DIARY - 21 NOVEMBER 2003 - NEKO CASE
fronts a band called the 'New Pornographers' and has been photographed
in sensual poses in magazines diverse as Playboy, Kutie, GQ and
But don't ask Chicago chanteuse Neko Case about her raunchy slipstream
on the eve of her debut Australian tour with Nick Cave & The
Case, unlike expatriate Australasian country star Keith Urban, doesn't
want to talk about her pictorial past.
"I've never posed nude but for some reason I have a reputation
for doing so," Case, 32, told Nu Country.
posed naked for anything. That would be pretty far out there. They probably
confused with it when I posed for this calendar, Sympathy For The Record
Industry. It was a pin up calendar. No-one in it is naked or even close.
It's just fifties style pin-up stuff. I only did it because my friend
Victoria is a photographer. She needed someone to be Miss February."
But Case told Playboy she and fellow singer Kelly Hogan often overcome
lonely nights on the road with their own porn library.
"Well, when I go on the road with Kelly Hogan she always buys Leg
Show," Case says, "We're big fans of Leg Show. The magazine
has a woman editor and she always seems to cover more bases than a lot
of other pornography does. I like it, yeah. I tend to lean more toward
the more erotic or leave-it-to-your-imagination kind, more suggestive
rather than full-on."
BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS
born Bachelor Of Fine Arts is touring here to promote her three solo albums
and the New Pornographers disc.
And she wants to be known for her music that brings her to Melbourne Myer
Music Bowl with Anglican rural minister's son Cave and Calexico on Sunday
"If we talk about this stuff in the interview the editor will take
everything out about the music and only talk about that (the pictures),"
"It's probably better if we didn't mention it. I kind of want it
to stop because being a lady in the music industry I want other ladies
to know that I'm a musician and a producer and I make records. We just
spent a lot of money on plane tickets to come to Australia - and I want
people to know we're going to be doing that. Nobody knows you wrote your
entire album and produced it."
Case wants to play down her raunchy pictures taken before and while touring
to promote the New Pornographers.
"Carl Newman, who founded the band made the name up," says Case,
"he found out later it was related to some Jimmy Swaggart rant against
music, though. So it turned out to be very appropriate."
Although Neko distances herself from past photographic spreads because
she wants more attention on her music, she has no qualms about others
using it to sell their music.
"For me it's really important that there other ladies doing that,"
Case says, "because I think it's cool that people pose nude and stuff.
There are plenty of people doing that but we already know that, you know
what I mean. I'm not complaining about you. I just don't want people to
focus on that with me."
ADIOS HOME AT 15
Case left home at 15 and blazed a trail as a drummer from 17 in Tacoma,
She played drums in Canadian punk bands Cub and Maow before developing
her country music career while at university in Vancouver, Canada.
"At 17 I was playing in a band in Tacoma, Washington," Case
says, "I moved to Canada to go to college when I was 24. I pretty
much started writing when I was in Canada."
She attended Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and received her Bachelor
of Fine Arts degree in 1998.
But her student visa ran out so she quit Maow and Canada.
Case released first solo album 'The Virginian' - a slab of traditional
country - in 1997.
The voluptuous redhead co-wrote all 12 songs on her second album, 'Furnace
Room Lullaby,' released in 2000 as Neko Case & Her Boyfriends.
Case also co-produced and wrote 11 of the 13 songs on her third album,
"I wrote 'Things That Scare Me' in about half an hour,"
Case revealed, "some times a song can be around for a couple of years.
It depends on what mood you're in or where you are or if you had a guitar
handy. I never force myself to do anything, I collaborate with other people
because it's fun."
So was her tune 'Ghost Writer' with a Woody Guthrie locale influenced
by the legendary writer?
"No, it was a reference to living next to the Grand Coulee Dam and
going to see the light show every night," Case explained, "I
actually lived there."
The album was recorded at Wavelab Studio in Tucson, Arizona at the end
Case played guitar, tenor guitar, piano, saw and drums and co-produced
with Darryl Neudorf and Craig Schumacher.
The only covers were 'Running Out of Fools,' made famous by Aretha
Franklin, and 'Look For Me (I'll Be Around)' recorded by Sarah
Vaughn in 1963.
Her original tunes 'Pretty Girls' and the title track of 'Furnace
Room Lullaby' featured on the soundtrack of Sam Raimi directed, Billy
Bob Thornton written 2000 movie 'The Gift' starring Cate Blanchett
and Keanu Reeves.
"We were asked to do it, me and the band," Case revealed, "they
came to us. I saw the movie before I wrote the songs but I didn't write
the songs with the movie in mind necessarily."
So what did Case think of the soundtrack that also featured her mentor
Loretta Lynn on her songs Mama Why and Everybody Wants To Go
"They never sent me a copy of the soundtrack so I've never actually
heard it," Case said, "they kind of forget about you after the
Case also performed on the 'Shortening Sessions' tribute disc to
Lynn - subject of the 1980 'Coal Miner's Daughter' movie.
"I've been listening to her ever since I can remember," Case
says, "my grandparents were really into her. She's likeable and she's
a great singer and she's funny. She doesn't take herself too seriously.
As a protest singer back in the sixties she was probably a little more
honest. I feel a little more connected to her. She's just so down-to-earth,
so frank about things and she writes her own songs and she does other
people's songs. She's very revolutionary without calling a lot of attention
to herself for that fact. She just states it the way it is."
How did Case feel about the recording sessions for her version of Lynn
song 'Rated X' on which she was backed by The Sadies?
"I don't know exactly, it's kind of strange," Case added, "when
that song was recorded people were trying to get the funky bass rhythm
Hogan also revived Lynn tune, 'Hanky Panky Woman,' - a record she found
in a yard sale many moons ago.
OPRYLAND AND CHICAGO
distances herself from the thriving mainstream Nashville scene.
"There's not really anything happening in Nashville that interests
me," Case says, "other than a small group of people I appreciate.
I don't have to go to Nashville to be songwriter it's easier to be
noticed if you don't go there. If you were a cup of water and wanted
to be noticed why would you wade out into the ocean."
Case rebelled against one promoter by shedding her blouse on stage
at a gig at Opryland in Nashville in 2001.
45 minutes into a 90-minute net, ripped off her shirt in a protest against
But she shed her top in her latter day Illinois hometown for a different
"In Chicago I pulled the top half of my dress off because I was hot,
wearing this giant bra that was like a shirt," Case confessed, "It
was not getting naked. But when I did a photo shoot at Chicago club the
Hideout, they were making me wear these really stupid outfits, and I was
like, "God, I'd rather be naked." And he was like, "Would
you? Would you be naked?"
"So I took my clothes off and they took these pictures while I was
wearing heels, which was the funniest part, because the most hilarious
thing about pornography to me is always that they have to be wearing shoes,
and they have to be pumps!"
So has Case ever worked with fellow Chicago singer Robbie Fulks who wrote
'Fuck This Town' about Nashville?
"It's funny you should mention that, I'm going to totally contradict
myself," laughed Case, "Robbie and I just recorded some stuff
together in Nashville. He put together a Johnny Paycheck tribute disc
and asked me to come and sing on it. It was so much fun. I performed 'If
I'm Gonna Sink I Might As Well Go To The Bottom' - one of his more
honky tonking numbers."
Paycheck appeared with fellow former convict David Allan Coe in the 1981
movie 'Take This Job And Shove It' which followed his 1977 #1 hit
of the Coe penned song.
Paycheck died of emphysema at 64 on February 18 after songs such as 'Pardon
Me (I've Got Someone to Kill,)' 'It Won't Be Long (And I'll Be Hating
You,') and 'He's In A Hurry (To Get Home to My Wife).
So what it was like recording with country legends such as Gail Davies
- the first woman producer in Nashville in the seventies?
"Gail kicks ass, she was so much fun," Case revealed, "she
was one of the nicest ladies in the whole wide world. I'm honoured to
know her. We ended up getting loaded in a bar, singing some songs with
a covers band. I don't remember much about it."
So who was on Case's session?
"There was Red Volkaert who played with Merle Haggard and Lloyd Green
who played with Paycheck," says Case, "that was a little daunting
and I was a little terrified but they were so nice. Mavis Staples and
George Jones were also on the album. It was so exciting and fun."
NEW ALBUM IN FEBRUARY
to release her fourth solo album in 2004.
"I want to get started in February," Case says, "I'm in
the process of doing that now. I have a lot of songs. Some don't have
titles and some don't have bridges, I don't plan too far in advance. When
I write half is when I'm on the road and half at home."
So what about her image she portrayed in fashion shoots to accompany feature
stories in magazines such as Esquire, GQ and Playboy?
"I had a really fun time, they get you to wear fancy clothes,"
Case explained, "I'm not a super model. I'm too fat for that, I'm
fat and I'm proud. I'm not really fat but in the world of fashion I'm
obese. So hopefully other ladies of the world can have a good laugh with
me about that one, the fact we're morbidly obese even through we're just
Among her other projects is the beautiful old-time country she sings with
Carolyn Mark as the Corn Sisters.
strong opinions on many peers.
"Well, I really don't like Reba McEntire's music at all, but I really
like Reba McEntire for some reason," says Case, "I like Reba
but only for her acting. You've got to admire her for her fancy, she's
pretty over the top with her outfits and hair. I've got a soft spot for
her. She just seems like a super-nice lady. And she was in Tremors, the
movie about the giant worm! You gotta be cool to be in Tremors. And she
always does that Travis Tritt thing where she insists on acting in her
videos, too, which is good for entertainment."
But she appreciates
the Dixie Chicks.
"You know, I started out feeling pretty snotty about the Dixie Chicks,
and then I saw their live TV concert and I loved 'em," Case added,
"their music isn't necessarily what I'm into, but I just thought
they were sooo cool, and they were going for it, and they were playing
their instruments so hard. And then I realised, you know, it's really
cool that they actually play. That sounds really condescending 'cause
I'm sure they've been playing a lot longer than I have and they're way
better musicians than I am, so I didn't mean that with any condescension.
I just meant that I watched them and I was like, That's cool. I'm glad
that young girls are checking them out."
So what does
Case think of Canadian chanteuse Shania Twain?
"She's kinda the cheese-filled hot dog of country music," Case
says, "it's a hot dog but there's extra!"
CAVE AND TOURING COSTS
Case is making
the most of her Australian sojourn with Cave because of the huge cost
of international touring.
"In Europe it's really good so many people come to the show, Case
says, "but you owe the record company so much at the end of the tour.
It's hard to get plane tickets for five people with all the expenses incurred.
"Coming here is exciting and necessary. I wouldn't be in Australia
right now if Nick Cave hadn't asked us to come. It's a great opportunity
and you're more likely to play in front of a lot of people if you're going
to play with Nick Cave than if you don't. I really enjoy touring with
Nick Cave. I've done it a couple of times."
Case appears with Cave & The Bad Seeds and Calexico at Myer Music
Bowl on Sunday December 7. Bookings Ticketek - 1300 136136
If you can't
get enough of Neko Case check out the site below.
/ back to diary