Mesmerizing

Liz Phair Headlines


Liz at the Gorge, photographed by Greg Perez
Liz at the Gorge.

05-29-03: REPORT OF GORGE / SEATTLE SHOW
From Billboard.com:

Former indie rock mistress Liz Phair also performed songs from her forthcoming self-titled album, due June 24 from Capitol. Playing the set's first single, "Why Can't I?", Phair sounded uncharacteristically romantic, even sappy -- particularly for someone boasting a schoolgirl dress, a "F***" t-shirt, and a permanent come-hither facial expression. But on the following number, "Rock Me", as well the other Phair staples performed Saturday ("Supernova", "Johnny Feelgood", and "Divorce Song"), the singer resembled her usual provocative self.

[Thanks to Billboard.com for the report / pictures and Steve Kisko for passing along this information.]


05-29-03: REPORT OF PORTLAND SHOW
For a report of Liz's performance in Portland (with pictures), visit Kris Bell Blogs.

[Thanks to Kris Bell for the report / link / pictures and Steve Kisko for passing along this information.]


Liz on Alice @ 97.3
Liz on Alice @ 97.3.

05-29-03: LIZ POPS UP ON SAN FRANCISCO RADIO
Liz and her accompanying guitarist Dino Menighen dropped by KLLC-FM, Alice @ 97.3 on The Morning Show with Sarah & No Name. She played a few songs and chatted. [Did anyone tape this? I missed it, so if any kind soul could get me a copy of this, I'd really appreciate it!] You can view pictures of her appearance at Radioalice.com.

[Thanks to Radioalice.com for the pictures and Robbie McCown for passing along this information.]


05-28-03: LIZ PHAIR RETURNS TO THE WARFIELD
Liz Phair returned to The Warfield in San Francisco and performed an eight-song set. Here is the setlist:

Liz had both of her guitars available for use that evening, but she used the one with the star sticker on it. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips set up the video cam on top of the microphone, so we got to see Liz's "nose hairs" (her words). Liz was accompanied by guitarist Dino Menighen and the bassist Derek Brown from the opening act, the Starlight Mints. "Stratford On Guy" was a last-minute addition, as she turned to her guitarist and said she wanted to perform the song by herself. Her guitar was out of tune ("what's new," she said). More details to come?

[Thanks to Liz Phair for expanding the set; her publicist said that she would only be playing three songs! Thanks to Liz for Dino Menighen's name and to Mike Maney for Derek Brown's name.]


05-21-03: LIZ BREAKS INTO HOT AC CHARTS
According to airplay charts at radioandrecords.com, "Why Can't I?" was played 268 times -- enough for the song to debut at #39 on this week's Hot AC (Adult Contemporary) chart.

[Thanks to Jason Long for the info.]


Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz

05-21-03: CONFIRMATION OF LIZ PHAIR / JASON MRAZ SUMMER TOUR
Liz will be touring with Jason Mraz this summer. One date has been confirmed: the Beacon Theater in New York City in August.

[Thanks to Dan Theman for the info.]


05-20-03: CHICAGO'S METRO OWNER REMEMBERS LIZ SHOWS
From The Chicago Sun-Times:

Long live rock
May 18, 2003
BY JIM DEROGATIS POP MUSIC CRITIC

(Excerpt):

To commemorate Metro's [20th] anniversary, I sat down with [Joe] Shanahan at a restaurant not far from the venue and asked him to take me through his top 20 moments from the club's first 20 years. His choices tell the story not only of Metro, but of the last two decades of cutting-edge music--and we could easily have gone on for 200 more.

17. Liz Phair, 1994: "Liz Phair did two nights here on New Year's Eve. She said, 'I will never be able to sell out Metro.' I said, 'I will guarantee you that you can do two shows. I know my business! I'll give you the money right now.' And she did two shows, and she sold out both shows. That was one of the big ones."

[Thanks to Jim Derogatis / Chicago Sun-Times for the article and Brian for passing along this info.]


05-14-03: LIZ MENTIONED IN MATRIX ARTICLE
From Billboard.com:

The Matrix Gets Entangled With Bowie, Phair
Edited By Jonathan Cohen.
May 14, 2003, 10:30 AM ET

The Matrix, co-writers and producers of much of Avril Lavigne's Let Go album, will be doing some production work on David Bowie's upcoming album. Matrix member Lauren Christy tells Billboard.com that the trio -- which also includes Graham Edwards and Scott Spock -- will remix a handful of tracks on a forthcoming Bowie release.

"We're big fans of the man," Christy says. "In Rolling Stone, we wrote a dream list of people we'd like to work with. On it was David Bowie and [No Doubt singer] Gwen Stefani. Consequently, we're working with David, but Gwen is still on our dream list."

Christy stressed that the team will not be writing any songs with Bowie. The Matrix was hired for some final mixing on an unspecified number of tracks. A spokesperson for Bowie says the new set should be out by the end of the year. Bowie's most recent effort, Heathen, was released last June by ISO/Columbia and peaked at No. 14 on The Billboard 200.

The Matrix is known for working with more pop-oriented singers, and has become sought-after producers since scoring three top-10 hits on Billboard's Hot 100 with Lavigne. "We like writing hit songs," Christy says. "We're not into writing album cuts."

The latest high-profile artist to receive the Matrix treatment is longtime independent voice Liz Phair. As previously reported, the team co-wrote and co-produced four songs on Phair's self-titled Capitol set, due June 24, including the single "Why Can't I?" Says Spock, "She's the sexiest, most intelligent, potty-mouthed rock goddess that we've ever had in the studio."

Adds Christy, "I think Liz Phair has the most amazing voice. People focus on her lyrics, but she doesn't sound like anyone else. We work with singers all the time, and it's so hard to find a voice that's original. On these songs, she's really singing, and isn't just narrating a story anymore."

The Matrix has also wrapped production on an upcoming Ricky Martin album, but it's unknown how many of their collaborations will make the final cut. Additionally, the Matrix has recently written songs for the debut album from ex-98 Degrees singer Nick Lachey, due in June from Universal, as well as Canadian group Lillix, which will release debut this month on Maverick/Warner Bros. Next up is production with U.K. pop sensations Ronan Keating and the Sugababes.

-- Todd Martens, L.A.

[Thanks to Billboard.com for the article.]


05-11-03: "EXTRAORDINARY" ON CHARMED
Tonight, "Extraordinary" was played at the beginning of the WB show, Charmed.

[Thanks to Chanelle for the info.]


05-07-03: "WHY CAN'T I?" ON HOW TO DEAL SOUNDTRACK
From Billboard.com:

Orton Gets 'Wild' On 'How To Deal'
Edited By Jonathan Cohen. May 07, 2003, 3:30 PM ET

Beth Orton, the Flaming Lips, John Mayer, Liz Phair, and the Donnas are among the artists featured on the soundtrack to How To Deal, due July 8 on Capitol Records. Orton has two tracks on the album: "Thinking About Tomorrow" and "Wild World", a cover of the Cat Stevens hit that Orton recorded exclusively for the film. The original "Wild World" by Stevens (which reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971) is also on the soundtrack.

New Line Cinema's How To Deal, which opens July 18 in U.S. theaters, is a romantic comedy starring singer/actress Mandy Moore. In the film, Moore plays a high school student who is cynical about romance but unexpectedly falls in love.

The soundtrack's first single, "Billy S", is from 14-year-old newcomer Skye Sweetnam, who is signed to Capitol. Other previously unreleased songs on the soundtrack are Aslyn's "That's When I Love You", Tremolo's "Promise Ring", and Last Picture Show's "Waves".

Here is the track list for How To Deal:


-- Carla Hay, N.Y.

[Thanks to Carla Hay / Billboard for the article.]


05-06-03: "WHY CAN'T I?" MOST ADDED ON HOT AC
From radioandrecords.com:

All's Phair At Hot AC

Liz Phair wins Most Added honors at Hot AC radio this week as "Why Can't I?" - the lead single from her forthcoming self-titled album - earns 15 adds at the format. "Why Can't I?" also gains New & Active status at R&R's Hot AC chart. Phair will be opening for Flaming Lips from May 23 - June 3 in primarily West Coast markets, performing her set acoustically. Her album is scheduled to reach stores on June 24.

[Thanks to Jason Long for passing along the info.]


05-02-03: LIZ A NO SHOW IN SOHO
Liz cancelled her appearance at the Apple Store in Soho. The musical group Glassjaw appeared in place of Liz at the event.

[Thanks to Aaron Walker for passing this information along.]


05-02-03: LIZ TO APPEAR IN ANOTHER FILM?
From Yahoo! LAUNCH:

Korn's Jonathan Davis To Hit Silver Screen As Crack Dealer

(5/1/03, 12 p.m. ET) -- Korn frontman Jonathan Davis will be in a new film called Seeing Other People, which is set for release next year. The movie is in production now, and Davis plays a role as a crack dealer, the singer revealed in an online chat.

Seeing Other People is being directed by Wallace Wolodarsky, and stars Alex Borstein (formerly of Mad TV), Josh Charles, and musician Liz Phair.

Korn is working on its next album, slated for release later this year. The band will also appear on OzzFest 2003 this summer.

Here's some more background info on the movie, courtesy of Suncoast.com:

Wolodarsky gets People power
Billboard
02/25/2003

Sorority Boys helmer Wallace Wolodarsky will direct the indie comedy Seeing Other People, which he co-wrote with his wife, Maya Forbes. Gavin Polone is producing through his production company Pariah. Production on the project, budgeted at about $500,000, begins April 7 in Los Angeles. Casting is under way. The project centers on a couple two months shy of their wedding date. The woman decides she hasn't sown enough wild oats, so they decide to see other people right up until the wedding date, vowing to be honest with each other about whom they date. The results are comically disastrous. Forbes, Dan Kaplow and Vivan Cannon are executive producing the project. Wolodarsky began his career writing for television. He was a producer on The Tracey Ullman Show and The Simpsons, among others. He made his directorial debut on the 1995 Jason Priestly action feature Coldblooded, which he also wrote. Forbes, who also began writing in television, was a co-producer on The Larry Sanders Show and an executive producer on The Naked Truth. Polone, whose film company is based at Columbia Pictures, most recently produced the studio's The Panic Room and is readying Columbia's Secret Window, Secret Garden, starring Johnny Depp.

[Thanks to Craig King for passing this information along.]


04-29-03: LIZ TO APPEAR AT APPLE IPOD PROMOTION
From MacMinute:

Apple Stores to host 'Live On Stage' event for iPods Friday
April 29 - 00:20 EDT

Apple will be holding a special "Live On Stage" event at Apple Stores nationwide this Friday, May 2 to unveil the new iPods to the public.

From 6 to 10 PM, enjoy a live DJ spinning tunes on his iPod. Receive a free event poster (while supplies last). And get a limited edition T-shirt for US$10 -- or for free if you buy an iPod. That's not all: you can also enter to win a JBL sound system worth $1800.

Special Appearances. Singer-songwriter Liz Phair will appear at the SoHo store and ska band Less Than Jake will appear at The Grove during this special event. Be the first to get your hands on the incredible new iPod and discover for yourself how the world's greatest portable music player just got even better." MacMinute will bring you details and photos from the event.

[Thanks to Aaron Walker for passing this information along.]


04-28-03: LIZ TO PLAY AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL
From Billboard.com:

Second 'Austin City Limits' Fest Slated
Edited By Barry A. Jeckell. April 28, 2003, 3:35 PM ET

R.E.M., Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, and Mavis Staples are among the artists already confirmed to perform at the second annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. A limited number of three-day passes for the multi-stage event, which will be held Sept. 19-21 in Austin, Texas' Zilker Park, go on sale Saturday (May 3) via the event's official Web site. The pass will cost $65.

Cash and Staples will be among the artists performing on the event's first day, while R.E.M. will headline the event's closing bill. Other confirmed performers are Liz Phair, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, String Cheese Incident, Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo, Al Green, Leftover Salmon, Topaz, the Derailers, Richard Buckner, the Gourds, Robert Randolph, Ween, G. Love & Special Sauce, Spoon, Galactic, O.A.R., Gomez, Doyle Bramhall, and Ian Moore.

Several acts that performed at 2002's inaugural event will return for a second year, including Asleep At The Wheel, Los Lobos, the String Cheese Incident, and Pat Green.

The festival's full line-up will be announced June 12. At that time, information regarding individual day tickets will also be released.

Named after the long-running PBS performance series, the Austin City Limits Music Festival was established last year as a two-day event. Among those who performed on the six-stages were Wilco, Emmylou Harris, Jimmie Vaughan, Kelly Willis, Ryan Adams, Luna, the Jayhawks, Nickel Creek, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Allison Moorer, and Gillian Welch.

[Thanks to Barry A. Jeckell / Billboard for the report and Jason Long for passing this info along.]


04-18-03: LIZ / FLAMING LIPS REPORT
From Reuters:

Liz Phair Goes Acoustic with Flaming Lips
Fri April 18, 2003 03:40 PM ET
By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Singer/songwriter Liz Phair will embark on her first tour in several years with a string of acoustic performances opening for the Flaming Lips. The seven-date trek begins May 23 in Portland, Ore., and wraps June 3 in Denver.

Phair will also be on hand June 7 for the inaugural Field Day Festival in Calverton, Long Island, N.Y.

The artist is touring in advance of the June 24 release of her self-titled Capitol album. First single "Why Can't I?" can be streamed from Phair's official Web site (http://www.lizphair.com), as well as the upbeat rockers "Extraordinary" and "Rock Me". Fans who sign up for Phair's online mailing list will be entered into a drawing for a 7" vinyl single featuring the unreleased track "Greased Lightning".

"Why Can't I?", "Extraordinary", "Rock Me", and "Favorite" were co-written by Phair with the Matrix production team, best known for its work on Avril Lavigne's smash Arista debut, "Let Go". The slickly produced cuts are a far cry from Phair's humble indie roots, captured on her acclaimed 1994 Matador debut Exile in Guyville. Other contributors on the new set include Michael Penn, veteran session drummers Matt Chamberlain and Victor Indrizzo, and former Prince guitarist Wendy Melvoin.

During an interview at the South By Southwest music conference last month in Austin, Texas, Phair admitted some fans may balk at her decision to collaborate with a mainstream outfit such as the Matrix. But she added, "I think that people who stay indie are very 'us vs. them.' I say, 'Why paint yourself into a corner?'"

Here is the tracklist to Liz Phair:

Here are Liz Phair's tour dates:

Reuters/Billboard

[Thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Reuters / Billboard for the report.]


04-14-03: LIZ PHAIR TO TOUR WITH JASON MRAZ?
It appears that Liz is prepared to do a full-fledged summer tour in support of her new album, and she will be joined by Jason Mraz. More details to come.

[Thanks to my source for the inside scoop.]


04-13-03: LIZ PHAIR / PETE YORN / ELVIS CONNECTION
Liz does very low-key backup on the "Dawn version" of Pete Yorn's cover of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds", accompanied by Brad Wood on "Electro-bongo". It's on a bonus 2-track single that will accompany the first copies of Pete Yorn's new cd, to be released on Tax Day (April 15th).

[Thanks to Charles Miller for the info.]


04-12-03: MORE INFO ON A NIGHT WITH JT LEROY AND FRIENDS
From JT Leroy's website:

Index Magazine Presents......A night with JT LeRoy and friends

WHEN: April 17th, 2003 7-10 pm
WHERE: The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC
WHAT: A reading of JT Leroy's work and a performance by his band, Thistle, hosted by Winona Ryder.
WHY: All proceeds benefit the McAuley Psychiatric Treatment program at St. Mary's Medical Center Foundation in San Francisco.

Tickets may be purchased through Index Magazine or Other Music (15 E 4th St, tel.212 477-8150), or at the theater box office the day of the event (if available). They go on sale Friday April 4th, and will cost between $30-$60

Apparently, JT Leroy has written the bio for Liz's new album.

[Thanks to JT Leroy for the info.]


04-11-03: LIZ PHAIR TO PARTICIPATE IN ALL-STAR READING EVENT
From the San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 2003:

GETTING HELP
Leah Garchik

Winona Ryder, congratulated Monday by an L.A. judge for completing 480 hours of community service by working in a hospital, is hosting a reading of JT Leroy's work at the Public Theater in New York on April 17. The all-star lineup of readers includes Rosario Dawson, Maggie Gyllenhall, Debbie Harry, Stephan Jenkins, Tatum O'Neal, Liz Phair, Bijou Phillips and Norman Reedus. The event benefits the McAuley Psychiatric Treatment program at St. Mary's Medical Center, which Leroy credits for turning his life around.

[Thanks to Leah Garchick / San Francisco Chronicle for article.]


04-09-03: MORE INFO ON LIZ PHAIR
Here are some details on the songs (producer in parenthesis). All songs written exclusively by Liz except where noted:

The CD will be enhanced, including:

[Thanks to you know who.]


Liz Phair
Liz Phair
Liz Phair

04-07-03: LIZPHAIR.COM IS NOW OPEN
The official Liz Phair site is open. If you are dying to hear samples from the new album, visit the official site for some sonic samples!


04-07-03: ANOTHER MESMERIZING Q&A WITH LIZ
Okay, here are the transcripts for round three of my question-and-answer sessions with Liz...

Ken: Is it true that you will be opening for the Flaming Lips on some of their west coast concert dates? If so, which dates?

Liz: I start May 23rd and wind up June 14. I think it's a West Coast thing. It'll be short, like 5 songs, or so, a night, and acoustic - just me and one other guitar player (Dino Menighen, I think).

Ken: Have you figured out what songs you will be performing on tour yet? And may I suggest "Don't Have Time"?   :)

Liz: Perfect opportunity to play rarities, as you suggest. Problem is, I can't remember how to play alot of those old tunes, so I don't know how to teach them to him. If there are any educated musician geeks out there who know how to chart any of my old and rare songs, we need you now. I'd give a hearty shout out to anyone who had the time.

Ken: Will you be performing at the Field Day Music Festival in New York?

Liz: Yes! Again, we'll be spare and acoustic, so probably on a sidestage or afternoon (I hope! I don't want to suck in such laudable company) but am looking forward to it immensely. It's always fun to play in a cool festival, so you can hang and watch everybody else from backstage. Best seats in the house.

Ken: This question comes from a Miss Katie Brown, who sang "Flower" on stage with you at the Lounge Ax way back in March 14, 1999:

Katie Brown: Huge favor... Next time you chat with Liz... will you ask her if she ever (back in the day) played at the Hideout or the Empty Bottle? I just have a feeling she has. Old school chicago dives.   ;)

Liz: I have this terrible memory problem. I don't keep track of where I've been, only of where I am going. A liability I strive to correct on a yearly basis. I don't think I performed at either place. I did my early EARLY shows at dives on Division Street.

[A kind "thank you" to Liz Phair for these answers / responses, and to Katie Brown for her question.]


04-06-03: LIZ PHAIR OPENING FOR THE FLAMING LIPS
It appears Liz Phair will be opening for The Flaming Lips on some west coast dates. It seems that she is booked for at least two of the dates (May 23rd in Portland, OR; and May 31st in Los Angeles, CA). Here's a list of The Flaming Lips' west coast dates: In Friday's Portland Oregonian (the A&E section), the ad for the Portland show mentions:

The L.A. Weekly ad for the Flaming Lips show in L.A. mentions Liz and "acoustic".

I'll try to confirm her appearances on any of the other west coast dates mentioned above. (Hopefully she'll make an appearance in San Francisco - I say selfishly...)

[Thanks to www.flaminglips.com for the tour dates, Jack Parsons from the Flaming Lips message board, and Jason Long and others from the Support System mailing list for passing along this information.]


04-04-03: TRACKLISTING OF LIZ PHAIR - CORRECT SONG TITLES
I know you're dying to know:

[Thanks to you know who.]


04-03-03: LIZ PHAIR TO PERFORM AT FIELD DAY MUSIC FESTIVAL?
Liz Phair is rumored to play the two-day long "music and camping event" known as the Field Day Music Festival on June 7th-8th at Calverton Enterprise Park which is 9 miles west in Riverhead, Long Island, New York. Other guests rumored include headliners Radiohead and the Beastie Boys, plus Sigur Ros, NERD, Beth Orton, Spiritualized, My Morning Jacket, and others. More details to come (when they are available).

[Thanks to www.greenplastic.com for the news and Chris DeLisle and Lani for passing along this information.]


TRIO Network
The TRIO Network.

04-02-03: SESSIONS AT WEST 54TH PERFORMANCE TO BE REBROADCAST ON TRIO NETWORK
The TRIO Network is rebroadcasting Liz Phair's 1998 performance on Sessions at West 54th at the following times:
  • Wednesday, April 9th, 07:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 9th, 10:00 PM

The times listed above are Central Time. Check your local listings or visit the TRIO Network website for show times in your area.

[Many thanks to Aaron Walker for passing along this information.]


03-28-03: TRACKLISTING OF LIZ PHAIR

Note: Song titles, times, and sequencing are subject to change.


03-25-03: LIZ'S SXSW INTERVIEW TO AIR ON MTV2
From the official site:

Liz Phair's interview at SXSW will air on MTV2 on Friday, March 28th @ 8AM, 5PM & 1:30AM

I'm assuming the times are all Eastern.

[Thanks to Jason Long for passing along this information.]


03-21-03: MORE DETAILS ON THE STARBUCKS / SXSW PERFORMANCE
From a kind anonymous soul (who also informed me of the Liz Phair SXSW web listing:

I had a wristband for the festival, but only registrants could gain access to her brief set and interview at the conference (Believe me; I tried but got denied.) on Thursday. But from what I heard, the ballroom was cavernous, the interviewer was patheticly patronizing, and even though Liz's set was good, it was all too short. The real story of Liz at SXSW was the next day on the patio of a Starbucks near the UT [University of Texas] campus. To my knowledge, the show was only publicized via flyers at the Starbucks, word of mouth, and an email from Capitol Records to music industry people. [NOTE: Anyone who has either the Starbucks flyer or the Capitol Records email publicizing this event, feel free to pass a copy along my way... - Ed.] Still feeling the disappointment of having missed her appearance at the conference, I arrived extremely early on Friday. Walking around the corner, I heard some guitar and realized a sound check was in progress. And after climbing the steps of the patio, there she was, just standing there, like an actual person. Awestruck, I managed to stand directly between her and the sound guy, disrupting their communication somewhat, but I was oblivious. Soon, she proceeded to play "Supernova" for me and the other 10-15 people gathered there, a definite religious experience if I've ever had one. After the song, she walked by me, talked to the sound guy a little, got in an SUV, and drove off. And I'm still kicking myself for not approaching her when I had the chance, but I was far too dumbfounded at the time. I sat through the excrutiatingly long sound checks and subsequent performances of Vic Chesnutt and Josh Ritter before she came back, looking even more heavenly than before. And having been there all afternoon, I had an extremely close seat for the show. She played eight or nine spine-tingling songs, consisting of three or four new songs and the others previously mentioned by Matt S. I still get chills just thinking about it.

[Thanks to Mr. Anonymous for the on site report at SXSW.]


03-17-03: ANOTHER SXSW REPORT
From The Chicago Tribune:

Phair 'older', but not better
By Greg Kot
Tribune rock critic
March 17, 2003

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- News flash from the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference, which concluded Sunday: "I'm not a stoned 25-year-old anymore," Liz Phair declared. "I'm older and more together."

The singer-songwriter was trying to make the case for her first album in five years, Liz phair, which won't be out till June 24. But it's never too soon to start promoting in a music industry struggling to reverse a two-year tide of declining sales.

South by Southwest -- five days of band showcases and panels for 4,000 musicians, record-company executives, retailers, programmers and journalists -- is widely regarded as the premier place to preview the year's biggest new bands and most-talked-about albums, and Phair hopes to have one of them.

This was a far different phair than the Wicker Park singer-songwriter who crafted the 1993 indie-rock landmark, Exile in Guyville. She may not be a stoned 25-year-old anymore, but what she appears to have become is not necessarily an improvement. After performing a handful of songs and playing a few others from the new album, it sounds as though Phair is fresh off a Hollywood lube job.

In her performance, Phair came across as much more assured, exhibiting none of the stage fright that has plagued her in the past and displaying a voice that is rangier and fuller than before. The Los Angeles resident sounds like a pro -- a fate that hardly could have been foreseen a decade ago.

Artistry is another matter, however. At first listen, the new album is far removed from the sparse, idiosyncratic power that made Exile a classic. She described the new album as something of a "greatest hits" from five years of songwriting and recording with various collaborators, including Pete Yorn and Michael Penn. With its layered, arena-rock sheen, Liz Phair plays like the singer's response to the new wave of pseudo-punky mainstream pop divas, notably Pink and Avril Lavigne. Phair even uses Lavigne producers the Matrix on one of the more bombastic tracks she previewed, the likely single "Extraordinary".

The songs range from deeply personal -- "Little Dear" was inspired by her young son's reaction to seeing her with another man after her divorce, she said -- to deeply raunchy. One lovemaking ode celebrating "my secret beauty routine" sounds like the soundtrack to a porn flick. "It's good to break boundaries for women and girls," Phair said while justifying the track. That makes about as much sense as Larry Flynt running for president of NOW.

Phair was interviewed in a public forum by the newly installed president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Neil Portnow, who succeeded the controversial Michael Greene.

Unfortunately, Phair did herself no favors. "Don't hate me because I'm a rock star," she said while regaling the audience with tales of exotic boat parties. And she used the word "brilliant" several times to describe her work. But there was no quibbling when she said, "I'm fully tainted by the record business, and I'm still going there [to compete for hits]." It may be a solid strategy for selling records, but in the process, Phair sounds as though she's lost touch with what made people love her music.

"I do anticipate criticism," she said.

The question left unanswered was just how adventurous is chasing the sound and sales of Avril Lavigne -- especially from an artist who once paved the way for an artist like Lavigne to even exist?

[Thanks to Greg Kot / The Chicago Tribune for the article]


03-16-03: MESMERIZING EXCLUSIVE - ANOTHER LIZ INTERVIEW
Okay, here are the transcripts for my second interview with Liz...

Ken: Hi Liz.

Liz: Kenneth. I just got back from SxSW -- literally 10 minutes ago.

Ken: Will any of Michael Penn's work be on the new album? I have heard rumors that "Take A Look" and his other productions won't be on the album? True or false?

Liz: Yes, five Michael Penn songs will be on the new release, showcasing what I think are some of his best productions. We weren't trying to oust Michael, we were trying to get radio songs from the Matrix and I also wanted to represent material from other sessions from the past four years: stuff with R. Walt Vincent (Pete Yorn), and even earlier recordings enginerred by Doug Boehm featuring live takes of my whitechocolate touring band. Michael's work is the most represented, with 5 songs, Matrix weighing in with 4, touring band demos at 3 (with extra prod. by walt on two of those (new vocals, guitar)), and pure Walt on 2, thereby reaching the grand total of 14!! yes, folks, 14 tracks chronicaling the journey of four years intermittent recording! Put a couple bucks in, you really shouldn't miss it. There are so many great tracks that didn't make the record simply because the record was skewing toward the 'rock' side of things and I wanted to make it a 'piece', but I have always had every intention of including more personal, complex and depressing material through the website to reach longtime fans who will give it the time and consideration it deserves, while trying to bring out a smart, outspoken rock record through the label that can travel commercial conduits. It makes perfect sense to me, I don't know what everybody is getting their knickers twisted about. You can wear a suit out and still come home and put on your sexy, worn-in sweats.

Ken: Is the album still set for a May 22nd release date?

Liz: No they pushed it to June 24th. Which ticked me off because I found out May 20th was this guy I like's birthday and I thought that was rather auspicious. But Capitol needs time to do things the right way and I appreciate their considering how to do things well, and not just blast out of the gates with a generic major label push. Which can be as hurtful to an artist as no push at all.

Ken: I just visited lizphair.com / lizphair.net / lizphair.org and it mentioned that the new album will be released in the summer. Are you still working on the album?

Liz: The album is mixed and mastered, but I am ultra-thinking little things like time between songs, which master version to use, things you really don't need to know about but things I have micro-managed for as long as I have been making records.
You have to realize, the songs on the disc are my choices, feel very liberating to me. almost half are technically demos.

Ken: How did the video for "Down" take place? Will the song eventually be released?

Liz: Instead of answering this, let me tell you that we just shot a video for the song Extraordinary (track 1) which isn't even the first single and so many people kicked in and donated their time and talent that it felt like oldschool DIY and was so cool. I had some performances in there in which I really felt connected to the song, it felt like singing the lyrics, the emotions were being ripped out of me and it was very powerful.

Ken: Will you be re-releasing the EP "Juvenilia" in the near future?

Liz: Doubt it. if we rerelease anything, it will be Guyville at Christmas, remixed by Brad (his idea) for a ten year anniversary, hopefully with bonus material (pictures, girlysound, interviews).

P.S. SXSW: Saw the tail end of Michael Penn's set, never seen him live and he blew me away. He'd been crabbing that he wasn't rehearsed, didn't know what to play. Don't believe it. He has such on-stage charisma and powerful vocals and beautiful guitar sound. I had no idea. Also caught:

Thorns
Daniel Lanois (sp?)
Ritchie Havens
The Stills
The Rapture
Spy Mob
The Datsuns
missed, and was pissed about it: Cameron Mc Gill (sp?)

Ended up hobbling away from the Friday night Datsuns show at 1am in cruel, cruel, Christian Louboutin oxblood, patent leather, 3 1/2 inch heeled, toe-cleavage pumps. By the time I was back at the hotel, I was barefoot.

[A tremendous "thanks" to Liz Phair for taking time from her busy schedule to do a second interview.]


03-16-03: THE NEW LIZ PHAIR SINGLE: "WHY CAN'T I"
From The Velvet Rope:

Posted by myOWNworstENEMY:

"Well I just looked at the Hot AC section of allaccess.com and there it was "Why Can't I" by Liz Phair going for adds on April 28."

[Thanks to for passing along this info.]

[Thanks to The Velvet Rope / All Access Music Group for the article, and Mike Katsoulis for passing along this info.]


03-16-03: SXSW - THE RETURN OF LIZ PHAIR
From neumu:

The SXSW Reports: Return Of Liz Phair
Friday, March 14, 2003

Neumu's Christopher Hess writes: Thursday afternoon at the Austin Convention Center, headquarters for official SXSW business and, apparently, the place that offers the best reception for cell phones, Liz Phair took the ballroom stage to a surprisingly reserved reception. Polite, curious applause and a single hoot bubbled up from the audience, which filled about two-thirds of the seats in the cavernous room. A five-year hiatus and a less-than-great last record (1998's Whitechocolatespaceegg had plenty of good tunes, but as a whole it largely failed to live up to the standards set by her previous recordings) are perhaps justification for writing Phair off, but the promise of a short set followed by an onstage interview was enticing enough for me.

Phair, in short skirt and jacket, looking from a distance as if she's barely changed at all since the release of her brilliant debut, 1993's Exile in Guyville, held an electric guitar and was accompanied by a guy on acoustic guitar and a guy on bass. They started out with a pair of new songs: the first, called "Extraordinary", an interesting if fairly standard pop song with a classic Phair heroine, the "average-everyday-saint-psycho-supergoddess"; the second a ballad addressing the euphoria of the early stages of a relationship, candid and nasty in a safe sort of way. Though it's tough to get a real sense of a song in this sort of setting, it appears that Phair is in another realm of songwriting for her new record, a self-titled release due out on Capitol in June. There are songs about the excitement of love and sex, and songs of empowerment again, supplanting the post-motherhood theme of her last with that of a reawakening to life outside the home.

Then she took us through nice renditions of "Uncle Alvarez" and "Supernova" before surrendering her guitar and band and sitting down to talk with Neil Portnow, the new president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (yep, the ones responsible for the Grammys). Sure, the questions were softballs (at least the first few were — hey, there's lots of places I gotta be this week, can't hang around for every minute of everything), but it was good to see Phair play and to know that what she's doing is still vital.

[Thanks to Christopher Hess / neumu for the article, and Steve Kisko and Jason Long for passing along this info.]


03-16-03: PHAIR'S FARE (IT'S ALL ABOUT SXSW, ISN'T IT?)
From MusicDish:

SXSW 2003: Deck Chairs on the Titanic?
Day Three: The Kids are Alright
By: Linus Gelber (Home Office Records)
2003-03-14

Phair's Fare: Imagine you were the prettiest girl ever, and that you were natively bright and sensible. I magine that you had a wandering talent that sometimes curled up, sometimes bit hard, and sometimes wasn't ready to speak for itself. Imagine that you didn't like doing what you were told, unless it was fun. Imagine that you tried on a few hats and suddenly, somewhere in the middle of having a rollicking good time, you were a darkling distaff sensation, and everyone wanted pieces of you that you didn't even know you had. Liz? Is that you in there?

It's been five years since Phair's last album, and the new one is done and in the pipe, and Phair is the guest at a public interview in the conference center on the kind of afternoon that makes you want to say "zephyrs". Even this emergence didn't rope most of the happy masses in from their adventures in the afternoon venues, but that's the way of SXSW in the sunshine. The party always has the right of way.

Phair sang four songs lightly-backed and lightly-amplified at the start of her lightly-packed session, two new and two venerable. In the chat that followed she was honest, friendly, and interesting, with none of the Star Chip factor that mars most celebrity meets. No earth shattered and no assumptions shook. Rather Phair was, well, fair, noting that somewhere in the middle of being a Mom she got over herself and that life got simpler. She promises a tour on her new Matrix-produced record, and if the whole of the session was a canny kind of ad for the album, this column is not: four tracks were played, and Mr. Cyrano really liked two of them, and that's that for today. Your mileage may vary. I'll just add that it's going to be hard to resist putting the track "Hot White Cum" on mix CD's for the next few decades. Nobody does pottymouth like Liz Phair. Bless the child who's got her own.

[Thanks to Linus Gelber / MusicDish for the article, and Jason Long for passing along this info.]


03-15-03: AN INTERESTING SXSW / LIZ REPORT
From The Michael Penn E-mail List, a report from Atreides Atreides:

We [Atredis and Michael Penn] chatted for a moment. While we were waiting, Liz Phair came by to see Michael. While she was waiting for him, I asked her why she dropped Michael for The Matrix. She said that they were looking for some radio friendly songs so they had The Matrix produce some, but five of the songs Michael produced were going be on the album. Cool...

[Thanks to Atreides Atreides / The Michael Penn E-mail List for this info.]


03-15-03: YET ANOTHER SXSW / LIZ REPORT
From The Austin Chronicle:

SXSW Live Shots
BY MELANIE HAUPT
March 14, 2003:

Liz Phair Interview
Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 13

You know an interview is going into the shitter when the artist prefaces a statement with, "Don't hate me because I'm a rock star, but ...." Such was the case this afternoon with Liz Phair, as she sat down for a chat with recently inaugurated Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and revealed herself to have been assimilated by the industry. After a spare four-song set of new songs off her forthcoming album (Liz Phair, due out June 24), Phair shared some insights about the new album, as well as her thoughts on the record industry. Describing the new release as a "best of" collection (it's culled from five years of various demos), she defended the delay between this and her most recent, Whitechocolatespaceegg, saying, "I'm very cerebral. I like to think things through. I just don't fit into the box." Phair proudly shared what is bound to be the first single, "Extraordinary", which was apparently abducted by the Matrix and overproduced to within an inch of its life. "They're great people! So talented!" she said of the production/songwriting team. "A lot of people who stay indie are very much 'us against them' and caught up in what's cool and what's not. Why paint yourself into a corner?" The most revealing (and revolting) moment of the afternoon, though, came when she aired "Hot White Cum", a supposedly empowering track for women. "It's about the joyful love of [hot white cum]. Women artists need to break barriers in order for women's experience to be valuable." And with that, the audience heard Phair sing about her lover's jizz as "the fountain of youth, the meaning of life". Let's get this straight: In order for a woman to be clear-skinned and happy, she requires an injection of hot white cum? If that's Phair's notion of empowerment, it's a good thing she doesn't have a daughter.

[Thanks to Melanie Haupt / The Austin Chronicle for the article and Myron Pickens for passing it along.]


03-15-03: "READY TO ROCK" LIZ
From Billboard.com:

Liz Phair Ready To Rock

Liz Phair has recorded her first album of new material in more than five years. Speaking yesterday (March 13) with Recording Academy president Neil Portnow during the South By Southwest (SXSW) music conference, Phair described the self-titled set, due June 24 from Capitol, as having "big songs. They are cool and they rock."

Phair said she recorded "40 or 50 songs" and "picked my favorites from the last five years" to create the album. The set features the work of several producers, including Michael Penn, R. Walt Vincent (Pete Yorn), and the Matrix, among others. "Honestly, the reason why this next record is so good is because I collaborated," Phair admitted. "It's a totally new feeling for me to be really proud [of my music]," she added with a laugh.

Because she's well known for personal, soul-baring songs, Phair said she realizes some may balk at her decision to work with a mainstream outfit such as production/songwriting team the Matrix (Avril Lavigne), instead of remaining under the independent banner with which she has long been associated. "I think that people who stay indie are very 'us vs. them,'" she said. "I say, 'Why paint yourself into a corner?'"

The set will be the follow up to 1998's whitechocolatespaceegg, which debuted at No. 35 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 266,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. "That was more reflective of a post-motherhood type of thing," Phair said of that album. "This is more rock." As for the extended delay between releases, Phair explained, "It's hard to write good songs, frankly."

Phair said she no longer suffers from extreme stage fright, which in the past led to spotty performances and kept her from extensive touring. "I just got over it," she said. "[Now] it's just so much fun. It's hard to get off the stage. I'm gonna tour, that's the raw fact. I'm gonna be out there for a long time. I'm gonna love it. I love performing, truly."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, Austin, Texas

[Thanks to Barry A. Jeckell / Billboard.com for the article and Jason Long for passing it along.]


03-15-03: A LIZ / SXSW INTERVIEW
From The San Antonio Express-News:

Phair shows SXSW crowd she’s ready for bigger things
By Jim Kiest
Express-News Staff Writer
Web Posted : 03/15/2003 12:00 AM

AUSTIN — Now a divorced mom in her mid-30s, former indie It girl Liz Phair still wants to be a rock star.

Phair previewed her forthcoming album, titled simply Liz Phair, Thursday afternoon at South by Southwest. In stark contrast to Courtney Love, whose rambling anti-corporate interview was big last year at SXSW, Phair made it clear she was willing to work with the music industry to get what she wants.

“I think a lot of people who stay indie it's very us against them,” she told NARAS president Neil Portnow, who interviewed her in a crowded ballroom at the Austin Convention Center.

Phair indicated that no-sellout attitude no longer works for a working mom with lofty career goals.

Her new attitude was represented by the upcoming single “Extraordinary”. As she played it with a pair of musicians before her interview, it was an appealing song about self-empowerment set off by Phair's pretty if not “American Idol”-powerful singing and her knack for melody and memorable lines. “I am extraordinary,” she sang in the chorus. “An everyday saint psycho super goddess.”

But then she played the album version produced by the Matrix, a production team best know for its work with Avril Lavigne. It was like an indie film remade as a blockbuster, complete with special effects and explosions.

“That's a totally new feeling for me, to be proud of something played really loud,” said Phair, who added that she's not a cool record-collector type and knows lots of bands by their radio hits.

Still, her pursuit of bigness — “There's a real forgetfulness about what a rock 'n' roll hero is. There's something missing,” she said at one point, suggesting she was ready to fill the void — hasn't totally compromised the notoriously libidinous Phair.

She took the stage in one of the shortest skirts to be seen at SXSW. One of the new songs she performed contained a strategically placed F-bomb. And during her interview she previewed what she called a “really dirty” song from the new album. She wasn't exaggerating. The chorus to the sprightly folk-rock tune might well render Sex and the City's Samantha speechless.

Maybe after years of Britney, Christina, Pink and even Avril, Liz Phair is just what the record industry needs, a star whom thirtysomething fans (the ones who buy music rather than downloading it) can feel good about feeling dirty about.

[Thanks to Jim Kiest / San Antonio Express-News for the article.]


03-15-03: ANOTHER LIZ / SXSW TIDBIT
From Billboard.com:

South By Southwest Diary: Day Three
Edited by Jonathan Cohen / March 15, 2003, 2:45 PM

(Excerpt)

(March 14)

The Stills proved to be a hot ticket draw at an unadvertised show at a temporary venue above the Pecan Street Ale House restaurant in downtown Austin. The group's late-1980s modern rock style sat well with the audience, as much enamored with the band's performance as it was with Liz Phair's appearance in its midst.

[Thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Billboard.com for the article.]


03-15-03: ANOTHER LIZ / SXSW REPORT
From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Sonic boom of artists, agents and execs hits Texas festival
03/15/03
John Soeder
Plain Dealer Reporter

Erstwhile alt-rock "it" girl Liz Phair also turned up at the festival to build some buzz for her first release in five years, a self-titled album due in stores June 24. "I'm just your average everyday sane psycho supergoddess," she sang during one new number, the aptly titled "Extraordinary".

The upcoming album pairs Phair with the Matrix, the hitmaking production team behind Avril Lavigne's smash debut.

[Thanks to John Soeder / Cleveland Plain Dealer for the article.]


03-14-03: ON SITE REPORT: LIZ AT SXSW
Here is a report from Matt S., who attended a performance by Liz:

...wanted to tell you that I saw Liz play live today on a little stage outside a Starbucks across the street from the University of Texas campus as part of a free SXSW showcase. Very cool. I didn't see all of it, but here's what I heard. (Not necessarily in this order. I wasn't taking notes.)

Never Said
Supernova
Divorce Song
Uncle Alvarez
Perfect World
and a new song called something like "Rock Me All Night"

It was cool. She looked like a million damn dollars, I must say, as she stood outside the Starbucks and shook hands and signed autographs.

[Thanks to Matt S. for the on site report at SXSW.]


03-14-03: LIZ / SXSW INTERVIEW
From Billboard.com:

South By Southwest Diary: Day Two
Edited by Jonathan Cohen / March 14, 2003, 2:45 PM

(Excerpt)

As a music fan's playground, SXSW and Austin lived up to their promises yesterday (March 13), as acts tried to entice daytime audiences out of the sun-drenched streets and keep tiring nighttime revelers out until the wee hours.

Back in the Convention Center, modern rock goddess Liz Phair sat for an interview with Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to discuss music, touring, family life, and the state of the music industry. Along with recorded previews of new songs, including the provocative "White Hot Cum", Phair played a short set that included past favorites "Supernova" and "Uncle Alvarez", and asserted that in the five years between releases, she has emerged as a stronger, more confident performer.

"I love performing, truly," said Phair, who was once crippled by stage fright. "I'm gonna tour, that's the raw fact. I'm gonna be out there for a long time, and I'm gonna love it." Phair's self-titled new album is due June 24 through Capitol.

[Thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Billboard.com for the article.]


03-13-03: LIZ PHAIR FALLS INTO THE MATRIX
From MTV.com:

Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne Fall Into The Matrix
03.13.2003 7:47 AM EST

(Excerpt)

In a matter of months, they have become the go-to producers for singers looking to stretch their musical boundaries. Along with working on the next Britney Spears LP, the Matrix are logging studio time with Ricky Martin, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey, Liz Phair and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, among others.

The production team's success is even more impressive considering that [Scott] Spock, [Lauren] Christy and her husband, Graham Edwards, formed the Matrix by accident.

Christy was a solo pop-rock artist signed with Mercury Records (making music similar to [Avril] Lavigne's) in the early '90s when she met Spock, who produced one of her singles. Years later, Edwards met the producer while putting together a band called DollsHead.

The trio first collaborated in 1999, much to the apprehension of Christy and Edwards, who had vowed never to work together when they wed 15 years earlier. DollsHead's manager asked if the three could write a song for an Australian band called Jackson Mendoza.

Spock, Christy and Edwards sing and play the instruments on most of the tracks they produce, including Lavigne's, however, unlike, say, the Neptunes, they have no interest in being in the spotlight.

"We don't want to take the glory, which is why we took the name the Matrix, to be in the background, to make the artist's name stand out more," Spock explained.

"We're not into that," Edwards added. "I did the whole rock and roll thing in my early days."

The Matrix say that while they have only written or only produced for artists, they prefer to be more of a one-stop shop.

"A song is a work of art," Spock said. "You just don't say, 'I sketched this with a pencil and I'll color it in later,' [it's] 'here's my piece of art.' I think that's the old-school way of thinking -- a guy on a piano who is the lyricist and then we get a producer and he hires the musicians and then we get an arranger. Today, it's evolved into one thing. You sit down and all the pieces start evolving together and that's kind of how we work. When we get done, it's usually a finished master."

The production team often comes to artists with songs already written, but also enjoys co-writing, especially with older singers, like Phair. "From a writing point of view, there were things we could say with Liz that we couldn't on the Avril record," Christy said. "That's why it was fun, you could just let rip."

-- Corey Moss

[Thanks to Corey Moss / MTV.com for the article and Trent V. for passing along this article.]


03-10-03: LIZ SXSW INTERVIEW SESSION
From South By Southwest:

Just Added! SXSW Interview: Liz Phair

The South By Southwest Music Conference is please to announce a very special session. The

SXSW Interview with Liz Phair, co-presented by the Texas Chapter of NARAS, will take place on Thursday March 13, 2003, from 4:15 PM to 5:30 PM in Ballroom E/F of the Austin Convention Center. Acclaimed artist Phair is preparing her fourth album for release June 24 on Capitol Records.

The interview will be conducted by Neil Portnow, President of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Portnow recently presided over his first GRAMMY Awards show as NARAS head.

This session will begin with a short acoustic performance by Phair, to be followed by the "up close and personal" Q&A between Phair and Portnow. This session is open to SXSW registrants only.

[Thanks to Steve Kisko for passing along this info.]


02-20-03: LIZ AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST
For anyone planning to attend this year's South By Southwest (SXSW), Liz will be performing there (although a definitive date is still to be announced. Here is a link, if you are curious.

[Thanks to the anonymous person for the email.]


02-17-03: MESMERIZING EXCLUSIVE - LIZ INTERVIEW
Okay, here are the transcripts for my first interview with Liz...

Ken: Here are a few sample questions to get things started.

Liz: Ken, here are my thought on your questions. Sorry it's late.

Ken: No problem. I figured you would be busy with that hectic schedule. With the release of the film "Julie Johnson" in the near future, will your contributions to that soundtrack finally see public release on CD?

Liz: No clue about Julie Johnson. There are a couple of good songs on there that I would be happy to have see the light of day, especially this one called 'She's gone Crazy' that angelo badelimente (sp?!) produced that was haunting and I'd like to hear again. Can you believe I write and record these songs and then lose track of them and keep no copies? What kind of a loser am I?

Ken: What were your experiences in your first movie role in Cherish?

Liz: Cherish was a blast to make and the off-set antics were almost more fun than the work for camera. Jason Priestly, who is a riot, and his woman, Naomi, (who is almost funnier) were holding court and playing a mean game of Limey Pub Dominies, sneaking beers and spoiling their dog. I was running around with a video camera getting candid shots and interviewing all men, as a rule, with the camera focused close-up on their crotch. I had the idea that it was some kind of payback for the objectification of women's bodies in the media, and I was making them answer straightforward questions about their work in the movie all the while looking at nothing but their crotch. You may think I wasn't very popular, but you'd be wrong. Poor Robin Tunney spent most of her time in the trailor actually learning her sides and sleeping, and getting wardrobe and make-up. So much for the wild life of the star. She was particularly stunning while performing the eighties dance routine- all eyes upon her. We had alot of fun wrestling in the bathroom scene, and I kept wanting to let out a really high-pitched scream (only because I discovered I could hit this sweet note and became enamored of myself in a Scary Movie sort of way), but my Dad said it was my most awkward scene, and I believe him. It was 2 am and we'd been on set since 9 that morning and we were getting a little kooky. Mostly I have an acting manager because I live in Hollywood and you're nobody, really, with out one. (jk)

Ken: How did you get involved in the January 21st gathering at Sundance?

Liz: Which brings me to Sundance. Brian Young at Untitled (acting managers) set me up with the HBO show. I was the entertainment at the Creative Coalition's event honoring Colin Callendar, president of HBO film. It was very impressive to see the montage they played to give the audience an idea of the breadth of his work. Basically every project was one I'd either seen myself or wanted to see and there were like a million of them. The party was held in this tight little carpeted tent, very swish for a tent, and very space age, somehow, in a moveable feast kind of way. All sorts of luminaries showed up for Colin and lots of old friends I haven't seen for me. It was a heady mix, and I say that with an English accent. My long lost friend Nora Maccoby came. She and I were really close friends, living in a loft in SOMA, San Fransisco, right after we graduated Oberlin. (By the way, one of our other loftmates was Charles Wurmfeld, director of Kissing Jessica Stein). Oh my god. The stories from that time could go on for days, and if I wrote them all down it would make an excellent movie. Nora was at Sundance because she wrote the film Buffalo Soldiers, which had quite a buzz and at the screening some woman threw a bottle at Anna Paquin's head for acting somehow too well for this woman to understand it was a movie. Anna was at my show, too. Nora was the reason, way back when, that Chris Brokaw came to SF to visit us at our loft and subsequently charmed me into playing all my secret songs for him while Nora went AWOL during his stay. I guess something went wrong with their love connection. Anyway, good thing because that's when Chris Brokaw dared me to put my songs on tape and send it to him. So you see, without Nora, there would be no Chris. And without Chris, there would be no girlysound. And without Chris and Tae Won Yu making dubs, and me, a reputation, you would not be reading this exhaustive rumination at all. Funny.

Long answer to a short question: Why am I getting into film? Because I've always been around it, long before music, back when I was an art major in college, and I think my connection to the visual arts was a big part of what made my music different and special, and I want to get that back.

Any way. Sundance. I cannot believe all the free shit actors get. SCHWAG! SCHWING! I won't even tell you what I mean, it'll make you too mad. Have you ever been in the bonus bean room in the Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets computer game?

Ken: Is the new album's release date really May 22nd? It falls on a Thursday, and usually new releases come out on Tuesdays.

Liz: The cd is definitely coming out end of May. I hired a new manager, Greg Latterman, who is based in Chicago actually (how ironic). He seems like a very hooked in guy and had the most fascinating plans. We have so much work to do before then. Every time they test me on the phone and I say, implacably, "I am not missing my releases date," there is this silence for a moment when the mental work load kind of dumps on their heads for a moment, and then they draw breath and blood back to their brain and reply, "ok. We've got alot of work to do then." I don't care. I'm excited. Little shows are popping up, like the Fred FAbulous Five, or whatever they're called, Donovan Leitch's all star band, (He is such a cool cat, by the way) so I can fly out to the Grammies in NYC and do a song with them, maybe I will ask Ben Lee. David Gray, maybe, in LA. Starbucks party, maybe in Austin, S by SW. Little stuff. Rolling into bigger stuff. Rolling rolling rolling. Keep them doggies rolling. Keep them roadies loading, RAWHIDE!

Actually, I've put forth the idea that I should tour in an air-stream mobile home, while the rest of the band and crew take a bus. Can you picture that? A Little silver sausage with some dumb-ass sponsor logo on the side. I thought it was hilarious, but it went over about as well as my idea, which I am dead serious about, to perform with a headset, Janet-jackson style, so that I can roam around the stage, sit cross-legged, dance around with freedom and impunity. It's so confining to strum strum away like I do and stand on my tiptoes to reach the mike, and I feel really constrained. My songs have so many words in them, (note to self: write more instrumental breaks) that I'm stuck, front and center, all the time. When I play at home, I walk around. Of course, no one is going for it.

Ken: Is it a coincidence that the new album will be released 10 years since the release of Exile in Guyville?

Liz: Ten years ago, to the May, Exile In Guyville came out. It is a coincidence, I didn't plan it, but it feels auspicious none- the-less. I own guyville. Get that. It reverted to me in 2000. Some lawyer forgot to wrap it up again in some negotiation with Capitol like they always do and it became my property 2 years ago. I haven't given up on the idea of rereleasing at Christmas 2003 as a ten year, with extra-special stuff- Brad remixing, controversial commentary, even the whole Wicker Park story, Urge, Hendy, Material issue, Casey, Idful, the Rainbow, Johnny Machine, Nasty Steve Albini, etc. But my feeble memory doesn't serve and I'd have recruit some serious support interviews to make it come alive. Again. Alot of work.

I'm so relaxed tonight. I have a manager. I have a record. I have a label I love and everything to look forward to.

Thanks for asking,
-Liz

So that's round one of my questions to Liz...

[A big "thank you" to Liz Phair for agreeing to the interview.]


02-13-03: LIZ MENTION IN ROLLING STONE
From the March 6th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone (the "Rock & Roll In The Studio" section):

Liz Phair
Due out May 20th
"My voice is so much better, because I'm not as self-conscious as I used to be," says the Chicago indie-rock goddess, who is working on her first new album in five years. "Somewhere along the way, I got rid of a lot of my fear about singing." Phair is currently writing and recording with producers Walt Vincent, Michael Penn and pop production team the Matrix, which has worked on albums for Avril Lavigne and Nick Carter. Her new songs included the upbeat pop song "Extraordinary" and the acoustic love song "Why Can't I?"

[Thanks to Rolling Stone for the piece.]


02-12-03: LIZ TO PERFORM AT ROCK TO VOTE BENEFIT
Liz will be a "special guest" at the Rock the Vote benefit party sponsored by Blender magazine on Saturday, February 22nd at New York's Roseland Ballroom. Other acts include LA's hottest All Star/Rock Star ensemble outfit, "Camp Freddy" (a.k.a. Donovan Leitch, Jr., Scott Ford, Billy Morrison of The Cult and Guns n' Roses alum Matt Sorum), Slash and Duff McKagen (Guns n' Roses), Moby, Gavin Rossdale (Bush), Debby Harry (Blondie), Ben Lee, Brett Scallions (Fuel) and Dee Snider with more to be announced. For more details, check this auction on eBay for more details (or my upcoming interview with Liz which I will post in the very near future).

[Thanks to Jason Long for the eBay link and Liz Phair for the inside information. :-)]


02-09-03: LIZ AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES
Liz was spotted at the House Of Blues Sunset Strip in Hollywood. She wasn't performing, just "rocking out" to the Trampoline Records Revue (highlights included Peter Himmelman and Pete Yorn).

[Thanks to Jeffrey Gray for passing this information along.]


01-28-03: THE NEW ALBUM IS ENTITLED: HAPPY TRAGIC THING
From Rollingstone.com:

Liz Phair Gets Happy
Singer to release first album in five years this May

Liz Phair debuted three new tunes during a nine-song set at the Ray-Ban Visionary Awards party at the Sundance Film Festival last week. The new material was a preview for her upcoming album, Happy Tragic Thing, due May 20th on Capitol Records.

It had been nearly five years since Phair released an album, and about three since she'd played in public. Despite so much time out of the spotlight, Phair -- known for paralyzing stage fright in her early years -- was confident and warm in delivering six older songs along with the soothing, upbeat "Extraordinary", the acoustic love song "Why Can't I?" and the name-checking rocker "Rock Me".

Her recognizable, husky delivery, which previously seemed a lo-fi instrument of dissonance, has grown and changed into an almost girlish alto. "My voice is so much better because I'm not as self-conscious as I used to be," she said afterwards. "Somewhere along the way I got rid of a lot of my fear about singing, and I've really been working hard on developing my voice."

Phair has been writing and recording with producers including Walt Vincent, Michael Penn and pop production team The Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Nick Carter), and reports that theme-wise "a lot of the songs have to do with my own personal gender issues." Phair plans to release some alternate mixes of the Happy Tragic Things tunes over the Internet, keeping the straight-ahead rockers for the album. "The songs that made it onto the album are the ones that rock," she says. "I wanna sell some records, goddammit!"

ANDREW STRICKMAN
(January 28, 2003)

[Thanks to Andrew Strickman / RollingStone.com for the report and David Cooper for passing along this bit of information.]


Liz Phair and Anna Paquin at Sundance
Liz Phair and Anna Paquin at Sundance

01-25-03: ANOTHER SUNDANCE REPORT
From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Gotta Wear Shades
Dan Nailen

Tuesday night's party honoring HBO Films President Colin Callender with the Ray-Ban Visionary Award was packed with celebrities and well-wishers. Some were there to honor the producer but others just wanted a rare glimpse of singer/songwriter Liz Phair.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Kim Cattrall, Lily Taylor, Illeana Douglas, Stephen Baldwin, Mario Van Peebles and Scott Glenn were on hand as The Creative Coalition and Movieline magazine honored Callender. Some stars seemed ecstatic to see Phair perform for the first time in more than three years, and for the first time in Utah, as Phair told The Salt Lake Tribune.

"I'm a huge fan!" a tongue-studded Anna Paquin enthused after Phair finished a nine-song set, including three new songs. "I'm a total groupie for these kind of things. I love Liz Phair. I got my picture taken with her!"

Ed Norton and Salma Hayek rolled in late. Hayek was bummed she missed the show, asking, "Did you see her? What did she play?"

Also under the white tent at The Village at the Lift was Judah Friedlander, better known as the "Hugging Man" in the Dave Matthews Band "Everyday" video. Friedlander, a stand-up comic and actor, appears in American Splendor an entry in Sundance's dramatic competition, and is visiting Utah for the first time.

"It's a nice little town you have here," Friedlander said. "It looks like no one's lived here. It's so clean."

[Thanks to Dan Nailen / Salt Lake Tribune for passing along this bit of information.]


Liz Phair performs at Ray-Ban Visonary Award at Sundance, January 21st, 2003
Liz Phair performs at Ray-Ban Visonary Award at Sundance, January 21st, 2003
Liz Phair and Ben Lee perform at Levi's HBO Party, January 22nd, 2003
Liz Phair and Ben Lee perform at Levi's HBO Party, January 22nd, 2003

01-24-03: LIZ ROCKING AT SUNDANCE
Okay, this is what I've gathered about Liz's performances at Sundance.

Liz performed at the Ray-Ban Visonary Award for Colin Callender of HBO Original Films on January 21st, 2003. I don't know what the setlist for this show is at the moment.

The next night (January 22nd, 2003), at the Levi's HBO Party, Ben Lee opened for headliner Beck, and Liz joined Ben Lee on stage. I don't have the setlist for this performance either.

Okay, it's late, and I'm exhausted from gathering all of this information. Time for sleep...


01-23-03: LIZ AT SUNDANCE - A REPORT
From The Hollywood Reporter:

Revelers high on 'Spun'
Thu Jan 23, 2:28 AM ET
By Chris Gardner and Ian Mohr

Rounding out other recent festival bashes were:

Liz Phair holding court in front of a captive audience Tuesday night, performing as part of the fete for HBO Films president Colin Callender. The HBO honcho was honored with the first-ever Ray-Ban Visionary Award. The event -- sponsored by the Creative Coalition and Movieline Magazine -- was held at the Village at the Lift and drew such celebs as Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, Robin Tunney, Tatum O'Neal and Lukas Haas, Untitled Entertainment partner Jason Weinberg, Paradigm's Adel Nur, hip-hop group the Black-Eyed Peas and filmmaker Mira Nair, who presented Callender with the honor. Each guest walked away with a pair of supercool shades to hide their bloodshot eyes the next morning.

[Thanks to overpavement for passing along this bit of information.]


01-16-03: CORRECTION ON NEW ALBUM RELEASE DATE: MAY 20TH, 2003
Liz's new album is slated to be released on a Tuesday after all: May 20th, 2003, according to Capitol Records's most recent release schedule, received on Tuesday, January 14th, taken from The Velvet Rope. I'm sure it was just a typo on Liz's part... :-)

[Thanks to velvetrope.com for the Capitol Records release schedule and Mike Katsoulis for passing along this bit of information.]


01-14-03: LIZ ON SANTA MONICA FILM FESTIVAL ADIVSORY BOARD
Liz is on the advisory board for the Santa Monica Film Festival coming soon in February. Click here to see who else is on the advisory board.

[Thanks to Robert Joyner for passing along this bit of information.]


01-13-03: LIZ TO PERFORM AT SUNDANCE
From ScreenDaily.com:

Colin Callender to receive inaugural Ray-Ban award at Sundance

Jeremy Kay in Los Angeles / 09 January 2003 04:00

Colin Callender, the award-winning producer and president of HBO Films, is to receive the inaugural 2003 Ray-Ban Visionary Award in Park City on Jan 21. The accolade, which is being presented by Ray-Ban, US film magazine Movieline and non-profit public advocacy body The Creative Coalition, was established to recognise “the work and dedication of an individual who possesses extraordinary passion, creativity and leadership, and whose work contains vision, imagination and originality”. After the presentation ceremony in Park City there will be a special performance by Liz Phair. Sydney Pollack, Billy Crystal, Forest Whitaker and Ridley Scott are among the list of industry veterans on the host committee that will honor Callender.

In other words, Liz will be performing in Park City, Utah on January 21st.

[Thanks to Jeremy Kay for the report and overpavement for passing along the info.]


01-10-03: OKAY, SO LIZ PHAIR EMAILS ME...
My very first email directly from Liz Phair. With her permission, it is reprinted here for your enjoyment:

Oh, I'm just having the best time checking this site out. I love what you've done with it. There seems to be a small furor going on about release dates and evil production couplings, and all I can say is, really, no REALLY, don't worry. The Matrix songs are great, mainstreamy, but really exceptional as such. I needed to get on the radio, and they and I have had an unusually fruitful four song pairing. It's obviously different than my own quirky stuff, but we've amazed the label with a four for four hit-type factor, and no one who's heard it ( myself included) can stop playing it because it rocks and is fun and slick and smart. So that's that. Inside the game of the music business, I've turned my fate around with these tracks and am poised for a nice ride. Which is important to me. A huge part of my motivation in any creative endeavor is ignoring, if not down-right spitting in the face of, the words "No, you can't." I'm just rebelious. I hate that they say you can't get on the radio. I hate that those suited executives look at me (Or looked, thanks to some fabulously generous and outstanding work by Michael Penn, Gary Clark, and The Matrix) and think, "Art Piece. Hang it on the wall. Can't do anything else with it." You might understand that Music Industry is just another Guyville and I want to take it down. Or sit on top of it. It's just my nature. And it wouldn't be satisfying if I didn't love the music I make. I absolutely love some of those Matrix songs. I finally made music, like 'Extraordinary' and 'Rock Me', that I want to blast out of the windows of my car, waiting to park at Universal Studios for KCRW Christmas show. The Matrix stuff is the kind of stuff you take to rural America and play at top volume for your cousins because they get it, and they like it, but when they hear the words, it shocks them. I live for that reaction. As for my own art, there are many, many songs recorded over these last four years that we're deciding what to do with. Many are just me and my guitar, maybe not as good as at twenty-five, when all I had to do in the world was sit around, get stoned and play guitar, but alot are pretty special. I even thought of starting a subscription service to do like a song-a-month club on-line, because, why wait? I write songs all the time, and in their nascent form, are quite possibly more brilliant, especially to all my brainiac fans out there who don't need their art pre-digested. Release date for the proffesional album is very firmly May 22, 2003, because any longer than that and I run out of money. Expect to see me playing shows very soon, as per that money thing. No title as of yet, but I'm hovering around a 'night' image.

I don't know what else to tell you, but if you can stand to move a few feet closer to the center, I promise the album rocks. And if you can't, then have a laugh and wait for the demo material to trickle out. It's only music. You don't have cancer. I write it for me. It fulfills my need to speak, to be understood. And if I change, and you don't like it, I can't help you. Because only when I'm traveling in my life, when I feel like I'm transforming, or having some adventure, will music come flooding out of me. Friction, baby!

P.S. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't give out my email

xxxxoooo Liz

Well, there you have it. Album, tour, praise for this site... what more can you ask for? An interview? I'll see what I can do... :-)

[Thanks again to Liz Phair for the kind words and permission to reprint this email.]


01-09-03: RELEASE DATE SET FOR JULIE JOHNSON
It appears that the film Julie Johnson, featuring four Liz Phair tunes (three of which have been unreleased to date), will be in limited release starting March 21st. Here is a link with the pertinent information. No word on the status of the companion soundtrack album.

[Thanks to Mike for passing along this information.]


01-07-03: RELEASE DATE SET FOR NEW ALBUM
Okay folks, word has just reached Mesmerizing headquarters. Liz Phair's new album will be released on May 22nd, 2003. Mark it down. Make plans to head to your local record shop and buy it!

[Thanks to Liz Phair (yes, the one and only) for the release date.]




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