I first heard about Claire Lodge on a Tom Waits message board about 10 years ago. Everyone was fascinated, but no one seemed to know much about her. Then somehow we linked up online through an old musician friend. For years we’ve shared ideas and filthy jokes and suggested books and music and films to watch, without ever meeting in person. That all ended last week, when I was at a grocery store on Buford Highway in Atlanta.
We both tried to grab the same piece of fruit. She looked at me and said “You’re Tom Cheshire, I’m embarrassed I’m in my pajamas.” I responded saying “that’s OK I’m in my rain boots.” So there we were, finally face to face. We put our groceries in our cars and went and had a cup of coffee.
Three hours later and a lot of laughs a real friendship was born. We managed to squeeze out an interview and we are talking about doing an EP.
Here you go, I hope you enjoy.
Tom Cheshire: The first time I saw you live was in New York City, It was with Compartmentalizationalists. You had two drummers and a bassist.
Claire Lodge: Yeah, I co-write in that band. We have made three albums.
The Fainting Couch is your first solo album, do you approach your solo music differently?
With Comparts, most of the tunes have a set structure, even if we improvise within that structure. When I play solo, It’s almost all by feel. Some tunes will be two minutes one night, and eight the next. Life has enough structure, I like freedom. I like that in the artists I go see live too. If you are a rock band that plays everything the same way every time I see it, I get bored. I love people like PJ Harvey, Andrew Bird, Tom Waits. I like the element of surprise.
Did you set out to make it with just guitars? Did you try playing with a band first?
I set out to make it with just guitars. I love solo guitar albums. Bill Frisell’s In Line, Marc Ribot’s Saints, Masada Guitars, Sharrock’s Guitar, Etta Baker’s Railroad Bill, the list goes on. I like the intimacy of one person with one instrument.
The songs on the album have no titles. And it is an album, not a record. And where did the name come from?
They have titles. “Part 1,” “Part 2,” and so on. I want people to listen to the entire album, like you would watch a film. And no, no vinyl. They sell records at Target. So I hope I’m ahead of the curve on the comeback of CDs. As far as the title goes, I have always liked the words “Fainting Couch,” it sounds like it could mean several things.
Tom Cheshire: What is the first song you remember hearing?
Probably “Happy Birthday.” My parents didn’t listen to any vocal music growing up. I don’t remember hearing anyone sing until I was 10.
How old were you when you wrote your first song? What was it called?
When I was 12 or 13 I got serious about guitar. I wrote a song called “Cincinnati String Bean.” It was a banger… I have never sung in my life.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up and where is home now?
I was born in London. I have lived all over. Mainly London and Atlanta. I went to school at Stanford.
Have you ever stolen a car?
Never. I can barely drive.
What is the best cross country driving record?
Oh man, probably Francoise Hardy. Anything by her. Or Pink Flag on repeat.
Who is your biggest influence as a guitar player?
I heard the song “Apache” by the Shadows and wanted to learn it. While I was learning guitar we were living in Italy and my teacher introduced me to Tom Waits’ music and I fell in love with Marc Ribot’s playing. Then when I heard Sonny Sharrock my life was forever changed. I wish I had a cool story about discovering him, but it was on Space Ghost.
Who is your biggest influence as a piano player?
First off, I can barely play piano. But I like to listen to this dude Francois Couturier a lot. Nina Simone, Monk.
What is your favorite film score?
A Zed & Two Noughts by Michael Nyman. It is insane and perfect. In the past 20 years, I also really liked Johnny Greenwood’s The Master.
Do you see colors when you hear music? Do you see colors or visuals when you write music?
My images are almost always black and white.
How long should a film be? What is too long?
90 minutes if you have children. Up to 2.5 hours if not. I hope Bella Tarr doesn’t read this.
What do you look for in a song?
Your favorite city/country to perform in?
Poland. I have been going there for the past eight or nine years and it has been a blast. That’s what pushed me into recording my tunes.
Your favorite food on the road?
Mexican vs Chinese. Your thoughts? That’s on food.
I hate goddamn cheese, so Chinese. Chinese food is awesome.
Go-to snack food?
Ice cream. Any kind, anywhere.
Guilty pleasure music?
I rarely feel guilty. I guess I will go with Poppy Family, Ace of Base. At this point… Nick Cave.
Favorite member of Wu-Tang Clan?
Inspectah Deck. He is the man. He has the best verses and he needs the publicity.
Who is your favorite comedian?
Living or dead? George Carlin might be the best ever. But I love so many. Chris Rock, Chris Elliott, Norm Macdonald, Louie, Pryor … Why didn’t he make a record called Pryor Convictions? Wait, did he?
Would you date a man who drives a Corvette?
Only if it was stolen. Jesus … I sound like Lana Del Rey.
Who would you like to work with, write with? Dream collaboration?
Chris Gaines. We could talk shit about Garth Brooks. I bet he sniffs glue. I should go easy on him. He survived tragedies.
But really, Tom Cheshire. Let’s make that happen.
Please say me, and do you want to put out a record together? If so, let’s do this.
Oh… I didn’t even read ahead. Yes! Let’s do eet.
Will we get a Claire Lodge U.S. tour soon?
I don’t think so. I play secret shows in Atlanta and New York a few times a year, but can’t hit the road anymore.
Last but not least, your thoughts on sandals? I personally can’t stand them.
Is Sandals a show on CBS? It should be.
Thank you so much for your time, Claire.
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