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April 18, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-18

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Fun Factory
Are you looking for something to do while celebrating the end of classes,
tonight? Look no further than Rhode Island's Small Factory. With the
bright, hooky indie-pop, the band has created quite a buzz in the right
underground circles. Small Factory will be kicking out the jams twice today.
First, they'll be playing an unplugged set at the Tap Room at 2 p.m. Later
in the evening, they'll rock out Rick's at 8 p.m. Call 996-2747.

Page 9
April 18, 1995

The Muses keep on throwing music

By Heather Phares
Daily Arts Editor
Touring is nothing new for Throw-
ing Muses leader and road veteran
Kristin Hersh. In fact, Hersh and her
crew (which includes drummer David
Narcizo, bassist Bernard Georges,
Hersh's husband and manager, and
her three year-old son Ryder) have
been touring for so long the road
seems like a second home. "We've
been doing this for 10 years. We've
probably had every unusual or re-
markable touring experience happen
to us at least twice!" Hersh laughed in
her friendly, down-to-earth voice.
Fortunately, however, the road is
a home Hersh and the rest of the
Muses are glad to return to. And the
Muses' fans couldn't be happier; the
band has been playing packed shows
to fans worldwide. The audiences
"have been really receptive and fa-
miliar with the material, which is quite
an accomplishment," she said.
And even though Throwing Muses
are huge in Europe, Hersh has a soft
spot for American audiences: "Well,
we're more famous in England and
Europe, so that's kind of an advantage,
but I feel the band is more American. I
feel more comfortable touring over here.
InEuropewe'reacuriosity; IfeelAmeri-
can audiences understand us better."
And in a tour move not made by
many bands, Throwing Muses played
a mini-tour of record stores across the
country just for the band's fans. "I
really like playing record stores be-

cause that way I get to meet the people
that are buying my records and that
like my music," Hersh explained.
"There's a lot of people out there that
can't afford to go to the shows, and I
like to find a way to tour for those
people too. You can't forget that
you're here to make music for your
fans, not for the music industry or
Where:St. Andrew's Hall
When: Tonight
Doors open at 8 p.m.
18+; cal (313) 961-MELT
for more info
As for what the band's been playing
on tour, their repertoire stretches from
the moody, quixotic work on 1986's
self-titled debut album, to the shim-
mery pop of 1991's "The Real Ramona"
to this year's long-awaited "Univer-
sity." "Mostly we've been focusing on
the songs from 'University.' But we've
been playing stuff from all the way back
to the first album," she said.
"A lot of the songs don't translate
well since we're a trio now. Some of
the songs need the extra guitar you
have in a four-piece band. But I'm
pleasantly surprised at the amount of
old songs that work well with the
One of the most interesting things
about Hersh is the way she manages to
balance being a mom and being the
leader of an innovative rock band that

stretches far beyond the common defi-
nition of "alternative." On being a
mommy and a rocker Hersh said,
"They're very complementary jobs.
They're both very physical, and both
very demanding. Now I take a nanny on
tour with me. When I toured with Dylan
(Hersh's eight year-old son) in a van it
wasn't so terrible, but once he got older
and realized he had an actual home it
got difficult. Ryder's getting to the age
where says, 'Mommy, I miss home,' so
maybe he won't be touring with me
much longer. But having the nanny
really helps out a lot."
As for what she does off the road,
Hersh had quite a bit to say. "I have a
studio at home, so I go to work every
day and record. My husband has an
office downtown where he manages
things, and the kids usually are off
playing with there friends. Ryder has
a little girlfriend right now that he
loves playing with," she laughed.
Surprisingly, though, Hersh doesn't
have a preference for touring or record-
ing. "I really like both. I have a cycle to
both, when I'm ready to tour and ready
to record. I'm a bit off schedule right
now, because I've been touring since
last spring for 'Hips and Makers
(Hersh's brilliant acoustic solo album).'
So right now I'm feeling ready to record,
even though I have to keep touring,"
Hersh said with a dry laugh.
But fortunately, even though she's
feeling "off schedule," Hersh and the
rest of the Muses had a positive experi-
ence recording "University." "It was
terrific. We rented a house in New
Orleans, and ate and slept and played
and recorded the album there. Usually,
when you have a good time making a
record it sounds awful, so it was espe-
cially nice to have a good time making
a good record," Hersh said fondly. In-
deed, she feels that the record compares
favorably to her other favorites, 1988's
"House Tornado" and 1992's "Red
Aside from the news for Muses fans
that the new album is terrific, and that
the band is on an extensive tour comes
the word that there are plans to reissue
the band's import-only debut album
and their impossibly hard-to-find first
EP "Chains Changed." But as usual,

there's a catch. Hersh explained, with
some frustration in her voice that the
records will be reissued, "but only after
we sell a certain amount of records.
4AD America has shown some interest
in reissuing them. I really want to see
them reissued. It makes me sick when I
see how much money people pay to
hear them."
But even if no one else listened to
or liked Throwing Muses' work,
Hersh would be happy with it. When
asked for her definition of success,
she replied, "I don't really pay atten-
tion to these things. I measure success
more by how much personal and ar-
tistic satisfaction I've gotten out of it.
That, to me, is success."
Her songwriting process is yet
another strikingly individual thing
about Throwing Muses. As a result of
the bipolarity (a kind of schizophre-
nia) she has experienced since her
late teens, Hersh has heard and seen
things that others can't. Although she
has sought medical help for her con-
dition, she still hears songs in her
head that eventually become the basis
for Throwing Muses' records. Ac-
cording to Hersh, "the songs come to
me complete over a few hours. I hear
all the words and music and instru-
mentation. If I write them down as
soon as I start hearing them, then it's
pretty easy to write a song. But if I
can't write them down immediately,
then they start to become louder and
more confused, and angrier.
"There's no set situation where
they'll come to me, but a lot of times
they come in the middle of the night,
like four o' clock in the morning, and
make me pay attention to them," she
Not surprisingly, this means that
Hersh writes a lot of songs. "There will
be times when I write a song a day for.
weeks, but then there's times when I
won't write a song for 8 months. I don't
use all the songs I write; when we make
an album, we'll record about 30 songs
or so. About half of those will end up on
the album, the other half will be used for
B-sides or special tracks, and the rest
become well-kept secrets," she smiled.
Now that Hersh has recorded with
both electric and acoustic guitars,

she's reveling the differences between
the two. "I really like the physicality
of playing an acoustic guitar," Hersh
enthused. "It's like playing a tree.
Much harder to play than an electric,
but it has a very special beauty to it."
She doesn't have a preference,
however: "I love both acoustic and
electric guitars; there's no comparing
them. It's like comparing a sports car to
a big old Buick! I really enjoy the
acoustic guitar, but right now I'm feel-
ing at home with all my amps and
pedals on the road."
When asked if she would make an-
other acoustic album, Hersh quickly
replied, "Yes. In fact, the new Throw-
ing Muses album is going to be largely
As for the band's plans, Hersh feels
that the future looks pretty rosy. "'Shim-
mer' will be the next single. Ryder
really likes that song; he runs around
singing the beginning of it, going 'da-

da, da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da!" she
"It seems like we're going to be
touring forever," Hersh sighed tiredly.
"When we're almost done with one leg
of the tour, they just add on anotherone.
But we've had lots of offers for summer
tours, including Lollapalooza, so I'm
told. Right now, we're just letting the
offers roll in. We're also recording the
demos for the new album, which is
going pretty well."
For Hersh, it all boils down to
what she calls "real music." Citing
the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen,
the Pixies and X (Hersh's favorite
band) as examples, she explained
"Real music comes from the heart. It
isn't concerned about selling records,
or what people from record labels
think about it. It expresses lots of
different emotions." Using that defi-
nition, Throwing Muses' music is
unquestionably real.

'Ruffian on the Stair': humor with a sharp point


By J. David Berry
For the Daily
Madam Life's a piece in bloom,
Death goes dogging everywhere.
She's the tenant of the room,
He's the ruffian on the stair.
- W.E. Heneley
What happens when society's wall
of social restraints is stripped away and
we are left with only the most basic of
human desires and needs? In "Ruffian
9 on the Stair," playwright Joe Orton
attempts to use the heightened state of
emotional existence created by this cir-
cumstance to question society's re-
straints and shock audiences into taking
a closer look at such issues as homo-
sexuality, Catholicism and death.
Paying homage to the under-appre-
ciated Orton, BFA Theatrejunior Bran-
don Epland marks his directing debut
with Orton's controversial "Ruffian on
th eair " The dark comedy will be
presented as the final installment in this
year's Basement Arts series, running
this Thursday through Saturday in the
Arena Theatre.
"Ruffian" tells the story of Mike
(Doug Miesel), a hit man living with
Joyce (Danielle Langlois), an emotion-
ally unstable former prostitute. Due to
the nature of his work, Mike remains
detached and secretive, while Joyce

attempts to pry as much information as
she can from him about his job. Wilson
(Adam Greenfield) enters the scene af-
ter his brother - who is also his lover
- is killed in one of Mike's hits.
Wilson's apparent objective is to
When: Thursday through
Saturday at 5 p.m.
Where: Arena Theatre
(basement of Frieze Building)
Admission: Free
get himself killed so he can join his
brother, and he manipulates Joyce and
Mike until he manages to push both of
them to breaking point.
What makes "Ruffian" work as a
comedy is the strength of purpose each
of the What makes Orton's comedy
unique, Epland said, is "the pure animal
instinct, the desires as opposed to emo-
tions coming through. What we need
rather than what we'd like to have."
Taking such high stakes and juxta-
posing them on British society creates
an unavoidable conflict on the lives of
the characters as they attempt to deal
with these desires while still sipping tea

and keeping a calm and collected man-
ner. Orton throws these Brits into a
pressure cooker of a situation and con-
tinues to turn up the heat until someone
finally snaps.
These heightened situations are what
originally attracted Epland to Orton's
work. After reading his first Orton play,
Epland soon found the rest (there are
only seven) and read each of them. "In
reading the plays," commented Epland,
"I neverlaughed so much sitting down."
This original curiosity drove Epland
to learn more about Orton's life, and he

soon discovered that Orton's tragic life
paralleled his plays. Throughout his
short career, Orton received piles of
hate mail from angry theatergoers that
deemed his work repulsive and appall-
ing. In a manner fitting to one of his
plays, Orton was bludgeoned to death
by his lover in the prime of his young
Ironically, death is one of Orton's
main themes throughout his works,
and it is extremely prominent in "Ruf-
fian." Mike kills for a living, Joyce
See RUFFIAN, Page 14

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University of Michigan graduates
and all students from New York,
New Jersey, and Connecticut!
You are invited to attend a dinner to hear Joe Roberson, Ath-
letic Director of the U. of M., speak at the U. of M. Club of
Northern Jersey's annual meeting in Morristown, New Jersey
on Friday, May 12, 1995.
The meeting will kick off with a reception followed by dinner
and our guest speaker, Joe Roberson. For the first twenty
responses the cost of the dinner will be $15, $30 for all others.
IAEN: Friday, May 12, 1995
7:00 p.m. Cocktail reception
8:00 p.m. Dinner
9:00 p.m. Speaker: Joe Roberson,
Michigan Athletic Director
WHERE: Headquarters Plaza Hotel
3 Headquarters Plaza

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