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September 23, 1983 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-09-23
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Violent Femmes
Cellar Door Productions
Joe's Star Lounge
11 p.m., Sunday, September 25
By Joe Hoppe
It's not often that one gets to take
a peek into a violent feminine
mind-especially when the mind
belongs to a man. Well, the Daily
recently had the opportunity to talk
with the Violent Femmes, an up-
and-coming band which describes
its music as "cubist blues" to
gullible reporters. The Femmes will
be playing their cubist tunes Sunday
night at Joe's Star Lounge.
The Femmes are Gordon Gano,
20, playing guitar and singing and
writing the songs, Brian Ritchie, 23,
who plays a big mariachi bass, and
Victor DeLorenzo, 29, who plays
drums; two snares, cymbals, andi
tranceaphone. Some of what they
had to say follows.
Daily: Gordon, you wrote most of
your songs in high school?
Gano: Yeah, I started writing pretty
much with the start of junior high,
though I don't think we do any songs
from thatfar back. I'd say that most of
the songs we do were written when I
was in high school.
Daily: What's the oldest song you do?
Gano: Well, I was just talking to
somebody about that. I've have to check
my records, but I think "Life is a
Scream" is the oldest one we do in the
band. It goes back pretty far, it goes back
back maybe five years, I don't know.
Daily: Which is the oldest one on the
Gano: "Kiss Off." Definitely "Kiss
Daily: When did you write that?
Gano: I think that one I also wrote-I
had my big productive year when I was
15. It's been down hill ever since. By
the time I'm 22, I will have lost
Ritchie: I did.
'Daily: What did you expect to come
out of the words you were writing?
Were you writing poems or were you
writing lyrics?
Gano: The second one. I was always
writing with the idea of songs. I write
some poems, but I was writing songs,
Daily: When did you start to doj
something about it, besides writing'
Gano: Well I guess I could interpet
that by answering like when did I first
play in public. Oh I don't know. . . I
used to play solo sometimes, that's
when Brian saw me. (To DeLorenzo)l
The first time you saw me was when
you played with me, right?
Ritchie: You opened up for our other
band, The Runt Boys.
Gano: That's right. But I used to play
solo or with my brother or somebody

Violent Femmes: Madmen?

else, plaing guitar with me, and I did
that for maybe once a month or maybe
even twice a month for my last year of
school, basically.
Daily: What's the Violent Femmes
attitude toward song composition? Are
the words more important or is the
music more important?
Gano: It depends on which one of us
you ask.
DeLorenzo: We seem to be split here,
two to one.
Gano: (To DeLorenzo) Which side
are you on?
DeLorenzo: I was with you. Gordon
and I feel that the words are more im-
portant and Brian feels that the music
Ritchie: Well the reason I feel that
way is because you can have a good
song with good music and shitty lyrics.
For example, "Louie Louie" or
something like that. You can't possibly
have a good song with good lyrics and
bad music. That's my reasoning.
DeLorenze: What about "Having My
Gano: Well, you get into aspects of
bad music and what's bad music to one
person is good music to another person.
Someone could say Dylan's early
records were all shit and just didn't
really - know the songs, There's
mistakes you could hear and yet you
can also say it's great. I think no one is
ever going to be really able to say exac-
tly what happens with music and words
and how they go together and what's
the reason behind it and how does it af-
fect people the way it does and why is it
done. There can be all kinds of theories
and things written about it, but it's
really magic.
Daily: Where did you come up with
'the tranceaphone?
DeLorenzo: Three friends and I were
up in an attic, trying to put together a
soundtrack for a film that one had
made and we were just using what was
up in the attic, so we combined the floor
tom and the washtub.
Daily: You play it mostly with
brushes, do you ever use a stick?
DeLorenzo: I use a stick sometimes,
but primarily play I with brushes with

the band. I also play with my hands and'
stick and I kick it.. . when I'm caught
off guard.
Daily: What about playing on the
street? Is that kind of a bluesy,
traditional thing for you?
Ritchie: I guess it is kind of like that.
Robert Johnson used to play on the
street like that. All those blues guys
would just play on the street, or else
they'd grab their guitars and walk into
a bar or something and just start
playing. We've done all that kind of
stuff too. It might be out of that
Daily: Do you have a blues sen-
sibility then?
Gano: I think we really do have a
blues sensibility. About everything.
DeLorenzo: We tend to always have
the blues.
Ritchie: We tend to like the blues
more than just about any other kind of
music that there is. We really love the
blues, we often play blues tapes before
our sets.
DeLorenzo: The first music that I
ever really came in contact with was
blues-that I was seeing live, was
Daily: What about a blues influence
in the songs themselves?
Gano: Well, in the songs themselves,
it comes from more of a blues feeling of
singing about problems or bad things
then there's a certain something which
happens and you end up feeling good
about it, or better, by singing about
your problems.
Daily: What are you trying to say
with your music?
Gano: I think in the live performance
that it comes off mostly as entertain-
ment. That's what we really feel that
we are there for. When we play live it's
like-we could play a song and then do
something really outrageous like leave
the stage and not come back. That
would be an artistic statement but it
would be just completely screwed up.
As far as being there and being sup-
posed to give certain entertainment like
time and show you now we're doing a

Daily: Do you want to say more aboutj
the Violent Femes attitude?
Stance to the world?
DeLorenzo: Our stance towards the
world right now is that we're just a
needle in a haystack. We have more
work ahead of us before many people
that should know about us will know
about us. But we definitely feel that
what we have to give to any audience
that comes to see us is something very!
special and uniquely of ourselves. We
don't really have anything to do with
the rock star syndrome. We want to
present ourselves as people first, and in
some cases, musicians second. What I
think it is that really charms people
about us is that we are the people on-
stage that you talked to after the show.
We are the same people. The real funny
part of all this to me is that people who
listen to the record, I think they have
one impression of us, and then when
they see us walk onstage, the first time
they see us without playing, I think they1
go "My God, who are these three
people? They don't look like they could
have made the music on that record."
Then they hear us and it's either more
outrageous live and it jumbles their
preception of the whole thing again.
Then at the end of the show, if they have
a talk with us, then I think it brings it to
a new illusion.
Daily: Are you going to put out more
records on Slash?
Gano: Oh yeah, we've got a lot of
songs that we can do. We're going to
hold off a little while from doing the
second record until we can keep playing
around a bit more. We want to have
people get a little more familiar with"
us. Then we'll put out another and
another and another. And everybody'll
be happy.
Daily: And make MTV videos.. .
Gano: Actually we have one.
Daily: Which song?
Gano: "Gone Daddy Gone."I
Daily: What's the story line of the
Gano: Well maybe you should just j
see it. It's got a little story that goes
with it, with all three of us playing dif-
ferent parts.j

Outrageous Acts and Everyday
By Gloria Steinem
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston
By Jackie Young
F or the first time, Gloria Steinem
has pulled together some of her
best and most well-known feminist
essays, thank goodness. She has writ-
ten a book which includes her cleverly
convincing views on issues that people
discuss in their living rooms and vote
on in the voting booths. Steinem in-
eludes her experiences as a playboy
bunny; a campaign manager for Jackie
0., and activist, and a journalist with
Gloria Steinem's first book
outrageous Acts and Everyday
Rebellions is an autobiographical ac-
count of her life, a collection of
biographies and an instructive manual
on insightful, constructive thinking.
Steinem, recently voted one of the 10
most influential women in the nation, is
a journalist-editor-writer-feminist-ac-
tivist who is part-founder of both Ms.
and New York magazines. She curren-
tly has a column in Ms. and travels ex-
tensively as a feminist speaker.
Outrageous Acts and Everyday
Rebellions is not only a book for
feminists, it is also a history book. Its
strength builds off Steinem's experien-
ce as a political columnist/campaigner
and her own charismatic, non-
conformist perspective on issues which
effect everyones life, yes, even men's
In the chapter entitled "Cam-
paigning," Steinem profiles the famous
politicians she has followed as a jour-
nalist. This chapter is unique because
it captures the weaknesses of the
reverred, white/male presidential
leaders that history books
unrealistically teach young men and
women to idolize. Steinem gives hope
to those readers who never dreamed
that they, too, might have the in-
telligence, ingenuity, or stamina to run
j for political office. She movinglyi
illustrates how even these powerful
leaders have very human flaws. More
to come.
In the piece called "Sisterhood,"
Steinem askes her readers to question
Subscribe to

Steinem: Views life's complexities
the logic of sex roles which "convince I
half the population that its identity
depends on being first in work or in
war, and the other half that it must ser-
ve as docile, unpaid, or underpaid
In this piece she writes about years of
self-inflicted pain, or "wasted,
imitative years spent valuing myself
and other women according to the
degree of our acceptance by men--
socially, in politics, and in our
Of course, many women of the '80s
would deny that they value their life (or
their Friday nights) on the basis of
whether or not they have some male
calling them up every night. But the
fact is that intelligent women do par-
ticipate in such negative behavior.
Steinem makes a good point when she
says that women who
imitate"masculine cultural styles" are
self-defeating. She says that women
can now become the men they
previously wanted to marry, not by
imitating them, but by having their own
convictions as well as developing
political viewpoints which grow out of
their own femininity.
"Sisterhood" is an important piece
also, because it reveals how Steinem
was awakened to the world of feminist'
"I realized how far that new vision of
life was from the system around us, and
how tough it would be to explain this
feminist realization at all, much less to
get people (especailly, though not only,
men) to accept so drastic a change...
But I tried to explain. God knows (she
knows) that women try," Steinem
In "Ruth's Song (Because She Couldj
Not Sing It)" Steinem digs back to her
childhood in Toledo, Ohio, revealing her
emotional ties to a feminist way of life.
The story begins with Steinem recalling1
an uncle who gave up a successful job to
become a farmer. The uncle, she
writes, was the "family mystery." But
as the story progresses through a series
of flashbacks, it begins to deal with

another mystery to the younger
Steinem--her mother.
This piece reaches an emotional in-
tensity as she describes with adult un-
derstanding how her late mother bat-
tled mental illness and depression
throughout Steinem's childhood. She
sees gradually that her mother gave up
her own career as a journalist and
married a man who couldn't treat her
as an equal human being. Even those
who think they oppose feminism, if they
have any sensitivity at all, will have to
sympathize with Steinem here.
All mothers and daughters should
have a chance to share this work
together and enjoy Steinem's quite
simple realization that rings of hard-
won understanding.
"I still don't understand why so
many, many years passed before I saw
my mother as a person and before I un-
derstood that many of the forces in her
life are patterns women share. Like a
lot of daughters, I suppose I couldn't af-
ford to admit that what had happened to
my mother was not all personal or ac-
cidental, and therefore could- happen
to me," Steinem writes.
"College Reunion" and "Jackie
Reconsidered" point out the irony of the
woman who gains success through
marriage. "Any First Lady, no matter
what she does or doesn't do," Steinem
says," is still more likely to top the lists
of Most Admired Women than any
woman. who has succeeded on her
own.' Steinem's logic is in that women
voted for Nancy Reagan more than
they did for Steinem in a recent poll of
the 10 most influential women in the
Steinem- calls this phenomena "a
social message that's especially painful
for women who are encouraged toward
personal accomplishment and ex-
cellence, and then expected to subor-
dinate themselves to children and a
husband's career."
Her use of a statement by an early
women's rights activist, Susan B. An-
thony, contributes to the historical
nature of the book. In fact, it ties
together the whole volume of her ar-

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4 Weekend/September 23,f 19$3 ,-.. . . ... .. -. . .-

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