Way before Lilith Fair and Riot Girls, there was a feisty little acoustic duo from Athens, Ga., called the Indigo Girls. Composed of two acoustic guitar-strumming singers — Amy Ray and Emily Saliers — they were loosely part of the ’80s scene that birthed The B-52s, Pylon, R.E.M., and Love Tractor. The Indigo Girls pulled their name by skimming through a dictionary, looking for words that struck them. Indigo it was and indigo it is now. They had a hit song (“Galileo”) in 1992, but more important, they stayed consistent, releasing inspired records throughout the band’s career and hardly making an artistic misstep. They kept the cheese cutlets to a minimum, which is hard to do. Over the course of 12 records they’ve unswervingly trafficked in their own brand of post-modern acoustic folk, one that overflows with diligent strumming, conscientious and poignant lyrical themes, and massive harmonies pulled from the backwater wells of Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and The Mamas and the Papas. Still going strong after all these years and thriving in a world where planned obsolescence in pop music is more dominant than ever, the Indigo Girls soldier on, playing a special show at Grant Street Dancehall on March 4.
POSTHASTE WITH EMILY SAILERS OF THE INDIGO GIRLS
1. David Allen Coe vs. Leon Russell?
Leon Russell for sure. “A song for You” is one of the greatest ever.
2. What luxury would you splurge on if suddenly given a filthy million dollar record advance?
Pay off all my family’s expenses and renovate my cabin in the woods.
3. Name someone who made you star struck when seeing them in the same room?
4. You had a hit with the song “Galileo.” Who is this generation’s Galileo?
Aung San Suu Kyi. But she would never recant.
5. Acoustic guitars. How’d do you get them to actually sound like acoustic guitars when piping them through amplifiers and a PA?
Our sound guy uses great gear, especially compressors.
6. Jim Morrison was rumored to have the spirit of an Indian shaman living in his “fragile, eggshell mind.” What lives inside the Indigo Girls?
A will to create. And, for me personally, an appetite for cheeseburgers.
7. How do you stay afloat in the music business for over two decades and not get bitter or go insane?
We have a solid friendship, and we live separate lives which allows us to always be glad when we come back together. And now we are fully independent and don’t have to deal with a record label. We also have the best fans in the world.
8. Although Sid Vicious could barely play bass, he looked a lot cooler doing it than the guy from Creed? What makes a player a “rocker” vs. just some dude or chick with a guitar?
Attitude, presentation, soul. You either have it or you don’t. It can’t be taught.
9. Advice. Say some dudes are thinking about starting a world music band. They’re jerks and don’t know how to play. They’re going to have trippy imagery in their logo and on their T-shirts – like a mushroom on fire over some bongo drums. What should they name their band?
The Waste Baskets
10. This is the worst question in rock journalism “what came first the music or lyrics.” I’m going to tweak it. What comes first, frying on mushrooms or the desire to play bongos in a room alone?
Frying on mushrooms. Does anyone really want to play bongos in a room alone when not under the influence?
11. What’s the next step for humanity? Blind date with disaster or metaphysical overdrive?
All good things got to come to an end. Eventually, a blind date with disaster. Just like the Romans or the dinosaurs.
12. Worst gig ever?
At a resort, playing cover songs and being asked by a waitress to cut our set short.
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