Sunday, May 3, 2015

Interview: Sharon Labor w/ Battered Suitcases
“The only truth is music.” - Kerouac

A project, when given a proper suitcase, guitar strings, attitude, outlook and road can create an institute of mind melds that are bit out of sync, but politely folded enough to wipe the punk smirk off ones lips.

Interview with Sharon Labor from Battered Suitcases

03/05/2015- Song River

Leonard Cohen: “The basic function of popular music is to create an environment for courting, love making, and doing the dishes. It’s useful because it addresses the heart in the midst of all these activities, and it will always be useful in this very important way.”
to Kristine McKenna, 1985

SWOON: “I try to cultivate a respectful ethos even within a very brazen activity...” I think this quote is the summation of many creatives, and a great introduction to Sharon Labor, Lead Vox and Bassist, of Battered Suitcases.

Song: Beatnik's meet Punk on the road to Kerouac? Is that a fitting description of Battered Suitcases? How would you describe yourselves?


Sharon: Well I guess it’s like that in many ways, we get our name from “On The Road,” we all have punk and rock n roll backgrounds, but none of us can really play bongos and I didn’t set out to create a punk band. Battered Suitcases sound blends straight dialogue, a poetic pen and riffy rock n roll, turning a classic corner here and there. I think it’s pretty unique.

Song: Share with us a little bit about the formation of the band, its beginnings.

Sharon: I had this project in mind for awhile, one day I just decided I was doing it, Labor Party was playing a show at The Ice House, and so was Jessica’s band (Atomic Zombies). I'd watched Jess for years, loved her talent and style and her look, so I put it out there, explained it a bit and we were instantly on the same page! I found Sue to play some guitar and back up bass lines and I needed a guitar player who could play out of the box and be as innovative as the project demanded… there was no other choice…Frank Labor was our man!

Song: What have some of the changes in line ups have their been in the band along the way? Are they seemingly settled now?

Sharon: Only one change, Sue left us for mommy hood. We miss her, she’s a true rocker and a really cool person! We're keeping to the three of us for now and the foreseeable future!

Song: Style of music? If you were to place a favorite style of musical sounds and words you create, could you?

Sharon: I don’t think I could!

Song: As you've viewed times changing in social and cultural levels... how have you seen the influential outcomes in the modern music scene?

Sharon: Honestly I’m sometimes confused that the more popular stuff isn't more aggressive with all that’s happening in the world today. I like being able to communicate online, but connecting one on one, live in person is always best.

Song: Is there still room for musical diversity?

Sharon: I like to think so. Almost anything original or cutting edge starts out in small scenes with few fans, some of it rises up, but everything has a place. Popular doesn't always mean good and popular usually leaves little room for diversity…mob mentality, I guess?

Song: What is your favorite key to sing in Sharon?

Sharon: Ha! I’m not much for singing, but I like melodies just fine. I guess my key is the key to the highway! (hahahaha!)


Song: Who were and are some of your favorite bands, poets, writers, artists in general?

Sharon: Good grief, let me try to choose a few! Iggy, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Kerouac and Corso and Cohen and Fripp, Burroughs, Alan Watts, Van Gogh, Basquiat, Swoon, Banksy, Os Gemeos to name a few...

                                                                 Song: How is it you might relate to them?
Sharon: How does anyone relate to art in any medium?…It’s personal and public and paradoxical like all great things!

Song: Truth at times is a casualty of modern day correctness... how do you fit truth into your music?

Sharon: All my music stems from some kind of truth. So it’s awkward and not always lovely but, it’s truthful. I love poetry, it holds a truth for the beholder to garner, it’s paradoxical nature is what I love the most. I may have written it based on something I felt or learned, but that it's irrelevant.

All that matters is what the person hearing or reading gets...actually that’s the real truth in it, in anything.

Song: Quote a favorite passage from a writer. Now take that passage... have you ever turned it into a song? If not, would you?

Sharon: I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion. Kerouac
Can’t say I have, but I think that’s what all communication is!


Song: Music can cause the masses to stir into anger, joy, love, sadness, when you listen to music what are the elements you listen for in lyrics? Does the melody or beat or rhythm associate to you as well?

Sharon: Songs are like entities, or sometimes amusement park rides to me! Everything’s either got to run like a well oiled machine or clash like oil and water!

Song: Sharon- what is it like to be a female bass player...do they get harassed as much about being a bass player as guys do? How long have you played the bass and why that particular instrument?

Sharon: Hahaha, I doubt it, and not sure why we're so discounted… don’t care either!  I wanted to play since I was kid, never really did (regularly) till about 2000, haven’t stopped since! I've always loved that low oddly soothing vibration and heart punching boom you can only get with a bass guitar.

Song: Please give a little background info on each band member.

Sharon: Bassist, Poet, Songwriter, originally from PA
Frank: Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, also originally from PA
Jessica, AZ Native, Drummer extraordinaire
(Sorry I suck at this bio stuff)

“The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.” — On the Road

Song: Of course daytime professions must fit somewhere into the lives of most artists. How do you keep them succinctly in order, or do you? Are there two completely separate lives being led in order to maintain the 'clock puncher' status and the rock n roller?

Sharon: I strive for balance, but yeah… it’s either heavy on one or heavy on the other. My behavior and the things I want to talk about changes, but I think I'm pretty much the same girl either place :)
Song: Sharon, Frank, Jessica you've been given the key to Punkdom- what do you do with it now?

Sharon: Anything we want!






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Song River is the owner of CowGirlZen Photography. She is also a freelance photojournalist. Currently working with L3 Magazine, Vents Mag, Silverplatter. You can follow her interviews, reviews of great musicians, writers, artists on her blog, http://cowgirlzenphoto.cowgirlzenphotojournalist.com/.  She is also quite active in social media working as a copywriter for several companies, and individuals. Never wrong, always right... and filled with a twisted satirical outlooks on life sometimes... you have to be thinking out of the box most of the time to catch her.  A mess of delight and quandary at times, but known for her love and compassion to help others succeed. A die hard Nikon proficient! 

Contact Info: cowgirlzenphoto {at} gmail dot com
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Charity Involvements (past and present) : Playing for Change, Be the Change, Human Society Fundraiser, Tsunami Relief Fund, Red Cross, Grieving Parents Photography, Missionary San Felipe, Mexico- A Hammer and A Heart.