Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Oct 20th 2009 5:00PM by Linda Laban
We're barely introduced by Ashley, Ari's publicist, and she's off, startlingly alert, kicking off the interview in which she discusses the just released 'Trapped Animal,' the Slits' first album in 25 years, on a careening tangent. "We're doing experimentation. I like it. I like the three-way thing," she says, including Ashley in the conversation. "On the phone, not in sex," she suddenly corrects. "I don't go there. Three-way, I don't do in sex. But I like it in conversation like that."
So three's a crowd in the bedroom?
I have never experienced it. Some people try it [and discover] it's not for them, but I already know ahead that it's not for me. Why do people always say, "How do you know if you haven't tried it?" You can know something just by knowing yourself.
Knowing what you don't want is half the battle, isn't it?
It's mind over matter and imagination. And honesty about yourself. Find out who you really are, then accept who you are. Fight for your life every day to be who you are. Then it becomes a struggle of "You better let me be who I want to be without disturbing me or putting any obstacles in my way." Like with the Slits, it's like that, we've go to be ourselves no matter what. Then it becomes a thing fighting the obstacles.
Did the Slits always know who they were?
Yes, that's want makes the Slits such a long-lasting phenomenon now. They've become a mythology. They're like Xena the Warrior Princess. She knew what she wanted. The Slits were totally rebellious and crazy. We were the absolute threat to society. We were such a threat. For our people, we changed the world.
It's been 25 years since the first Slits record ...
Twenty-five years since the Slits' music, but I' m always doing music and putting my own records out.
But why now? Why release a new Slits record now?
The '90s would have been great to do this -- with the riot grrrl thing, there was a window open. The Slits should have put a record out then. It's hindsight now. Maybe it's just too ahead of its time. The '90s was a great window because I felt that was a great decade of music. At the same time, people weren't ready yet. The '90s had a lot of just DJs. Live bands got taken over by electronic bands. The DJs being paid thousand just for spinning records.
The cover of your debut, 'Cut,' features a semi-nude photo of you girls. In this day and age, people still recall that with awe -- especially guys.
Do guys think it's taboo still? That's really puzzling. A friend in New York told me the other day, you know, you can't walk around now the way we used to. Even then, it was a witch hunt; it was dangerous for anyone in the punk scene to walk the streets. But there was a window where we were at least able to be expressive about it. Now, it's really weird.
It is quite incredible to look at the more outrageous outfits that punk rockers pulled out.
It's unthinkable nowadays. Like Siouxsie, with her matrix outfit with her tits hanging out and her swastikas. What's happened? Yesterday, a 25-year-old girl, who's the daughter of some of the Slits people I used to hang with back in the Lower East Side days when New York was New York -- back then, it was so different in 1980, '81; so naive and expressive; revolutionary times -- but this 25-year-old said to me, "Either people are trying to be like everyone else and fit in or they are trying to be different. But not themselves. What happened to being yourself?" People, the young kids, they're not being themselves. They're trying to be different. Either they're brainwashed into fitting in or when they're trying to be different, they're being fake.
Besides a musical phenomenon, punk was a social revolution that threw conformity on its head.
That's what's missing: That's what punk found; that's how we found identity that was crucial to the punk days. We were powerful no matter how the world stood against you.
What was it like in London or New York in 1976, and what is punk now?
It's different thing now. But there was a time when it was the '80s that became New Wave-y and yuppie-ized, and there was no room for punk. However, there was break dancing and hip-hop exploding, which took on the punk element. It went into hip-hop and it continued in reggae. Then came the hardcore thing, and the hardcore thing was too hardcore. That was conforming, politically correct and the uniform. Trying to be pseudointellectual violent. If you talk about passive-aggressive like hippies can be, what was hardcore?
Punk rock was not about violence?
No, it wasn't, and I don't get this whole hardcore thing. Then it became where people wanted to get away from that and they made alternative music. It was rock bands saying they were punk. But it was rock bands influenced by punk. Then the riot grrrl movement came out and they were the closest. But they were so politically correct that they couldn't get away from being oppressed. Thanks to the industry suppressing the Slits, they [were] so oppressed. Maybe if the Slits had gotten more exposed to the whole world in a less underground way, maybe there would have been more chance for women to make more progressive changes without having to suffer the consequences of being in a chauvinistic place. Then if The Slits [had] become overexposed like that, would we have become a legend? Would there be a place for the Slits now? Back in the day, as if 30 years is nothing, the legendary Slits now have room to come out.
Because you didn't become more mainstream like the Clash or even the Sex Pistols, the Slits was never compromise. There was no whitewashing over the original energy. There's still a mystery to the Slits
So perhaps this a good time for the Slits to return with new music.
There is the rebirth of punk coming out. Whether it's the same revolutionary thing, I don't know, because there are more people thinking, oh s---, I missed it; I missed punk. Which is perfect for the Slits in a way. People are saying, 'We missed those days, we want a group like the Slits, we need a group like the Slits."
With the Slits' return, maybe it's a nudge for a new generation to have its own revolution.
Yes, yes, yes, they are. The young kids, the teenagers and the twenties, are flipping out and cannot take another day of just expressing their lives through computers. They make use of the computer, it's part of their lives, but they realize they are missing life. They want to express themselves through a guitar or throwing on a crazy outfit. But to feel what we felt back then, you have to come out into the world more. That's why I went to Jamaica; that's why I lived naked in the jungle in Belize and Borneo. Literally, with snakes, jaguars and panthers -- I lived in the jungle. It's very important, it's part of finding yourself and expanding you. But also musically and culturally. The philosophy of punk: Never follow anyone, no one's footsteps. Don't belong to a nation; no race; no sex. Don't hero-ize or worship these people who are supposed to be higher than you. Nobody is higher than you. You can go around the world and express that to the world, bring it to the world. But also take in the world of music and people.