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Friday, December 3, 2010

Catching up with Attractive Eighties Women

Phoebe Cates (center)
It seems like a metaphor to say that Attractive Eighties Women haven’t inflected their exuberant yuckster rock and roll on Atlanta audiences since April Fool’s Day, but it’s true. More than eight months have gone by since Phoebe Cates’ (Mack Williams) defection to the hipster Fertile Crescent, A.K.A. Brooklyn. But now he’s back in town for a brief holiday stay, and the dry spell ends Sat., Dec. 4 when Cates (vocals), Kelly McGillis (guitar), Christie Brinkley (guitar), Shelley Long (bass) and Carrie Fisher (drums) take the stage at 529. I had a chance to catch up with Phoebe this week and she told me all about what the ladies have been have up their sleeves.

Attractive Eighties Women play 529 Sat., Dec. 4 with Back Pockets and CCIVORY. $5. 9 p.m.

Chad Radford: I hear that you’ve been recording a new EP while you’re in town.

Phoebe Cates: We're recording four songs as part of a split EP. It's going to be four songs from us, four from Deerhunter and four from Janelle Monae. Also, three songs from Mastodon and two from Gentleman Jesse. And seven from the Black Lips. Also, Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" will be a hidden bonus track. It's called The Pitchfork Sessions and it's being released on Warner Bros/Sire. We signed with them yesterday.

Wow! It sounds like you have finally arrived…

Since I moved to Brooklyn to be closer to the growing Williamsburg comedycore scene the band flies to DC on the weekends. Ian MacKaye offered us his basement studio as a rehearsal space. It's a nice meet-in-the-middle kind of arrangement. We usually write/practice around 36 hours each weekend.

It was awfully nice of Ian to let you use his basement. Have you guys been friends for a while?

I met Ian in 1999 at Señor Frog's in Cozumel, Mexico. I was on my high school senior cruise, and I recognized him because he was wearing a "This is not a Fugazi T-shirt" T-shirt. I bought him a shot of tequila and he slapped it out of my hand, wrestled me to the floor and drew big black X's on both my hands. We've been close friends and I've been sober ever since.

Unfortunately, we decided we weren't really happy with the new songs we'd written, so we decided to scrap all 48 of them and just improvise in the studio. Our songs are each being recorded with a different producer. We've got Butch Vig, Rob Cavallo, T-Pain and Jim Steinman. I'm very excited about working with all of these guys. We'd never heard of them but the people at Sire say they're the best. They wanted us to record with that old bearded guy who killed Johnny Cash but we refused. I wanted Phil Spector, so I was disappointed to hear that he died in 1987.

I hadn’t heard that. Are you sure it’s not just an internet hoax?

Yes, of course. I read it on Wikipedia. It was when he was working with the Ramones. He pulled a gun on them, Dee Dee tried to wrestle it away, and Phil was accidentally shot. It was "The Day the Music Died!”

Did you see the recent episode of SyFy's “Ghost Hunters,” when Jim Steinman made a cameo? It was shot in Birmingham, AL.

Did I see it? Ha! I held the boom mic for that episode! Their regular guy got food poisoning the night before at Dreamland, so I told Jim I'd fill in. I'm very talented at holding a regular microphone, so I didn't see any reason I couldn't manage a bigger one.

Do you feel that you've finally found your people now that you're in Brooklyn?

Oh, yes, completely. Our band has always been about making people laugh, and the people in Brooklyn are all about the same thing. They don't even limit it to their band! You can walk down the street in Williamsburg, and you'll see people dressed in clothes that will leave you literally doubled-over in laughter. True story: I saw a guy a few weeks ago with his beard shaved so that it only covered half his face. It was still two weeks until Halloween. I was late to work because I couldn't stop laughing at him.

Tell me about some of the songs on the EP.

My favorite song so far is the one we did on Monday. It has kind of an electro-grindcore feel. Like Daft Punk meets Cannibal Corpse. It's called "I Made Out With Your Mom." It's about the horrors of fighting in an unjust war, told from the perspective of an unmanned aerial Predator drone. T-Pain is producing that one, but don't worry, Atlanta! We'll never use Auto-Tune!

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