Lisa Germano's last dance

Written by Jeff Keibel on Mon, 19 Apr 1999 20:05:17 -0400.

Lisa Germano gave a rare interview on her latest tour to the weekly Toronto rag called Now magazine. On tour opening for Latin Playboys and then joining them as part of the band for their show, Lisa plays in Toronto at Lee's Palace on Wednesday.

I had hoped this article would be posted at but it seems to be conveniently absent. If you had any doubts about Lisa Germano's feelings about her place in the entertainment industry, this article should clarify things. So, here goes my transcription effort (ie: blatent copying). Read on and enjoy...


Lisa Germano considers life beyond the music game By Kim Hughes

It's sad but true. So steady yourselves, you fiercely devoted followers of Lisa Germano.

After recording a handful of absolutely lovely, achingly candid nighttime albums, the Indiana-based singer, songwriter and violinist has decided to quit the music business. Or, more precisely, to quit music. Period. Just like that and without regret.

While it would be easy to chalk up her decision up to industry inequities - radio didn't respond to her hushed sonic silhouettes, so she didn't sell enough albums to maintain her hear deal with 4AD - Germano offers a more sanguine view of why she's getting out.

She simply doesn't have anything else to say right now. While she admits that could change, for the moment, her current tour opening for, and playing violin with, the Latin Playboys is foreseeably her last.

Then it's back to her day job in a Bloomington bookshop until she figures something else out.

But don't expect to find a mopey Germano on stage at Lee's Palace on Wednesday. She may be saddened that her records didn't do more business, but she's more resilient than her fragile songs suggest. And more upbeat, too, as she gabs down the line from L.A.

"I'm trying to find some other career to follow, but I'm not really coming up with much," she admits with a chuckle. "The truth is, I can't make a living doing music anymore. I don't know what else to do but I *don't* feel like the tortured artist, that if I don't play music I might as well just die. I used to feel that way but I don't anymore.

"The world is full of opportunities and the skills I learned as musician can be taken to another job. I just haven't figured out where to take it yet. But I'm open. Right now, I don't have a record deal, I don't have management and I just don't think anyone's interested in what I'm doing musically.

"The thing about 4AD is, it's a small label and we all love each other but they don't have the resources to push me. So we decided that, if in the future I decide I make a record at home for free, they'd probably put it out. But they can't put anymore into me because they just don't have it."

"And I knew this was coming. I actually thought they'd drop me after Love Circus. But I've always kidded around with the label and told them that when they had to drop me we should all have a party."

"I just don't want to feel weird about things. After this last record" - last year's gorgeous Slide - "it was a situation of 4AD can't sell my records and I can't make records they can sell."

"So there're no hard feelings. It was just like a divorce, and similar to my own divorce, which both my husband and I wanted. It was no less heart-wrenching but we pulled through and now we're friens."

Such stunning pragmation - no, stoicism - is typical of Germano, who's never let anything like commercial considerations stand in the way of making exactly the kind of career moves she felt were right.

There can be little doubt that when she stepped out from behind John Mellencamp to write and record on her own, people thought she was nuts for giving up a regular paying gig.

And yet now, looking over body of solo work, Germano's talent as a composer and player are obvious. Like that old chestnut "Nobody looks as beautiful as when they're walking out the door," nobody distills the essence of loss and alienation quite like Germano.

Listen to commercial radio, though, with its endless, colourless stream of ThirdEyeSmash Box20's and you wonder why music as weird and arresting as Germano's isn't cutting through - perhaps a good question to pose to your fave station's program director.

"You know," Germano offers, "I really haven't been listening to music much lately, because everything I hear, I hear 'record company' in it. Or I hear the artist's conversation with the manager or producer in it. I'm having a hard time hearing stufff that I find to be completely genuine."

"But I know it's out there, stuff like Sparklehorse and Elliot Smith and Cat Power. But CD's are so expensive, so unless I know I'm going to love something, I can't afford to buy it."

"With all my records, I always felt they should be present in the world. But I'm just not writing right now. I'm not focused, and I'll only do it if I feel there's another record that should be present in the world. I never thought my records would make money, so I've never done this for any other reason than that."

"And if I write another record at some point, I'll look to any means of putting it out - maybe through the internet. I don't even own a computer and I'm too broke to buy one right now. But eventually I'd like to learn more about it. I think in the long run we're not going to need record labels anymore."

"I mean, online, can't you listen to music and read some background about the artists? Going into a record store is just too overwhelming. There's too much choice."

"What do we really need record labels for, anyway?"

(Extracted from Now, April 15-21, 1999, Vol. 18; No. 33)


Look forward to the following reissues from 4AD US on May 18th:

GAD 4005 CD "Happiness" w/the deleted "Inconsiderate Bitch" EP GAD 4017 CD "Geek The Girl" GAD 6012 CD "Excerpts From A Love Circus" w/"Small Heads" EP


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