Singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh driven to createWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Hersh had a lot to talk about from the office of her New Orleans home, where she was watching over duck eggs.
“My youngest [son] found the duck eggs in an abandoned nest at the park. My biggest fear is that they won’t hatch, and my even greater fear is that they will,” she said and laughed during a phone interview.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist who burst onto the scene with alternative rockers Throwing Muses in the early ’80s is incubating a few projects of her own.
“Purgatory Beach,” a book paired with a CD by Throwing Muses, is due this fall.
“It’s our first release in 10 years, so it’s getting a lot of attention. I mean, not from normal people, from us,” she joked. “The production approach had to be all about human feel, which means flawed. We had to play it wrong in order for it to be perfect à la the Velvet Underground.
“It took three or four years in the studio, and then the book, I’m still writing to our poor publisher and saying, ‘I really think these ellipses should be more of a breath,’” Hersh said and laughed. “This is a record we can die after making, so we’re looking forward to death.”
The woman known for her edgy, riff-driven music with intense, haunting lyrics is also working on a disc with 50 Foot Wave, her power-rock trio.
And there’s a solo record, “Spark Meet Gasoline.” Hersh has been sharing new tracks through Works in Progress at kristinhersh.com.
“My cellist in London is working on parts right now,” she said. “I sort of like that sleepy sweetness that I’m allowed now that the music business is no more. I’m listener-funded and there’s no such thing as a release date per se.
“I’m finally allowed to feel the way I always felt about music: Grab it if you feel like it, and if you don’t, you miss out.”
Hersh will play a solo show 8 p.m. May 14 at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15; doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“I’m reading from my book (‘Rat Girl: A Memoir’) and playing whatever I feel like,” she said. “The readings have been nice. The music will inform the text and vice versa.”
Released in 2010, “Rat Girl” chronicles Hersh’s life in 1985 and 1986 when she scored a record deal, attempted suicide, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and gave birth to a son at age 19.
“Publishing your diary is a very embarrassing thing to do, particularly your teenage diary, but in reading it, it didn’t feel like it was about me anymore, so it felt safer to try and help someone who is going through either a bipolar episode or teenage pregnancy or the war of art,” she said.
Hersh and music may be a “match made in purgatory,” to borrow a line from her song “White Suckers.”
“I’m not sure if I would have been better off without [music], but I’m not sure I’m better off with it either,” she said.
“Anyone who has ever loved me has recommended that I stop playing music, and I agree with them, but I haven’t really been able to because the music itself doesn’t stop.
“But I’ve gotten to a point now where I think its visceral nature is not dangerous necessarily.
“That’s a better way for me to live alongside music, because I no longer fear it’s going to take my children’s mother away,” Hersh said.
“I don’t know why suicide and music are so intimately connected, but every song tells me I should go away, and I have to live with that extreme life or death dichotomy.”