Thao interview

After some UK gigs (and a stolen guitar) we sat down with Thao to talk about her music and all the fun of the fair.


Some of our readers might not be aware of your work, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your musical history?

My name is Thao, I just turned 26. I was born in Virginia but now I live in San Francisco. I started playing music when I was younger and then I was in high school and then university (not for music) and when I graduated I went on tour with my friends. We have had the good fortune of being in a touring van more or less since then. Our label is Kill Rock Stars and our aim is to keep doing this and we are very grateful for the opportunity.

Do you prefer being on tour or recording in the studio?

Both are rewarding and challenging in their own way but I am quite fond of either of those things for less than two weeks at a time.

How did you meet your band The Get Down Stay Down?

Willis and I went to college together and we met Adam in a very nearby town.

You’ve been playing the guitar since you were twelve years old. What was the first song you learned how to play?

It is a foggy memory tie between Don Mclean's ‘American Pie’ and REM's ‘Everybody Hurts’

So what originally inspired you to pick up the guitar?

Boredom and loneliness of being twelve in the suburbs.

You just released ‘Body’ as a single - a tale of soured relationships. Is this based upon your own experince?

Yes - a tapestry of unhealthy interactions.

Does everyday life throw up situations that inspire you to write?

I think the motivation is taking time with instances of your life by sitting with them and trying to better understand and really exploiting them for material.

I hear someone stole your guitar when you played at the Barfly, but it was miraculously found later! Can you tell us the story?

The guitar was stolen out of the green room about a half hour before we were due to go on. Another band on the bill kindly lent their guitar and we played the show - I asked the crowd to toast the guitar in memory. Afterward we were having an impromptu service for it in the green room (we really loved that guitar) and my tour manager entered triumphantly with it!

It turns out the fellow who stole it had taken it to a pub and was terribly drunk and smashed people and windows and then was arrested. I don't know how the guitar ended up wherever it did, but the kind gentleman from the Barfly was walking home and saw the spectacle and asked the police if they'd seen a guitar and there it was in the meat wagon. Is that what you all call a paddy wagon? I hope I am using accurate terminology.

I must say I love the photos of you and all on the merry-go-round. Where was that taken?

At the fairground in Portland, Oregon.

It looks great - what’s your favourite fairground ride?

Very calm and slow moving ferris wheel.

Not a thrill seeker then - what’s the scariest fairground ride you’ve ever ridden?

Old wooden roller coaster that took the turns too quickly.

That does sound scary. Thanks for chatting, what are you plans for 2010?

Sure no problem - thank you - we will be enjoying a bit more time off and touring and recording and I am going to try to sew up all the holes in my favorite clothes.

With that we leave Thao, with a nagging thought about where we can buy some candy floss.

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