When the subject of women in punk and rock is broached, the usual suspects often come up: Kim Gordon, Kathleen Hanna, Patti Smith, Kim Deal and Debbie Harry. The injustice here is how punk-rock bassist Kira (born Kira Roessler) is rarely mentioned in the same breath—not that she cares much, or at all, for the accolades. After all, as Kira waxes ever so humbly, her job simply entailed being Black Flag’s bass player and now (and for the last 25 years) serving as half of dos, the two-bass band she’s in with her ex-husband, Minutemen/fIREHOSE/Stooges titan, Mike Watt.
Kira not only provided killer low-end groovage for one of the greatest punk bands (she joined Black Flag after bass god Chuck Dukowski’s departure in 1984), she had to brave the testosterone-drenched environs of Cali’s violence-thirsty punk scene and contend with the volatile, clashing personalities of guitarist Greg Ginn and mercurial loudmouth Henry Rollins—who, in his tour diary Get In the Van, once wrote of an intense hatred for Kira. (She wasn’t fazed.)
Kira’s melodic, booming licks held it down for BF scorch classics Slip It In, Loose Nut, Family Man and In My Head, along with Live ’84, Who’s Got The 10 1/2 ? and the hefty, all-instrumental experimentallic punk deconstruction The Process of Weeding Out.
After Kira got the boot from Black Flag, dos took shape. In ’86, the twosome released their eponymous debut EP via Watt’s New Alliance label; full-lengths in ’89 (Numero Dos) and ’96 (Justamente Tres) followed. Fifteen long years later, Kira and Watt have returned with the majestic bottom-end punk-jazz coil of dos y dos. We spoke to Kira by phone from California. There was a lot of catching up to do.
First off, why have you gone under only your first name the last thirty years or so?
In the early days, my father and brother were the “known” ones. My dad is a famous underwater photographer and Paul was in The Screamers, so I wanted not to be “Carl’s daughter” or “Paul’s sister.” It seemed like it would help to ditch the last name.
How did you and Watt meet way back?
He was on SST well before I was playing on the SST label. I would go to shows and Minutemen would play. It wasn’t a real big scene so you can easily run into each other. So, I knew him that way—as the bass player in the Minutemen; just like he knew and had seen me play in the bands I was in. But we didn’t have in-depth conversations until quite a bit later when I was playing in Black Flag and we were label-mates.
Were you really into the Minutemen?
I was not like, “Oh my God… this is my favorite band.” But I loved them, loved D Boon and loved what they stood for. Back then, [the scene] was small, so anybody who was risky and doing things uniquely and differently was attractive. I came from the Hollywood scene and they were more of the South Bay scene so there was a little bit of cliquiness, perhaps. There was a little bit of not taking them at face value. I had my favorite bands in Hollywood and I had seen a lot of shows. And the Minutemen weren’t in that category. They were unique and special. But I probably like them a lot more now than I did then.
What music were you exposed to before you joined Black Flag?
I was going to gigs in Hollywood all the time. My first gig was the Germs—they were friends of ours in high school, when I was in junior high. We would go see them, The Bags, The Avengers and The Dils would come out from San Francisco, The Weirdos were a Hollywood band, The Screamers—these were the “big bands.” Basically, the measuring stick was there’s a club here called The Whiskey—if you can sell out The Whiskey, about 350 people, you were like a big band. The Dickies got signed first, which we all thought was the beginning of the great things for punk rock. It didn’t work out that way. [laughs]
Were you into X?
I loved John Doe, but was not a huge X fan. But they were around and at all the gigs. I was going out regardless of whether I necessarily loved the bands. They were great but I was not a huge Exene fan and that might have been unfair cliquiness on my part. But they were a solid part of the scene. It’s not like I avoided it (X) or gave them shit [laughs] or anything. They were truly not on the list of the bands I hated. [laughs]
Who was on that list?
I didn’t like bands that weren’t really bands. There were bands that were just for show. There were bands with girls in them who had long fingernails. They didn’t play their instruments because their nails would get in the way. That stuff drove me crazy because I really played! I’d been playing before punk rock. So the stuff that would bother me seemed kind of poser. Again, it was also my little 17-year-old judgments. So, what the hell did I know?!
Was it your brother Paul who ultimately turned you on to punk rock?
Yes. And way before that. My brother and I started on piano when I was six and he was nine. I quit when I was eleven because I couldn’t keep up with him (big surprise!). I realized at a certain point if I started on a different instrument, I could play with him. He was in this prog-rock band and they needed a bass player so I started playing bass thinking I could join this prog-rock band. By the time I was at all good, that band was over but punk rock had started. Paul knew the Germs guys and he got into it. And yeah sure, I tagged along. That’s who I was; that was my identity.
Did you pay attention to music going on outside of Cali, like the New York punk scene?
We had Flipside fanzine so we knew who the bands were and if they were coming. I was always at The Dead Boys shows; I was a big fan. I was not a huge Ramones fan. I just felt that they were kinda straight rock; not necessarily doing something unique. The Dead Boys were probably my favorite. I loved the Misfits, but they never came out so I didn’t get to see them live. I always saw The Cramps when they were in town. You’d go to the gigs and there’d be some bands that had records. The music that they’d play before the band would go live would be the bands with records. They’d play the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Television—they play anything that was kinda sorta punk that had a record because there weren’t many bands with records. So I’d hear this stuff but I was totally broke and I didn’t necessarily go seek out bands that had records I would never get to see live.
When you hooked up with Black Flag, were you eventually into the other bands on the label like Meat Puppets and Husker Du
When I joined they were on another label (Unicorn) and couldn’t put out any records. Remember, Black Flag didn’t even have SST going at first. SST was just starting out putting out records and Husker Du, Minutemen and Flag were the early stuff. Meat Puppets was a little later and they immediately became my favorite band. We toured with them so I got to see them every night.
Did you have any problem with bands being on SST that weren’t from Cali?
I had no say-so in the matter. I was just the bass player. (laughs) First of all and sincerely, that was not for me to have an opinion. But also it was great; it was time to build something. You couldn’t have a problem with the fact that he (Greg Ginn) was trying. Black Flag was one of the few bands touring around the nation. I had gone on a couple of trips with The Screamers—including to New York—as a roadie…
It wasn’t cool. I got in trouble and they took my salary away because I spray painted at this fancy NY club and they docked the pay of The Screamers because of the spray paint. I was like ‘Why no spray paint?” I was trying to be punk. Anyway, it wasn’t that cool. [laughs] But getting across the country and getting up the coast was a big-ass deal for anybody, and here Black Flag was touring all around and the fact that they were more national was great. Nobody was touring. There were a few English bands touring and occasionally NY bands would come to L.A. but not for long tours across the nation. Greg was the one listening to a lot of stuff; he wasn’t just reading the fanzines. I respected that fact but stylistically you could disagree on. But geography? I didn’t care. Bad Brains and the D.C. scene… there was amazing stuff going on all over the place.
When you were asked to join Black Flag, was there trepidation on your part about replacing [original bassist] Chuck Dukowski?
Well, remember… they were my favorite band so of course there was trepidation because I was big Dukowski fan. They didn’t hear me play with DC3 [as the story goes]. Henry [Rollins]] actually called me. They had seen me play in other bands and he said ‘you should stay after practice one day.’ And actually when I did they acted like they didn’t know anything about it. But I played with [drummer] Bill [Stevenson] and Greg and we “jammed” and then they asked me to join. We had a chat about how I needed to finish UCLA and they agreed. It all happened in one evening.
By the same token, of course I was intimidated but had come to understand because I had been to a lot of Black Flag gigs—my friend was dating Chuck Biscuits. So I had a sense of working and was just floored by what they did. Obviously, I kinda thought I could do anything I wanted to—starting playing the bass, going to UCLA. Things are always risky and I wasn’t wont to shy away from ‘Oh my god, this is going to be really hard.’ I don’t think I had any idea physically how difficult it would be but I was confident.
Physically, as in how much you guys would rehearse and play live?
Bass is a very physical instrument and it was like training for the Olympics. It was not a particularly creative time for me but a very physically challenging time for me: practicing five hours a day to play two hours live. Greg was literally playing until me and Bill would crawl away holding our arms and keep jamming because guitar is not a physical instrument; he would just keep playing. Meanwhile, me and Bill would just be destroyed from practice every day. Luckily, I had that frame of reference.
Did you write any of your own bass lines for Black Flag? You played on five records.
Hell, no. Of course not. A lot them you can tell a lot of them are the same lines Greg’s playing. Dukowski wrote some of the most classic Black Flag songs so of course those lines speak for themselves. So, no—none of it, not the instrumentals… not a creative time in my life—at all. It’s fine—there’s real value to knowing your place and doing it well. There was no issue with it. I signed up to be their bass player, not to be their songwriter. We did end up doing my songs later on. I think there’s one or two on In My Head.
I’ve read that’s your favorite Black Flag record.
It’s hard because I have a soft spot for The Process of Weeding Out. The thing about In My Head that to me is so cool about a Black Flag record is that “Henry gets to be Henry” because it was gonna be an instrumental record. Henry sat in practice and wrote—it wasn’t like the others, where Greg had written a lot of the lyrics. They were Henry’s words.
So speaking of that emotional connection, I think there’s more for Henry (on In My Head) than on some of the other records and that’s what I wanted to hear. I was thrilled because Henry did some really interesting stuff: it’s moody, repetitive and in a way he did some instrumental kinds of things with it where he just became another of us and it was so participatory for him. He was sitting there, working it, listening to us play and responding. That’s gut instinct. He did it in a way he hadn’t before.
Black Flag gigs were known for their share of violence. Did you ever get hurt?
I had full cans of beer thrown (at me). Violence is a relative term. I mean, war is violent—some punker dudes getting rowdy hardly compares. There were some bumps and bruises but I was never hurt badly. There was some violence, depending how you define it. I’d been in a lot worse situations in Hollywood than any of those (gigs). People would get mad because the guys had long hair; I had the shortest hair. People had little funny ideas because punk rock was supposed to have “rules.” Wait, there wasn’t supposed to be rules in punk rock! What happened here? People get all freaked out because of this idea of how things should be. I had the crap beaten out of me once pretty bad in Long Beach ten minutes before a show was supposed to go on—an instrumental show. It was bad but I had to play. Our story was: I’m a girl, I can’t show weakness. I can’t even tell you now in hindsight how much pain there was because I was so busy with the notion that I just couldn’t let on, I couldn’t be weak and I couldn’t let them know.
You mentioned Black Flag’s instrumental stuff. Did you like playing that as much as the tunes Henry would sing on?
I loved the fact that we did some instrumentals in our regular set. I liked breaking out that stuff here and there. Henry would walk over and bang on the tom tom or something then we’d break back into a singing song. The straight instrumental stuff—again, physically, incredibly challenging because the rule was basically “Kira holds down the fort and Bill and Greg do whatever they want” which is pretty crazy. Playing the same thing over and over again is one of the most physically difficult things because it starts to hurt. It’s like hammering nails—after you hammer the same nail for a while, it starts to hurt [laughs] and you can’t stop.
And some of those songs are over ten minutes long.
Exactly. So I didn’t particularly find it to be, oh, relaxing. It was that Greg would have these lines and my job was to hold that down; it wasn’t to jam, not that jamming is really my thing, it’s Greg’s thing. I’m the bass player so I do what I’m told. The politics of each band is different; if the band is not your own band, you play a role. It’s just like when you go to your job—you play a role, you’re a team player. If you’re not a team player in your band and only see things your way, well then, you get fired. [laughs] I got fired anyway!
When you ultimately did get fired from Black Flag, were you down about it?
In a way, I was lucky because I knew it was coming. I probably would have been more upset had I been caught blindsided, if you will. I was on the phone with Mike (Watt) and he told me they were scheduling a tour during my last quarter at UCLA. So while I was still on the road with them—it was 1985—I knew they were going to throw me out after the tour. That helped but I was a little sad at the last gig. It was sad because you put so much effort into something, like any huge project that comes to an end.
Are you surprised that now in 2011, you still get tons of questions—like from me—about your Black Flag days?
Yeah… I’m surprised that punk rock is… I don’t think anyone imagined anybody would care. It didn’t seem like anybody was gonna care then. But I do kinda understand how it happened, that I feel like I have a sense for the process of how you get bands like Nirvana and the Chili Peppers saying ‘this is our history, this is our passion, these are our favorite bands.’ You get this dissemination of a true past like there was to rock and roll, and that there is a history behind it and people get interested in what came before. I do think it’s weird, though, still that I will see some magazine and some hipsters listing their favorite bands and Black Flag is on there or any band that’s like long dead. And I mean that with all respect. It is kinda weird because it’s not like it not true for me too. There’s also a time thing though, which is weird. I have a soft spot in my heart for the music when I was growing up but these are young kids who never saw it. I get people on Facebook saying “Is there going to be a (Black Flag) reunion?” I’m like, “I don’t think so… ”
Does it shock you that you, Ginn, Watt, Dukowski and Meat Puppets are still playing so many years later?
Well no, that’s not surprising at all. I was a bass player before punk rock. It’s something you don’t have a choice about. I don’t really understand the concept of quitting. Even if dos didn’t happen and I never played live and I never did records, I’d still have my virtual band nobody hears, I’d crank it up all the time and it would still exist in my realm. I would still play.
Do you take out your Black Flag LPs or SST stuff and give them a listen from time to time?
I don’t listen to a lot of myself, whether it’s Black Flag or dos or anything. I don’t tend to pull out my own music. As for SST bands, I still love the Meat Puppets—they are on my iPod… or my phone… which is my iPod.
I haven’t even spoken about dos yet and you and Watt have a new record.
I know… bad!
How did you and Watt actually hatch the dos concept back in the ’80s?
Mike and I started having these really in-depth discussions when Minutemen would open for Black Flag the first week of that 1985 tour, before I got fired. He and I had these all-night conversations. Watt went home and he actually asked me to write some lyrics, which would be for (Minutemen’s) 3-Way Tie (For Last) record. We started collaborating at that point and then when I got back from tour and was out of Black Flag, we would jam, just the two of us. We were both bass players, true and true, and neither one of us were particularly motivated to play other instruments, nor would we. And in my case be any good at it. [laughs]
I had started doing these bedtime stories for my nephews, where I would read a little story and I’d overdub cute basses on it because Mike wanted to babysit my nephews. I’d go in and check on them and they’d always be wide awake. So I thought, “That’s kinda lame. Maybe if they had something to listen to, they’d be able to lie there and go to sleep.” I started with rudimentary stories like Dr. Seuss and animal stories and then slowly progressed as they got older to more sophisticated stories—the last ones were Edgar Allen Poe’s series. I would overdub basses and I started with the two-bass concept there. Some of those stories had become dos songs. That was a vehicle for us to go “Yeah! this is kinda cool, but if we are going to have two basses we can’t have any other instruments in it.”
So you preferred the duo situation.
When you get into the politics of a band, you can’t have that many people wanting to be the “main thing,’ you’d be competing. Already with two basses, there’s a huge competition and it is. Mike says “conversation,” I would say battle—for space, for dynamic room and for frequency room. So you gotta eliminate any other things to get to that point. We kinda intellectually worked out that had to be just us and we were just bass players and we feel limited by that—or I didn’t feel limited by that. I didn’t feel like we couldn’t compose cool stuff. We then started pulling out of the jams and story tapes structured stuff. I then moved to Connecticut in 1986 and we actually sent tapes back and forth and the first record was done purely by doing that. I then came to L.A. and we recorded the first record (1986’s dos EP). We eventually married and we were married for a few years and the second one (Numero Dos) was done during that time. It started getting a little more sophisticated, a little more singing and we brought in some cover songs. We started getting the legs under us in terms of how to make it more interesting and varied. I think the new record shows that progression.
dos has done a bunch of covers. The new record has one cover song, right?
It does, actually. It has a Selena cover called “No Me Queda Mas.”
How does choosing the covers work for you and Watt?
Mike brought the Sonic Youth cover and the Patsy Cline song, “Imagine That.” I brought the Billie Holliday “Don’t Explain.” I brought the Selena for the new record. It’s the desire to do a tribute to some artists. Unfortunately I’ve picked great singers, which I’ve found out is not particularly wise. You have heroes and you want to do a tribute. After Selena was murdered, I wanted to do a tribute to her and Spanish had been a hobby of mine and I decided I wanted to do a Spanish song.
Is singing something you started only when dos formed?
I sang in school choir or whatever but I was never a singer. I was a bass player. I’ve never felt particularly strong as a singer. After a while in dos, I started to feel like I got legs under me. At first, it felt totally terrifying because with dos it’s like singing a cappella.
Genre-wise, where does dos fit in?
We’re pretty fuckin’ more punk rock than anybody! Remember, punk rock is about doing things that other people don’t do, it’s about breaking rules—that’s what I mean by that. In that way, it’s very punk: don’t follow your idea of what needs to be. Therefore, it’s not necessarily well-liked, it’s underground and it goes against the grain. We have absolutely no “genre,” really. We go from doing a blues song, to doing a more rocking song to having a jazz thing. The fact that our parts play so much and have so much syncopation brings to mind jazz fusion. It’s the definition of interesting music that doesn’t fit comfortably in a genre. So I go back to punk rock.
When you talk, it’s so much like the philosophy Watt has been conveying for years.
Well, we have known each other for thirty-some years.
It’s like that sticker Watt sells on his website: “Punk is whatever we made it out to be,” with the picture of D Boon.
Well, yeah. We both were there when it was really that. Now, we get people accusing us of not doing it. It’s like (mimicking) “That’s boring, that’s not punk. Punk should be fast.” No, you guys are the ones who have lost sight.
You still hear that now?
All the time! We got this video out and I hear people saying how boring it is. [laughs] I know there’s stuff like that but that doesn’t mean it isn’t punk rock. Personally, my measuring stick is I like music that expresses emotion: it could be loud, quiet, fast, slow. What am I supposed to do if there’s no emotion? There’s nothing for me to grab onto. Anger and raw power is emotion and some bands like that (like Black Flag) I totally dig. But Billie Holiday is like that too and she can floor me as easily as a loud, hard and fast band.
The video is pretty cool. How did it come about?
It’s totally wacky, right? The song was an instrumental song I wrote. I am an editor and I edit in Pro-Tools and it’s kinda what I do for work. I had recorded my dog, cut it like sound effects then went out to the dog park and recorded some dogs and that was it—that was the song.
We wanted to do the cover art and Mike asked if I had any ideas. My dog’s paw looks like he’s holding up four fingers and that’s the fourth record. I thought that would be cool to have a big paw on the front. Both Mike and I love my dog so that worked out.
When Watt tours, he gets in his van and does tons of gigs across the country. If you could, would you do a dos tour like that?
Mike and I couldn’t do something like that. [laughs] Mainly, we couldn’t draw enough to make that practical. What Mike and I have done in the past is we do long weekends. We fly, play here, here and here—stuff like that. Even that has gotten harder as he’s gotten more busy—both of us. My work has gotten more unpredictable and demanding. With the Stooges gigs, Mike’s gotten much more booked up and he’s still doing his solo stuff and he’s got other side-projects. It’s gotten complicated because planning out front, which is what we have to do, can be tricky for both of us. That being said, I don’t think either of us would say “no way.”
As a bass player, when you first heard what Watt was doing bass-wise in the Minutemen, were you totally floored?
[laughs] It’s funny because, call it whatever you want—but no—not then. I am probably more impressed with who Mike is now as a bass player than then, for a few reasons. One, I was pretty accomplished too so ego or whatever, none of it seemed out of the realm of possibility to me. Cris Kirkwood is an amazing bass player too but I wasn’t falling all over him, either. It sorta felt like Mike was another bass player like I was. He was not like on a pedestal—and it’s not in my nature to put anyone on a pedestal. [laughs] The other thing, in my mind and it’s just my opinion, is before Mike started playing with people other than D Boon, he wasn’t challenged. I had played with a lot of different people so I was like “Take Mike out of his element—that’s skill.”
While Mike played exclusively with the Minutemen, he honed his skill at writing for D Boon and never had to walk into an environment and adapt—as he says: be the “tug boat” instead of the “ball hog.” What he’s doing with the Stooges is playing totally counter to Mike Watt. He is a better bass player for having been challenged and gotten out of that; it’s made him better. dos has made me hugely better and I think it’s made him better—I may be wrong—but I think so because of the challenge of stepping into that thing. The safety of playing with those same people I think was not challenging him, yet. Plus, I have a tendency not to be influenced by people from outside; I am influenced by the people I play with. So the guitar players or drummers I play with are more influential on me often times. Once I was with Mike and dos, then somebody I’d watch on stage or record wouldn’t have the same impact on me. People will always ask who I look up to; it’s the people I play with.
Were you close to D Boon?
I wouldn’t say close to him but I loved him dearly. He was one of those guys you didn’t have to know well to really love and admire. But I didn’t spend a lot of time with him. I didn’t have the pleasure. I probably would have had he survived. But I was just starting to get close with Mike (in 1985). One of the main reasons dos came about is because I was afraid Mike would stop playing (after D Boon died). He’d never want to leave his room. I would go to Mike’s house and we would play. It was a mechanism that was a little bit different. It wouldn’t feel like a rock band and it wouldn’t feel like it was replacing D Boon. I was afraid he’d quit.
Is there anyone that you’d want to play with other than with Watt and in dos?
Yeah, there’s people. You want names [laughs]? I wrote a Facebook message to Marnie Stern, meaning if she ever wanted to do something. And she never responded, so that’s that.
She never wrote you back?
[laughs] She’s busy, I’m sure.
Who do you listen to these days, besides Marnie Stern?
I don’t actually listen to her that much! She’s just known to be a great player and that’s appealing to me. That’s what inspires me to play with Mike—to duel it out with someone who really has their shit together and that’s attractive.
Who do I listen to? I like Bright Eyes, I like the newish Stooges record (The Weirdness) where a lot of people don’t, Sistas in the Pit and I like Mike’s new record, Hyphenated-Man. I recently got into The Evens, which I know isn’t a new band. It’s new to me and I’m really into that.
And they should stay a duo. I just saw a video of them playing live and they had other people on the stage. They copped out. [laughs] I saw them live a while ago and it was just the two of them. I have come to appreciate the spaces and the holes. It doesn’t have to be full-on knock-me-over like the Melvins, although I love their The Bride Screamed Murder record, which isn’t actually totally over the top like other Melvins stuff. It’s got a little bit of a new flavor to it.
When you and Watt divorced back in the ’90s, was there any question that dos would continue as a band?
It was challenging at first. There was certainly the possibility that it (dos) wouldn’t be possible and the third record is named Justamente Tres (just three) because I think there was some belief that that was it. We didn’t know. It is related to why it was so long after that record (until the next one). There needed to be some time to heal and things had to go kinda their natural course. It became clear pretty early the level of commitment and love was still there regardless of that stuff (the difficulties of marriage). Life goes on and I mean that things happen but there’s camaraderie, support for each other, there’s give and take and the sense that this is a relationship that transcends things. There are hardly any relationships in your life that go on for thirty years. This comes into my immediate family—my brother, Mike—these are the men so far in my life that have been constant. So it becomes more and more a part of who you are.
When the Village Voice spoke to Watt recently, he said your marriage coincided somewhat closely with the fIREHOSE years (’87-93).
He was on tour a lot and in some ways those were breaks. We’re both really strong personalities. That’s why I said, in a way, it’s a battle and relationships can be. They can be rough and tumble at times. Bass is something we love, dos is something we love. I had a really strong motivation because at that time I didn’t have any other projects. I have more ground to stand on now than I did then because I have so much stuff going on. At that time, it was scary because who I was was tied into dos. I was strongly motivated to make it work, to make Mike comfortable with us playing together. He didn’t need it (dos); he was gonna have his own thing.
Let’s talk about women in punk and rock. It seems people like Kim Gordon, Kathleen Hanna, Debbie Harry, Kim Deal, Patti Smith and Exene Cervenka (amongst others) garner much of the attention as femme trailblazers in music. Meanwhile, you seemingly don’t get the credit as the woman groundbreaker you are.
Aww… isn’t that sweet of you. That’s very sweet of you to say but no! That’s partly because it was a long time ago. At this point, it’s the people who are still doing it.
But you’re still doing it, right?
Yeah… but dos is a little, weird band. I never felt necessarily slighted. Being a woman thing: just like you don’t think about being a guy, I don’t think about being a woman. If someone decides to do some woman in rock or in punk thing and that doesn’t include me, it’s no different than if someone did a punk rock thing and didn’t include Black Flag.
So it’s not something that bothers you? There’s been books written about it and such.
I know! So?! I’m kidding. Yeah, there have (been books). Kim Deal is an interesting one because she seems to have a really different style, for lack of a better term, and that she’s perceived differently. I saw an interview with her the other day and she was talking about playing simple, straightforward parts and that regular bass players wouldn’t do this and stuff. It was interesting because she’s had these really strong ideas she’s putting forward—sort of rules that other people would do this and it was interesting because she was like fighting to be special and unique. But yet she was playing these simple, straightforward lines. I thought it was interesting because she was trying carve out a place for herself. I don’t feel that way. At this point especially for me in music, it’s so much about how it feels in my heart and in my room; nobody has to feel that way about me. [laughs] They don’t have to think I’m a good bass player. The people who I care about what they think are Mike and people who are closer to me. If other people don’t appreciate it or get it, that’s okay. Shit, there are a lot of people I don’t like, too. [laughs]
So you really don’t see yourself as a role model, or something like that?
I know a lot of people say that and it’s nice for them to say it. That’s in the eye of the person who’s being affected; it’s not for me to say. I don’t know. You tell me: am I role model?
For me, you and Mike Watt inspired me to play bass.
I don’t think I’m a role model to Mike Watt! I think it may be different for guys in a sense that it’s very hard for a guy to say a woman is a role model. For women, we’re always in this predicament. Well, if we’re not “competing,” we don’t exist. I’m in a battle and he doesn’t have to be because he’s Mike Watt. He’s on the cover of Bass Player for Lifetime Achievement!
Did that freak you out?
I think it’s odd, but it doesn’t freak me out because I admire him more than ever. I would never have predicted it for him. I think we all still have room to grow, dos has room to grow and I’m excited to think we maybe won’t wait fifteen years for the next record.
Watt has his own label now, so dos can put out stuff anytime.
Well yeah, but the limitation isn’t about the label so much. With dos it’s all about the composition. It’s really difficult to compose a dos song. So it really comes down to that. But we’ll see… that’s the plan—more records.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2011