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Progressive Rock Interviews

Wendy and Lisa

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Wendy and Lisa from 2009
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at

Who is in your ultimate super group?
Lisa: Questlove on drums,  Mike Elizondo on bass, Wendy Melvoin on guitar, Doyle Branhall II on lead guitar, Erykah Badu on vocals, me and James Poyser on keyboards...oh wait, this is Edith Funker (our sometimes, someday again band).

Wendy: Me, Lisa, Doyle, Erykah Badu, Questlove, Mike Elizondo, James Poyser. We are called "Edith Funker."
MSJ: What's the greatest thing that's ever been said about your music?
Lisa: Susan Rogers just wrote a blurb about us that made me weep with gratitude. I'll copy and paste the first paragraph here.

      "White Flags of Winter Chimneys" blurb (by Susan Rogers)
      "We talk in music production class about the three crowns a musician or      band can earn - the popular crown (slips off the minute you think you'll wear it for life), the critical crown (as heavy as the head that wears it), and the peer crown - maybe the most secretly coveted because it's the only one that has the potential to stay put. Wendy & Lisa have been wearing this third crown since the beginning of their careers."

Thank you Susan. The writing says a lot about the writer. What a poet!

Wendy: Susan Rogers just said a great thing and now I can't remember - laughter - see Lisa's answer.
MSJ: What are your main musical influences?
Lisa: When I was a kid, the first three albums I owned were as follows... Joni Mitchell-Blue, Stevie Wonder-Talking Book, and Lazaar Berman playing Liszt's B minor Piano Sonata.  That pretty much says it all.

Wendy: Don't know how to
MSJ: What's your favorite iPod track this week?
Lisa: "Mirror Ball" by Elbow

Wendy: "Twice" by Little Dragon
MSJ: What's the last album you bought that you're enjoying
Lisa: Murray Hammond - I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way

Wendy: Q_Tip's new CD
MSJ: Have you seen any great live shows lately?
Lisa: ummm..... no.

Wendy: Radiohead at The Hollywood Bowl
MSJ: What was the last big festival you attended?
Lisa: Monterey Pop Festival 1969

Wendy: Hmm, probably one we played in!
MSJ: What is your guilty pleasure band?
Lisa: The Beau Hunks Saxophone Soctette

Wendy: The Killers
MSJ: What was the first album you ever bought?
Lisa: See above

Wendy: Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools
MSJ: What about the first concert you ever attended?
Lisa: Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone.

Wendy: Sly Stone
MSJ: Keith or Mick?
Lisa: Mick then, Keith now

Wendy: Keith
MSJ: The Grateful Dead or Phish?
Lisa: Dead

Wendy: Neither
MSJ: If you were a superhero what famous musician would be your arch-nemesis and why?
Lisa: David Bowie, because he is so amazing and there would always be a sexual tension and chase, and he would love taunting me and never leave me alone.

Wendy: Probably Prince...drama... 
MSJ: Have you ever illegally downloaded music?
Lisa: Yes, and I've illegally uploaded it, too....shhhhh

Wendy: Once, twelve years ago
MSJ: Illegal downloading has been pegged by the major labels as the leading cause for poor sales. How do you feel about this form of file sharing and would you agree with the labels?
Lisa: I do not agree with major labels blaming 'illegal' downloads for poor sales. They are using the public as a smoke screen. People have been sharing music for years. When I was a teenager it was all about making cassettes for your friends, making mixtapes, and copies of your favorite songs. If anything that should be a plus! It is free publicity. It is the way an artist becomes a 'household name." The industry has only itself to blame for the de-evolution of the music business.

Wendy: I really don't have a strong feeling about it. The record business isn't the same anymore. The model for the business has changed and the labels need to get on board. 
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording and trading live shows?
Lisa: I personally am flattered by it. It is a fun thought that shows I've done have a life after the lights come on and I'm back at home doing my laundry. If there are people sitting around somewhere enjoying the show again, it is a sort of magic trick!

Wendy: I love the idea if you can agree to be a part of it with your fans.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Lisa: We have actually had a lot of those. Once we played a gig in Italy somewhere to a roaring crowd of 15 people. The venue had erected a barrier between the audience and the stage. The lights came on as we started the first song, and I think we actually laughed out loud. We invited everyone up on the stage to sit with us, and we had fun playing the songs that way. We probably could have turned off our amps.

Wendy: (Laughter) Too many to mention.
MSJ: What was it like working with Prince?
Lisa: I always laugh to myself at that question because it is not really a question, but then again, it is THE question. Ummm...what was it like? It was like walking across a burning desert with everything you need following you in an air conditioned luxury mobile home - almost perfect.

Wendy: Busy and... and... and..never mind.
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