What the hell is this?

I Can't Stand [Meeting] You is a collection of all the ridiculous things I've written to and about drummer and composer Stewart Copeland.

I actually did meet him for about five crazy seconds in 2007, again for a few exciting moments in August 2009, and my most recent (and most thrilling!) encounter took place in October 2009, where I proved myself capable of being, yet again, a total dork in the man's presence.

I can't believe what I get up to. And neither should you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fake Interview with Terri Gross, Part 1

I'm Terri Gross, and this is Fresh Air. I recently interviewed Irene Casarez, a new voice on the music scene. Ms. Casarez has just released her first solo album. She found herself working with successful, much older, rock drummer, Stewart Copeland. It has been rumored that Mr. Copeland and Ms. Casarez embarked on a personal relationship shortly after beginning work on her album, I Can See Now? Both saw that partnership take a toll on the lives they had before they met. In fact, Mr. Copeland addressed his wife, Fiona, in the liner notes for that album, where he bid her goodbye.

I sat down with Ms. Casarez in the NPR West Studios in Culver City, and found her to be surprisingly charming, a bit less forthcoming than I'd expected, and quite silly at times.

Terri Gross: You're a native of this town, are you not?

Irene Casarez: Yes, I lived here for 28 years, until my husband and I bought our home.

TG: How has your recent success affected your life with your husband?

IC: Well, we've had our ups and downs, like everyone else, but really, it's a successful relationship.

TG: It is? With the very public declaration made by Stewart Copeland, your collaborator, on the liner notes of your record, how has that affected your relationship with your husband? And how do you feel about the toll it's taken on Stewart's relationship with his wife?

IC: Oh... I thought we were going to speak about the album, the work, not my relationships.

TG: Isn't this a part of that?

IC: I guess... As partners, Stewart and I just work well together. I've learned so much from him. He has such an unusual mind, and he brings out in me something, well, I was going to say "something special" but one shouldn't go around calling oneself "special," right? At first, my husband and I both enjoyed working with him, maybe even equally. As a drummer himself, Patrick could talk to Stewart about those types of things. And they like the same kind of music. But the relationship stuff, I mean, some things are just personal. I can't comment on Stewart's life. My husband has always supported me, and Stewart has been wonderful - yes, there has been a toll. We're working it out, in our own ways, and we're both - we're all fine. Chemistry in the studio sometimes translates to chemistry outside the studio, and sometimes it doesn't. In this case, well, it did. We'll work it out. There are some things that just - that just shouldn't be discussed on NPR. My mother is listening to this! Can we talk about Culver City a little?

TG: What do you want to say?

IC: Well, I grew up here. I was a nerd, you know. My parents were pretty strict, and though I loved to read and I always loved music - I was in the marching band, you know, we played at the opening of the Pavilions supermarket just down the street. I wasn't very good in school, and I sure wasn't popular, and I had a different best friend almost every year for some reason or another, and I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up - I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up until about a year ago, when finally I got it. It's funny, I mean, I'm older now -

TG: You're only 34, no?

IC: Oh, Terry, I thought you did better research than that.

TG: No, I thought the age difference between you and Stewart Copeland was, what, 20 years? and isn't he 54?

IC: Well, we've both had birthdays [laughs]. I'm 36, Terry.

TG: Well. So about that age difference: how did it feel, working with someone so much older?

IC: It all evens out. He has a lot to give, musically and professionally, and I wanted that. I've looked up to him and listened to his music my whole life -

TG: His work with The Police or his soundtracks, or his solo work... what is it that drew you to him?

IC: Mostly The Police. I can't explain my connection with their music. I think I love the self-deprecation. For me, they seemed unafraid to make fun of themselves. I think that's mostly Stewart and Andy's input, Sting doesn't seem that self-aware. And I also really enjoyed his work as Klark Kent - his sense of humor and willingness to laugh at himself: I totally get that. The Police, though - they've been a constant in my life since I was nine years old.

TG: You were nine, and he was 29.

IC: Yes...

TG: You were saying?

IC: I'm a musician, I play the flute, and there are some things I understand, but I've always taken a pretty casual approach to my music. I've played the flute since I was nine -

TG: That was a big year for you, 1981-

IC: Yeah. Yes.

TG: I believe "Ghost In the Machine" came out that year.

IC: Yes, I guess it did.

TG: How did your flute playing get you here?

IC: That's a good question! I never really worked professionally as a musician. I played in a flute choir for 20 years, I did a couple of low-end musicals in my early 20s, and I was hired to play with my teacher for gigs, mostly at Christmas, and the pressure of taking someone's money or possibly ruining someone's reputation with lousy playing really put me off the whole idea. It was always fun but more stress that I can take. I can perform, but I'd much rather give it away, do you know what I mean?

TG: You appeared in a couple of plays, too. Onstage.

IC: Yes, those were interesting productions. Really, it was the second one, "The Bacchae," that got me to thinking that I wanted to do more.

TG: Where was that show performed?

IC: I've been involved with City Garage theatre in Santa Monica for the past six or seven years. I worked at a bookstore with two of the members, and they introduced me to the director. It's a wonderful place, and I learned a lot from the director and her husband. They're very special people. See, I can call other people special.

TG: What was it about that performance that changed you?

IC: I had this - actually, I have this civil servant job. Right now I'm on leave. after fifteen years of working in retail, in 2000 I had finally agreed with my husband that I needed to get a "real job." No offense to bookstore workers: I loved my bookstore jobs so much, but they just weren't paying the bills, and bookstores, at least the ones I worked in, had a habit of closing. So anyway, I had this dumb desk job, I wasn't doing anything creative, and then I was asked to play the flute in a production of Charles Mee's "The Bacchae." I had never read the play but I'd seen shows at City Garage. And my friends who brought me there are my two favorite people in the world. I had no idea what I could bring to a show there. I started rehearsing with them, and the cast was mostly younger actors - gorgeous women who had come on board knowing that they would be naked on stage -

TG: Were you naked on stage?

IC: Oh, no! The director knew me, and respected my decision to be clothed. Or maybe she didn't want to injure the audience!

TG: And how was that, being in a production like that?

IC: It was a trip! I didn't know what I was getting into. Those girls were beautiful, and seem so confident, and are so thin, and brave... and there was even a naked guy. I felt both totally out of place, but excited at the same time.

TG: How so?

IC: I had to do what they were doing, naked, with my music. I had never improvised or made up music before, but I had to deliver whatever the director asked for. I didn't get it right a lot of the times, and I had to act like I knew what I was doing, but I totally didn't. It was hard, and I judged myself and doubted myself, but I did it.

TG: We'll be right back after these messages from National Public Radio.

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