Seattle Weekly: The band recently relocated to Portland from Olympia. Do you prefer the creative environment of Portland?
Beth Ditto (singer): It's not any more or less creative, but it's different. In Olympia there are a lot of community-focused get-togethers, secret cafes to pay people's rent or raise money for something, and here that's not the case. I miss that, and the saltwater being so close. But in Portland it's easier to blend in, be a little more anonymous, and not run into 50 people you know when you go to the grocery store. And if you're like me, I feel like I have to have my eyebrows drawn on before I can face the day.
Guy Picciotto produced your new album, Standing in the Way of Control, in Seattle. What was it like working with him?
He's a great person, a driving force in the studio. He really has it together, and it was nice to [work with] someone who understands music in the same way and is willing to help your idea come to life. He was in Fugazi and that's a big deal, it's like punk-rock royalty, so he really understood recording the punk sound and ethic and aesthetic.
Shoplifting's Hannah Blilie is your newest member, replacing longtime drummer Kathy Mendonca. What does her style bring to the band?
She's a little more technically skilled than Kathy was, so she adds a completely different sound [that] Kathy—I don't want to say couldn't, but didn't and wasn't really willing to do.
You can hear it on the title track of Control, which Le Tigre made a great dance remix of. Kim Gordon also contributed artwork to the album—what other women do you find inspiring in music today?
Yoko Ono, Mary J. Blige. Mariah Carey is a pretty inspiring story because people thought she was crazy—and maybe she is a little—but people always think women are crazy and irrational. I think being dropped from her label, getting together with Jermaine Durpi again and making a really amazing record—giving a big "fuck off" to the record industry and her old label, the powers that be—speaks volumes. And she's thick.
Are you looking forward to your SXSW showcase on this tour?
I always do, but these conferences aren't my favorite things. The idea of all the artists being there together is really fun, because there's lots of people you don't see unless you're on tour. Like, I cannot wait to see Erase Errata. But for the most part, CMJ, SXSW, all that shit is a circle jerk for industry hounds. It's supposed to be for exposure, but if you really don't give a shit about exposure, it doesn't pay off. Except for sometimes you get free Converse, and that rules.
The Gossip play Chop Suey with Numbers, Bobcats, and DJ Porq on Thurs., Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. $10.