By Justin Quinn Pelegano
Photos by Rob Roth
Her Lunachicks days may be in the rearview, but Theo Kogan ain't at all about resting on her punk-metal laurels. Not even close. As her (and husband Sean Pierce's) new band Theo and the Skyscrapers gears up to release album number one, it's go time all over again. Not that Theo had ever really stopped in the first place. She was just busy with...you know...claymation sex! Oooo, got your attention now? Excellent!
Justin Quinn Pelegano: New band, new sound, new album coming out in March. Congrats! Listening to the tracks on your site, I was definitely hit by the new wave vibe. I really dig it. It's something of a departure. Almost a mellowing of sorts. Was this a musical shift you saw coming for yourself and that you were consciously striving for, or was the transition more spontaneous?
Theo Kogan: It was spontaneous.
JQP: Short and sweet. Nice. Lunachicks had/have some devoted fans, and that's my vast understatement of the year so far. Do you find they're sticking with you as your artistic path takes this turn?
TK: They definitely are sticking with me, and I am thrilled!
JQP: I imagine it was a bit daunting, after the success of Lunachicks, to break away and in many ways start over. You've created your own label, right? And a great deal of the band's buzz at the moment is self-generated. You've had to put the ball in motion all over again. Liberating, exciting, exhausting, all of the above?
TK: It's everything above, but I love it so it's worth all the hard work. When you believe in something and are passionate about it, nothing can stop you!
JQP: Working for yourself as opposed to working for Go-Kart [Records]...has it affected your song writing process? Without anyone there to look over your shoulder, how do you, Sean and the rest of the band know when a song is "done", or at least album-worthy?
TK: Go-Kart never put any restraints or requirements on Lunachicks; that's part of why we were with that label. Waxlips Records is an imprint off a label called Morpheus, so we have control which is great! Me and Sean have been writing together for a while now. It's been really easy and natural for us from the very start. When a song is done, well...it can be finished very fast or take a few rehearsals to know. Sometimes I will rearrange parts to where I find them to work best. We flow very well together as a band when writing.
JQP: Yours and Sean's musical styles obviously connect in a very powerful way, but do you also feel like you guys push each other artistically -- push each other to new places in your music that you might not necessarily find on your own?
TK: Sure. We allow each other freedom and definitely inspire each other with ideas. It rules! It really is the easiest time I have ever had writing with someone.
JQP: Speaking of artistic pushing...is it just me or does the NYC music scene need a good kick in the ass? Everyone wanted to be the Strokes, and when that whole thing imploded...it's almost like we gave up on originality and so now we're stuck in this musical wasteland as punishment. Besides your crew, any bands out there give you hope?
TK: I think Morningwood are great, and I am happy for their success. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs too. And we love the Giraffes, Unisex Salon...there are more but I am having a brain fart. It's not as bad as you may think. It's that there just isn't a "scene". It's more fragmented. A lot of bands don't have longevity.
JQP: Can we talk a little about your extra-curricular activities? You've got some good ones. You've done some high-profile modeling gigs. Burberry, CK, etc. I read that it was important for you to pave the way for heavily tatted models. Or be honest, it was just a crap-load of fun? Are those things fun?
TK: The Lunachicks were very successful, but we didn't get rich off it, ya know? I am a ham, so give me a stage, put me in front of a camera or on a runway, and I am in my element. It can be fun and money making, but it also can be torture - very boring, a lot of waiting around, and there are people in the fashion industry who are really disgusting. They treat models like mannequins who can't hear or feel. It sucks. And a lot of the girls are miserable too. Some are away from home for the first time and you can just see it all wearing on them, inside and out. It is a lot harder work than it appears. I guess I did some paving too!
JQP: And you recently did some voiceover work for the
flick "Live Freaky! Die Freaky!" which was released earlier this month. What inspired you to hop aboard a stop-motion animated musical comedy...about the Manson killings? It was the claymation sex, wasn't it?
TK: Oh, you got me! Offer me claymation sex and I am in! Actually, the director/writer is my friend, that's how I got involved. It is hilarious and ridiculous. I have to say I am very glad I did it.
JQP: There's no way I'm gonna get this chance to talk with you and then dance around your political leanings. I've read several editorial pieces you've written on pro-choice ethics, our President, and the current state of affairs in this country. And I genuinely admire your courage to be that outspoken. But many artists with your combination of brains and bravery have most probably had to eat a heavy helping of backlash somewhere along the way. Ever experienced it? And if so, how did you rise above?
TK: Thank you. I've gotten some hate mail...I get more love...I think it's important to speak out.
JQP: Not that I'm intentionally courting said backlash, but I ain't gonna steer clear of it either. That said, I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this: with Sandra Day O'Connor retiring from the Court and nominee Samuel Alito waiting in the wings...yikes. Just last week during his Senate confirmation hearing, Alito refused to recognize Roe vs. Wade as "settled law", meaning that abortion rights are looking severely endangered. [Note: A week after this interview, Samuel Alito was confirmed to the Court.] Give up hope and take the Skyscrapers abroad, or stay here and fight the good fight?
TK: Oh, you've got me going now! It is absolutely horrifying. Pretty much everything that Bush says is a lie. And Alito skirting the issue so much just tells me that he is Bush's "boy". I think it's still about fighting the good fight, all the way. It is exhausting though sometimes and so sad that we even have to worry about this as our born right as humans! And forget about the take on the Bible that they have! [It's] so wrong! What would Jesus do - forgive and understand and maybe help the people in New Orleans? They would crucify him today if he showed up, I am sure of it!
That we may be going so incredibly far backwards, it is absolutely pathetic. I think Bush hates women. It is sick. And that wife of his is beyond Stepford! I am ready to take to the streets. Not to mention the gay marriage issue. I look forward to the days when we will look back on that and Roe v. Wade and say, "Can you believe that was ever even a question?" The one thing that's good is that a lot of their bullshit and criminal activity is unraveling before our eyes. I just hope that enough people "see" it so we can get rid of this crew next election! I love Air America Radio, by the way. Randi Rhodes rules!
JQP: Amen to that. Before I let ya go...wanna let Trigger's readers know where they can catch you on tour? Or should they just get off their lazy asses and check your website?