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SHERRY FRASER Two Ton Boa : Olympia, Thekla Theater (fall 2000).




Bib : When did you get here, since you said you were from South Carolina ?

Sherry : Oh, that's a long story, I lived in South Carolina, Los Angeles when I was a kid, Nashville when I was like adolescent and Philadelphia for like 10 years, then I moved here and I've been here for 6 years.


Bib : Did you come here to go to College, or something ?

Sherry : Sort of... well I came out with my high school sweet-heart and I just felt like I needed to move out of my parents' house, because I had been livingthere like into my early twenties and I needed to move out and Evergreen... I was not entirely comfortable with the idea of being a musician so in my head I kind of tricked myself into believing that I was coming here to establish residency, enrol in Evergreen and that just made me feel better, and made my parents feel better about me moving out here, but really I just didn't have a whole lot of direction back then and didn't really know where to go so I just came down here with my high school sweet-heart. He was going to Evergreen and I was here for like 5 months and then I moved, broke-up with my hugh, you know my high school... boy friend that I dated for a really long time and moved to Providence and joined a really crazy band.


Bib : Well, had you played in a band before ?

Sherry : No, I hadn't. I was writing my own music at that point, like I started write my own music back in 1990. And actually I had written a couple of songs with my high school sweet-heart, like when we were 17-18 years old. Then I inherited about $ 5,000 from my crazy great uncle and spent that money on a bass and a microphone and headphones and a 4 track and I wasted the rest of the money. That's what I remember from of that 5 grants, that actually became very important, totally like a turning point in my life because I started writing on my 4 track all the time. Before that I would record on just crapy tapes, like different song ideas.


Bib : So you really started with bass…

Sherry : So, well I was actually raised in a family of musicians, my mother was a pianist and an organist, so I was raised on classical music. I started pretty young, I was trained on the obo. I studied the obo for like nine years and recorder, really any kinds of recorders and I was really serious about it, it was definitely like a career track kind of deal, but I realized at about 18-19 I didn't have the personality to be a classical musician in that career. I really didn't know that I was, you know, going to be like 'a rocker', but I knew that I wanted to write music on instruments that I didn't know how to play, that I hadn't been trained on, like classically. And then you know, I didn't totally know what I wanted, and I think didn’t really come clear to me until I actually started writing music and then it just sort of snowballed from there and it was just kind of inevitable. But it was a really weird, scary process because I come from a family that is really highly academic. Like my parents both have PhDs and my brother is a computer wiz, and I didn't go to college, I ended up not going to college.


Bib : Are your parents still freaked out about that ?

Sherry : No, they have been really supportive from about the beginning, basically. Well, I think they were scared. When I finally realised that I really wanted to be a musician and I started to say it out loud, like you know, a 'rocker'... I felt so silly telling people that, 'cause I was supposed to go to college, and what can be more of a pipe dream than that?


Bib : Well, you said 'rocker', not a 'rock star'

Sherry : Right, I didn't know anything about how to do it. Like there were things that I didn't know back then, really basic stuff, like the difference between a bass cabinet and a PA system, there were so many things I didn't know, and I had never been in a band... I just started writing on my 4 track and I naturally wrote with 2 basses all the time, I just liked it. I did led around on guitar, and I wrote some stuff, you know but... but you were doing that on your own all the time...Yeah, I was just writing in my room, I was never in a band. I wrote some stuff with my high school sweat-heart but that was a total different thing than me writing my own music. What we wrote together was just so different. we did that up to a point and then I was just writing my own music, pretty much from 20 years on, I was kind of doing it up all myself. I ended up writing tape after tape, after tape. I just would tape everything that I wrote on my bass.


Bib : Are these songs you still play now ?

Sherry : Some of them are, yeah. I mean I have like 50 tapes of music. but it's really hard sometimes because I like to write so much and then i have to like pick something up that I want to finish. Sometimes it would be in my face and I want to finish it right away and I'll do that. Like it did that on the latest song that I wrote that's on the ep was Bleeding Heart and I wrote it in a week. That one I finished it. there were a couple of lyrical things I changed, you know a month later, but they were small changes.


Bib : How come you actually recorded so few stuff, then ?

Sherry : Because it's been a very strange process for me, like the whole way that I've become a musician is so bizarre, compared to others. I didn't play out live, like playing my bass and singing at the same time until 1997 and so this is really, really new to me but I've been writing since 1990-1. I have been writing all by myself. I had to teach myself how to play bass and sing at the same time and I started doing that in 97. I never had a band before, so I ended up playing with Radio and Rachel of The Need for like 7 months. They were really my first band.


Bib : Were you already called Two Ton Boa at that time ?

Sherry : Yeah, and actually there's a song on the EP that they are playing on, the last song of the ep, Have Mercy. the thing is that they saw me play out solo as Two Ton Boa, all by myself with my bass and singing and i was hoping that I would meet musicians that way, because I wanted a band. I couldn't play with crappy musicians, though, because if people had seen me play with crappy musicians under the name 2 Ton Boa, they would have thought I already had a band and not approach me. the first time I did that, the first time I played a show, Radio and Rachel were there and I saw Radio the next day because she was fixing one of my pedals. she said 'hey, me and Rachel saw your show and we were blown away, and we were wondering if you needed like a back up band, because we would back you up. We will take you into the studio and whatever.' They just wanted to help me like get my music into a band situation and that was awesome. that was my first actual band and we must have played out 6 times, or something like that. i was so scared. I am a quick learner, I can give myself that but after 7 months it was obvious that I was going to need a band that had 100 per 100 of their time basically free for one project. radio and Rachel couldn't do that cause they were in The Need, so we parted ways. Brian was supposed to be our road manager and he had played in a band called Fitz of Depression, like years ago in Olympia and he had set his bass down for like 2 years and didn't even touched it, but he picked it up to play in my band. He's been in my band since then. What's happening now is that he's gonna leave me cause he had this major life decision that he's had to make: getting married and having a kid and stuff.


Bib : And it's kind of hard to have a band and a family life.

Sherry : Oh, yeah, I mean in this case, if somebody is in 2 Ton Boa and they're really in the band, it's gonna be a huge commitment. You know, you gotta be insane, really. Having Brian in the band was amazing cause he's so... he's as driven as I am when it comes to music. Like if he chose to do the band thing and like kiss my life away for the next 5 years and do nothing but tour and record and like devote my life to 2 Ton Boa, you know, well he's just as driven as I am in terms of just really want to play music and do that but obviously he can't be like this half being in 2 ton Boa and half way being a husband and a father. It's not gonna work. Cause to see the track 2tb is on, it's gonna get crazy really fast. If he's in the band and I am in the band and we're pushing it, we're not gonna be able to no to tours. It would just be like anti-growth and I know he couldn't handle that and I couldn't handle that.


Bib : So basically you're saying you're looking for another bass player ?

Sherry : No, not at this moment because what I'm gonna do right now is that we're gonna play a few more shows till the end of the year then I'm gonna hole up in my basement and write the first album. Just finish it up. I have the drummer for the first album and he's the same guy that drummed on the EP, actually I shouldn't say that...Well, he wants to do it, and I would like him to do it, but who knows, things might change, you never know, things are unpredictable, but most likely he probably drumon it and if he doesn't then somebody just as good will be playing on it. basically I write the music, so if I need to play off the parts, I will.


Bib : It really is your band...

Sherry : I mean I'm interested in having some guest musicians on the album.


Bib : Are you thinking of anyone in particular ?

Sherry : well, I have some friends that I am thinking about, you know, I have to write at first to see in what sounds I'm interested in having in there. I already have a lot and I have some friends who are very good musicians and I can say, 'you know, I could really have this sound here and you doing it'. I think that when the time comes for touring... I mean the whole writing and recording process take a while and by the time it's recorded, there are gonna be people interested in touring with 2 Ton Boa, I feel pretty confident about that. I have been very sad and brought down that Brian is leaving just because he's been such a great band mate and we're such good friends. He's got an amazing stage presence, he's an amazing bass player, an incredible business person. There's all these qualities that he's got, and believe me, I am very bombed that he is leaving. He is sad too, you know, it's hard for him to leave the band, it was a very hard decision to make. Band situations are really special, you know. You go on tour, it's like a family, you experience all these things together, and if you get along and have fun, its' just really sad to think about my friend leaving. Who knows what may be happening in the future, you never know, things change, maybe he won't leave.... I am not counting on it, though, lie this is the information I have right now and I'll just function with that reality.


Bib : So how did you come up with this name, I mean what is a 2 ton boa ?

Sherry : It's from the title of a song that's on the EP. It's also a line in this song that says 'I wore your love like a 2 Ton diamond boa'. 2 ton boa has a lot of different meanings for me. If you read the lyrics to the song, there's a lot going on on a lot of levels for me. That's about a very difficult period that I went through. I mean I should maybe go through the whole psychology of it, but I feel like in life I go around and I have a boa hanging around my neck all the time, like it's an invisible one, right.


Bib : To protect you ?

Sherry : No, not necessarily protect me, no. Basically it represents all the kind of dark sort of energy, like be very hungry, like never get enough. It suffocate me, it swallow me alive, but if I keep it fed in a certain way, I can coexist with it. I have to be very careful about how I feed it. If I ignore it, it is going to hurt me.


Bib : Well, what do you feed it with ?

Sherry : With different things, doing what I do with this band, for example, like expressing that dark side of me in a positive manner, in a non-destructive manner. My problem has been having it turning inward and not knowing how to deal with all this shit inside. Impose basically, having it totally out of control.


Bib : Having a band is something you need to survive, then ?

Sherry : definitely, I would go crazy... I have the need... I am a creative... I am an artist. If I wasn't doing music, I'd be doing some other form of art, theater or whatever, anything that has to do with art.I always knew that music was my first love and I've had people say 'go into visual art, go into theater, do this, do that, you're so talented in these areas'. I said no, no, I'm going to be a musician because I know that's where everything converges and that's where my highest talents are, and it's where I get the most satisfaction. When i am creating something, I am just getting the most satisfaction by writing and playing music. And with 2 Ton Boa, i mean the feeling of that heavy thing that I carry around and how I have to learn how to live with it, cause it's always there and I feel like it never goes away and I have to find ways to lighten the load. See it as a friend rather than as a trap. Sometimes it feels like it's not my friend. it's a serious burden, and it's funny because the band in a way IS a big heavy weight for me, I have been carrying the weight of this band for the last three years. It's my responsibility an it's basically my vision. Not to mention that the feeling of the music is very heavy and people sometimes describe it as snaky, snake like... I have read descriptions lie that several times from different people. Also it's funny because it's a duo basses and says 2 ton boa... It's all these different little things.


Bib : Did you have to explain all that to the members of your band when you started playing with them ? Did they find out on their own, was your vision changed by theirs ?

Sherry : Oooh, I definitely had conversations with them about all this, and I can't picture someone playing with me that doesn't like the music. At this point in my life I wouldn't consider it at all. I know what i need to do at that point, and I know how to attract the kind of people that I want to be playing with. I think the hardest thing about what I'm doing is that in a sense I've always wanted to be in a band situation and in some ways it's like a solo project.


Bib : Well, that's what it sounds like.

Sherry : Yeah, but I hate... like I struggle, I don't want it to be a solo project, yet people a lot of time see it as the Sherry Fraser show, you know, but as the same time, other people see it as a band. Like these two girls came up to me tonight and they said like 'we heard that 2 ton boa was breaking up at the end of the year', and I was like no it's not, 2 ton boa is not breaking up. it's kind of weird because that make it frustrating for people, and if Brian was to stay in the band, this would be an issue that we have to deal with because people when we play out or go on tour are like coming up to me, wanting to talk to me , like for the reviews and stuff, you know I write the music... and Brian becomes a back up musician, rather than another member of the band, as I want him to be and yet there is this line that has to be drawn. It's like I have to take responsibility for having the vision and realise what the boundaries of creativity are. I have to work this out with my band, make sure that they are happy, that this is something they really want and not just a big dream for them, and that they're not really getting anything out of it. And it's hard to find musicians that are willing to do that kind of thing.

Bib : Would you be ready to have a girl instead of guys in this band ?

Sherry : Absolutely, I'm completely... I don't give a shit about the gender thing. It's funny because before Brian played in the band, I wanted the band to be all girls, and I really wanted to stick to that, and not change that. But I don't feel that way anymore at all, i feel like it's not an issue, I feel like if the person is an amazing musician, and they care a lot about 2tb, i'm lucky and I don't care what their gender is. I mean if they are an amazing musician like Brian, it's not gonna hurt the music of the band....


Bib : Do you think it would actually be harder to play in an all girl band ? You might not be looked upon as a band full stop to start with, like gender being more important than music? Then there might be complex power relation that become important...

Sherry : Yeah, there's different issues that come with gender, definitely. i feel like if the musician was amazing enough that we could deal with those issues, that would be fine. I mean if I was playing with a female who was an incredible musician, I wouldn't let these issues stop the music... We wouldn't have to pay attention to us being labelised, categorized and trivialized, we would be so over it, we could just ignore all this. Or on the other hand, we might as well just be ignored as a novelty because of all these girls in the band. Of course with men being in a band, there are different issues that come up... I guess there are going to be issues no matter who is in the band...


Bib : What did you think of this show Le Tigre played at Meow Meow in September? Did you like it? Was it the first time you saw Kathleen Hannah ?

Sherry : Well, yeah actually, except karaoke... I saw her sing karaoke once...in Olympia, @ Thekla, here in Olympia, she was the karaoke hostess...I am a big fan of Kathleen Hannah, definitely, she's amazing.


Bib : Did she inspire you when you were younger ?

Sherry : Well she has inspired me more, let's see... in creativity combined with politics. To me she is very symbolic of somebody who is incredibly creative and brilliant, colourful. She's just filled with all this light, she's constantly creative. But she's totally incorporating the political and personal arena in what she is doing, she's very like educational, and I think that's really amazing, highly rare.


Bib : Would you say that the community here is very supportive ?

Sherry : I can't really speak for Olympia, like I know tons of people here, may are my friends and we're just like doing things together, so I don't really think about all this.


Bib : Right, I mean people @ Kill Rock Stars, for example, since that's the label that released your EP.

Sherry : Well, you know I think I am kind of new to KRS, sometimes i just hear some kind of bits and pieces about other people who used to be in Olympia and stuff, but I'm like whatever... and I think Olympia totally loves Kathleen Hannah, like absolutely, she's a goddess here.


Bib : How did you meet the guys from KRS ?

Sherry : Well, I met Slim around town, and also I made a demo with Radio and Rachel and gave him one, so I met him through that. i didn't know him hardly at all when I gave him that demo. Brian knew him as well, and he loved the demo, and he and Brian were talking one day after Brain joined the band and we were thinking... well you know Brian had done this whole band thing before and he just thought it would be good if we put out a 7 inch, so we'd have something to sell at shows, something really basic. So, him and Slim were hanging out one day and they just started on that topic and they got totally into it. Brian came up to me and said 'Slim wants to put out a 7" of us', and I was like 'cool'...


Bib : When was that ?

Sherry : June of 1999...but it just kind of became an ep because I had like extra songs that were done and I was like showing the band. then Slim thought an ep would be a much better idea than a 7" because they sell better, so if you had like you know 4 good songs... and then it became like 5.


Bib : Where did you do the demo tape ?

Sherry : @ Mushroom studios @ Vancouver. And we got to record there... oh, my god, it was a strange situation... My high school sweet-heart...well here the gossips are gonna start... You know I fell weird about all this, especially with female musicians I feel really paranoid because I feel like they are going to attach me to him, say like 'oh. she must write music like him, or something'... but we write completely differently, play music in a totally different worlds. I mean, we met each other when we were 15 years old, we grew up together and we were each other's musical cheerleaders for years when nobody gave a shit about what we were doing. I mean it sounds so silly and melodramatic, but it felt like people did not want us to play music, just because it's not a realistic way to make money in this world. It's really weird because he banged, he had this one hit, and he bought a studio with it and he told me 'hey, if you wanna record the ep there, go for it and won't charge you the daily rate.'So basically all our costs were like hotels and food and like driving up and down, up and down...It actually turned up to be quite a bit of money...


Bib : How long did it take you to record the whole thing ?

Sherry : It took us longer than we thought it'd take. it took us like 4 weeks.


Bib : So you were doing the demo with Brian and Dan ?

Sherry : Yes, he is from New York city, he might be the one drumming for the first album as well, but I don't know yet, I don't want to drop names. He's definitely interested in doing that and he's an incredible drummer, so I am fully happy that he's interested.


Bib : How did you like recording then ? Was it long boring ? Tiring ? Fascinating ?

Sherry : I learnt a lot, I felt like I went through 10 life times because I had never been in a big studio before and this was just completely different. And you think you're gonna go in there and get some like amazing piece of music because there's some engineer that knows what he's doing and he's gonna show you how to do it right, and you trust this person, and you're like.... It was very difficult.


Bib : Did you find yourself losing what you had put on ?

Sherry : OOh, losing my vision constantly, constantly getting lost, constantly becoming something else that it was not. Like I remember just tearing out my hair, wanting like stab my ears with knives cause I couldn't stand the sound that was happening. The engineer that we were working with was amazing, he's got an amazing ear but he came from a certain kind of sort of musical experience of recording that was more suited towards a more radio pop kind of air play. Besides he had never heard us play live, and he was a huge fan but he had never heard us play live and he'd never recorded music like the one we were playing. He was a friend of my ex-boyfriend's... so if we had actually hired him, we would have paid like thousands of thousands of thousands of dollars and it was kind of like he wanted to just do it. It was hard and he really put a lot of himself into it. it was just really hard to bring it all together and make it work, it was really frustrating.


Bib : Are you happy with the record, though ?

Sherry : I am ok with it, I still have a hard time listening to it. I feel like so much got lost in the translation. I feel like I have 4 track recordings that have a feeling in them that is entirely not there, on the ep. But that's just me, and I know that I can get that feeling on future albums but I'm gonna have to be totally in command. That's why i am going to create my whole demo for the album in my basement, I'm gonna record as little as possible outside of my basement. But it was still a big favor of John's to let us use his studio, it was a very big gift for us to get to go in there....so if we have like a little bit of a budget, I can picture ourselves going up there an recording whatever we've got... because anyway there are things you can do in the studio that you can't do in my little basement. Besides, I have some kind of a clearer picture of some of those things now. i will be more prepared and organized, know exactly what I want to hear. this time I am really going to work and find an engineer that is on the same mind track, that has something to give that I could never do, and he's gonna make it better. to me it's like having somebody in your band almost.


Bib : You have to know a lot about the process.

Sherry : Well, you do, and I think that's what was really frustrating for me because I didn't know and I feel like i know more now. And I also know that there are gotta be people out there that I can work with and I won't be hitting a glass ceiling with. they're gonna tell me 'o, you can't do this, you can't do that and I'm going be thinking on the top of my head yes, I can, yes I can....And I have to fight like an up hill battle to get them to do something that would take three minutes, but it takes 20 minutes because I have to convince them to even try it....because in their engineer's mind that just doesn't work, you just do not do that, because it will sound like shit... but then they realise that's what what is going to make it perfect, you know, whatever.


Bib : Do do you feel like something is really lost ?

Sherry : Yeah, I think that for a first ep, for a first effort, I am ok with it, it's satisfactory, you get some of the feeling across... people might want to hear the first album...So basically i am happy the ep is doing his job and i mean it's weird to feel like 'oh, I wish I could re-record that song, or those vocals...' It's so weird to listen to the 4 track Version of Bleeding Heart and it's a whole other painting, a whole other picture that you know.. It feels like 'this has been formatted to fit your tv screen, you know, something's that's been filmed in panavision and you can't even see this character because it's getting cut off, you know what I'm saying? That's exactly how I feel when I listen to a lot of the stuff on the ep... and it hurts, because I want people to hear what I heard when I wrote this song and what I got onto the 4 track, even though it sounds like crappy in all these technical defaults, still, it's got all the feelings, the power that get all smashed and hidden, flattened, or whatever... That's one of the things that I realized when I got into the studio, it was like I couldn't just tell this guy 'well, you know, there's this feeling like...the sound that goes like this...' Towards the end of the project I was bringing in my SM 58 microphone which is like $100 microphone while he had done those microphone shoot outs with me with hundreds of different microphones ranging from $2,000 to $14, 000 and have me try different mics and none of them worked...as well as my $100 trashy mic that I always use to record and sing live. i was also bringing my really crappy compressor as well, you know. This is not to say that other very expensive compressors can't make the certain noises that the ones I ever could afford, but you just don't know. He would just say like 'so where was the setting exactly when you did this or that... and I was like man, I don't know...I just did it in the moment. Now when I am doing a major recording thing on my new equipment i bought... cause I bought a lot of equipment because I got this publishing deal... so I had money to spend and anyway, i have a couple of ADTS... I was advised to get them and they're fine, it's fine you know...


Bib : Are you still using the same mic, though ?

Sherry : Oh yeah and I use my 4 track actually more, it's like my sketch pad and I feel more comfortable with it than when I have to go and paint a big canvas and I have to take it to the ADATS, all that. Now I have a video camera and I record my settings, not on the 4 track but like on all the effects and on my board, on the big huge board.. I record everything... it's so boring but I have to do it because I know in the future when I go into the studio and I want that sound again, I need to know exactly where everything was... Well, it is very tedious.... but I also think it can be so rewarding when you can have the right people to work with you and you're really prepared and you know what you want to hear.


Bib : Ok, thank you for your time, and good luck for the recording, we'll be looking forward to hearing the whole album...


© babesinboyland 2001.

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