I love the first two Pretenders album, but the more I've learned about Chrissie Hynde, the less I like her.
I watched her berate a cashier in a coffee shop in Santa Monica once, and was really taken a back by her bitchy personality. A recent interview on NPR was similar in tone.
She's got a bratty schtick that comes off as the opposite of gracious.
Rebelliousness makes sense when you're a teenager, but it's incredibly awkward and off-putting at her age.
I hope she's nice to Stevie...
not sure where to post this, so posting here - the Pretenders tour involves both dates with Stevie and solo dates in between those shows, marked as headline shows on this list -
October 20th HEADLINE SHOW London, UK Omeara London
October 25th Phoenix, AZ Talking Stick Resort Arena
October 27th Denver, CO Pepsi Centre
October 29th Houston, TX Toyota Centre
October 30th Dallas, TX American Airlines Centre
October 31th HEADLINE SHOW Austin, TX Austin City Limits
November 2nd Tampa, FL Amalie Arena
November 4th Ft. Lauderdale, FL BB&T Centre
November 6th Atlanta, GA Phillips Arena
November 7th Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
November 10th Charlotte, NC Time Warner Cable Arena
November 12th Columbia, SC Colonial Life Arena
November 13th HEADLINE SHOW Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center
November 14th Washington DC Verizon Centre
November 15th Boston, MA TD Garden
November 17th HEADLINE SHOW Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theater
November 19th Bethlehem, PA Sands Bethlehem Event Centre
November 20th Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Centre
November 23rd Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
November 25th Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
November 26th HEADLINE SHOW Akron, OH E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall
November 27th Detroit, MI The Palace Of Auburn Hills
November 29th Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
November 30th HEADLINE SHOW Buffalo, NY Buffalo Town Ballroom
December 1st New York, NY Madison Square Garden
December 3rd Chicago, IL United Centre
December 5th Lincoln, NE Pinnacle Bank Arena
December 9th Vancouver, BC Pepsi Live At Rogers Arena
December 11th Seattle, WA Key Arena
December 12th HEADLINE SHOW Portland, OR Roseland Theater
December 13th Sacramento, CA Golden 1 Centre
December 14th San Jose, CA SAP Centre
December 17th Las Vegas, NV Park Theater
December 18th Los Angeles, CA The Forum
April 10th HEADLINE SHOW London, UK Royal Albert Hall
"You know you should never believe what you read."
From Chrissie Hynde’s facebook page:
Hi Friends! The tour is off to a great start. Starting in Stevie’s home town, Phoenix, was a good call. A whole lotta love. Dan Mathews ( PETA’s senior Vice prez) and hubby Jack showed up. ( Remember when i acted as ‘best man’ at their wedding in Las Vegas, with Pamela Anderson as ‘maid of dishonour ?) EVerything’s more fun when they’re around.
Nils Lofgren and his lovely sex kitten of a wife, Amy, were there too. Nils is my good luck charm. He’s been with us from the start. ( I gave him my red Lewis Leathers motorcycle jacket one night on our very first tour of The States).
Martin, James, Nick and Eric are in stellar form. You could say they’re ‘kicking ass’. Last night in Denver I saw some old friends in the front row. “Hi Guys!"….. always good to have someone to wink at.
Australian Designer Mel Greensmith ( she’s actually a limey but lives in Aus with guitar hero boyfriend, Mark McGinty ( did i spell that right?) from the Divinyls ) made me some divine little jackets and sent them all the way from her shop in Sydney, WHEELS and DOLL BABY. Just gorgeous! Combined with my STELLA McCARTNEY jeans and boots - I felt like Kate Moss with a guitar..
But the BEST thing is getting to hear STEVIE NICK’S VOICE every night. It’s MAGIC.
See ya soon in a town near you! xch
#stevie nicks#chrissie hynde#24 karat gold tour#news#misc#phoenix#denver
Crystallineknowledge Dedicated to Stevie.
She seemed to really be enjoying herself on stage in Columbia. They put on a great show - I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would as I only know and love 5 or so of their songs.
I wonder how Chrissie feels about Stevie's fur coat she wears during Moonlight (and if the fur is real). Chrissie is quite a stern animal rights advocate.
There is always magic to be summoned at any point. I love to live in a world of magic, but not a fake world of magic. We all really basically have a lot of magic....it's only those of us that choose to accept it, that really understand it. It's there for everyone. That's the only thing that I feel that I am able to give to people and that's why I know that they respond to me because I try to give them only their own magic...not mine, but theirs.
~Stevie Nicks, Jim Ladd Innerview, 1979
Chrissie Hynde happy to return to Pretenders ‘Alone’
Chrissie Hynde is the first to admit alone time can be a very good thing. For the past eight years, The Pretenders frontwoman has put the revered rock band on pause to devote time to a number of solo ambitions — the short-lived duet project JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys, her eponymous debut “Stockholm” and a biography, “Reckless: My Life as a Pretender,” which details her coming of age in 1970s London where she still lives today.
That platter of experiences have only made the comeback of The Pretenders even sweeter in 2016 with a new album, “Alone” that harkens back to the band’s 1980 debut and a tour with Stevie Nicks that also pits the band right back in its heyday era. Even though the current iteration is really just the 65-year-old on her own after the untimely deaths of original members guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon early on and the more recent departure of drummer Martin Chambers.
“I just got so tired of talking about defending The Pretenders name with all the ongoing lineup changes. And sometimes you just to get your head into something else to stay inspired and stimulated,” Hynde says of her motive in trying to break out on her own. “But anyone who is a singer of a band also inherits this kind of position of having to be the spokesman, so I figured I just had to do what I had to do to keep the band going.”
She was also inspired by Dan Auerbach, who produced “Alone” and had carved a similar path by starting out in The Black Keys and branching out into side dish The Arcs and a swath of studio credits.
“He’s on such a roll that guy, and I was absolutely thrilled that he agreed to work with me,” Hynde admits. Though the two had met in passing “like I meet everyone else in this business,” says Hynde, she and Auerbach also both originally hail from the music breeding grounds of Akron, Ohio and had an easy time assimilating during recording at his Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville. While Auerbach’s touches are evident in many nooks of “Alone,” his gift was also allowing the natural girth of The Pretenders to shine through with all the characteristic hooks and melodies, Hynde’s buoying voice (preserved by quitting smoking, she says) and her heart-on-sleeve songwriting that together have made the band famous.
“All of my songs are always autobiographical, and I kind of wish they weren’t,” admits Hynde of the between-the-lines inferences on songs like the title track praising her own sense of solitude, “Roadie Man” in homage to the “whole subculture” of crew behind the scenes and the alluring “Let’s Get Lost” about a person she cares not to name, saying, “I wish I was more of a storyteller, but I’m not.”
That sentiment is hard to reckon with for anyone who may have read her biography, which came out in 2015. It tells of a brazen young Hynde, enamored with The Beatles, leaving her studies at Kent State (during the time of the infamous riots) and embarking on a mission to London to find her way in the rock echelon. Here she intersected with Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop, and The Kinks’ Ray Davies (with whom she shares a daughter) and had a brief stint at rock rag NME before finding her eventual Pretenders bandmates.
“You get to a certain age and you know you’re halfway through your life or more, and you kind of want to put the past behind you and figure out how to move forward without the burden of unfinished business,” says Hynde of choosing to write her bio, which she calls ‘Chrissie Hynde light.’ In fact the book ends in 1983 right before The Pretenders really caught steam.
“I didn’t really go into anything dark, and I didn’t go much into people because I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” she admits, empathetic with the idea of not wanting to be a household name. “It’s the last thing I ever wanted. I just don’t want anyone to have an opinion of me. The only time I want to be recognized is when I’m standing on a stage with my band.”
What keeps her going, Hynde says, is the music, especially feeling a duty at a time when she feels there is an absence of new bands forming. “I don’t know what happened over the last 20 years. It all went into this kind of singer-songwriter phase. But I sense that and hope that more people will start getting in bands,” she says, nudging at the greater picture. “In 20 years, all of us will be gone. We’re in what I call ‘The End of an Era era’ and someone else now has to step up.”
On the Road, ‘Alone’ with Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders
Written by: Jeff Slate
Photo: Jill Furmanovsky
“I adore her,” Chrissie Hynde says of fellow rock legend Stevie Nicks, on whose current tour Hynde’s band the Pretenders are filling the supporting slot. “Stevie’s shows are great, and she’s a darling. She’s got an incredible voice, and it’s a good audience.”
While the Pretenders have been fitting in the odd headlining show while supporting Nicks on her U.S. trek, Hynde says it’s been good for her band to stretch their collective legs.
“If we can go out on our own, do our own show, it’s going to be a little more crazy,” Hynde admits. “I like that, and I know the guys in the band like it.”
But for fans, it’s a dream bill: Two of the most powerful female singer-songwriters of the past 40 years bringing down the house each night on a coast-to-coast trek that’s been filling arenas since it began in September.
However, Hynde admits the pairing was all down to luck.
“It was just availability,” Hynde says with a shrug. “Management asked if I was into it, you know, how all tours come about. It just depends on who’s going out, who’s available, what’s compatible.”
Hynde, of course, founded the Pretenders in 1978, along with ace guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers. A fantastic self-titled debut album, produced by Chris Thomas, plus a follow-up and a string of groundbreaking singles followed, but Honeyman-Scott and Farndon died drug-related deaths in 1982 and 1983, respectively, leaving Hynde battered and broken.
She regrouped, and continued under the Pretenders moniker with a rotating cast of bandmates and mostly stellar results throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s, before she began taking her career at a more leisurely pace, though with no less enjoyable results.
She released an excellent, if left-of-center solo album, Stockholm, in 2014, and a memoir, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, in 2015, but hadn’t released new music as the Pretenders since 2008’s Break Up the Concrete.
But Hynde and the current lineup of the Pretenders, which includes original drummer Martin Chambers, aren’t just out on the road on a victory lap. They’ve got a solid new album to promote, Alone, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
“It was kind of the thing where, even if you weren’t a fan, you knew all the songs,” Auerbach says of growing up in Akron, Ohio, also Hynde’s hometown, and hearing the Pretenders seemingly everywhere.
“It was like Tom Petty, in that there were these bands that, even if you’d never owned one of their records, you knew all of their songs somehow, miraculously, just because it was part of the fabric of the community. And those songs were always on the radio, constantly.”
As great as Alone is, Hynde admits it’s those glory years that everyone still wants to hear about, though she says it’s just part of the job.
“I’m not really moany because everybody wants to keep talking about the same thing over and over again,” Hynde says. “Besides, I always say that whatever you said in your first interview I think you have to keep repeating for the rest of your life. But if people still care, that’s really not such a bad thing, I guess.”
In fact, Hynde brightens when talking about the early days of the Pretenders, and says setting the record straight was one of the motivations for writing her memoir last year, especially as it relates to Honeyman-Scott’s status as an unsung guitar hero.
“One of the main motivations for the book was because I see Jimmy as one of the great guitar heroes, and he didn’t really get his due,” she says. “If I was a professional widow, I could spend the rest of my life just digging up the deceased to give myself some prominence in the world. But because of the nature of the whole way it went down, I didn’t see any dignity in talking about it. It was a tragedy, it was very sad and I was probably a bit traumatized. So I chose to just keep doing what we started and honor what we set out to do. We set out to make this music and I wanted to keep making it. I wanted to keep doing the songs, and that’s why we carried on and didn’t change the name, so we could go out and do them. And also, I didn’t really have too much time to think about how to go about doing that. It honored them by keeping it alive. And then I had to keep explaining that for 40 years!”
Still, even though Chambers doesn’t appear on Alone, Auerbach, who appeared with the Pretenders recently, says his spirit is an important link to the band’s history and to its current live sound and dynamic.
“Martin is such a character,” Auerbach says. “He’s a lovely guy and his drumming is so ****ing amazing. And he’s a nutjob, too, in the best possible sense.”
While the current tour with Nicks is obviously chock full of arena shows, Hynde says she’s learned over the years that smaller venues pack a better punch.
“It’s funny, because we toured here two years ago after the Stockholm album and we were playing in theatres, and every night I asked the guys, ‘Isn’t this better than arenas?’ But of course you become what you criticize and now I’m playing arenas again.”
Still, she admits, whether the crowd is 300 or 30,000, it doesn’t really affect her performance.
Hynde and Auerbach on 'Colbert.'
Hynde and Auerbach on ‘Colbert.’
“I don’t do anything different,” Hynde offers. “A couple of weeks ago we played to 300 people in a club, and that was great. But all we’re doing differently (for the arena shows) is we’ve got to have a shorter set. And it’s not really our audience, necessarily; it’s Stevie’s audience. So we have to do more of our greatest hits, so people will recognize us. I understand that. But to me it’s always the same. We just stay the same wherever we are. It doesn’t really matter where we play. I prefer the smaller clubs, for all the obvious reasons, because if I’m going to see a band I want to see them. I don’t understand big gigs. At a certain level you have to play them because you have that big of an audience. I never wanted to really try to rein everything in and keep it right in the middle at all times. So I’ve played a lot of arenas, and even stadiums, supporting the Stones and Neil Young, The Who, and we’ve played amphitheaters, because I like going out with other bands together and doing those. My feeling is, if you’re a working band you take what becomes available to you. Personally, my preferred thing is it stay in the middle and keep it relatively small, a couple thousand, but you have to take what comes your way and not take that for granted, either.”
Hynde has always been outspoken about her views, even if she’s never been outright political, but she says during the current tour she’s been shocked at the change in the typical music journalist she’s met.
Photo: Jill Furmanovsky
Photo: Jill Furmanovsky
“I think my politics are pretty ****ing obvious,” she says with a laugh. “I mean, I had a (female reporter) ask me the other day if I was a feminist. I said, ‘What do you ****ing think?’ Stupid question. Any woman should know better. But journalists now seem obsessed with this sort of gender thing that’s going on and the politics of all that. I just think it’s pretty obvious what I am. It’s annoying.”
She’s also used to getting asked questions about the ever-changing Pretenders lineups since the days of Honeyman-Scott and Farndon.
“I understand very, very well the confusion about it,” Hynde admits. “But really, after 40 years, things are gonna change. The dynamics of a band changes over time, and the personnel sometimes changes for a variety of reasons, death sort of being the most conclusive.”
While Hynde did enjoy making and touring Stockholm as a solo artist, she says she’s happiest as part of a gang.
“I don’t even want attention, I want to put it on the band,” she says. “That’s what I get off on, on stage, is looking at the audience and seeing if they’re thinking, ‘****ing hell, where’d she find him?’ I think my bass player is a joy to watch. I mean he’s totally on 100% of the time. The whole band, they move great, they’re elegant, they have a real finesse, and they play great. But mainly the thing is that they have the vibe. They’ve always got the vibe. So it always works like clockwork, and that’s what turns me on. When it’s too polite there’s always the danger of overplaying something, or playing it too often or over rehearsing. No one wants to go through the motions up there. So they’re always paying attention to each other, and that keeps it kind of exciting all the time. No one is thinking about if they have to call their girlfriend in 20 minutes.”
Hynde also sees her role in the Pretenders clearly, and it’s not just as the singer.
“I am certainly the weakest player up there,” she says, with a laugh. “But my job is to orchestrate it, and I will sometimes just **** it up a little bit so that the guys never quite know if I’m gonna change it or rearrange it, or even when I’m going to end the song!”
When I mention that’s how Bob Dylan operates, she laughs again. Hard.
“Well, that’s an extreme,” she says. “I don’t try to **** them up that much. I just want to keep them on their toes. I mean, Bob can do whatever he wants because he’s Bob!”
I ask Hynde about Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize, and she immediately gets excited.
“How awesome is it that he didn’t say anything for two weeks and then he said he was speechless?” she asks, full of laughter again. “The thing that people don’t realize about Bob, which I’m always quite amazed by, is that he’s ****ing hilarious. And I think because he’s a poet — and he’s a genius and all that — people take him so seriously. So I think they miss a lot of the humor. But you can hear it in his music, if you pay attention. Anyway, I thought that was just hilarious.”
While Hynde runs a relatively democratic ship in the Pretenders, she’s all too aware she’s the focus of attention as the frontperson, even if she’s humble about her place in the scheme of things.
“I try getting my guys up front, and addressing the audience, because I spend most of my time up there,” she says. “But I know what an audience wants. I know they want to be engaged. They don’t want to watch a sound check or a rehearsal. They want to be part of it!
“You know, when I go on stage, I know my position when I’m out there,” Hynde continues. “I know who I am when I’m out there. I have to. But in my heart of hearts, whenever I stand on the side of the stage, and I’m about to walk on, for me it’s a happening. Everyone in that whole place is part of it. Whether you’re in the third row, or you’re in the balcony, or you’re on the lighting towers, or you’re doing the sound, or you’re on stage, we’re all part of it and everyone has to do what they do best. That’s what makes the whole thing work. So I never think it’s all about me. If I thought that, I would just find that kind of boring.
“Like I said, I don’t like solo things. It wouldn’t hold the interest for me. What interests me is to turn around and see those eyes, you know, the guys in the band. They started playing when they were kids, and it’s the thing they love the most in the world. On stage, that’s when they feel the most themselves. If you just wind them up and turn them loose it’s just a joy for me. And when you look into the audience, and see people looking to the bass player, saying, ‘****ing hell, I wish I could still play bass.’ That’s amazing. I can tell everyone in the audience who used to play and hung up their guitar. You can see it and you’re thinking, ‘You wish you still played, don’t you?’ Because there’s no better feeling than doing what we do. There just isn’t.”
When Hynde first got the tour schedule for her trek with Nicks, she found it a bit too leisurely. So she spoke to her management and filled in some of the gaps with Pretenders headlining shows.
“There were so many days off on this tour that I started freaking out when I saw the schedule,” Hynde explains. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m gonna go ****ing nuts.’ Because you know we don’t really do days off. I mean, a day off after three shows, maybe four, is fine because if I do more than that it’s against me, psychologically, and I start to get a little ****ed up in the head. I’ve got to take a break from it. But there were a lot of days off on this tour. I don’t know how Stevie organizes it but what we’ve done is we’ve popped in a lot of our own shows between on some of these days off.
“There we can do a lot of our new songs, because with Stevie I can’t expect to go out for an hour to an audience that isn’t there to see me and say, ‘Hey, listen to all our new songs!’ They’ll be, like, ‘Well, **** you. Who are you? I don’t even know who you are.’”
“So we hit them with stuff they know because that’s the name of the game. But for our audiences, at our own shows, everyone that’s going to come probably has listened to [Alone], because when we did it with the Stockholm album, and we went out and toured it, certainly everyone that I could see up at the front seemed to know all the words. They’d been listening to it. And it’s actually a pleasure to do the new songs, because you feel like the audience knows what you’re talking about. I mean, the thing is, when you’re in a band, every time you do a song in front of a new audience it’s like the song is new again. So if it’s an emotional song, it’s just as emotional as it was the day you wrote it. But there’s also an element of over doing something and that’s why it’s good to have the option to move some songs around and to try some different ones. So you don’t get jaded. To do the material that you’ve just been working on more recently, that’s how you get the biggest kick. Let’s face it, it’s got to be.”
Photo: Jill Furmanovsky
Photo: Jill Furmanovsky
Still, Auerbach says that even though the Pretenders touring band is a crack unit, the sessions for Alone began as a Chrissie Hynde solo record. It was only once recording was well under way that Hynde thought of calling it the Pretenders.
“I think that what Chrissie was feeling was how much of a band feel it had,” Auerbach says of the Nashville sessions. “We weren’t sticking to the demos. I’d picked these musicians because I love what they can do on the fly, and how they can improvise. That’s why they’re there! And I guess she just felt it was really a band effort. It wasn’t just Chrissie making a new record. And she really loved that, and everybody did. I think it’s just when you’re able to really have success, making something, creating something with a whole group of people, it can feel so much more satisfying in the end. Because the more people you add the more the odds are just stacked against you. It’s going to be more and more difficult. So when it actually works, and it did work in this case — we did the whole record in 8 days or something like that — it’s a really overwhelming feeling, it just feels extra special, and I think that might be why she called it the Pretenders.”
Hynde, typically, is more blunt, if a bit more evasive.
“I think the thing with Stockholm was that I thought I’d try something different. I don’t know what to say, call me a whatever. It’s a band, and I’m out with the band, and it’s my own damn fault, because I just don’t like solo stuff. I like bands and Alone was made by a band. Everybody wants to get my take it, and I’ve talked about it for 40 years now, whether it’s a solo thing — if it’s just me — or if it’s a band. So let’s say it’s a band.”
- See more at: http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/20....A0ptB68U.dpuf
"You know you should never believe what you read."
Rocker Chrissie Hynde says she's a recluse and 'lone wolf' in new documentary
One isn’t the loneliest number, according to musician Chrissie Hynde.
The 65-year-old Pretenders lead singer bluntly describes herself as a “lone wolf” and reveals she spends most of her time by herself, in an upcoming BBC documentary, which follows the musician as she travels between Paris, London and New York where she’s interviewed by old pal, actress Sandra Bernhard.
“I think being alone is a huge luxury,” the “Brass in Pocket” singer says.
“It’s my choice, I like it,” she says. “I get lonely and morose. But you know, I’m a prize, if no one wants to pick up on that, f--k them.”
The rocker, who rose to fame in 1979 when her band The Pretenders — who had formed the year earlier — rose to the top of the charts with the single “Brass in Pocket," just appeared at SXSW where she sang with Stevie Nicks.
Hynde had a daughter, Natalie, in 1983 with Ray Davies of The Kinks and then had another daughter, Yasmin, in 1985 with Simple Minds lead singer Jim Kerr whom she married. In 1997 she married again, this time to artist Lucho Brieva, but they separated in 2002.
Later while lunching with Bernhard, the singer bemoans her non-existent love life.
“It’s from isolation, I spend all my time along, I have nothing else to do,” she explains.
Instead, she focuses on several issues close to her heart including vegetarianism. Hynde has been vegeterian for more than 30 years.
“Vegan tyranny winds me up,” she explains. “It’s all become about nutrition, it’s not about compassion anymore. I am a vegan in practice but in theory I am a vegetarian, they don’t like that.”
She also says she has a book on “cow protection,” coming out.
SXSW: Chrissie Hynde in Wisecracking Form as the Pretenders Deliver Hits-Filled Show
Chrissie Hynde was certainly aware of the Pretenders’ surroundings as the group filmed an episode of Austin City Limits on Monday night (March 13) during South By Southwest.
“We’re not taking stock of the fact this is being filmed,” Hynde told the crowd at ACL Live’s Moody Theater early in the quintet’s nearly 90-minute set. “To us this is just another gig…You don’t have to be polite. We don’t plan it on it.” But even though she later acknowledged a bit of self-consciousness, Hynde and company rose above it to deliver a stirring 18-song show, making the most of the venue -- intimate compared to the arenas Pretenders has been playing recently with Stevie Nicks, including the previous night in Austin -- and the chance to play slightly longer than that opening slot usually allows.
Hynde delivered a dose of cheek, too. Her chief target was the ACL line on the floor in front of the stage, which attendees were warned not to cross. “Don’t cross that line – how many times have you heard THAT before?” she cracked early on, though insisting that, “I’m not trying to incite anything.” But she made several other mentions about it throughout the night before waving the crowd forward during the closing “Brass In Pocket,” even bringing one exuberant fan onstage for the last half of the song.
Hynde also drew groans over a joke of questionable taste; Asking a fan seated sidestage in a wheelchair how he was doing she related that, “I dated a guy in a wheelchair once,” Hynde noted. “****er dumped me. He got tired of me pushing him around.” She ordered the production team at one point to do away with the light fog “haze” used to soften the lighting, complaining that it affected her singing. “I’m not used to being gagged – of late,” Hynde quipped. And she was profuse in her praise of Austin, name-checking musicians such as Charlie Sexton and Willie Nelson as well as the nearby condominium where the group was staying. “I could live in one of those condos – If I could afford it. If YOU could afford it,” she quipped.
Musically, meanwhile, Hynde and company were in tight, mid-tour form, starting with a pair of tracks from last year’s Dan Auerbach-produced Alone -- the title track and “Gotta Wait” -- before Hynde removed her dark jacket to reveal a Recycled Records T-shirt to begin a hit parade that included “Message Of Love” and “Private Life.” Pedal steel player Eric Heywood made his presence known on the latter as well as “Hymn To Her” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” while James Walbourne continued to cement himself in the group’s formidable lineage of lead guitarists with slashing solos during “My City Was Gone,” “Mystery Achievement” and “Middle Of The Road” as well as chiming ambience for “Up The Neck.”
“My City Was Gone” also gave Hynde the opportunity for some political discourse as she noted -- perhaps surprisingly -- that, “Things are looking up in the States. There are some problems, but when weren’t there problems? We don’t have slavery. You can be gay. You can be in a ****ing rock band!” And when it was a band as sharp as the Pretenders were on Monday night, it was definitely an early up note for SXSW.
Chrissie Hynde, holding out for the independents
Chrissie Hynde lit out of Ohio as a young woman, found her way to London, witnessed the birth of the punk scene and came up with her own indelible band, the Pretenders, in 1978. The picture of a tough, snarling frontwoman, Hynde continues her campaign with a different band (save for drummer Martin Chambers) on an arena tour with Stevie Nicks, which also provides time for the occasional headlining show.
The tour started last fall, after the release of the first Pretenders album in eight years, “Alone,” and Hynde’s revealing memoir, “Reckless: My Life as a Pretender.”
We spoke with Hynde, 65, recently from Memphis, where she had just visited Graceland and had to be reminded that she was arrested there once (“I forgot about that!”).
Q: What has it been like on the Stevie Nicks tour? It doesn’t seem like a natural fit.
A: I met Stevie over the years, and we like each other. I think the timing was right. I really didn’t know what to expect at all. We were in arenas with her and traditionally, I don’t like big venues. I like clubs and theaters. But I’ve been – in fact the whole band has been – surprised at how much we enjoy the arenas, because of just the way it’s lit and the sound.
We really liked it. So we took on another leg of it, which is what we’re on now. And then on our days off, we get to do our own shows. Which is great, because we get to do a longer set. But it’s slightly frustrating, because we go in, and we hadn’t played those songs for a while. It can put us in a state of anxiety, but that’s always good.
Q: Your latest album was done with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Was it just a coincidence that he’s also from Akron?
A: It’s a coincidence. I probably left Akron before he was born. I left in 1973. I don’t know how old Dan is, in his late 30s? But he feels like he’s older than me. His musical sensibility is really sophisticated and very old-fashioned in a really good way. He really hears music in terms of vinyl albums – side one, side two. So he has all these elements, and his knowledge of music is very classical, I think, and very modern.
Q: You call it “Alone,” and it follows your 2014 album, “Stockholm.” Was this going to be a solo album in the beginning as well?
A: The reason I probably called the “Stockholm” album solo is because I was asked for 30 years, “Yeah, but it’s really just you, isn’t it?” every time I did an interview, and it got so frustrating that I finally said, “OK, so call it Chrissie Hynde.” But that didn’t feel right, so we went back to the Pretenders.
I think of this album as a Dan Auerbach/Chrissie Hynde album. But when people first listened to the album, they said, “Oh, it’s good to hear the Pretenders are back.” So I called Dan and said, “What do you think about that?” And he said, “I don’t care what you call it. Call it whatever sells the most records.”
Q: I was looking at some of the duets you’ve done over the years. I had forgotten you had done “Luck Be a Lady” with Frank Sinatra. What was that like?
A: I went in, as I always do, very, very unprepared. I think it’s just a throwback to when I was in school. I never did my homework, and I still can’t get my head around anything until I’m actually doing it. So I really let myself down often with my last-minute preparation.
The one that I think was probably my most favorite unknown gem in my mind was the one I did with Willie Nelson. I certainly guested with some of my favorite artists – Emmylou Harris, I was on an INXS album, I was on Mick Ronson’s last album. I’ve been on an Elvis Costello record. I sang background vocals for U2, and my name isn’t on that – “In the Name of Love,” I’m the background vocalist. Tons of stuff.
But you do it because you like the artist, you go in, you’re friends, you do it, and then you leave. I kind of don’t want to be in the mainstream. The thing that turns me on about music is its anti-establishment aspect. In my head, that’s where I’m at. I’d rather stay in the shadows. But not so much that nobody knows who I am and you can’t get gigs. So you’ve got to tread the middle ground all the time.
Q: Amid all your rock songs, the 1994 ballad “I’ll Stand by You” has become something of a standard among younger artists. How did it come about?
A: That was a very coldblooded attempt to get back on the radio. I was writing with Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and their whole thing is to make hits. At the time, the Pretenders weren’t really on the radio so much. Then I realized how I had taken that for granted, being on the radio and how I missed being on the radio. Because that’s why I always made records, was to be on the radio.
So when I worked with Tom and Billy, that was really what I say was a coldblooded attempt to write something to get on the radio. To be honest, I was a little ashamed of it. I didn’t even want to put it on the record, because I thought it was a little bit too sentimental. It didn’t fulfill my rock credentials that I thought I had to have.
But I played it to a couple of girls who weren’t in the music business; they actually worked in a boxing management company. I like to play stuff for people who have nothing to do with the music business to get their real reaction of people who work in shops – you know, real listeners. And I looked over at these girls, and they both were in tears by the end of the song, so I said, “Yep, we’ll do it. Put it on the record.”
I really enjoy doing it now. I love it. I wouldn’t put anything out that I didn’t believe in. There are songs I like better than others, obviously.
Q: Which ones?
A: It just depends if there are songs we haven’t played for a while; when we bring them back it’s always good. We’ve got quite a few songs now, and we can only do so many. I think an hour-long set is perfect, but people expect more at your own shows. I mean, we could play three hours. But I don’t like to see anything for three hours. I just think it’s too long. I don’t think it’s a proper show. But that’s just for me … I think I would just become a bore.
Q: One of the surprising things about your memoir is how big a role drugs played.
A: Yeah, I was surprised myself. At one point I said this was a story about drugs. It wasn’t unique to me.
Q: There is such a different kind of drug epidemic now.
A: Oh, it’s a scandal. It’s a huge problem. I think it’s a bigger problem than we’ve ever had in this country. These painkillers are prescribed, they get Vicodin, OxyContin, whatever they get, they steal the pills, they get hooked on them. Everyone I know in Ohio is on pills.
Obviously, there are all sort of drugs that are lifesavers. I’ve taken them all. But I don’t take anything now. And I look around me now and I don’t see many people my age who can say that.