Saturday, October 3, 2009

Correne Spero: 'A Thinking Girl's Hero'

Correne Spero pictured center

I'm a big Lucky Bitch fan and an even bigger (slightly obsessive) Northern State fan-most importantly, a Spero fan. So I was beyond stoked when you unveiled your new project, Paperwork. First off, where did the name come from?

Oh heyyy Janay-nay! Umm, the name Paperwork just sort of made sense to me, I guess because being in Northern State for 10 years there was a LOT of administration and paperwork associated with that band..because we basically do everything ourselves, we have self-managed for about 8 of our 10 years and sometimes it felt like I was drowning in desk-work, when the whole point of being in a band was in a band. But the rest of it is all a very necessary evil. But I kind of just wanted this little Paperwork project to be like the antithesis to that. I wanted it to be all about the songs and the music and not at all about the business or "admin" side of things. So I named it to remind me of that or something? Does that make sense?

I've only heard a few tracks so far. I really like what I hear, it's definitely different from your previous work in LB and NS. I had a hard time placing it in one genre, which made me like it more. How would you categorize Paperwork?

aperwork is sort of my dub country punk project. I think of it as my Southern Rock album. Cuz every girl needs one of those...right? But with some reggae and country thrown in and a little punk edge. When I put up more songs, I think you'll see what I mean? I hope? maybe?

You mentioned on your Myspace that some songs were written over 10 years ago. Did those songs in particular require a lot of re-working or did you stick to the original sound?

Yeah, we basically just stuck to the original thing that was going on with those songs. They are kind of straightforward country/rock songs. The funny thing is I recorded some of them (like BK'00 which is one of the ones up on back before Northern State started on my old 4 track ,and now I don't even have a cassette player, so I had no way to listen to them and remember how they go before I went to record them in Little Rock. Technology has changed, Janay! I was really feelin my age! But it all came back to me once I was down in Little Rock. It was cool to record words I had written so long ago, it was like they made more sense to me now more than ever. But now I am thinking about the lyrics in a totally different way. It was cool to check in with the 10 years younger version of myself and see if she still made sense to me, and if I was still pickin up what she was throwin down - and I definitely was.

Since there are songs over a decade old, does that mean that you initially set out to be a solo artist before things took off with Northern State?

Not exactly. I went to Audio Engineering School before Northern State formed, and I was very focused about wanting to be a musician. And I was writing songs and recording them in my bedroom and stuff. But I wasn't dreaming of being a 'solo artist' so to speak. I think when Northern State came along I was really psyched to join a band and be a part of something with other people. It gave me a focus and the three of us together had an energy that was really inspiring to me and more fun than the old 4 track-alone in the bedroom thing.

Are you still working with Lucky Bitch at the moment?

We're not doing anything right this moment, but we played a show this past summer and we may play another one later this fall. Lucky Bitch is just like a really loose supergroup of bitches who luv to rock..who can blame us? But we record and rehearse and play REALLY sporadically. We don't all live in the same city so it makes it kind of hard to be like a high-functioning band. Lucky Bitch is really just about fun - it's like instead of getting together with your girls for dinner and drinks we get together for rehearsal and drinks..or play a's really awesome to play with those girls and it's really cool that it's such a low pressure gig, I enjoy being one of 6 in that band..I can kind of just hide in the corner on some songs, or behind the drums. I can sing a Lita Ford cover (and I do). Anything goes. It rocks.

Will you be touring in support of this project soon?

Right now I am just focusing on finishing recording this Paperwork album, I am hoping to have all the recording done by the end of this year..and then maybe I'll think about playing some shows. I am actually kinda shy about playing shows, especially in a situation where there is more emphasis on me..I feel better with Sprout and Hesta or the Lucky Bitches on stage with me.I'm sure if you've seen me on stage with Northern State, you probably wouldn't get that, but it's true. But I am having a really good time recording this Paperwork album with some good friends, so if they would be up for playing some shows with me, I think I'd be into it, as long as the live show felt more like a band thing..which is basically what the album is turning out to be's like a band with a revolving door and a few amazing key players.

Speaking of touring, is there a place you've dreamed of touring but haven't had a chance to yet?

YES! Little Rock! Northern State has never played there. Also Memphis, I can't remember but I don't think we've ever played there either..maybe some places like Athens, GA..and we haven't played Nashville properly in a long time so I'd be psyched to play there..As you can see I have a bit of a fascination with the South. Or maybe the Florida Keys? Do some Jimmy Buffet covers?

Northern State formed almost 10 years ago, in that time at some point Lucky Bitch also formed and now you have Paperwork. Has music always been it for you, I mean have you ever wanted to do anything else?

Yes, music has been it for me since I was pretty young..But I'd say music and trying doing something positive in the world besides music are my twin loves. In college (at Oberlin) I was a Women's Studies major and kind of a super feminist activist on campus. Activism and working for positive change has always been really important to me, and that's something I recently decided I wanted to dedicate myself to a little more again. I missed it. I can't ever imagine not creating music- but eventually it just starts to feel kind of lame to me to always be asking people to come see your band, buy your merch, buy your cd..I start to feel like..who cares? It's all very necessary stuff, especially if you are trying to make a living off your music like Northern State has been fortunate enough to be able to do over the years. But I don't care if you are the Rolling Stones, at the end of the day, your band is a little bit stupid, you know?

Sooooo.. recently I have been working a bit with immigrant populations in NYC - helping them learn English, go to college, become citizens, etc.. I grew up very aware of the story and hard work of my great grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents. It's because of them that I've had an education and the ability to follow my dream and be a musician and travel the world. I'm living a life my great grandparents probably could not have imagined. So this kind of work really rewarding for me.

I also have this kind of crazy dream of being in local politics someday, maybe pull a Sonny Bono, oh heyyy! Touring and campaigning are basically the exact same thing anyway..But I want to just be like grandfathered into local office without actually having to run for anything and have my head on signs or anything. Can you arrange that, Janay?

That's it! Hope it's short enough. You're so awesome for doing this. I really am a huge fan. Thank you so much!

Aww Janay, you're a doll, me and the Northern State gals all appreciate your support so much. You are obviously a lady of discriminating and dare I say fabulous taste, and we feel very fortunate to know you..thanks again for the opportunity to talk about my little Paperwork project.



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