Takes One To Know One… LAENA GERONIMO > 1/22/12
Upon the eve of Raw Geronimo’s Role Play / Shot On The Spot 7″ release; Laena Geronimo and Swahili Blonde’s Heather Cvar speak freely about Tigers, music, and blacking out…
H: So obliviously playing in other people’s bands has been a great prerequisite to solo music ventures…but lets talk about your days busking on the mean streets of Hollywood. How did your days as a street performer shape your music career?
L: I learned A LOT from those mean streets haha. My whole experience of busking started out with a rehearsal for a show that my friend Matt Polley aka Guy Worthless had asked me to play, backing his banjo/vocals with some violin. We were at his house near the intersection of Hollywood and Highland when he just walked out the door with his banjo n said we were going to continue practicing on the street corner. I was SO nervous! We drank some brandy and just did it. And then we spent the money we’d made at a bar- I puked in the bushes and crashed on his couch haha. ANYWAYS it became a regular thing and that nervousness just totally disappeared. When 1,000 people who don’t give a damn about you walk past as you’re playing your heart out- it gives you a thick skin. I shed so much musical inhibition and really learned to feel free to improvise and just be in the moment regardless of my surroundings by doing street performance. Jada Wagensomer soon joined us on accordion- now she and I have been roommates for like 4 years, and all three of us play in Dante Vs. Zombies together. Jada and Matt also have a project together now called Baby + Guy. Haha! Life is crazy.
H: Who is Raw Geronimo? Is she your ‘Sasha Fierce’?
L: Yeah totally. I never thought of it that way, but that really sums it up! To be honest, it feels to me like there’s a tiger pacing around this cage made out of my ribs on ﬁre- just this crazy concentrated burning energy or something?- pretty much all the time. And now I get to open the cage and let er go nuts! I have never been happier. But yeah, it’s funny when people see me perform as a front-person for the ﬁrst time; they’re always sort of shocked. I got a message just today from someone I met at a show last week saying, “It was funny: you were so sweet and soft-spoken when I met you; then you got on the stage and TORE IT UP!!!”
I get that a lot. When I ﬁrst started the band I was really scared of letting the “tiger” out and had a lot of trouble after shows with uh locking up the cage again I guess? I had crazy black-out style memory loss where I could only remember vague impressions of things from the moment I set foot on the stage through a couple hours after the ﬁrst few shows? But now I’m totally comfortable with it and it just feels awesome.
L: Role Play is a super cynical but also fun song about people pretending to be other people on the internet. Musically and lyrically it goes through a lot of different moods and perspectives, from whimsical to psychotic to happy-go-lucky pop and back again. It’s a fun song.
Shot On The Spot is also pretty cynical too actually… but it’s a gypsy ballad of sorts about selling yourself. It’s about ﬁghting your way through life and keeping a straight face; and being frustrated, haha!
H: Did you ever envision this project as a one-woman band?
L: No. I’ve always dreamed of having a band. I don’t know what it is really, I think it’s a human energy thing… I need it. Raw Geronimo isn’t just me you know, it’s the whole band as a unit. It’s bigger than just me. Every member of the band brings the songs and the energy, as a whole, to another level. And the energy is what it’s all about to me… So much of what we perceive is just these waves passing through space; sound, light, color, heat; and I think there are less-easy-to-categorize other primal stimuli that come into play that are equally important. I’m just up there channeling all of this, becoming all of this. Also uh, being in a band with awesome people you love to hang out with is the funnest thing in the world.
H: And last, but not least… What do baby tigers dream about?
L: Becoming big tigers and gobbling up the universe.