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Andrea Zollo, Pretty Girls Make Graves @Oya Festival, Oslo, August 2003

Interview with Andrea Zollo from Pretty Girls make Graves, part II. We are waiting by the press tent at Øyafestivalen, slightly anxious they might not have time for us, their taxi might run out of gas, or that they'd rather get drunk with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Blood Brothers. It's been roughly a year since we last saw them. The band finally shows up, splitting up between all the journalists. Andrea comes straight t us. All our anxiety is gone and we sit down on the grass to hear about the new album, the new label and news from Seattle…

Photo Michael Lavine

Bib/Oa: So how has your Summer been so far?

Andrea: Well, not too bad. We hung out in New York for a week.

Bib/Oa: Where you there to play?

Andrea: We played one free show, on a pier there, which was really fun, but it was mostly because the label we’re on now (Matador) is based in NY so we had to go and sort some details out. We mainly had to see the finished product for the new record.

Bib/Oa: What made you switch from Look Out! Rec, which seems to me to be more independent, to Matador?

Andrea: Well Matador are great. Although they are bigger, they are still an indie label, which is really exciting. Everyone at Look Out! was also great, but they were a bit limited as far as their resources went. I mean Molly (Bratmobile, Peeches) also manages the Donnas and she' gone 8 months out of the year. Her husband, who owns the other half of the label, is touring the rest of the time. It doesn't make things too easy as far as time is concerned. They are amazingly inspiring people, though and we love them, but everything is a bit easier on Matador. And then they have offices in Europe which means you do not have to get it in import anymore.

Bib/Oa: Is that the reason why you were in London recently?

Andrea: Well, yes. We went there to meet the people at Matador, but we also recorded a Peel session. That was yesterday, as a matter of fact. It was kind of nerve wrecking, because it's so quick, but it sounds great!

Bib/Oa: So you met John Peel?

Andrea: No, he doesn't have anything to do with recording nor engineering, he just hosts the show. We didn't know that either, so we were asking about him and the engineers were like 'what do you mean, HE doesn't do this.' Which we thought was kind of weird since it's a Peel session... They just said 'John Peel is God, that's what he does. He has an ear for all the new good bands.' We felt sorry for hurting their feelings, especially considering the way these people work. The recording sounds great! We loved they mixed especially two of the songs. I guess that's what they do all week long, they just learn how to mix really quickly without really knowing your songs, but it sounds amazingly great.

Bib/Oa: Isn't this process a bit scary, though?

Andrea: Yeah, a little scary, and besides my throat began to hurt because it is not like usual recordings where we would take a break, and they let you drink some tea. I had to sing for 3 and a half hours straight and I started losing my voice, so I freaked out a bit since that was the beginning of the tour, but it turned out ok.

Bib/Oa: What song did you record?

Andrea: We did a new version of 'More sweet Soul', which is on Look Out! rec. (Good health LP) and then we did three songs from the last album.

Bib/Oa: Which will be released...

Andrea: In the States, on September 8th and in the UK (and the rest of Europe) the new single should be released by the end of August. They do not do singles in the States, for some reason. I do not know, it's all new to me. The new record will be out here in the end of September. It's called The New Romance.

BiB/Oa: So that was the album you were writing when you came to Oslo last year?

Andrea: Yes, basically. A couple of the songs we wrote right after we finished recording our last album and then the rest we wrote on the road, and throughout the year. One of them we wrote in the studio. The weird thing is that this is the song they chose as a single, this strange accidental kind of a song. It wasn't even a song, really.

Bib/Oa: So they get to choose what they want the single to be Andrea: Yes, but it's ok we're very happy with the record as a whole, so they can just pick any song, we'll be happy whatever they want to use. And this accidental song is really funny because usually it takes me a while to write lyrics. It is not something I do overnight, I have to get feelings for a song, I don't know. It's a sort of a process, so it was like 'oh my god, we just wrote a song and we have to find lyrics and we have to record it really quick.' So they recorded some songs they had written in the studio. And a lot of times at practice, if someone has a part or something, he/she just comes and plays the part and record it so that we can use it later when we're writing songs. We just pick stuff, because it might work there or there. So Nathan recorded a part that he had and he just asked Nick and Dereck to play a beat, you know just to keep rhythm to it, they didn't count it out, they didn't do anything. They gave that to me on a tape that had the new songs on, so I went home, and basically that was the only one I wrote to and I came back the next day and asked if they wanted to hear the song.... They said 'well, it wasn't a song, it was just Nathan's guitar part.' I replied 'well, it was a song now, do you wanna hear it?' And they liked it so.... And it is really funny that was the one the label chose, and not something we had worked on a long time. It doesn't sound like the other songs, so maybe that's why they picked it out.

Bib/Oa: Any burning news from Seattle?

Andrea: Well, have you heard the last Gossip album, Movement (KillRockStars)?

Bib/Oa: No, sorry, we haven't had the chance yet.

Andrea: It's so good, you have to get a copy of that. I do not know whether they're coming over here anytime soon, but I hope they will. They are one of my very favourite bands right now. Beth, the vocalist is totally amazing. And I just reading in a music paper in London about the last time they played there and... and do not know whether you've seen them before, but Beth is a bigger girl, and I guess somebody in the British press made some comment about her weight and so she flipped out and when they played all she did was just talk shit on the enemy... She took off her pants and her underwear and just walked down in the crow and was like 'anybody has a problem with my weight can come and eat my pussy.' She rules, I love her!!!

Bib/Oa: Have you ever been hurt by comments in the press reducing you to your gender?

Andrea: There was something once in Rolling Stones because we had played at this South by Southwest festival and they were covering it. They said something about me, something like 'lumpish cutie Andrea Zollo....' A lot of people were happy that we got to be talked about in Rolling Stones, but all my girl friends were like 'what the fuck, if you're a man, they're not gonna take about your weight, like they wouldn't say anything about your body.' They didn't mean it in a derogatory way, but you know, they still say it. And people occasionally comment about my weight occasionally too, which is so insane because if I was a man, nothing would be said, because it has nothing to with music.

Bib/Oa: And it's not like we read about Franck Black or whoever is a bit heavier than the 'expected' standards, putting on weight or going lighter every time they release an album.

Andrea: Exactly, this is so stupid. But let's see about news from Seattle... Well, it's this festival that has been going on for 2 years now. It's called the Capitol Hill Block party an it's a lot of fun. Especially since it's not that many festivals in the States, or else, they only play one kind of music and then it looks more like a moving mall that a festival really. There are also more All-Ages club, a couple of clubs are starting to do mixed shows, with a bar an all-ages, which is a huge improvement for Seattle.

Bib/Oa: Is this more common in other cities in the States?

Andrea: Yes. Seattle went through a weird period with all-ages show. They passed this law called the Teen Dance Hall Ordinance which made it really hard to have all ages shows. It wasn't written in a way that said 'no all ages shows', but basically it said that it was illegal for anybody who was under age to e in a club with anybody who was over that age. So basically you couldn't have all-ages shows unless people were 18 or under. It was supposed to curb teen drinking, they thought that keeping kids away from anyone older than 18 would stop them from drinking. Totally fucked. It ended up hurting all ages music scene for years, in spite of the actions of tons of bands trying to repeal this for years, and they finally got a reverse last year.

Bib/Oa: It' a bit heavy on the band, though, having to play two shows a day.

Andrea: Yeah, we still have to play one all-ages and one bar-show, but it's ok really.

Bib/Oa: And at least the kids get to hear some music... or else the only alternative is to watch MTV, which is not for the best.

Andrea: Very sad indeed.


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