The publicity and press hype machine appear to have presented THE NYMPHS, and banshee singer Inger Lorre in particular, as psychotic, degenerate, and incoherent. So, as I am awaiting a call from Miss Lorre, I'm half expecting some neurotic, fucked-up junkie on the other end of the receiver. However, far from hissing dark thoughts and expletives down the line, Inger is an appetizing mixture of naivete and curiosity, generally lucid and brimming over with enthusiasm. OK, she may have signed a record contract in blood and pissed on a record execs desk to make a point but then most of us have done strange things behind closed doors. THE NYMPHS' reputation is "usually blamed on me," says Inger wearily. This gets us talking about childhood and on to psychoanalysis, which all Americans straight or weird seem to be very big on.
"I think everybody is shaped by their childhood," she reasons. "You could see a beautiful girl walking down the street and go talk to her and she can tell you to 'fuck off.' And then you could say 'oh my God, I didn't do anything!'"
The lassie has quite clearly got an insight into my private life.
Inger continues: "But what you don't know is how that person has been raised. or you could see a real ugly person acting gorgeous because they've had a lot of love and, as a result, have a good self image. I think it [childhood] has a lot to do with it."
No prizes then for guessing what sort of self-image Inger had.
"I had a terrible self-image," she stresses. "I thought I was just the most ugly thing. See, my mom was the 1959, first runner-up to the Miss America Contest. She always had the trophies in the living room and pictures of herself. And I think from the start, in my own mind, I just figured 'well God, I could never do that' so I just went in the complete opposite direction. She was a good, pretty lady and I was just gonna be a bad scum or whatever," Inger says in a tone of inevitable resignation.
Certainly, Miss Lorre went way off the rails. She was thrown out of five schools, friends committed suicide and so on. Music was to be her salvation, her saving grace. But to Inger, music was and is more than just that. Y'see it's... "Very primal. I think music is the most primal thing in the world. Music and comics. Art has a really fine line. I think people don't realise that music is art and that it is creative."
Staying with the primal aspect of music, I see a connection with several other bands that have a similar sense of the primal, of pagan religious rituals as opposed to conventional Christianity. One of the NYMPHS' songs Heaven is concerned with wanting to believe in a heaven but not being able to. To Inger, the kids that attend their concerts are looking towards music to provide a religious experience: "That's what those kids are turning to for a release."
So you have your own rituals then?
"Yeah, we have, like, church candles," she explains. "I bought them at this sale. I got thousands of candles for, like, $5 and they're really beautiful, and they burn really slowly. We always have them."
Music as the new religion, and music as art. I return to her earlier point that music, or more specifically Rock N' Roll music, is an art form. I make the observation that music/ art, which, if it also reflects the uglier side of life, may be dismissed by some people because they find it so unpalatable, and argue that music/ art should reflect beauty. My comments spark off a cultural diatribe from Inger aimed firmly at her own country.
"We have no art culture here at all. If you have any aspirations towards that then you should just go to Europe...or the mountains. Where else could someone like DOLLY PARTON be found sexy? She's 5 feet 2 inches tall, her tits probably go out further than her height, and that's considered sexy!"
Where else? Mmm... the asinine character and bouncy figure of our very own SAM FOX...er...looms 'large' in my mind.
"They don't even understand. They just go for it. It's just so sick. It's not that we don't have art-culture," she says reconsidering. "It's just that there's gotta be, to present the art. Like Rock N' Roll to me is the people's art. It's gotta be a better way than all these cultivators, like snatching things of beauty up - well, things that they think are beautiful - locking them away forever in the stomach of some fuckin' cold, forgotten museum or something."
"So, in this cultural desert and ultra-conservative climate, perhaps it's not too surprising to here Inger claim that some people "still find my music threatening. Like, Revolt is about the right to die and abortion." And perhaps it's also about being anti-apathetic because she adds: "I wish people would get off their asses and do something, instead of watching TV. They could be writing or doing something that's more constructive."
Whether you think what THE NYMPHS are doing is valid or not, they deal in extremes and judging by the critical reaction they've encountered they get extreme reactions. People either love 'em or hate 'em. What are Inger's thoughts on the matter?
"It doesn't bother me," she says. "It is very flattering to me 'cos my favourite bands like THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, people either loved them or hated them. I remember they were playing this club once and they played the The Black Angel's Death Song, the owner came up to them and said 'if you play that again you're fuckin' out of here,' and they played it again...and they got banned. Y'know people hated the fuckin' STOOGES [IGGY POP'S old band. Iggy also makes a guest appearance on THE NYMPHS' album] and now look at them! They're a cult item."
Unprompted she comments on her record: "I know that I could have toned it down a lot. I could have done a lot of things to make it appeal to the masses. But my album's not for the masses. It's for myself. I wanted to do an album that I could be proud of in ten years."
I offer my own opinion that, if criticisms are to be made, then perhaps some of the songs are too messy, not quite...urhm...developed.
"It's definitely fair your opinion because the songs are as basic as you can get. I don't think they are ever gonna reach that stage because I like them very primal" - that word again! - "I like our songs to sound like we just wrote 'em five minutes ago. I like that sense of urgency. Like you said, some people are gonna love it or hate it!"
A dangerous lady? Well, maybe more to herself than others. After all how can you feel threatened when she asks you wiith almost childlike curiosity "Do the judges over there still wear wigs? Even for traffic offences?" Quite charming.