The Ladyhawk Interview : Monitor Mix A few months ago I discovered a band called Ladyhawk. An advance copy of their latest CD, Shots, arrived in a package bearing the stamp of a record label whose curatorial prowess I'd grown to bot

The Ladyhawk Interview

A few months ago I discovered a band called Ladyhawk. An advance copy of their latest CD, Shots, arrived in a package bearing the stamp of a record label whose curatorial prowess I'd grown to both admire and to anticipate. The back cover of the CD depicted four, shirtless, hairy men drenched in what looked like beer. Though I haven't blown up that picture to the size of a poster to hang on my bedroom wall, I have become a huge fan of Ladyhawk. In all honesty, and without exaggeration, I've listened to Shots nearly every day.

I love all sorts of music, and all genres, but my heart lies in the gritty and the gutteral; in the bend of a guitar note, in the scratchy strain of a voice, and in the the stripped down honesty, and odyssey, of words, guitars, and drums.

All of which are elements that make the new Ladyhawk album so great.

I spoke with guitarist/singer/songwriter Duffy Driediger over the phone from his home in Vancouver, BC.

Carrie Brownstein: When do you start the tour for your record?

Duffy Driediger: We're starting March 12th. We're driving all the way across the States to get to eastern Canada. We're going to do a bunch of shows out there and then make our way west with Black Mountain through Canada. Then do the States after that.

CB: For those who haven't done it, what's the difference between driving across Canada and the US? Why would you come down and drive across the States?

DD: I'm glad you asked me that. Canada has basically the Trans-Canada Highway, which is the one road that goes through all of Canada. It's a two-lane highway. If you go through Canada you have to go up and around the Great Lakes. There's moose and deer crossing and you have to stop for those.

CB: Why is it important for you to start your tour in Canada?

DD: It's mostly so we could do those dates with Black Mountain. We're good friends with those guys and we've toured with them before. We do a lot better in Canada than we do in the States, there are lots more people at our shows, we're more well known. It makes sense for us to make a bunch of cash before we head out into the barren wastes of middle America where there are two or three people at a show.

CB: I want to ask you about sequencing. Is there an album whose sequencing you admire or a ormula you try to emulate? I ask this because of the short second song (S.T.H.D) on your album, which is a great sequencing decision in my opinion. With the ability for people to download or stream individual songs and with iPod shuffle, is the sequence still important to you?

DD: Definitely. I thought of it in this order when I was writing the songs. I don't want to make it sounds like it's a concept or anything. I just had an idea in my mind. I was listening to Fleetwood Mac Tusk. It' a pretty sprawling album; I love it. There's all kinds of weird shit going on. I love how it starts with that slow, mellow Christine McVie song and then there's a short, weird Lindsay Buckingham song right after. Maybe subconsciously I figured that would be a good idea.

[Listen to the track S.T.H.D from Shots]

CB: Are there themes or congruencies between all the tracks that make
Shots an album and not just a collection of individual songs?

DD: I had some dark times for a while, I was pretty death obsessed. I got to a point in my late twenties where I was preoccupied with thoughts of mortality. Not to sound too grandiose. I'm kind of a closet Goth; I've always had a real fascination with that kind of shit. I love Goths and I consider it lucky to see Goth. I have a fascination with the dark side; I like to flirt with it. I wanted to explore that more.

CB: You went to Kelowna B.C, where all of you grew up, to record
Shots. What is Kelowna like?

DD: It's like a suburb in the middle of nowhere. There're over 100,000 people there. It's a sprawled out strip mall town. There are more churches than anything else. It's a weird place but it's really beautiful. It's kind of love/hate. I'm still friends with most people from there, even in Vancouver; we have a common bond because that place is so shitty.

CB: Do some of your songs come out of improvisation or do they start with a structure and deviate from there?

DD: [Laughs] I wouldn't say there's much improv involved. I wish there was. We can't jam very well, at least I can't. I have zero jam confidence.

CB: You've got to build jam confidence.

DD: [Laughing] I guess so.

CB: Your band's sound has a Northwest quality to me--can you describe how Western Canada or Vancouver is similar or different from Seattle or Portland?

DD: It's pretty similar. Vancouver is rainy, dreary. It's cool but there is a pervasive shittiness. Downtown Seattle is sketchy but downtown Vancouver is really sketchy. There's f**ked up people everywhere. People that have never been to the downtown eastside are totally freaked out; it's like a Third World Country where everyone is on crack.

CB: There also seems to be a difference between the art rock of eastern Canada and the sounds of the western part of the country. Do you think that can partly be attributed to geography and to weather?

DD: I don't know what it is but it's definitely a thing. Vancouver's more isolated from the rest of Canada than any other city. In Montreal or Toronto, it seems like every band has to have eight people, a glockenspiel, auxiliary percussion, and some nose flutes. It's quirky, like 'let's be quirky and cute'. It's cool but that's not my thing. Vancouver has always been more rock and punk oriented, there's lots of metal. People out here just get hairy and stoned.

CB: I grew up in Seattle, went to college in Olympia, and then moved to Portland. I've been around hairy guys playing loud guitars for a long time......Is there a band that all members of Ladyhawk would agree is an influence or whom you'd all count among your favorites?

DD: Silkworm, definitely. We're disgusting Silkworm worshippers. We went on a getaway and we rented a house and listened to every Silkworm album in order. There's eight or nine albums. We were like, 'if any girls walked into this room they would vomit'. It was really weird but we were powerless to stop it.

CB: Can you describe the typical Ladyhawk fan?

DD: It's different everywhere but we've noticed a similarity that runs through North America. Even if we're playing a show where there's five people, which is a lot of the time, there's different types of dudes: One dude that's really drunk and he puts his arm around you and you don't know if he's going to kiss you or punch you. I get accosted by guys like that all the time. Then there's the old loner--I don't know if he's just hanging out at the bar--he's always like, 'You guys are really good'; sort of like 'The Dude' in The Big Lebowski. [Then] there are jocks, frat boy type dudes. In Vancouver there are a lot of girls that come to our shows, we're almost considered a boy band because of the throngs of screaming girls.

CB: Wow. I would have approached this interview entirely differently if I'd known you were more like the New Kids on the Block.

DD: Exactly.

CB: Or four Justin Timberlakes.

DD: But hairier.


Hairier indeed! (L to R) Duffy Driediger, Darcy Hancock, Ryan Peters, Sean Hawryluk.
Shots is out now on Jagjaguwar.
Check out Ladyhawk tour dates here.