She’s not quite the silver-tongued rock waif whose catchy, sexually blunt confessions and lo-fi guitar riffs made her a cause celebre in 1993. That was the year Liz Phair became alternative rock’s wonder woman, her debut album Exile in Guyville (Matador) an incisive analysis of the war between the sexes that catapulted the songwriter up Top 10 lists and made her a perennnial critics’ darling.
Now the mother of a 2-year-old boy, Nick, married and living in the Chicago suburbs, Phair, 31, can measure her influence on a slew of emerging female pop stars. One of them, Alanis Morissette, invited Phair to open for her tour, which visits the Fox Theatre tonight and Tuesday. Phair’s recent whitechocolatespaceegg (Matador/Capitol), her third album, has also fared well with critics. If it lacks the edge previously associated with the songwriter, the album also finds her exploring new narrative situations – easing out of obvious first-person vignettes to develop a ficitonal voice.
We spoke to her recently about motherhood, rock ‘n’ roll and the charms of disreputable men.
Q: Are you taking your kid out on the road?
A: No. I have enjoyed his company immensely. [But] when I go out [on tour] I go out with myself. I spent a couple of months here myself at home and I’m ready to rock. I need both sides of my life.
Q: I gather from the reviews that you’re more comfortable about performing now.
A: I’m having a lot of fun. But opening for Alanis is definitely nerve-wracking. I’m hoping that my exposure from Lilith [Fair] will give me some gauge of what I’m doing. I’m excited to meet her. I don’t know how I hooked up, probably through luck and people who knew people.
Q: It makes sense. There’s a connection there.
A: There’s a boldness in the lyrical content, and a lot of self-discovery stuff. I, of course, have sold 45 billion [albums] worldwide, but I’ll give her a break.
Q: OK, it’s time for the silly questions. Ally McBeal or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
A: God, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in a second! Ally drives me so crazy I can’t watch it. I really hate those really self-conscious characters and stars on TV. I can’t stand them. I want them to die. It’s not about a feminist statement. It’s really about taste and entertainment. Buffy’s way cooler… Are you going to ask me a silly question?[Thanks to Valerie Barry for the transcription of this article.]
By Steve Dollar
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 1, 1999