Sunday 4 December 2016

Q&A: Warpaint's Emily Kokal

Published 06/05/2011 | 05:00

On uber-fan Heath Ledger, ex-squeeze John Frusciante and not strangling her bandmates on the road

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Emily, is it really you? We've been trying to get hold of you for days. We were beginning to take all the unanswered calls personally.

I know, someone else is due to call me in a minute but if he does I'll tell them to ring back. I know you've been looking for me.

Thanks. Besides, from stalking you on Twitter, it's clear you've got a good excuse. We gather you've been driving through some rough terrain [Warpaint are midway through their largest US tour].

Last night, basically our bus was driving over snow and it wasn't paved. It was really bumpy and we slid off the road and into a ditch. We got stuck there for three hours. It was scary, I thought the bus was going to tip over.

You know what -- that does sound scary. This is probably a bad moment to bring up Heath Ledger [the late actor was an early fan of Warpaint]. Do you get sick of being asked about his love for the band?

It's like, 'wow, original!' It didn't surprise me at all that it did come up. It didn't annoy e -- it's the kind of thing people will gravitate to. It's like, 'hey, we have the inside scoop on this band'. It was advertising in a way. But not in a way we were necessarily happy with. We think it should be about the music. It seems to be wearing off now. There are other things people can talk about now in relation to us, their interest is going a little deeper.

Let's keep it shallow for a minute and talk about John Frusciante. You dated the Chili Peppers guitarist and he mixed your first EP. How did that work out?

He has the same music sensibilities that I love so much in my friends back in Oregon. People who work in the pizza shop and play music 'cos they love it. He has a sense of innocence about him, he's not a big-shot rock star in his style of working. Collaborating with him is like working with a friend who really likes music.

You lived with him in his Malibu beach house for a while.

That was a very productive time for the band. Everyone lived nearby and we would all practise in a garage. It was really isolated and all about the music. I think we only went into Hollywood once a month.

In interviews, you come across as pretty dismissive of the entertainment industry in LA. How do you square that with the fact you met Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg at a casting call for a commercial?

I didn't really do much of that sort of thing. I had been asked to do it by the person who was casting. When I saw Jen, I thought, 'oh awesome, there's a real person'. Not that everyone else weren't real people...

I went up and started talking to her. It was like 'hello, you seem familiar to me -- let's be friends!'

From what we've heard, you and guitarist Theresa are closer than sisters. Of course, you wouldn't necessarily pack two siblings off in a tour bus for weeks on end. How bitchy does it get after a fortnight on the tour bus?

We definitely go through 'tight' moments where you want your own zone and space. It's all about how you deal with not being able to escape the pressure of tour. Each person needs to know where the other is coming from. We've pretty good communicators. None of as are ones to let something fester. If there's tension and it's not getting cleared, that's the bummer, that's when it can be a trail pain to be together. I don't think we let it go too far.

Warpaint play Tripod, Dublin, on Sunday, May 15

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