Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anna Waronker Q&A

This Is My Happening presents a Q&A with the very talented and very busy Anna Waronker:

First off, thanks for taking the time to do this for my DIY blog. I very much appreciate your time. Congratulations on the accolades you and your writing partner Charlotte Caffey (The Go Go's) have received for Lovelace: A Rock Opera. You wrote the music and co-wrote the libretto with Jeffery Leonard Bowman. That’s quite an undertaking. Bowman conceptualized the work, so how did you come to be involved with such a unique project?

AW: Jeffery came up with the idea to write a musical about Linda after reading her obituary. Charlotte and I became involved shortly after, primarily music-wise. It wasn't until several years later that we decided to turn it into a rock opera. That is when Charlotte and I got involved in writing the book and libretto. Honestly, Charlotte and I would have never become involved with Linda's story, and we are so grateful, because this show has become an incredible outlet for us both musically and emotionally.

Having been horrified by Linda Lovelace's book Ordeal, I'm a bit curious as to the tone of the musical. Some press has stated Lovelace: A Rock Musical was based on the porn film Deep Throat, but having seen the clip on the show's website, (here), it appears to heavily incorporate Ordeal and Linda Lovelace’s subsequent role as a feminist speaker. Can you explain the tone or tones of the musical? Did you manage to inject humor?

AW: It's not an adaptation of Ordeal, but we do touch on a lot of the same experiences. The show is pretty emotional. The only fun part is when she films Deep Throat, because the people involved - Harry Reems and Gerard Damiano - are such characters. There usually isn't a dry eye in the house by the end. I may have cried every time I saw it.

You’re watching Inside Lovelace Sizzle DVD See the Web's top videos on AOL Video

Any chance of future performances in other cities in the U.S.? Or has the proverbial wad been shot? (Pardon the pun). Are you now just an owner of the work for licensing purposes?

AW: We are in the process of setting up a few different ways for people to see the show in the US. No wad has been shot. We want this show to go on for a long time.

In 2002 you released both your first solo album Naked, and Ze Malibu Kids' album Sound It Out, ( a Caffey, McDonald, Waronker version of a Cowsills experience). You also did the cult classic web series Bitchin’ Ass, which originally aired on (here). It's currently also available on youtube. It’s a really funny series, clearly done for the sake of creating art and a good time. Plus - who doesn’t love wigs?

AW: I think we did Bitchin’ Ass in 2001 or 2002. (It’s) definitely my favorite theme song that I've ever written.

Do you have any funny stories to share about the series? Speaking for the fans, we hope there are more bizarre family art projects in the future.

AW: It's all a little peek into the magical and crazy brain of Jeff McDonald. You would have to ask him.

Your new album California Fade is your first solo work in almost a decade. It seems your first album's cover art would have been perfect for this album. It’s themes are so personal. Was there any trepidation about sharing it with an audience?

AW: Yes, but that's just how I do it. Some of it is actually embarrassing to listen to sometimes, lyrically speaking. But I really love the record and it captures a very big turning point in my life - into becoming a true grown up... well, sort of.

“Can You Feel My Love” speaks about your new world with your son. How has becoming a parent influenced your writing? Your world?

AW: It has literally changed my life. In such great ways and also very hard ways. It's been a pretty radical shift in terms of my day to day life. I've been self employed my whole life, and in charge of my time. I became a very hard worker and my focus was sharp and endless. Now I have episodes of that, but my focus is naturally on Alfie (ED: her son with husband Steve McDonald). And getting rest. And having relationships with my friends and family. And keeping my work alive has never felt more important.

You seem like a confident, "kick ass" woman, and yet extremely vulnerable. It’s a precarious balance. What do you think helps keep your writing balanced in that way?

AW: First of all, thank you. My writing is as honest as I can be. Sometimes it's very much my side of the story, but I don't hold back. Writing was the first thing in my life that was ever all mine. They were my thoughts, my ideas, my gut feelings to listen to or not. My finished result. My opinion. And mostly, my place to put whatever was affecting me, instead of storing it somewhere in my mind or body.

You not only produced this record, but also took the helm on vocal and string arrangements. Are these skills that you’ve had to work at over the years via various projects, or do they come naturally to you?

AW: I have always done vocal arrangements. One of the misconceptions in That Dog was that Rachel and Petra were the harmonic geniuses. Don't get me wrong, they have insane abilities vocally, but the core sound of That Dog came from me. I have always thought in harmony, and I think that is why I enjoy doing strings as well. It's another voice to harmonize ultimately.

Any advice for writing?

AW: Don’t settle. It shows.

What’s your process?

AW: My process is all over the place. Sometimes lyrics come first. Sometimes a melody, or a chord progression. I think the thing that is most consistent is that I like to write while recording. I feel like it captures that initial chemistry.

What’s your favorite part of being a musician?

AW: How it feels when I'm doing it.

Your least favorite part of being a musician?

AW: I have hated touring and the politics a lot in my life. It has been such a long time that I don't know how I would feel about them now. Chances are that I will feel the same.

What’s next for Anna Waronker? Sounds like maybe a tour?

AW: I want California Fade to have a long life. I'd love to play some shows. I’m planning on it in April. I also want “Lovelace“ to go to New York City soon. And I want to make another record. But for right now, Alfie just woke up from his nap and I want to go scoop him up.

Thanks for your time - it is very much appreciated.

Five Foot Two Records (here) established by Anna Waronker and Charlotte Caffey, is selling California Fade, and the digital version includes two extra songs. A limited Anna EP is included with the vinyl version of California Fade - which has been given the deluxe colored vinyl treatment. This boutique label’s roster is small, but it packs a wallop and includes the work of Redd Kross members Jeff and Steve McDonald (to whom Charlotte Caffey and Anna Waronker are married, respectively). Also included is the truly fantastic and fun album Really Really Happy by The Muffs.

For a good time call, er read a review of Waronker's new album California Fade on here.

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