From her early-1980s career with the Throwing Muses to today, Kristin Hersh has truly defined the underground world of punk music. Kristin stopped by VOA on her recent tour to talk about her new CD, "Learn To Sing Like A Star", and perform several songs. Larry London has the story.
Kristin Hersh broke into the punk scene as a teenager when she helped form the band Throwing Muses. Her love of music has been the driving force in a 20-year-old career.
"My father taught me to play my guitar when I was nine years old,” she says. “I used up all the chords he knew and started making up my own. Then, songs happened to me pretty hard. They moved me in such a way that I couldn't stop playing music, which is unfortunate because I used to be smart."
Hersh found that her interest in science, in particular the study of biology, was not enough to tear her away from her passion for music. She explains how, as a teenager, she started playing in New England nightclubs.
"I started "Throwing Muses" when I was 14. They let us play clubs because ‘girls don't start fights’ apparently, and most of us were girls. It was many years before we were legally allowed to play in these clubs where we played. There was a lovely non-competitive atmosphere in Providence and Boston at the time we started. Five or six bands would play in a night. No headliner. Just beautiful noise."
It would seem that music is a strange career choice for an admittedly shy person like Hersh.
"Well music isn't … dorks [uncool people] play music. It's just that you can't be a musician without standing behind what you do with your face and your voice and your image. I do. I play the game to that extent. Music is different from the music business. Music has always been and will continue to be … because it's supposed to be spontaneous. I'm not sure you're supposed to be rewarded financially for it. I like it when the big fat ugly business at the top is so bad that independent musicians don't have that dangling carrot that says if you add a hook, if you add a chorus, maybe you can make money. That attracts egos and greed. I prefer to hang with the dorks underground who are maybe a little hungry [eager], but they do it out of love."
Hersh is still searching for someone to guide her musical direction.
"I wish somebody would impact me. I don't understand music and I have never written a song on purpose. I just hear them, (and) then copy them down and I almost wish I didn't. I love music. It's as close to religion as I can get. But it's too big, too intense. I was a biology major. I wanted everything to make sense.
When I hear a sound only one person can make, I'll run and get it. The musicians who care let their voices be heard just because they're so beautiful somehow you can find them.”