By Jason Lamphier
So, have you hung up your dresses? Are you done with the crazy stage antics?
For now. [With that], I was never really making a statement. I was always just kind of taking the piss out. People started referring to me as this hideous person, a freak, and my first reaction to that was, �Do you want to see how much of a freak I am really? Let�s play.� I�m intrigued by that: Get a persona and destroy it, and then say, �Oh, by the way, that persona was meaningless -- that wasn�t me.� That�s what intrigued me about Bowie.
You don�t think that person with the fake blood and dresses is you?
I think that�s the kid me, my childhood self throwing a tantrum in its current stifled repressed situation. It was all about the sensation. I don�t mean to be sensationalist, but I don�t really give a shit if people think that�s what it is.
So when you say it�s all about the sensation, do you mean it�s more the sensation you get?
The evocative sense. Not causing a stir but evoking something for the audience. I was thinking a lot about the abuse I�d gone through as a child, and it was kind of that character -- the abused child. The dress represented my being forced into a feminine role. Not by my parents. Other kids -- neighborhood boys and stuff -- they sexualized me at a very young age.
Do you think you enjoyed playing the feminine role as a child?
I embraced it. In a certain way, my mom and my sister often let me do whatever I wanted. I wanted to wear frilly dresses and high heels and run around the house. That was kind of a big deal when I was growing up because I wanted to go to the grocery store in my dress, and they were like, �You can do that around the house, but you can�t go out.�
Your mother was actually pretty amenable as far as your gender bending was concerned.
There were obviously limits. It�s one thing to be interested in experimenting with gender roles at that age. It�s another thing to be abused while that�s happening. It creates a freeze on your mental development.
But it wasn�t your parents who abused you.
My God, no. My parents love me very much and have always supported me no matter what I�ve done, which is saying a lot because my dad is a conservative republican Christian.
Do your parents think, He�s crazy on stage, he�s going to be crazy off stage?
There�s a big article in The New York Times from when we played at the Mercury Lounge and a photo of me screaming like a lunatic, the mic covered in fake blood, and [I�m wearing] the dress, and I remember walking into the kitchen [at my parents� house] and [my dad] had it taped to the refrigerator door.
Was he proud of it?
He was very proud of it. He was like, �I don�t like what you�re doing, but I�m very proud that you�re doing it.� That�s pretty amazing. He knows that I�m not trying to play games with people�s minds. I get e-mails all the time that are like �I don�t know that I�m gay, and I don�t know that I�m straight, but I�m attracted to this boy and he doesn�t like me back.� All I can write back is �Good luck,� you know? I would love to have wisdom, and hopefully someday I will have wisdom, but I�m still stuck in the confusion.
Would you say your music is the wisdom you can offer at this point?
It�s the best thing I can offer. It�s what I try to do -- something therapeutic. I want to create healing music, the kind of records I wanted to hear when I was first infatuated with my best friend and had that love glow -- that feeling that the world is awesome, but then you start realizing that it�s imperfect. It�s what I�m trying to capture.
Check out Deerhunter's trippy video for "Strange Lights" here.