in particular person.
It’s bizarre. It’s just a few type of factor that I used to be by no means ready to determine or I by no means performed the video games that folks play or perhaps I’m simply inferior to I believe I’m. I don’t assume I’m that good, truly. Perhaps, that’s in all probability the issue. Additionally, the underside line is that I don’t have quite a lot of confidence or I’ve by no means had quite a lot of confidence. I’ve extra now, so perhaps that was a part of the issue.
I by no means knew the right way to promote myself to folks.
I hate selling myself. Now, everybody has to do their very own promotion on Twitter and Instagram and the whole lot, and it’s like, fuck, why do I’ve to inform folks I’ve an album out? I hate even simply saying, “Hey look, I’ve an album out.” However I do know it helps Joe on the document firm after I let folks know that I’ve new stuff on the market.
Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police (2019)
Is it true that you just have been pondering of doing a Phil Collins covers album earlier than you selected the Police?
HATFIELD: I used to be, and after I was exploring Phil Collins, that led me to the Police as a result of I used to be listening to that ballad on which Sting sings backup vocals, “Lengthy Lengthy Manner To Go.” After which as soon as I heard Sting are available in, I’m like, “Holy shit! I really like Sting greater than I really like Phil Collins,” so then I’ve to do the Police. Duh! I really like The Police a lot, and in order that’s after I converted from Phil Collins to the Police.
Sting is my favourite artist. I noticed you backstage a number of years in the past and for some motive ended up showing you my ridiculous Phil Collins—
HATFIELD: Oh, my God. Your tattoo? That tattoo is superb.
Following Olivia Newton-John and the Police, are you set on an R.E.M. covers album next?
HATFIELD: No. I’m nonetheless fascinated by it, truly. A part of me now needs to do Liz Phair. She tweeted a part of [a new] tune, not “Hey Lou,” however a special tune. It was so good! Similar to 20 seconds or one thing. It was like, “Gonna depart you with my good aspect.” The way in which it went into the refrain was so superb. I cherished it a lot, and the sound. The drum sound is so bitching. Is it Brad Wooden, this one?
Yeah, it is. We’re gonna topic her to certainly one of these interviews, too.
HATFIELD: Inform her I say hello. However yeah, I’m nonetheless exploring my choices. I do need to do an American band simply because why not? I’ve finished Australian and English, so I ought to in all probability do certainly one of my countrymen at this level. Props to American music, you understand?
The I Don’t Cares – Wild Stab (2016)
Talking of nice American bands, you wrote evocatively in your memoir about watching the Replacements on SNL again within the day. I’m certain you have been pondering, “At some point, Paul’s going to name me up and ask to make an album with him.”
HATFIELD: No, I used to be simply pondering, “At some point he’s going to fulfill me, and he’s going to fall in love with me!” That’s what I pondering.
How did your collaborative album come about?
HATFIELD: I met him a very long time in the past. There was a tour booked. Paul Westerberg was doing a solo tour, and perhaps it was for 14 Songs? It may need been that tour or perhaps the subsequent album. I used to be invited to open some reveals, and so it was like my dream come true. I used to be like, “Holy shit. I’m going to open for my idol.” I used to be headlining my very own reveals, after which we have been going to fulfill up with the Paul Westerberg folks in some unspecified time in the future, after which I bought phrase that he threw his again out, and he needed to go house and cancel the remainder of the reveals. I used to be fairly heartbroken.
Evidently, I used to be on his radar or my music was, in order that led to our assembly in some unspecified time in the future. He was in Boston, and I met him, and that was greater than 20 years in the past. By the point I Don’t Cares was an concept, we had identified one another for a very long time, and we have been simply hanging out.
He would begin taking part in recordings and songs of his that I had by no means heard, and I’d be like, “What’s that? It’s so nice!” And he’d be like, “Just a few demo I made in my basement,” and I believe that’s how the factor began. I used to be encouraging him to indicate me extra stuff, and he was writing, and I used to be telling him the stuff is nice.
I used to be simply round, and we simply began type of sharing on a few of the recordings, after which we began writing just a little bit, and we recorded it in his basement.
Every little thing else he’s launched previously 16, 17 years has been beneath some alias or with actually restricted distribution.
HATFIELD: I want he would maintain releasing stuff, however he type of went silent. However who is aware of? There may be one thing on the market now that we don’t know as a result of it’s beneath a special identify.
Blake Infants – Earwig Demos (2016)
Round that point there was additionally a vinyl-only launch of Blake Infants’ second album demos.
HATFIELD: That was the challenge that I used to be least concerned in of something that I’ve ever finished. I used to be disengaged fully. I believe I used to be simply overwhelmed by stuff on the time. Somebody unearthed the demos, they usually’re like, “Are you able to log off on this? Are you cool with this?” I’m like, “Yeah,” however I’ve not truly listened to that album. I haven’t heard these demos because the day that they have been made.
Freda has mentioned neither of you can even keep in mind the place you recorded it.
HATFIELD: Normally I don’t let something get out to the world till I’ve fully signed off on it and permitted it, however I used to be so disengaged with this challenge, and I don’t know why, however I believe I simply trusted John [Strohm] and Freda. I assume a part of me didn’t need to hear myself again then as a result of my voice was so earnest, and I assumed it will make me cringe to hearken to it, so I by no means did.