Catching up with Kelly
About a year ago Kelly Hogan, that bewitching enchantress formerly of The Jody Grind and the Rock*a*Teens, gathered the wagons and left the sunny south for the frozen tundra of Chicago. She moved to take a job as publicist for Bloodshot Records, the home of people like Neko Case and the Waco Brothers, leaders of the “insurgent” country scene. It wasn’t that she had worn out her welcome in Atlanta, it was more, as she puts it, “ants in the pants.” So off she went, to see the business from a new perspective. We caught up with the diva, who is working hard making sure everyone in the free world has a Robbie Fulks record…
What prompted the move to Chicago?
Just wanted to scare the hell out of myself, musically and otherwise. It worked.
Greil Marcus called your version of “The Great Titanic” on Rudy’s Rocking Kiddie Caravan the song of the year. I guess that means you’ll give up your day job, right?
Don’t make me weep here at work, pal.
Sorry. Speaking of your day job, is the view different from the other side of the fence, now that you’re doing promotion for Bloodshot?
It can be VERY different. But I knew a little bit about it just from talking to the record companies that I’ve been associated with (DB, Long Play, and Daemon), so I knew how frustrating the indie record biz can be: no money, crappy distribution, bands breaking up or not touring to support their record, etc. — and I don’t like going to music festivals in only a “weasel” capacity and not playing a show — but I try to bring the desperate zeal of the “man in the van” to whatever I do here behind my desk. I know what it’s like to play to six people on a Tuesday night in East Bumblecrud, Tennessee with no pictures in the paper and your name misspelled on the marquee and the van making funny noises and then you end up owing the club money because your drummer (or YOU) drank 72 bourbon and cokes — you get the picture. But, ultimately, I like this job — there ain’t any money in it, but it’s never dull.
Musically, what are your plans?
I’m playing with my new solo band [with former Atlantan John Forbes of Dirt, now of the Chicago band Mt. Shasta, on guitar, and Jason Benson, also of Mt. Shasta, on drums], and I’m about to start up a jazz side project with a vibes/bass player Mark (who used to play in the Coctails here in Chicago) — and me and my new roommate Deanna (Varagona from the band Lambchop) are always talking about having a band called Goody Britches where we do new-timey porch music dressed in grandmaw dresses — which is what we wear anyhow — and flinging hairpins all over the place when we rock out — and I’m always TRYING TO WRITE SONGS, but it ain’t easy.
What’s the story on the stuff you did with Neko Case (an upcoming 7″ Loretta Lynn tribute)?
She and I just hit it off immediately (perhaps it’s our shared love for pornography… ) and we started singing together in bathrooms and hallways whenever we could get together and get drunk enough to start howling. So Bloodshot asked us to do a Loretta Lynn tribute single. She was already doing “Rated X” with her band and I was already doing “Hanky Panky Woman” with my band, so it was natural to do those songs for the record. And we’ve been talking about doing a gospel record somewhere down the line. I get to sing on her new record — which I’m really looking forward to, because I get to go to Vancouver to record and hang out with her for awhile. She says Vancouver is a dump, but it will be a different dump for me at least.
You recently did a show with Alejandro Escovedo (True Believers, Buick McKane, and the Nuns). What brought that about, and what was it like?
I just started talking to him a lot for work (doing tour support for his shows and setting up interviews and all) and I came to Atlanta for his Music Midtown show and we started singing together at a party that night and just liked harmonizing and everything. I was honored that he asked me to sing with him — I think he is so amazing. Singing with him is a very powerful experience — no lie — just talking with him is a very powerful experience! He’s got some kind of strange mojo. And he likes pornography too… so we get along great, of course.
Finally, anything you want to say to the crowd in Atlanta?
Having a swell time, wish you were here!