Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Exorcism Number Seventeen: Tara Cohen
1-Where did you grow up? What are/were your parents like? Did they encourage you as far as music is concerned?
I grew up in South Jersey…don’t judge me please..lol. My Mom was cool when she wasn’t totally preoccupied with her full time job as a small business owner. She was a member of that mail order CD thing in the 90’s where you could send for a bunch and it only cost a penny or something. She would let me pick out the ones I liked. She also bought me a keyboard for Christmas when I was like 10. My real father was an asshole and always tried to squash my dreams of being a musician. When I was 7 I begged for violin or piano lessons but he refused, saying I wasn’t a good listener.
2-What bands influenced you as a kid? Do you remember a song or album that made you want to play music specifically rather than just listen?
When I was real young I remember watching Madonna and Debbie Gibson and that really inspired me to want to sing. In High school I was in a band called Therapist to impress boys. We were really into Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors era. I was also trying to be a hippie girl and was obsessed with Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon in particular. In college I found a cassette of Surfer Rosa by the Pixies at the Farmington thrift store. Listening to that tape made me feel so inspired and cool. I remember showing it to the hippie guys I played music with and them being so confused and like hating it because it wasn’t Ratdog. That’s when I knew I wanted to play more than acoustic/electric twelve-string. I evolved, cut my dreadlocks, then started the Rattlesnakes shortly after that.
3-What instruments do you play? What musicians made you want to pick those instruments? Do you have specific musicians whose style helped shape your style?
I started out playing acoustic guitar singer/ songwriter style. Joni Mitchell’s Blue was really inspiring. I love finger picking guitar. When I started the Rattlesnakes I played Bass. I was obsessed with Kim Deal. Now I play drums in Fur. I love simple, fast and steady beats. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a drum machine. My Drum influences are Bonham, Dave Grohl, Gary Young from early Pavement, and Martin Rev’s drum machine.
4-Talk about your current songwriting process in comparison to the first songs you wrote. Talk about writing in Fur vs The Rattlesnakes.
When I first started writing songs I would come up with a couple guitar chord progressions I liked then add lyrics. When I wrote lyrics they would be fragments of arbitrary phrases that sounded cool. I would make it up as I went along too. Now it’s more organized and has flow. Writing with my husband Brian has taught me a lot. In Both bands we jam on stuff he’s thought of on guitar to get familiar then later we refine and write out the lyrics. The songs I write for Fur I usually come up with a bass line and vocal melody and then write a drum machine part then Brian will add guitar. We add lyrics last.
5-What influences your lyric writing? What singers inspire you?
I am inspired by the human condition, getting older, being pissed, nature…I’m actually really bad at writing lyrics. Currently my friends in bands here in Portland inspire me. The singer of Foam Castles, Tyler Jackson and the singer of Metal Feathers, Jay Lobely have been really inspiring for me lately. Also, I LOVE Boston band Fat Creeps singers Miriam and Gracie. I have WAY too many famous favorites to mention…Brian Cohen will always be my favorite song writer, though.
6-I kind of don't know you at all, but I felt an instant kinship with you. Not necessarily with me, but do you feel like that happens sometimes to you with people? What the hell is that?
Aw that’s awesome. Ya, I can totally say that happens to me. When it happens I always just attribute it to being unpretentious, kindred spirits but I don’t know. I’d like to think it’s something more mystical than that.
7-Do you think that growing up in the 90's was helpful in cultivating your interest in music in general? (Because it was in a sense another "punk" renaissance where it seemed like anyone could and anyone should be in a band...)
I don’t know…probably a little subconsciously. I was in kind of young for most of the 90’s and out of touch with the indie stuff happening. I do remember feeling a little suspicious of all the mainstream music I listened to and purposely hating bands like Nirvana (even though I think they are pretty great now). I think if my parents were more in tune to the indie or “punk” stuff happening and exposed me to it I might have been even more influenced (either by loving it or hating it in an attempt to rebel against them). But anyway all I had access to was like sneaking to watch MTV. I know the 90’s are really in vogue right now and I wish I could take more credit for being a 90’s child but I’m just not that cool. I didn’t really get into the good 90’s music and stuff (that I think you’re talking about) until I was a like 18-19. I feel like my interest in music would have been there no matter what period I grew up in.
8-Do you think where you live influences the type of music you make and it's overall sound?
Oh yea definitely! In so many ways! I think you’d have to try really hard not be influenced by where you live. I think if you’re depressed because it’s winter in Maine and you haven’t seen the sun in a while it’s going to come thru in your music.
9- Do you have any heroes (musical or otherwise) whose personal life is embarrassing but whose art is amazing and you kind of have to stand up for that art and ignore their personal shit?
Courtney Love… maybe a little I don’t know! I liked early Hole. But, yea she is a dickhead! Have you seen that documentary, Hit So Hard, about Patty Schemel? (She was an amazing drummer!) Court does not make herself look good in it. Pink Floyd too just cause I’m embarrassed I was so obsessed with their most popular album for a large portion of my adolescents and it’s associate with this burnout, stoner-hippie stereotype but it was like more than that!
10-Besides that you are very good at it, what makes you want to keep making music?
I want to leave some kind of legacy.
11-Do you have any paranormal experiences you'd like to share?
Ha! Sometimes I feel like I have ESP and I can feel when other people are thinking about me. Also, I love coincidences. I feel like it’s so much more then happenstance.
THANKS TARA :)