There is nothing even remotely normal about Eleanor Friedberger, including her rather feral exoticism. For the past decade she has been half of the siblings-gone-amok Fiery Furnaces. This cool-as-an-oyster beauty along with her brother Matthew makes artful, unconventional music that is as compelling as it is abstract, mixing together their own off-kilter hybrid of The Who, Captain Beefheart, Os Mutantes, and their own "eureka!" moments, like when they drafted their then-83-year-old grandmother to record with them for their third album, 2005's Rehearsing My Choir.
Between 2003 and 2009, the siblings released eight full-lengths and well as a double live album, but since then the better looking Friedberger has gone out on her own, releasing the brainy yet fierce while still poptastic solo album, Last Summer.
She spoke to The Morton Report and we came out believing that if we didn’t buy this album, she was going to fly in and kick our ass. Wonder if she still has those boots that her ex beau Alex Kapranos wrote about on Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better...With Franz Ferdinand?
The good news is that Eleanor has found a way for us to get the disc without spending an arm, a leg, or a wayward bang: "Practically Free! Before this summer becomes Last Summer, buy it for $3.99 tomorrow only: [at Amazon]"
How did you celebrate when you heard you were named the "Most Beautiful Garage Rocker" in 2005 by New York Magazine?
I bought 11111 copies, cut out my picture from each one, made a collage on my wall, and performed a ritual passed down through many generations in hopes of being the Most Beautiful Garage Rocker for all Eternity.
How did you get your look?
Kid, you either got it or you don’t. Sorry, but you can’t teach this **#%.
Is your beauty a weapon or a curse?
What do you want me say? It’s a curse. I hate it when gross guys look at me. It makes me want to throw up. Girls, don’t you agree?
Your favorite pop fashion idol.
Elaine Stritch; you can’t beat tights and a long shirt.
Are famous people different than the rest of us? Why or why not?
They’re just shorter. I don’t know why.
How do you control your singing voice?
I control mine by standing up very straight and then slouching—over and over again.
What is your secret for success?
The opposite of praying.
How long should you wait?
What is your idea of a dream date?
A phone call from my boyfriend.
A perfect monitor mix, a hardwood stage (as opposed to carpeted), no air conditioning, puppies on the rider, and a break-dancing audience.
Favorite household chore and why?
It’s hard to choose when I have so many favorites. I clean as I procrastinate—I actually started mopping the floor while I was answering these questions. I get great pleasure from straightening things up and making things clean.
Greatest misconception about you?
That I’m 6’3” and used to weigh 350 pounds.
The best way to let a guy down easy.
Slowly untie him (or never return his phone calls).
What would you do if you weren't a musician? Something you wanted to do before you were in a band.
I wanted to be a dentist.
What is the difference between an artist and a rock star?
“An artist paints her canvas but the rock star paints the town.” - Matthew Friedberger
What do you think about when you sing?
My mind is completely blank; I can’t think of anything but the words. It’s like seeing a blank screen and then suddenly lines flash across it, my mouth opens, and the words come out. If anything interferes with the reception, it’s all over.
Something you never get a chance to do anymore.
Mixing with the hoi polloi.
One thing you'd change about yourself?
I wouldn’t have quit taking piano lessons.
You've said all your early role models were men. If you were a man, who would you want be? And why?
Anthony Quinn. He’s got a charisma that is akin to mine.
When you were in the Miu Miu ad campaign a few years back, did you get to keep the clothes?
Who is your favorite designer?
Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte.
Best perk of the job?
Never getting sick of being at home.
How do you sum up a person? Are you ever wrong?
I can usually tell in about four seconds if someone is a scumbag. I’m usually wrong.
A phrase you'll never forget?
“... is as camp as Christmas.”
What's changed the most about you since you've became a musician?
I don’t wear a watch anymore.What things prepare you to go onstage?
“Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat” tea, a little bit of whiskey or a beer, and blowing raspberries to warm up my voice.
Food group you most relate to?
Words you live by.
"Onwards and upwards."