THE EXCLUSIVE ROC INTERVIEW WITH BABES IN TOYLAND

By: Jane Cain


It is a Tuesday, and there is a full moon in Sagittarius, Kat Bjelland is glad to hear about the full moon in her birth sign, because she's felt like she's been on "a bad acid trip" all day. I begin to feel that way too, with all the excitement going on at Emo's. Babes in Toyland are playing, it's an "off" night from the White Zombie tour.

Lori Barbero is milling about talking to her friends and trying to get the guest list in order. She remembers me from a couple of years ago when she was tour manager for Silverfish. I soon find out that, like me, she does not forget small details either. "You were sitting at that table with Seven Year Bitch," she says. I'm amazed.

A little later Maureen Herman arrives. She's been chilling out at the hotel catching up on the soaps. I assume some dead person has risen from the grave, but she tells me otherwise. I ask her about Chicago, where she lives, and this leads to talk about college. Somehow.

Babes In Toyland have been doing interviews all day--and for that matter, since the late '80's when they first formed. Mine is one of the last ones of the evening. I begin to wonder about it all--Is there a question that they have not been asked? The following transpired, and as the questions were answered I began to feel like I was slipping away with Kat on the full moon effects.

Jane: How did this tour (with White Zombie) come together?

Maux: I'm not really sure. I think it was our booking agent and management, sort of. They (White Zombie) wanted us to do it, they asked us to do it.

Lori: White Zombie wanted us to be on their tour. From what our booking agent said they got about 150 offers, bands that wanted to do it. We didn't ask, they asked us. They're really nice. We hung out with them the other night.

Jane: Are you going to be doing a headlining tour of your own?

Lori: At the end of September.

Jane: How is touring now as to when you first started?

Lori: The only difference, basically, is that we get buy ups (?) on meals and hotels. We're still riding in vans that we rent, we don't own. It's really not extremely that much different. We do more interviews and stuff maybe, but we've always done quite a bit of interviews. It's pretty much the same except for hotels and getting food backstage and stuff like that.

Jane: Tell me what 'Nemesisters' means to each of you or what it represents.

Lori: Huh?!?

Jane: You can read alot into it.

Kat: That's the good part.

Maux: When I first heard it, it was just a name for the record, but as time has gone on it has more meaning to me, in a way.

Jane: Who came up with 'Nemesisters'?

Lori: A man from Vermont or Connecticut, or something like that. He was visiting from like West Virginia.

Maux: He came up to us at a show and said,"Hey! You should call your next album 'Nemesisters'." And we did.

Jane: The circus thing "Alive" instead of "live", like when you go to a circus.

Kat: Yeah.

Lori: Our artist did that.

Maux: We wanted it to be more like a circus poster than a rock poster for a show.

Jane: What are each of you supposed to be on the cover? (to Maux) You look like an Hors D'Oeurve tray.

Maux: (laughs)

Kat: She's opposed to the backstage catering.

Maux: I'm Food Girl.

Kat: She's a ham.

Jane: Lori is laughing box hell.

Lori: I'm Medusa...

Kat: With a snake body.

Jane: It reminds me of a photo I took of you and you're holding money.

Lori: Did you send me pictures with mail? Okay. I gotcha.

Maux: Was that in Berlin?

Lori: No, when I was here with Silverfish.

Jane: So how do the songs evolve in terms of how you play your instruments? Does the music come first or the lyrics?

Lori: Sometimes when I write it's the same time. Like when I'm writing words, I can hear music that goes with it.

Kat: That's the ultimate best way to do it.

Jane: Who writes most of the lyrics?

Maux: (to Kat) She does.

Lori: And we sing our own lyrics.

Kat: Wouldn't that be funny if we wrote each other's songs. It'd be kind of a cool experiment. It would be hard though.

Jane: How do your personalities complement each other?

Lori: French kisses.

Kat: I compliment her all the time.

Maux: It's a good mix, but I don't know if I could dissect it because it changes a lot.

Kat: Triangles are good.

Lori: Uh-huh. We're the power pyramid.

Kat: Mike always says that too. Three people, like friends that go around in three.

Jane: You start your album of "Hello", alot of bands have been ending theirs with "Good-bye."

Kat: We just had the song "Hello," and then we thought...

Jane: I thought it was really cool because it's been awhile since your last album came out. So, it's like a greeting.

Kat: We do things without even knowing it.

Jane: "Oh, yeah! " Reminds me of high school, guys screaming "Oh, Yeah!" across the class room at each other.

Kat: (imitating) "Oh, Yeah?"

Jane: Is it that bratiness? That attitude?

Kat: No it's kind of questioning, "Oh Yeah?" But I just go, "Oh. Yeah!"

Jane: Have you heard about Bob Dole's attack on Time Warner?

Maux: Yes, and it's shitty.

Kat: Oh, yeah. I didn't read about it.

Maux: They're going to separate hip-hop and stuff like that, and rap. Time Warner shouldn't bow to pressure like that.

Jane: Yeah, he's going to run for President.

Maux: He'll probably be the Republican candidate. It's just really scary, because I can't believe people sit back and accept censorship. Censorship is like the worst thing. When you censor the press you censor almost every other right because you don't know anything.

Kat: What are they scared of anyway?

Maux: They're scared of the truth.

Kat: Not being in control for once!?!

Lori: Because white men have never been threatened before in their entire lives.

Kat: They're a minority, too. Isn't that weird?

Maux: I think rap music threatens people more.

Jane: It seem to me that they don't want to accept that bad things go on in society; it's like they're trying to suppress what's really there.

Maux: They can't accept the fact that yeah! minorities are upset and angry about stuff and it's reflected in their music. Because they want to pretend that everybody's in a little white neighborhood and everything is okay. They don't want to feel responsible for it, but they feel guilty.

Kat: They're freaking out because the white kids... Like hardcore music is infiltrating into the "respectable" people's sons and daughters.

Lori: It's because black men and women are speaking their minds, and they've been able to say anything they wanted, so they're scared.

Maux: I think "Fear Of A Black Planet" by Public Enemy-- it seems truer and truer. They really are afraid of that.

Jane: (to Maux) You sing "Killer On The Road" and you sound angry.

Maux: I do? I thought I sounded scared - (laughs)

Jane: Did you write that?

Maux: I wrote the lyrics to it. We all wrote the song. The lyrics are about stuff in a relationship, driving back and forth between Minneapolis and Chicago, all the stresses. It also a book by Jim Thompson about a serial killer, a killer on the road.

Jane: What's your opinion on the abortion issue?

Maux: Pro-choice. But I wish they'd give more funding for the male birth control pill and other options. Because I think the female birth control pill -

Kat: She wrote that down. (reading my note about Maux's article in Creem)

Maux: You saw that article. Oh, okay.

Jane: Yeah , I thought that article was really great, because men just want women to be responsible.

Maux: Yeah.

Lori: My boyfriend's really responsible. I bet if there were a pill, he'd take it.

Kat: Mike said he'd take it.

Maux: Most men probably would. It's just that the drug companies making money. And universities aren't going to get money for research for something that castrates you effectively, but they'll do it to women.

Jane: What's "22"? Is there any meaning in that?

Lori: It's a number.

Maux: She has a tattoo of "22" on back,

Jane: I noticed that. Is that new?

Lori: Yeah, it's my newest tattoo. "22", has just been in my life since I was a little kid, or 2.

Jane: So what does it mean?

Lori: It's just a significant number (laughs).

Jane: I'll take it at that.

Kat: It would take a long time to explain it. It's kind of like the 23.

Jane: But different. was "Ariel" inspired by the Sylvia Plath poem?

Kat: No, not whatsoever.

Jane: I love that song.

Kat: The lyrics were...My cousin's name is Ariella. And I sang her a little sang and she went crazy. So I thought (skip in tape) so it's like Ariel and Isadore, a play on words.

Jane: I'm going to ask this I don't know if you'll answer it. Courtney Love's song "My Best Sunday Dress" came from a lyric in your song "Lashes" from the 'Spanking Machine' album.

Kat: Obviously.

Jane: Obviously.

Maux: I never thought about that. (Maux and I sing.)

Jane: How do you deal with borrowing of lyrics?

Lori: Borrowing!?! I call it stealing!

Kat: It just goes on and on. It's just one of those things,

Jane: You don't get royalties?

Kat: (laughs loud)

Jane: It's not just this song.

Lori: Wouldn't that be nice.

Kat: I could feed the starving people.

Jane: So you don't have a problem with it?

Kat: Bad Karma. Everyone gets their's in the end.

Maux: I don't even think about it and it's so blatant.

Jane: Did anything in your childhood inspire you to be in a band? Or why did you want to be in a band?

Lori: Because my father created a monster.

Kat: He was so proud of you. Our family lives. We just liked music. (Due to everyone talking at once, I skip ahead.)

Jane: When did you start playing your instruments? Lori must be self-taught. I think I read that a million times.

Kat: I think we're all pretty much self-taught.

Jane: These are my last few questions. I stole them from Vanity Fair, The Proust Questionnaire. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Maux: F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lori: I wish I could do as much as Harriet Tubman. (Note: Harriet Tubman helped slaves to freedom by opening a path with the underground railroad to the North.) She was pretty fucking amazing. Times have changed. I would like to do something that would represent something like her. Freedom to the people.

Kat: I don't know.

Jane: Which living person do most admire?

Kat: Timothy Leary.

Lori: The person I most admire, Neil Young because he always stuck to his guns, I admire him.

Jane: What's your greatest fear?

Kat: I have a fear of being stupid or going crazy.

Maux: I fear losing my mind, getting so depressed that you can't get out of it.

Lori: I have a fear that I say what I want to before someone is gone, or like I'm somewhere and I know I'll never see that person again, and I don't get to say what I wanted to. So, I try to do that now. But when I think about certain things it gives me fucking anxiety attacks.

Jane: What living person do most despise?

Kat: When you said that my stomach went (noise). I almost got sick.

Maux: Nick Kato. (laughs)

Jane: I don't know who that is.

Maux: A guy from Urge Overkill.

Lori: I don't have to say a name, but it's someone that's used every fucking, total, ultimate, negative, back stabbing theory that they could to get to the top. There's alot of people like that.

Jane: Oh, yeah.

Kat: But we know some.

Jane: I won't write anything in between the lines there.

Lori: Most politicians. Anyone with major authority, which is an obvious thing. I don't think anyone likes people in politics or that have any kind of government authority. But I just think of a person that I despise. I think of people that could've done really well, but they used it in every negative way they possibly could, stayed up night and day trying to think up how to get up another rung on the ladder.

Kat: Brittany wants to say "Bye." (Brittany is the 2 year old daughter of the owner of Emo's.) I want to tell Lori this story. This is good, you should tape it.

Maux: Like Nick Kato and the other person I'm about, basically what it is when people into the thing, started doing something they were against. Like they turn into the thing they hate. That's what always bums me out about people. It's like, "duh!?!" You started out for a good reason and now you went to the bad reason.

Kat: I know this girl who wanted to buy this house in New Orleans, you know? And she goes, "We need to find this house in New Orleans and you could live there, but not with anybody. Plus we'd have to kick all the scary black people out of the neighborhood." I go, "Oh, spoken like a true missionary, true politician."

Lori: Who said that?

Jane: Somebody...

Kat: This girl wanted to buy a house in New Orleans. She goes, "But if I got a house there, I'd have to kick all the scary black people out." And I'm just like...

Jane: That is scary.

Kat: It is.

Jane: What trait do you most deplore in others?

Kat: Just basically that one.

Jane: Lying.

Kat: Racism.

Lori: Which all gathers into pure stupidity, closed minded stupidity.

Jane: On what occasion do you lie?

Maux: To avoid hurting other people's feelings.

Kat: I used to lie to my Mom and Dad, but I don't anymore.

Lori: I think about the times I've lied, and I've really, really never--I've thought about it, because Ray and I sit and talk about it. I can't think of a time when I completely, openly, downright lied.

Kat: Told a blatant lie.

Jane: I embellish.

Kat: Embellishment's good.

Maux: My Mom does that alot.

Lori: Like the time I did something in Chicago, and I cried. You know how much I cried for that one little thing.

Maux: Yeah.

Kat: Oh, I remember that.

Lori: I freaked out, and I can't...

Kat: Lori has a horrible conscience.

Jane: I do too.

Lori: I have a really horrible... I could never lie.

Kat: I used to be able to lie about things, but I can't anymore.

Lori: I can't steal or lie.

Maux: I stole a magazine article out of a magazine today.

Kat: Out of Bride magazine.

Maux: 'Pre-Wedding Nightmares and What They Mean.'

Jane: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Maux: Riot Grrrl.

Lori: Riot Grrrl, Politically correct, grunge.

Maux: Indie.

Lori: Indie, alternative.

Maux: Major label.

Jane: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Maux: My skin.

Lori: My underwear (laughs)

Maux: I'd make myself more ambitious and not so lazy.

Kat: I'd have to agree with that one for me. Well, I'm ambitious, but...

Lori: I wish that... I never ever used to be a jealous person as far as like in a relationship. But I had a boyfriend who completely questioned every fucking move I made. He made me become jealous.

Jane: Are you still with the Taco Cabana guy?

Lori: No. We broke up about a year ago.

Jane: I just call him the Taco Cabana guy.

Lori: No, that's what he was, the manager. But before that he was Two Pecos. It was much better. Taco Cabana sucks.

Jane: Yeah, they do. (laughs) What quality do you most like in a man?

Maux: Seven or more inches.

Kat: Honesty and a sense of humor. What did she say?

Jane: Seven or more inches.

Maux: Seven is the minimum.

Kat: Seven or more!?!

Maux: Yeah, size does matter you guys. Take note.

Jane: We're going to put that one on the headline.

Kat: I like honesty.

Lori: Honesty and a good sense of humor.

Kat: Honesty within themselves.

Maux: As long as they're honest about their penis size. No problem.

Lori: No, I won't say it. (laughs)

Jane: What quality do you most like in a woman?

Kat: I like women that like women.

Maux: I like women that buy me drinks.

Jane: What is your most treasured possession?

Maux: This is. (her wedding ring)

Kat: Material? I would have to say my Rickenbacker. I really would have to say that. Because if I lost it-I'd be like, "ouch!" I'd be freaked out. I'd be like (scream)!

Lori: Mine is probably my house just because it was my grandparents. Then when they died, my Dad bought it. Then when he died, I bought it. So for sure, my house.

Kat: My Grandma's wedding ring.

Maux: She's going to pay off the goddamned mortgage, too.

Lori: Yeah, I am. I had to buy it from scratch, from that rates that it's worth today.

Jane: If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be or want it to be?

Kat: I would like to come back as anyone I would want to, like you said, a bird.

Jane: Maybe not. I've been seeing a lot of dead birds lately.

Kat: I would choose that.

Jane: Lydia Lunch said she didn't want to come back.

Maux: I wouldn't want to come back.

Jane: I wouldn't want to either.

Lori: I don't want to either.

Kat: No one does. Do they!?!

Lori: I'd want to be something in the jungle. Something that can understand stuff. I don't want to be a bug that gets squashed.

Kat: I want to come back as God. Then things will get switched around.

Jane: What's your motto?

Lori: Be true to your school just like your girl or guy.

Maux: Blow me!

Kat: Damn - drunks against mad mothers.

Jane: That's your motto?

Kat: No, I don't have one.

Jane: Kat doesn't have a motto.

Maux: She does have one.

Kat: It's, "good job you guys!" I'm a cheerleader.

Jane: That's all the questions. Thanks for the interview.

Maux: That was a good one. Thanks!

Kat: Those were good questions.

*Reproduction Denied, Unless Consented

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