By Vivien Goldman
The Kill Rock Stars scene in Olympia, Wa. where you started out must have been another alternative family for you. What was it like arriving there?
It was a dream. Coming from Arkansas I just thought every punk scene was really small. So when I went to Kill Rock Stars I was shocked. I was listening to Pussy Whipped by Bikini Kill, Call the Doctor by Sleater-Kinney. To go and see where professional punk is made was a good entrance into the world of labels. It's really important because it sets the foundation for punks of the future who may not know that then. But someday they are going to turn 30, and you can't sleep on couches and get scabies forever. You know what I mean?
Did you go with a major label to get a bigger platform?
I didn't know what to do. We wanted to be on a large indie, someone who could do something for us in Europe. Honestly, our manager at the time made it seem like no one wanted us, even after we'd topped the NME Cool List in the U.K.
And now you're even creating a plus-size fashion line with Evans.
I'm just as excited about the line as I am about the record. It's a dream. You sketch something and send it to the art directors, and they make a little model of it and send it back to you.
Are you going fitted or flowing?
I do like muumuus, but it's way fitted. I tried not to make the line look like me. I think that's where people have gone wrong. The whole idea is to get the cut right, because they never do for big people. I can't wait for the next collection. I'll be more assertive.
Was George Michael a meaningful artist to you? You do such a beautiful version of his 'Careless Whisper.'
Thanks! Yeah. When I was a kid in the early '80s, MTV was outlawed in our town. They removed it from our cable option.
For being too obscene?
Yes, for being too obscene and too empowering, really. This Christian college in our town ran everything, still runs everything. When I lived there you had to ask for the gay magazines behind the counter, you couldn't just grab them off the shelf. I'm almost positive they don't even carry gay magazines today.
You mean they can't read this interview in your hometown.
Right. I'm almost positive they won't be able to read this.
So they'd be surprised to see you on the cover of Out?
The local newspaper ran a story that said I didn't believe in God. That caused a bit of a ruckus. Other than that, no one is ever surprised. I think I'm exactly what they thought I would be.