Sure, we're always curious to know about an artist's upcoming release, most recent tour, or arsenal of analog gear, but XLR8R's also got a curiosity for quirk. Thus, each week, we email a different artist and find out what makes them tick, in the studio and in life. Now, if anyone has a story or two from life on the road, it's Au Revoir Simone. Bandmembers Heather D'Angelo, Erika Forster, and Annie Hart have spent the last two years on tour, an experience that's shaped their forthcoming full-length, Still Night, Still Light. The ladies were nice enough to sit down and write us a few anecdotes that involve singing policemen, adventures in Denton, TX, Italian toilets, and the loss of some very prized possessions.
XLR8R: What are you listening to right now?
Heather D'Angelo: Silence. I just got back from SXSW and my ears are taking a well-deserved rest.
Erika Forster: Frida Hyvönen's Silence is Wild. It's the most beautifully composed, performed, and produced album. Seriously brilliant.
Annie Hart: Uninhabitable Mansions, A Faulty Chromosome, and Slow Club, amongst a smorgasbord of others.
What's the weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?
HD: I heard that I came out of a bathroom with my skirt tucked into my pantyhose. Which is weird, because I have no recollection of that wardrobe malfunction at all.
EF: Someone forwarded our band's Wikipedia page to me because there was an entry saying I was rumored to be dating an avant-garde British fiction writer (whom I had never heard of). There was absolutely nothing on Google about this person and then the entry disappeared a few weeks later.
AH: What's the weirdest story I haven't heard about myself? I have a pretty bad memory for events, so a lot comes up years later at parties, when people are talking about me, mostly in the boys-I-don't-remember-making-out-with-in-college department.
What band did you want to be in when you were 15?
HD: At 15, I think it was a tie between Deee-Lite and Smashing Pumpkins.
EF: Anything psychedelic and '60s.
AH: The Brentwood High School Green Machine. I was a band nerd and getting into [a] marching band was my dream. That uniform, that hat, the glory. Years later, the pictures leave much to wonder about why I thought it was cool.
Worst live show experience?
HD: We played from inside of a cage in the middle of a rollerskating rink. You should visualize that before I continue with the story. Anyway, all of our instruments shorted out because there wasn’t enough power to handle our massively manly keyboards, so all we could do was just feebly plug and unplug things with the hopes of getting things working again, while a pack of pissed-off hipsters skated circles around us in silence. It was like a nightmare.
EF: I was sick as a dog on our first headlining tour in Europe. The night we were in Hamburg, I could barely sing and I kept running off stage to cough and gather lozenges.
AH: I had a whole paragraph written about the skating before I read Heather's [response]. I guess it was really traumatic for us all!
Favorite city to play in?
HD: There are too many! But I guess I’d say Tokyo, because Tokyo = Blade Runner.
EF: Lisbon. The audiences in Portugal are so full of love and we have some great friends I always look forward to seeing.
AH: My favorite shows happened in Cleveland, Paris, Dublin, San Francisco, everywhere we've played in Portugal, Chicago, Malmo, and Vancouver. Those places have fans that really let go, sing along, and give lots of love. That makes me feel so good about the world and the oddball decisions I am making in my life.
Your many travels over the last couple of years have played a big influence on Still Night, Still Light. Do you have a particularly exciting or weird story from the road?
HD: Annie dropped her in-ear monitors in an Italian toilet. That was one of the grosser/weirder moments of tour. But really, there are too many stories at this point. We should write a book one day.
EF: We were eating falafels outside of our van in after a show in Barcelona on the last night of a tour and a very crafty thief managed to steal my purse from the backseat of the van, even though we were all standing right there and the doors had only been unlocked for a few seconds at a time. I felt [like] a victim of a cliché, but it turned out that the police were equally sharp. In the middle of this giant open square there was an incredibly handsome cop waving at me from afar. He had my passport and called me Colorado. Our sound engineer, Caroline, came with me to the police station where i filled out some papers. They found out i was "a singer" and I was persuaded to sing to them. Pretty soon, we were all singing Beatles songs aloud and I was given a giant bouquet of, like, 4 dozen roses [and] carrying them around like a pageant winner. We were waiting there forever, but totally drunk on the bizarreness it. It all felt so choreographed.
AH: We've had so many nutty experiences running around the world. One of the most triumphant happened on our way to Denton, Texas. Erika, her friend Mallyce Miller, and I were driving to meet Heather, who flew in from L.A. About 80 miles outside of Dallas, our van broke down on the side of the highway in the hot sun. We managed to enroll in Triple A, get towed by the friendliest Texan in Texas, who [drove] us for miles until we found a proper mechanic, who was closing in 10 minutes and happened to have a random old minivan he let us rent for the night. As the sun was setting, we sped as fast as we could with all our gear wedged on the seats and in our laps to a fretting Heather in Denton and made the show! Insert triumphant horn melody here. Oh, and those in-ears? I returned them to Guitar Center and got new ones, no questions asked!
What is your favorite thing you own?
HD: My boots! I’ve worn them nearly every day since I got them. There’s a hole near the toe now, and the laces are broken, but I’m still in love with them.
EF: My new MacBook.
AH: I really like all my new plants I got to spruce up the house. I'm halfway to making the apartment feel like a jungle.
Name one item of clothing you can't live without.
HD: Underwear? That would be pretty hard.
EF: Summer Dresses.
AH: Well, if we did a tour of nudist colonies this would be a moot question, but since we're in the real world, I'll say a really good bra. Especially for stage.
Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
HD: No! They’re like our children! (Actually, yes, I’m quite fond of “Only You Can Make You Happy,” because it was one of our more ambitious ventures)
EF: "Tell Me."
AH: Hmmmm. Hrmmm... I definitely like some more than others, but I think the song I am most proud of is "Tell Me." And it's a blast to play live. Or, wait, I also really like "Knight of Wands" and "Only You Can Make You Happy." I could keep going, but I guess the short answer is clearly, "no."
What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?
HD: Talking too much/not paying attention. Also, I once took off my closet door and used it as a catwalk by laying it bridge-like between my bed and dresser. My mom was none too pleased about that one.
EF: I was shy and didn't really own up when I broke or messed things up, so I guess I got away with a lot. But once, I got in sooooo much trouble for coloring on the floor, because the markers went through paper and colored the glossy white wood floor of my sister & my bedroom. We never painted over it, and then we moved. It really wasn't that tragic.
AH: Staying up to late and reading. I was always reading under the covers with a flashlight or by my nightlight. And I wonder why I have to wear glasses now.
What other artist would you most like to work with?
HD: Bjork. Sigh. One can dream.
EF: Bjorn Yttling.
AH: I want to be in Matt and Kim. Matt, Kim, and Annie. Come on, please? My answer is the only one that didn't start with "Bjor." I'm clearly an outsider.
What's the last thing you read?
HD: Yikes. Honestly, the Twilight series of books. I swear, I do read more demanding literature than that.
EF: I'm reading Miranda July, and also a book called A Pride of Lions, about some of my ancestors.
AH: I just finished the April issue of Glamour that someone left in my seat-back pocket. As far as serious stuff, I am jut about done with The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's good, but I was pretty heavily involved in the animal liberation movement, so a lot of it is more "News from the Obvious Department." That said, I'm really glad it is out there and a bestseller. More people should be educated about our messed-up [method of] food supply.
Complete this sentence: In the future...
HD: We no longer say “yes.” Instead, we say “affirmative”
EF: We'll rely on renewable energy.
AH: It will be the year 2010. That year is going to be awesome. I can feel it.
Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?
HD: I made some poor investments in the stock market. We don’t need to get into that.
EF: Well, not listening to my instincts in general, but the other night, coming back from a show in my neighborhood, I started talking to some acquaintances on the street who were watching some other people yell at each other. A fight broke out and someone pulled out a gun and we all ran away, but I really didn't need to be loitering around there.
AH: There [have] been a lot, but what I most regret is losing my perfect notebook filled with notes on how to play every song on [the new] record. It's gone! It's somewhere in Hong Kong. My stomach is still in knots about it.
HD: I’m headed out to the Boston Science Museum to watch some IMAX movies. After that, a nap!
EF: I'm spending five days in Hawaii to visit my mom, then back to the practice space and touring, touring, touring.
AH: Using all my frequent flier miles and tracking down that darn notebook.
Still Night, Still Light is out May 19 via Our Secret Record Company.