DATE OF INTERVIEW:
6th April 2012
In an interview with Metal Discovery two years ago, Emilie Autumn enthusiastically proclaimed with unequivocal determination: "I have no interest in rock shows. I want a fucking Broadway musical! Thatís what I want, and thatís what I work towards every day." And her dream and ambition for such will finally be realised in 2014 in the heart of London's Theatreland with a planned residency for her show on a West End stage. It's set to be the zenith of Emilie's achievements thus far and the culmination of an incessantly diligent work ethic coupled with a tenacious desire to succeed in all that she turns her hand to. It seems her current 'Fight Like A Girl' touring show, while a magnificent spectacle in itself with a potently entertaining blend of vaudevillist theatre, satirical burlesque and kick ass music underpinned by a philanthropically charged narrative, is but a mere taster for the extravaganza that is to come.
And it was right near the start of the European leg of the 2012 'F'.L.A.G.' tour that I caught up with the perennially optimistic lady to talk about the themes and messages at the core of her latest show. However, running out of time during the interview, and with a few questions unanswered, I scheduled some more time with Emilie on the phone to resume our discussions. With her tour currently in Tampere, Finland, we chat once again, although before resuming where we left off I just had to ask about a particular accident she had in Nottingham during soundcheck...
METAL DISCOVERY: Hi, how you doing?
EMILIE: Hey Mark, itísÖÖI almost forgot what my name was! Hi, itís Emilie! [laughs]
(Emilie Autumn on inverting the conventional album/tour chronology)
"...this is purposefully doing it backwards in order to basically just show this is a completely different sort of entertainment..."
Emilie Autumn onstage at Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 10th March 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
EMILIE: Iím doing excellentÖI finally remembered my name!
MD: Always good!
EMILIE: How are you?
MD: Iím fine, thanks. Firstly, I have to say, the new show is absolutely awesome. It was already awesome two years ago but itís extra awesome now. I was blown away.
EMILIE: Oh, thank you. Iím so glad that you were not disappointed, otherwise it wouldíve been very awkward!
MD: Iíll be checking it out again in Manchester next weekend actually as itís the kind of show you need to see at least twice, I think.
EMILIE: Oh, perfect.
MD: I heard you had an accident with an antique medical instrument during soundcheck in Nottingham?
EMILIE: Oh yes, I did. I have a sizeable, permanent scar to show for it on the side of my face now. And yeah, itís so exciting; itís a shame you didnít get to see that! Yeah, it was during the soundcheck with all the VIP Plague Rats looking on and I should say that was entirely my fault; none of the girls were in any way responsible for that, I want to make that very clear. It was simply a situation where, you know, in the ĎTime for Teaí song and the girls are wielding these medical tools which are, of course, realÖtheyíre part of my collection weíre carrying with us to use on stageÖmaybe not the best idea Iíve ever had! It definitely needs a lot when weíre up there using those and I just wanted to make it real and authentic, and give them a new life doing something nicer than surgery to someone that probably didnít need it.
So yes, in soundcheck itís entirely true where we were doing that song for the VIPs and I just got over to a side of the stage I never go to, and it was at a point where one of the girls was just thrashing out with those tools and my face was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, you know, she had no idea I was even there so I got punched in the face very hard with what she was holdingÖone of the bone separators, like a ribcage separator and a bone extractor situation, and very heavy, and sharp and, yes, that went to the side of my face. Iím guessing you couldnít tell if you didnít know about this already but during the show, apparently there was bloodÖbecause we didnít have time to go and get stitches or anything before the show. So yeah, it was intense; very rock Ďní roll; very punk rockÖ
MD: Very rock Ďní roll indeed!
EMILIE: Very, yeah! Iím not mad at the situation now. It was very dramatic, which I like soÖ.blood pouring down out of a single band-aid that we could put on thereÖdown my face, pretty awesome! A great photo opportunity I thought so we just kept going backstage and changing band-aids and then, after the show of course, it was like, ďokay, I wonít be standing outside the bus to talk to anybody because Iím going to the hospitalĒ! All the Plague Rats waiting were very, very nice about that and completely understood that we couldnít stick around. So, yeah, thatís what happened. I got it glued up and now it is completely fine. I just have a nice scar there which, fortunately, Iím not vain enough to really mind so I just have another battle scar from showbiz! Thatís kinda awesome! So when Iím eighty years old, along with all the other show scars I have, Iíll have that one to definitely remind me what a crazy, fuckingÖ
MD: Another one for the collection!
EMILIE: Yes, absolutely, Iím proud of it!
MD: Okay, so before we ran out of time in Nottingham, my next question was going to be that I think itís quite a brave move in reversing the album/tour chronology by planning the release of ĎFight Like A Girlí after these shows but I gather youíre doing this to try and engender a different kind of audience reaction so people concentrate more on the story and how songs contribute to and drive the narrative rather than the emphasis of peopleís attention kind of being on individual songs?
EMILIE: Yeah, and even more than that which is definitely a thing of having to really listen because youíre not completely aware of everything thatís about to happen, even more so is that I really am trying to make clear in every possible way that itís a different type of entertainment and a different way even though weíre still in rock venues at this point. So itíll be in theatres soon as residencies, as you know, but while itís still this, just still trying to make clear that, unlike most bands where the label puts out a record and then you tour pretty much exclusively to support that record, this is all meant to be completely the opposite where itís an actual theatrical show. Well, that is our attempt to go in that direction anyway, where the theatrical product that people would travel and go and see, and the attraction is entirely the show, and the record exists to support the show. And very much, as we talked about before, in the way itís a normal show you would go to and maybe buy the soundtrack afterwards if you like it.
In that way the record, which is much, much more than youíre able to hear on stage because, of course, the record isÖwhen we go on the ĎF.L.A.G.í tour in the fall then, of course, people will hear the other half of the record and the nature of where this whole thing is going. But this was the start of all of it and to show too, in part, that the media that I talk to, to just make clear that this is purposefully doing it backwards in order to basically just show this is a completely different sort of entertainment where itís not about, at all, supporting an album. You know, the album isÖnot to degrade it in any way but itís like how a t-shirt supports a tour; like the album supports that in the same way. Of course itís different and itís its own magical thing but that is really the point of it.
MD: Obviously you have a tour so I guess there was no problem with promoters thinking - hang on, thereís no new album here to sell tickets and get the audiences in?
EMILIE: Of course, admittedly, that was an absolute concern of theirs, like to the extreme, before we came and they simply just had to see by the pre-sales, if nothing else, that that wasnít a problem. And I have a marvellous agent who does completely understand what the point of this is and was able to take a chance on the plan and say, ďno, we donít wait for a tour until this thing is out.Ē This thing is almost irrelevant in a way in that itís all about this show and, if you really think about it, thatís not even so strange or such a big deal; simply that itís not usually done that way.
MD: Yeah, definitely, and your nameís big enough to sell out venues rather than having the need to have the convention of a new album out to do thatÖ
EMILIE: Öwhich is funny to even hear because I donít think of myself that way. I think we can all agree Iím not intensely famous. Itís this beautiful sort of underground thing that is high-end underground thatís enough to sell out the upcoming show in London and wonderful things like that but itís still, like in my mind, I never still to this moment, I never assume that anyone is coming to the showsÖ[laughs] Like, sometimes I have the VIP before where I know at least thirty five people are coming to the showÖso thatís my insurance; itís like, okay, thank god I know there are these people and if this is all the audience we have then we do it for them and we do it the exact same way and itís fine. So, you know, I had that worry as well and yet I thought Iím not going to postpone a tourÖand Iím not going to rush to release an album before the story is there.
So it was just really a determination to try things this way and, very fortunately, it completely worked out and thatís just really on the audience for really realising that they want to come to this fucking show and it doesnít rely on them being able to sing every song perfectly before they show up because, really, thatís not what itís about anyway. Of course, the fact is that most of Ďem can sing every song by the time that they show up because of YouTube, and because a lot of people come to one show and then theyíll kind of come to another five shows and create a caravan and come to a bunch of Ďem so they can kind of lead the march at the end and tell everybody else what to doÖ[laughs]Öitís a beautiful thing. So the whole thing has been a bit of a surprise.
MD: Thatís a very nice, humble standpoint to have.
EMILIE: Yeah, I definitely have a lot more faith in the audience knowing that, yes, they did come anyway so they understand the priority of this even if promoters didnít necessarily but, of course, now they do so itís not a problem.