E © Heather Kaplow

»Complications« in den USA

Thalia Zedek hat mit ihrer Band E mitten in der Corona-Krise ein neues Album herausgebracht. Mit skug sprach die Gitarristin und Sängerin über die Umstände der Veröffentlichung und die Realität in Zeiten von Trump und COVID-19.

Seit über 30 Jahren spielt Thalia Zedek eine maßgebliche Rolle in der Indie- und Noise-Rock-Szene der USA. Auf den Klassiker-Alben von Come steuerte sie ihren unvergleichlich eindringlichen Gesang (und die Gitarre) bei, ähnlich wie in ihrer Zeit als Sängerin bei LiveSkull; die Veröffentlichung von Uzi ist noch so etwas wie ein Geheimtipp. Und das neueste Album »Complications«, das dritte mit ihrem aktuellen Projekt E (neben ihren Soloveröffentlichungen), zeigt sie in ihrer üblichen Form. Im Anschluss an ein früheres Gespräch, das nach einem Konzert von E in Wien stattfand, haben wir ihr einige Fragen zum neuen Album aber auch zur Situation in den USA angesichts Corona und Trump gestellt.

skug: How was working on the new album?
Thalia Zedek: It was an interesting and different process from the first two records because Jason now lives in Boulder, Colorado, and me and Gavin still live in Boston. In the past, we would rehearse once or twice a week all in the same room and write new songs together that way, so we had to figure out new ways to collaborate on the writing. Jason came back to Boston for three intensive writing sessions and in between those me and Gavin would record ideas together and send them to him. We were forced to use our time much more efficiently, but I think that it was good for us!

How has the current situation influenced the final output?
The record was finished in December 2019, so the current situation didn’t affect the final output at all in terms of the songs or artwork.

The album title »Complications« is, considering the situation in the US with Trump AND Corona, an almost funny understatement. Can you say a few words about the title?
We called the record »Complications« because it was a very complicated record to make, both in terms of writing it and recording it (we had to switch record labels mid-way through, from Thrill Jockey to Silver Rocket) and also in terms of coordinating writing, recording and gig schedules with everyone, since Jason now lives 1,000 miles away.

The new record comes at an inconvenient time, the concerts were cancelled, and the release of the vinyl records was also postponed. How is the situation for you as a band at the moment?
We’ve had to postpone our summer touring plans. We were supposed to tour Europe and the UK in May and June and we have now pushed that back to 2021. We were also going to tour in the States in July and August, but that now looks unlikely as well. Right now, our next show is October 13th in Boston with June of 44 which had been rescheduled from May. It has also affected the pressing of our LP, which was happening in the Czech Republic in early March. They hadn’t yet pressed it when the country went into lockdown and unfortunately the pressing plant where it was being made went out of business while it was closed. But our record label has taken the masters back and is getting it pressed elsewhere, so hopefully we will be back on track very soon. We kept our release date of April 21st but for right now »Complications« is only available digitally.

That sounds so sad. Are you in contact with other artists and organizers and people in the music business? What is the mood like there? Is there solidarity among each other and are there already measures to get through the crisis together?
I was supposed to curate and perform at a venue in Berlin called Ausland in late September, and after some discussion with the promoter we made the decision just yesterday to postpone the show. They think they will probably be allowed to reopen in August but have no idea under what conditions. I just sent a video of myself performing two new songs for a friend’s record release show that I was supposed to play this Saturday which is now going to be a video release party instead! We were supposed to be playing with June of 44 tomorrow in Boston, and that was going to be our record release show but now that has been moved to early October and honestly, I’m not sure if that date will even be possible. Everyone that I’ve been in touch with from the music scene has been just really sad and unsure about the future. No one knows how long this will last, but everyone seems to agree that indie rock venues like the small bars and clubs where I usually play on tour will probably be the last places to reopen.

What is your current living situation? How do you experience the lockdown in Boston?
I’m lucky in that I share a first-floor apartment with my long-term partner, and we have a small backyard and back porch that we can hang out in when the weather is nice. Grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies and hardware stores are open, but most other things are closed. Restaurants sell takeout but there are no sit-down bars, cafes, clubs etc. They just passed a law requiring that everyone wears a mask when out in public, but we aren’t »locked down« and you don’t need a note to leave your house. Massachusetts has the fourth highest rate of infection in the country right now, so everyone feels pretty worried still. As of today, there are more than 68,000 infected and more than 4,000 deaths.

The last time we spoke, in 2018 after a performance of E in Vienna, the subject of Donald Trump, the shock of his election as president, was still relatively fresh. What has changed for you since then?
Well, as I had feared back in 2018, his presidency has been a total disaster for the country. His chaotic behavior is a big reason that the USA has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the world and now we have gangs of neo-nazi thugs on the street armed with machine guns and protesting quarantine measures. These are very frightening times here.

Plus, with Bernie Sander’s and Elizabeth Warren’s departure from the campaign, a second term in office for Donald Trump is virtually certain. How do you keep from going crazy?
Wow, I strongly disagree with you on this!!! Trump is extremely unpopular right now and I actually think that Joe Biden has a very good chance of winning. I can’t even imagine a future in which Trump gets re-elected, even thinking about the possibility is horrifying!