Four didn’t seem like enough and six seemed like too many and so five it was. Specifically, The Live Five, a place in WONGDOODY space where we drag in figures of note and blast them with five questions about creativity. In the hopes that if you look at something long enough it might change how you understand it. For the better.
If you’ve had ears to hear or eyes to see, the estimable Lydia Lunch has been somewhere in your head for the better part of the last 40 years. Popping up in movies or on TV, stages, art galleries, libraries, the shelves of your local bookstore for chrissakes, she’s been there. Where? Everywhere. A full and total embodiment of an anywhere-anytime machismo. So often and so regularly that you’re not even surprised when it happens anymore.
Lydia Lunch is in the New York Times? Of course she is. They’re talking about her movie in the New Yorker? Of course they are. Lydia Lunch is doing a cookbook? How could she not be?
Part hustler, part the hardest working woman in show biz, Lunch seems to never sleep, never rest and never miss a trick. And between her podcast The Lydian Spin, her bands (yes, plural), side projects with everyone from Nick Cave, Exene Cervenka and Henry Rollins to William S. Burroughs and Jim Carroll, as well as the aforementioned movie she’s also had time to be made an academic fellow, and much more. Like what “much more”?
Like showing up for The Live Five. And not just showing up…but also showing out. For your reading pleasure.
You just won the CPM Fellow Award putting you in partnership with Barry Gibb and Lamont Dozier, how much of this feels like “it’s about time” and how much like “oh my god, how cool”?
NYU Fales Library bought my archives and are setting up a digital museum. Still looking to sell my Intellectual Property Rights. As for the Fellowship, I was approached for an interview by writer Harlow Crandall who was doing a dissertation on No Wave literature for Middle State Tennessee University. I suggested he try to book a show for me at the University. Next thing I know his professor approaches me with the offer of a Fellowship for my “contribution to modern music”. After writing 385 songs, HAH! So…sure it’s about time. In September I will receive the award and a grant, as well as performing there. So, yeah, it’s about time alright…but I’m not sure for what. It’s just so insanely random I laughed my ass off.
Given that you’ve exerted yourself in so many different ways and places — books, film, TV, photography, theater, music — what’s your process like? Both in how you choose what you choose to do next and then how you execute?
You once said your mother asked you why you stayed out so late and you said that it “was for my career”….a conversation you had when you were 13? How was it that the life of an artist ultimately appealed to you more than, say, the life of a professor? Or a plumber?
More than music, which is why I was out until 2 o’clock in the morning at 13… I felt there was a hole in literature that somehow I needed to fill. After reading Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr, all of Henry Miller, de Sade, Jung and so on…I originally went to NYC just to do spoken word. But it was easier in ’77 to kick the door down with the hideous din of music. So: Teenage Jesus & the Jerks. After the door was kicked in, I started curating spoken word shows. As far as a professor or plumber, I dropped out of school in the 10th grade and hit the Greyhound to New York City. I had shit to do. I always advise anyone who asks for advice on becoming a musician or artist: get real…we need more architects, chemists, and urban planners.
But I had to do what I had to do.