Boss Hog’s front lady Cristina Martinez has been giving her pipes a workout alongside her husband Jon Spencer, and fellow bandmates Jens Jurgensen, Hollis Queens and Mickey Finn since 1989. They recently got the band back together to release their first full-length record in 17 years — Brood X — a broody, dark departure from their pop-leaning Whiteout.
To celebrate, we caught up with the living legend to chat through the evolution of punk, the reasons behind their lengthy hiatus and counting down the days until Trump’s impeachment. Get to know her better below, before you treat your ears to their banger-studded new record.
How do you think punk has evolved or changed since you guys started out in the 80s?
I guess that depends on what you would call punk. To me it’s always been more of an ethic or way of life. By those standards I think it remains essentially the same. But if punk means black leather and spikes and mohawks to you, well then I would say that’s largely been relegated to fashion, where all trends go to die.
Do you think anti-establishment music is important as ever, especially in the wake of Trump and Brexit etc?
Ultimately yes. I’m conflicted about mixing business with pleasure. It can be annoying to have bands preach, it can come off as trivializing or self righteous. But in times of social injustices as great as what we’re facing today, I think it’s important to address the orange elephant in the room.
There was quite a significant gap between your last album and ‘Brood X’— was there any particular reason for that? And do you think the break has informed the way you approach making music?
There were a number of reasons that contributed to the start of the hiatus, the most significant of which was that I had a child who was starting school. We have been actively working together again since 2008, albeit at a very leisurely pace. I think not having an agenda worked well for us. And because we added a new band member (Mickey Finn – keyboard), it all felt fresh.
How do you think you’ve grown as musicians and people since then?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I can say that I feel a good deal more grateful. That’s probably a product of aging and seeing the finality to things.
What was it like jumping back into the studio together after so long?
Fun! We had a destination recording. That is to say we all flew to Benton Harbor, Michigan (where? you ask. Exactly! I say) and lived and recorded in an old warehouse/storefront space for a week. We played “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains” on a loop and swam in Lake Michigan.
How does the band approach song writing?
Collaboratively. We get together and just play our instruments, or sometimes each others, until we hit on something that we like and then record it on a phone or some other small device. From there we try to structure the good bits into songs. A lot of very good riffs are left on the chopping room floor.
What was it like touring as a young family?
I have such fond memories of that time. Ordinarily when we tour we roll up to the club, sound check, maybe change at the hotel, play, and then go back to the hotel to sleep. On occasion, you get to go to a restaurant, but really you don’t see much of the city you’re in. But with our son Charlie we made it our mission to always go to a zoo, or a museum, or a park, every day, in every city. I had so much fun getting to see so much with him.
How has it been touring this album?
Great! There’s a good mix of dedicated fans and curious newcomers. I think we are convincing the new blood.
If you could write your 18-year-old self a letter, what would it say?
I suppose I would tell myself to write shit down because you’re gonna forget otherwise.
Who are some of your favourite young female musicians at the moment?
How young do they have to be?
Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord!
Who is your all-time biggest idol?
It’s a toss-up between Ivy and Lux.
What does your personal feminism look like and has it shifted over time?
I think you should be able to do whatever the hell you like (while not hurting anyone), without catching shit for it. Dress, fuck, talk, walk, etc…
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
What cultural changes do you hope to see happen in the next 10 years?
I would like to see more diversity in politics. I would like to have a woman President.
What would you like your legacy be?
It would be nice to know I made someone feel good about themselves.
Brood X is out now through In The Red Records