Bianca Valentino

Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy – The Collapse Board Interview

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Annie Hardy

By Bianca Valentino

Annie Hardy, Los Angeles band Giant Drag’s founder and frontwoman, has had a trying last few years – mentally, emotionally and physically.  It’s been almost six years since Giant Drag first released their much talked about debut full length Hearts & Unicorns and was hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as an Artist To Watch. I caught up with her recently to find out what’s been happening, how her health is (Annie has a medical condition known as Fibromyalgia) and when her new record – years in the making – is finally coming out. Read on for stories of: being dropped from her label, her guitar playing being called ‘deplorable’ by a well-known producer, hard drives crashing, robbery, nose bleeds, kitten birth, playing God, loneliness, important realizations, Giant Drag documentaries, new beginnings and three versions of the forthcoming record …

I’m so excited for your new record!

So am I, for a few aspects of it – it’s definitely been a fucking process! At every turn where something could have gone wrong or just weird, it does.

I’ve been following your journey online via your blog. There really has been so much go wrong for you, your hard drive with the record crashed!

Oh god, like three of them! That was fun [laughs]. I feel like I’ve been cursed or something. This album has been cursed and does not want to come out and now I don’t want it to come out as it is.

Why is that?

Well, it’s been a really interesting year. It’s a long story and it would probably cost you a hundred million Australian dollars if I told you the whole thing. Basically when I recorded the record it was … I felt like very detached from the whole process. I didn’t want to play guitar, my feelings got all hurt when I got dropped from Interscope and somebody said that ‘your guitar playing is deplorable’ – not to my face but they did say it. Sonically, it’s not what I want out of a record; I still prefer the four-track demos I made in 2006 to the finished product. Just recently I moved and I found four pre-production CDs from when the first guy named Joe was going to produce it – Joe Chiccarelli – the guy who did The White Stripes and The Shins, all the bands that were good and then he kind of made their records shitty [this is Annie’s personal opinion – Legal Ed] – that was a bad experience; then I got dropped from Interscope. Now, four years later, listening back I totally love it. I think there’s a bunch of songs that should be on the record that aren’t and vice versa. It’s just a weird fucking record that almost makes no sense. I don’t know if you would know if it’s the same band. There’s a lot of keys and backing vocals and for some reason I always do this thing where I want my friends who don’t know how to do anything like engineer or produce to produce and engineer my record. I give people a chance and when the results are disastrous I’m still surprised!

I’ve had an introspective year to say the least. I think I’ve got a fair idea of what I want to happen with this record. The fans were so supportive and involved in keeping me alive and keeping the record alive — like my fucking will to go on. They’re incredible. It’s incredible that people still give a shit. I grew to give a shit like I did back in 2003, I’m stoked. I’m hoping to repay everybody with the idea I came up with: I’m making laminates – lifetime free passes to my shows – if they were really high donators. I did it without the lamination aspect of it [laughs], it’s paper with drawing on it. I sent a thank you card to this dude Mark who has been awesome; he got me like every rad pedal I wanted. I was so grateful. I was like I’m just going to write a number on this GD0001 and I started doing this with all the people I know. I know all their names because they donated a lot or we’ve had lots of emails talking back and forth — it’s really helped me a lot; back in the days before I had 2,233 unread emails in front of me.

In our correspondence and just now you mentioned that you recently moved; has that been helpful to your creativity?

It did because I felt extremely stifled because there are people that can just hear me at all times. I moved and it was a gruelling process, only one person helped me — that was Aaron North who lives at that apartment. It was gnarly on my body. Finally after weeks of trying to clean and organise I wrote music for an hour for the first time in two years. It felt like I just did something awesome. It felt like I blew loads all over a little Asian hooker or something, my legs were shaking like ‘ohhh!’

Is there anything you do to tap into your creativity?

It just sort of happens it’s a really weird thing that I never understood. I kind of like it that way. I’ll figure out what a song means sometimes years later. I’m pretty convinced that I am psychic, only musically. I just sit down and sometimes a song will just come out in full. I remember doing that with ‘This Isn’t It’ at this house on the couch. I remember where I was but I don’t remember the process. I remember starting and then I had a song and it was finished. I can never come up with titles hence all those retarded song titles.

(continues overleaf)

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