It’s not easy being Luscious Jackson New Yorkers will appear at Deer Creek Sunday
by Steve Hammer
August 14-21, 1997
It’s not easy being a member of Luscious Jackson, even though the group is one of the most respected and innovative bands in alternative music. Just ask keyboardist Vivian Trimble.
Talking on a shaky cell-phone connection from Jones Beach, New York, where the band is playing dates opening for Live (they’ll be at Deer Creek on Sunday, Aug. 17), Trimble said that while the band’s never been more successful, dealing with reporters and curious fans can be difficult.
It’s even harder for Luscious Jackson because, as the first act signed to the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal Records, they have to deal not only with their own fans but with the Beasties’ as well.
“There’s certain questions that we get all the time,” she said. “We get ‘What’s Mike D like?’ a lot. But that one’s funny because we can really go off and that one. I mean, it’s annoying, but we can really play with people. ‘Actually, Mike D’s around the corner.’ ‘What?’ And then they run off. So it’s funny.”
She added, “I think girl bands get asked really retarded ‘girl band’ questions, too. ‘So, do you guys have catfights?’ You wouldn’t believe what we get asked sometimes. It’s crazy. Sometimes it really crosses the line of decency.”
Not that Luscious Jackson minds being affiliated with the Beasties and their record label, Trimble said. “There’s a certain amount of respect that we automatically get from being on Grand Royal. At this point, Grand Royal is really building a good reputation and we’re happy to be part of it,” she said. “And, secondly, there’s really something nice about feeling that we’re involved in a loose musical collective.”
Fever In, Fever Out, Luscious Jackson’s second album, is a tight collection of well-produced pop songs containing the MTV and radio hit “Naked Eye.” At the helm for the sessions was superstar producer Daniel Lanois (Peter Gabriel, U2, Bob Dylan) who gave the band a denser, more textural sound compared to Luscious Jackson’s 1994 debut full-length album, Natural Ingredients.
“Working with Daniel Lanois was a really interesting experience. Obviously he brings a wealth of knowledge with him. He’s worked with so many people and we learned a lot about the intricacies of recording by working with him,” Trimble said.
“Some of the things he does we found to be a good approach. For example, he always tried to catch the vibe of the song,” she said. “There’s a tendency when you’re recording a song to keep on overdubbing as much as you can so you have an absolutely perfect version. But you can also end up with something really sterile. Sometimes, going for one of the first couple of takes, even though it’s not flawless, might still have a better feeling about it.”
Making guest appearances on the album are ex-Brand New Heavies singer N’Dea Davenport and country-rock legend Emmylou Harris. Talking with the veteran Harris was a valuable experience for the band, Trimble said. “We talked about being on the road and careers in music, so on and so forth, and she’s very level-headed. She’s got a very good perspective on it all.”
And while Luscious Jackson has primarily received rave reviews, some critics have taken the band to task on various fronts. Trimble said the band is not overly sensitive about reviews. “Some reviews are fair and some are totally subjective,” she said. “It can get to you really easily. Some of us don’t read reviews ever, period. That helps.”
And while Trimble has various side projects and is interested in writing more material, she said she’s aware of the roles of group leaders Jill Cunniff and Gabrielle Glaser and doesn’t want to “step on any toes.” (Drummer Kate Schellenbach, the original drummer for the Beastie Boys, is the fourth member of Luscious Jackson.)
And while the band is the subject of adoration, including rabid fans and a number of Web sites, Trimble said they try to keep it in perspective.
She understands about being a fan, she said, especially after a recent encounter. “I met Patti Smith. I was very speechless. I think I said a series of unintelligible grunts, just like everyone else. It was very embarrassing,” she said, laughing.
After a year of non-stop touring supporting Fever In Fever Out, life on the road can get tiring. So the band tries to keep the atmosphere on the tour bus as loose as possible. “We spend a lot of the time on the phone, and we have dance parties on the bus every night,” she said. “We bring a guitar along on the bus and we also play a lot of dominoes, fierce dominoes games. Just to try and keep it fun.”
The band’s plans for the autumn are undecided. Trimble said she hopes the band can take a break before hitting the studio again.
And with an album and a live show as cool as Luscious Jackson’s, it’d be hard to say that the group doesn’t deserve it.
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