Kaitlin Fontana, The Underground: Volume 12, Issue 2
September 20, 2002
Allison Crowe is waiting for us when we walk around the corner to Virgin Records. Sheís leaning as close to the wall as she can without melding into it completely, and as we approach she looks plaintively in our direction. Iím immediately worried about her, the sap that I am. Is she one of those lovesick types, all forlorn and woe-begotten? Does she settle the singer-songwriter stereotype? As soon as she says hello, I know that there isnít anything farther from the truth. Allison Crowe is warm, affectionate, and generous in the way she treats us. It strikes me that Allison Crowe is just like her music -- both deep and accessible, equal parts stirring and fun. As soon as she senses a mood is about to settle, she breaks it with an earnest laugh. You may not know her or her music yet, but soon you will. And when you do, you can remember that you once rode in her van and shared her food. Oh, wait, that was me.
Kaitlin: So what CDs are you going to get?
Allison: I donít know. Usually I go right to the P section.
A: Pearl Jam. Iíve been a fan since I was 10 years old.
K: Do you think theyíve influenced you at all?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. Hmm, and I want Ben Harper.
K: Mmm, Ben Harper.
A: But heís far away from here, in a different section... I like Counting Crows too. Iím looking for Tori Amos too... Iím also looking for Ani DiFranco.
K: There are a lot of artists releasing new material soon.
Trevor: Yeah, like Sean Desmond.
A and K look stupefied.
K: Are you in this store?
A: I donít think so. Weíre in HMV though.
[looking for her CD]
K: So are you here? Did you look?
A: I doubt it. Sheryl Crow...Crowded House...Nope.
K: Does it weird you out when you see your stuff on shelves like this?
A: (nods vigorously) Yep.
T: I havenít seen the CD cover...is there a picture of you on it?
A: No thereís a sun, surrounded by black.
K: I read that you are the feature artist on Jewelís website. Did you play with her?
A: Adrian, my manager, hooked up our web managers and I guess she heard our stuff and liked it.
K: So after the live album, whatís next?
A: Well, we want to do a whole album, but it will take some time and some money, so we canít really do it yet.
K: What do you want to happen?
A: I wish I knew. I just want to be able to keep doing this. And if I can live during that, I would be pretty happy.
K: Itís really busy in here.
K: Country and folk, right here.
T: How do they classify folk?
A: Good question. All I know is that Ani DiFranco is usually over here.
K: So I wonder how this interview would be different if we went to a strip club?
A: Iíd probably be more afraid.
K: Youíve never been? Youíve never partook, Allison?
A: No. I have friends that go all the time.
K: Male friends, or female friends?
A: Female friends.
K: Do they go to the male strip clubs or the female ones?
A: We donít have male strip clubs in Nanaimo.
K: Well, that answers that question. So, are we meeting up with the guys [from the band] later, or...?
A: Well, theyíre picking me up, but I donít know when or what theyíre going to do.
K: How long have they been part of Allison Crowe?
A: The drummer, Kevin, Iíve known him since grade ten. Weíve been in and out of bands together since then. Dave has been a part of this for two and a half years, but Iíve known him since I was five years old.
K: Does that make it harder?
A: Itís actually better. If you didnít know a person, it might make it harder, in a way.
T: Do you do most of the songwriting?
A: I do all of it. I pretty much write a song, then Iíll take it to them. I donít tell them what to with it, though.
K: Do you ever listen to yourself?
A: I donít listen to myself.
K: Not at all? How does that work in a studio situation?
A: Itís very difficult. Thatís another part of the studio situation I donít really like. I sort of have to be able to listen constructively, and separate myself from it, so I can be like, Ďokay, that was a screw up. I have to do it again.í But then if I did that for every single part Iíd be there for two years.
[In the movie section]
T: Kaitlin, I think you should buy this.
K: "Nude on the Moon"..."Astronauts discover a nudist camp on the moon". Gee. "Warning: This video contains graphic nudity."
T: Well, we certainly arenít purchasing it now.
K: Whatís your favourite movie?
A: Oh, Lord of the Rings. Iíve got the DVD. Iíve watched it 12 times.
T: Thereís a music section for DVDs too. Letís go there. Have you made any videos yet?
A: Yeah, thereís one for "Midnight". I believe...oh, I donít know if Iím supposed to say this...
K: Come on Allison, you can tell us.
T: Hide the tape recorder!
A: Well, they might play it on MTV Canada. Like those guys standing outside, who are like, Ďwanna come be on MTV Canada?í, and Iím like, ĎI am, next weekí...Ooh, look, the Lord of the Rings cartoon!
T: Is that the 1977 one?
K: Youíre such a nerd. Thatís really geeky. Tremendous.
T: So whatís your video about?
A: Itís sort of a performance video, with this storyline around it of this relationship.
T: Was it your concept?
A: Well, I sort of tossed a few things around, but in the end it would have cost probably a million dollars. All of this stuff that would be visually hard to pull off.
K: Is it really important for you to be involved in every aspect of what you do?
A: Yes, Iím pretty picky.
K: Did you do the CD as well?
K: If there was a question of you being able to go to this next level towards being more recognized that meant giving up that creative control, would you give it up?
A: No. Iíd accept help, because Iím sort of just making this up as I go along. Not taking over and doing it though.
K: Is there a stigma attached to being a singer-songwriter?
A: There probably is, but I try not to think about it too much.
K: What comes to mind for me is Dashboard Confessional. I mean itís really only one guy, but he took the name to help him out career wise. Would you ever do something like that?
A: Actually, we tried to find a band name, but we used my name basically just because we couldnít think of anything else.
K: Do you find that that sort of makes people ignore the fact that there are those other two people with you?
A: Well, no, because it is only three of us. Itíd be hard to lose any of us.
(Suddenly Trevor spots Prevail from Swollen Members in the CD section)
K: (Walks over with little prompting, drooling)
K: Hey Prevail.
Prevail: Hey, how are you?
P: What are you up to?
K: Weíre just interviewing Allison Crowe.
K: I saw you last year...I worked at Arts County Fair.
P: (recognizes her) Oh, yeah!
K: What are you picking up today?
(Prevail displays his choices)
K: Ohio Players!
P: You like Ohio Players? Thatís dope.
K: Well, have a good day, Iíll leave you be.
P: No worries. Have a good one.
(K walks away)
K: Heh, heh...free interview.
(We go outside, and an MTV guy asks us to go to the taping.)
MTV guy: Today is One Ton, and next week is Sum 41.
K: Whoís on after that?
MTV: I donít know.
A: (tentatively) I am.
MTV: You are? Who are you?
A: My nameís Allison.
MTV: Well, Iíll be out here getting people to come to your performance. (Leaves)
K: Well, I guess he doesnít care.
A: Whatever, crazy lady, sure youíre on our show...
(Random guy walks by)
Random guy, to Allison: Shut up, bitch.
A: Thatís nice.
K: Oh, downtown. Once a man told me he was going to eat my first born child downtown. That brings me to a good subject.
A: (wide eyed) What?
K: Are you in a relationship right now?
A: Yeah. Steve. Weíve been together for four years now, since I was 16.
K: Wow! Do you ever get the sense that he thinks itís hard for him, since youíre gone a lot?
A: Probably. But he does his own thing too.
K: Hey, Allison, whatís your favourite episode of Whoís the Boss?
A: Hmm. You know what oneís really sad? The one where Mona gets sick, and sheís in the hospital, and her dead husband comes to see her and youíre like, whatís this? Monaís being serious. This isnít right.
K: So how old were you when you wrote your first song?
A: I was 13 or 14., but I wrote poetry before that.
(Allisonís band shows up.)
K: I get to drill you guys now.
Kevin: (sarcastically) I donít do interviews.
K: Is it hard being in a band with these people that youíve known forever?
David: No, itís easy because itís only three of us. You can keep one eye on each of them.
K: Doesnít that make you go cross-eyed?
A: [Kevinís] the badass, and Davidís the mod. Heís a Beatle.
K: Which Beatle are you?
D: All of them.
A: Mostly Ringo. Actually, youíre more like Paul.
D: Heís annoying though. Have you ever seen him in interviews?
T: He never used to be that way. He once was cool.
(We get into the bandís van.)
A: Hey, Dave, did you smoke that scary joint you found on the ground?
D: (pauses) Yeah.