Peaches once appeared on an album cover wearing a fake beard, and she’s put together a shit-hot rock and roll band — including Samantha Maloney (Hole), Radio Sloan (the Need), and JD Samson (Le Tigre) — to tour behind her latest album, Impeach My Bush. ThePhoenix.com asked Aliza Shapiro — who booked Le Tigre’s first Boston show and produces Boston’s transgender cabaret spectacle TraniWreck — to interview Peaches, who is embarked on a tour opening for an enormous heavy metal band. During Shapiro’s interview, Peaches is riding on a bike across a fairgrounds in Milwaukee before a show with Nine Inch Nails. Like, she is on the bike and on the cell phone at the same time — totally multitasking, totally trying not to run down little babies, and occasionally allowing Nine Inch Nails fans an advance peek up her skirt. They talk about gender, Kate Moss, feminism, Ludacris, identity, and rock 'n' roll. What follows is, like, edited. Sort of. But not much. Seriously: don’t stop reading until you get at least as far as the part where she almost runs down the baby.
I think the Phoenix was interested in having me talk with you because I produce shows here and have worked with Le Tigre and the Need, so there was that connection, but I also produce a drag show called TraniWreck and it has lots of amazing gender-bending in all directions. That’s my way of saying I’m not a professional journalist and I just want to have a conversation and see what comes of it. Is that cool?
So you’re on tour with Nine Inch Nails now. How’s that going?
Really?Are you getting a good response from the audience?
Yeah, I’m stage diving and they’re catching me. They’re not dropping me.
That would suck.
Yeah, but it could happen. They could be like, “Uggghhh, who is this bitch?!”
Do you ever worry about that? That people are gonna maul you?
Well, people have mauled me. Not very often. Id say 90 percent of the time it’s a good experience. But I’ve had some horrible experiences. You know, people just wanna put their hands where they shouldn’t go and stuff. I just grab their hand and I either pull them on stage and rat them out or I grab them in the same place, harder. I try to take action right there.
How do you learn to take risks like that? Do you feel that you were just born to do this stuff or does it feel challenging to you at all? Is it just second nature?
I didn’t grow up with any musical background or anything. So it was all a risk because I didn’t know what I was doing — I don’t know what I’m doing any time. But I find the more risks I take the more risks I feel like I can take. Like the first time you dive into the water and you go, “Wow! I dove! That’s cool! I’m gonna try the front crawl!” It’s just one of those things, its just like all about getting rid of your fears and your misconceptions.
Do you feel like that gets easier as you get older?
Actually, I do, I think there’s less pressure. Which is in a way sad — that there’s less pressure. And why I say that is because everything is directed toward 20-something-year olds, you know? It’s just ’cause no one gives a fuck about anyone over 20.You know what I mean? Like some people think it’s ridiculous that I would rock out and I’m almost 40 or whatever. And its like, “No, you’re ridiculous for complying with what life is supposed to be again.” And I think that’s just part of my lifestyle and my politics and the way I wanna live and that’s why it upsets me when people follow blindly and it feeds into their own fears.
I read that you had been a teacher before and I didn’t know that, and I also read about the folk music stuff . . .
Well, I can explain all that. That was the job that I, again, I trail-blazed at the whole teaching-kids thing. I don’t have a degree in music or drama or education with kids at all.
And were you doing theater and music with them?
Yeah, I was just doing creative role-playing and music with kids because I hated the way I was brought up. It was all sick — like, put on this costume, your parents are coming, read this line, sing that note, you sang it wrong, we’re giving it to the next kid. And I think that’s a big problem with education, that they just lump creativity into, like, a math problem. And it doesn’t work that way, and you have to realize that creativity is something that you should bring with you all in your life or else you’re gonna get duped by car commercials that say, “Be creative, be the best that you can be.” You have to take control of your own resources, which is yourself, your creativity. That’s all you have.