No-wave pioneer, punk rock poet, podcaster and activist Lydia Lunch brings her Retrovirus project to The Echo this week, so we chatted about what we can expect…
L.A. WEEKLY: What differentiates the Retrovirus project to the music under your own name?
LYDIA LUNCH: You know, every time I do a musical project, it’s a concept. This concept is a retrospective, which is the first time I’ve ever done it. It’s really only successful because of the people involved. Weasel Walter is the only one that can do the guitar work of people like Robert Quine, Rowland S. Howard, myself, other people I’ve worked with. Tim Dahl, the bass player — it’s just a unique combination of musicians that can take what I did and accelerate it to the next level without losing any of the original sass.
The use of the word “virus” is interesting, because you’ve never been one for nostalgia…
It’s not a revival of anything, it’s a retrospective. A revival would be, Jesus Lizard comes back and does their second album or something. This bridges my entire career in music. Not an easy task.
The world has gone to shit — it feels like we need Lydia Lunch more than ever…
Thanks you very much. I wish I could clone myself and then there’d be a few more of me. Look, to me it’s the same as it ever was. We just know more about how shitty it is. 17th Century — there’s always been madness, poverty, imprisonment. Really, what’s changed? The perversity is, we haven’t fucking learned anything. We just keep carrying on. This is the virus. The real virus is man’s insanity toward its own destruction.
We’ve also seen the collapse of the record industry. You’ve always been anti-corporate, so did that affect you at all?
Never. Of course not. I was always outside of all of that anyway. I own everything I’ve ever done, so I was raising both middle fingers out of the fucking gate. Now, we just manufacture our own shit anyway. For instance, it’s so outdated what we’re doing now, but there’s a USB that we have songs on and videos, because who even has a CD player anymore anyway? That’s a multimedia piece of merchandise and it’s just more interesting. Why not? We have some vinyl of Shotgun Wedding that’s been reissued. But it’s just too much. You just have to come and hear the fucking concert — what can I say?
What can we expect from the set at The Echo?
A vast array of gloriously violent, beautiful musical chaos. Same as it ever was.
Do you enjoy coming to L.A.?
I enjoy going everywhere. I’m going to Australia before I come to you, and I’m in San Francisco now. I don’t play that much in New York, I don’t even spend that much time there. I enjoy going everywhere. There’s a rebellion against the bullshit we’re force fed every fucking day. During the daylight hours, we’re forced to live through all this pathological lying bullshit mass destruction, and then we’ve got to fucking rock. I’m a hedonist. Night falls, forget it. It’s time to have a good time. Pleasure is the ultimate rebellion. We’ve got to have it.
What’s next, after this show?
I do some writer’s workshops for women. I’m doing that in Switzerland in April. My documentary is out, The War is Never Over, so I’ve been touring with that. And no it isn’t. So we just carry on with a variety of different things. My podcast, The Lydian Spin, is doing really great. We’ve done about 40 of them so far. There is a counterculture, and I’m trying to compile it in one place. It’s different stubbornly creative people that just won’t give up. Check it out — it comes out every Friday.
Lydia Lunch Retrovirus plays at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 at The Echo.