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Musical Waitress
Lisa Germano
"Let me do this", says Lisa, artfully stacking glasses and empty bottles upon a tray - and there are quite a lot after hours of doing interviews. "I've been a waitress for 10 years, so this feels natural to me", she adds with a smile, seriously pondering the possibilty of taking the tray downstairs herself. Luckily she can be persuaded to answer some questions first. When I first saw Lisa live - during the tour for her first 4AD-album - she seemed rather uncomfortable performing live. On her second tour, for "Geek The Girl", she chose to perform only with a bassplayer and seemed very much at ease with herself and the situation. Explaining the contents of her lyrics for instance. Which can be quite revealing, because - although simple and naive in tone - they are no way self explanatory. I asked her what led from a to b:
Lisa: Well - the first one that was the first band I ever had. I think I learned from playing in that band that I'd like to relate to the audience more. So when I did another show with that band it felt a little bit more confident than the first one. But the thing is that when you play a very small club like me and Glen (the bassplayer) did on the next tour, there's a lot of room to talk to the people. I think that during the "Geek The Girl"-Tour I wanted to explain some of the songs. I don't think you always have to, though. When you play with a band you have all those people and everyone is waiting and they wanna hear more loud stuff. So ...

So what about the songs on "Love Circus"?

Lisa: I think that the songs on my new record are a little bit more obvious then the ones on "Geek The Girl". So I might just want to play the songs and not talk about them live. But I have a big mouth - so it depends. The songs are a little bit more easy to listen to. You don't have to listen to the lyrics. They are nicer in tone plus I used other people - Kenny Aronoff for instance. [Kenny Aronoff is the drummer of John Mellencamps band, where Lisa played beforehand going solo]. The thing about Kenny is his attitude. He's just such an "up"-person. It helped me make the songs a little bit more "up". Had I done the songs all by myself it would have been another sad affair. I really wanted it to be more uplifting. Paul Mayhern, a friend of mine co-produced it with me and he's such a positive person, too. He said that he thought that the last record was really good but that he didn't want to listen to it. The people who actually liked "Geek the Girl" did not get depressed by it, but he did. So he said that I shouldn't feel bad that the new stuff was a little bit more uplifting. And so I tried to change some of these songs around to make them sound a little bit more ridiculous. That's why I called it "The Love Circus", because it started to get funny to me. And the depicted relationships were very serious but I didn't want them to be serious because they are stupid, too. ["Stupid" must definitely considered one of Lisa's favourite words. And it's nice, because it can apply to so many different things in such a smooth and ambivalent way.] It's like stupid that you do that things. And I wanted the music to portray that. Some people, however, don't understand that sort of irony and don't get it.

Well I guess you could better access this state of mind when you can relate to the stuff happening in Lisa's songs. For instance the event described in "Messages from Sophia".

Lisa: Well, that's just a song I wrote about lying. I thought I wrote it about just about being lied to. Because I went to my house and my boyfriend wasn't home and there was a message for him on the answering machine from a French woman. And I thought "I got him, I got him", because I knew he lied. So later I realised that I lied, too, because I let him get away with it. I thought I was strong and I thought that I'd watch him fall on his face - because when you lie it comes back to you. And I realised by doing that. I was lying to - and I was the one that fell on my face because he was leaving me for her two years after that. Lying ends up getting whoever didn't deal with it.

That's one of Lisa's specialties: Observing little things which lead to surprising psychological conclusions. For instance: While talking about her song "Cancer Of Everything" from "Geek The Girl" that women are liked better when they are sick - which is surprisingly true once you think about it. Or that when you are living with someone and are not in love anymore, the partners voice tends to annoy the other. Such is the material her songs are made of. That leads to funny, always surprising and sometimes absurd perspectives. For instance there's this thing with the Kitties on her latest records. Some of the songs are linked by noises her cats made and conversations between her and her cats ...

Lisa: Well the Kitties are part of it now. I didn't plan it. I was home by myself recording a lot. That was all I'd do all day long and all night long. And the Kitties were there and they kind of shadowed my relationship I had written about on the record. Miamo Tutti (her Tomcat) is very macho - he doesn't care about Dorothy (her she-cat). He would leave for days and you would know that he was with other Kitties. And Dorothy would just accept anything. And anytime Miamo Tutti would come home Dorothy would go "Oh Miamo Tutti" (I do not make this up, folks!) and would irritate him. And that reminded me of my relationship. And while I was recording, Dorthy would walk by and I'd say: "Dorothy, why do you stay with that fucker Miamo Tutti?" And she'd go "Miaow" and so I would go to Miamo: "Miamo, why do you stay with Dorothy when you don't love her?" and he was like "Cchhh - I don't even want to talk to you". So I had many conversations with my Kitties. At one point I just decided that this made me feel a whole lot lighter and that's why the cats ended up on the record.

What about the title of the record?

Lisa Germano
Lisa: Well, it eventually became the "Love Circus". Initially I was going to call it "Guillotine". I had a song called "Guillotine" that I didn't use. And then I was going to call it "We Suck" because all those relationships were about "This sucks". And then I thought that it was too serious. And then as the music started to be funny, started to have a carnival feel I thought "Oh, this is a Love Circus, it's all stupid it's all ridiculous". And "Excerpts" means that there are many, many more ridiculous situations.

So what are the plans for the future?

Lisa: I have another record ready yet. It might change completely - who knows. But since I haven't recorded since march. I would love to see some of my songs remixed. A friend of mine remixed "I Love Snot" just for fun. I liked it but if it's on my record I probably have to be too much in control. But once the record's out, if people want to play - that's fine. Well I would like to better what I do. I would like to work with a real producer next time, would like to see what somebody else, who is not on the same level as me - like Paul, who produced this one - would stretch. Someday I would like to make a pop-record. Not like Madonna - more like a Neil Young Pop-record. Really good songs, with beats all the time and properly recorded. I would love to do someday a classically good record. You know, that everyone likes. Not a big selling record. Not "This is so depressing, this is so that - a real nice record. I'd like to do that.

Lisa's touring later in the year - if she's not going back to waitressing, that is. [No, she didn't. She has been touring Europe with Mojave 3 in October/November] When I left she was fighting with the promoter to take down that tray again...

[Erstveröffentlichung im Baby Talk-Fanzine #9, Dezember 1996]

Interview: -Ullrich Maurer-
Fotos: -Ullrich Maurer-

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