Listen Then See: Eleanor Friedberger
By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 20, 2011 4:30PM
Chicagoist had an opportunity to talk to Friedberger this week about the old and new of putting out a solo effort, growing up a music fan in Chicago and breaking out on her own. Here are the highlights:
Chicagoist: What do you remember of the music scene in Chicago? Were you guys playing around here before you moved away?
Eleanor Friendberger: I was not, I left Chicago when I was 17 to go to the University of Texas in Austin, which is where I saw a million shows. I went out to see bands practically every night of the week in Austin. But I did go see shows as a teenager and living in Oak Park was great and really easy because it was the last stop on the CTA and I could take the El downtown with my friends. I have some really great memories. My first concert at the Rosemont Horizon was Robert Plant and the Black Crowes, I think I was 12 or 13. I can remember going to see the free shows in Grant Park - I think I saw the Replacements' last show ever in Grant Park, and that was awesome. I think I saw Wilco in Grant Park once, but maybe not. I remember seeing Big Audio Dynamite and the Smashing Pumpkins...the Pumpkins show was a big one at the Aragon Ballroom. For some reason this Big Audio Dynamite show is a really strong memory because I went with a group of six girlfriends and at the show were six boys from our high school. We were sophomores and they were seniors, so it felt like a really big night out.
C: Yeah, but those are the nights you remember.
EF: But I guess I wasn't that cool, because it was until I went to college that I started seeing lots and lots of shows. Though I remember seeing my brother - he played in bands in college, so I take that back. What I would do is I would go down to Champaign where Matt went to school, and he was part of a real big local scene down there so I would go see those bands. I guess Hum was the most famous band at the time down there, and I would see my brother's bands play. That was exciting for me - beginning when I was old enough to drive, I would go down to Champaign on the weekends to see him play and his friends' bands play.
C: Speaking of your brother, what's the difference or the feeling of touring on a solo record after touring with him for a while?
EF: It's only just begun, so I don't really know. Last week was the first - I did three shows with a new band. I've only been on stage without my brother a handful of times, so it is like a totally different thing. In the moment, I'm not looking around saying, "Woah, God, where is Matt?" but yeah, I don't know - it's totally different. I don't have that protection or that buffer or the comfort zone of him, but I also don't have to...the things I get annoyed with about - that's not there. So it's a little bit of both. We'll see - this trip I'm about to take for two weeks is more like a promo trip and I'll be completely alone, so it will be really different for me.
C: Was Matt involved in making your solo album at all?
EF: Ha, no. Yeah, a lot of people have asked me that, which I think is really funny. I mean, it's a fair question, and he even offered. He was like, "Do you want me to play bass?" And I was like, "No, I don't want you to have anything to do with it!" I mean, I had help, I had a producer who did an amazing job but...no, this is something I did on my own.