Although she’s been to Miami before, Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, is still shocked that it is part of the good ol’ U.S. of A. “I get astounded at how varied the United States are, that we have this tropical paradise,” she explains. (Clearly this quote predates this past weekend’s cannibalism incident.)
On the tail-end of a spring tour behind her third and latest album, Strange Mercy, Clark will perform at The Stage, in the Design District, on Thursday, May 31.
On the tail-end of a spring tour behind her third and latest album, Strange Mercy, Clark will perform at The Stage, in the Design District, on Thursday, May 31, with ANR and Run Sevim Run opening. We have a pair of tickets for the concert to give away to one lucky St. Vincent fan. To enter to win, shout out an example of strange mercy — whatever that means to you — in the comment section of this post. We will announce the winner on the Beached Miami Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.
Until then, here’s my interview with Clark from mid-May in which she disses Eric Clapton and loves up Louis C.K.
Have you ever been to Miami?
Annie Clark: I have been to Miami before, one time, and I was there because I used to assist on photo shoots. I went to help shoot a Gap campaign.
Was that before you started playing music?
AC: No, that was just for extra money [laughs].
What do you think of Miami, are you excited to come back?
AC: Oh my god yeah, it was beautiful, it was so beautiful.
The Stage is a small club, but you’ve been playing some larger theaters on this tour. What’s the difference between playing a theater or playing a small bar? Do you prefer one over the other?
AC: You know it really depends on the crowd, I always say wherever there’s an enthusiastic audience is our favorite place to play.
Is there anywhere on the tour that stands out to you?
AC: It’s hard to say. It’s always the kind of places you don’t expect sometimes. I’ve only been to Buffalo once, I want to say, but we had an amazing show, like the best and warmest crowd in Buffalo, and we just had a great show in Minneapolis and we’re sold out tonight. I always think it’s one of those things where a lot of bands can do pretty well in the major markets, you know? Like, “Oh, they’re good for X amount of tickets in New York or LA.” But when you can go to the rest of the States and play for people and have enthusiastic crowds there, I think that means a little bit more.
Do you think people differ depending on the type of venue you’re playing? Do people still try to mosh at the theaters?
AC: It’s funny, the other day we played in Indianapolis and it was at a smaller viewing place, and I just jumped into the crowd at a certain point in the set, but I wasn’t stage diving, I just kind of like jumped in, and I realized the second I jumped in, “Oh these kids are really enthusiastic and I just started a mosh pit, and oh god, how am I going to get out of here.” I had a little moment of claustrophobia and, you know, got a couple scrapes and bruises. I was like, “Oh no, I hope nobody gets hurt,” you know? It’s one thing to kind of stage dive and people carry you, but it’s another thing to start a mosh pit and hope that the 5’2”, 100 lb girl in the front row doesn’t get squashed. Like, I just don’t want that to happen.
Is it hard to resist becoming part of the crowd?
AC: Yeah, I mean, with every show I just kind of want to push it a bit more, and so sometimes I’m never really thinking through consequences or I’m never really scared to do anything like that, it’s just something else takes over. I fractured my foot in Oakland jumping off a stage, you know, bruises and stuff, and that’s fine — I just don’t want anybody else to get hurt.
You tweeted recently that you sometimes sing the Louie theme song to warm up before a show –
AC: Louis CK is a big warm up for us.
Is there any reason in particular the Louie song helps you? How did you choose it?
AC: It’s actually a really catchy song and I just love that show. I like him as a comic. I think he’s really funny and astute and it’s kind of hard to sing. I mean it loosens you up quite a bit, you know? Toko and I do it. Toko Yasuda, who plays minimoog, she harmonizes. We just instinctively know what to do.
I feel like every tour somebody is obsessed with some new TV show because when you’re on tour you have a little bit of time to just zone out and get caught up on The Wire or something like that. So last tour, Toko was watching The Wire, so we’d sing the theme song and then I started watching Louie and so we started singing the theme song. I wish Girls or Game of Thrones had a theme song.
Do you have any other pre-show rituals?
AC: Sometimes Matt Johnson, the drummer, and I will, in about the hour before the show when we’re getting dressed and warming up — he’ll put on videos from the early ’90s. Like not Pearl Jam or Nirvana, but you know when there was a wave of bands who were trying to sound like Pearl Jam and Nirvana? So we’ll put on one of the like second-wave grunge bands or sometimes third-wave grunge bands like Candlebox or Silverchair and watch the videos, because the videos are always like fish eye lens, you know, with an ominous man with a pig face, blood, maybe some lofty words scrawled on a chalkboard — it’s pretty great.
Do you sing along or is it more to get pumped?
AC: Totally, well, it’s more for a laugh.
You were recently named SPIN Magazine’s 93rd best guitarist of all time. Do you think you live up to that title?
AC: I have to say, I think it’s pretty silly to have a rating system like that, because all of that stuff is so subjective. My hundred favorite guitar players would be different than theirs, and I’m sure everybody would have a different answer, but I’m glad to be recognized as a guitar player.
I think honestly, I shouldn’t say this in the press, but any list that has Eric Clapton as one of the best guitar players is a list that is invalid for me.
I think Skrillex was on there too.
AC: Does Skrillex play guitar?
I don’t think so.
Who are your favorite guitar players? Any big influences growing up?
SC: My uncle’s an amazing singer/guitar player, Tuck Andress, and he definitely was a huge influence on me. Some of my favorite guitar players are Marc Ribot and obviously Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that.
My dad actually had me listening to Tuck and Patti for a long time –
AC: Oh, great!
They covered Jimi Hendrix. Is that how you learned about music?
AC: Yeah, they gave me a bunch of records and that was one of them, when I was very young. But I think “Manic Depression” was one of the first songs I had to learn on guitar.
What do you want people to know before you come down to Miami?
AC: I’m just really excited. You know, I’m on Twitter and I’ve gotten a lot people go, “Hey, come through Florida!” With the exception of Hawaii and maybe North and South Dakota, and maybe Mississippi, it’s the only state that I haven’t played a show and it’s so populous and awesome. It just didn’t work out on other tours, so I’m glad I finally get to come and hang out with the kids in Miami.