0 you still hear voices. Kristin? ‘Uh. yeah. I spent a lot ofyears trying to keep it from everyone. so this has been a year-plus of trying to take care ofit. Which
actually works. [just didn‘t know there was anything you could do.‘
Disturbed states of mind have always been alluded to when journalists write about Throwing Muses and their lead singer and songwriter Kristin Hersh. Their songs have been described variously as ‘twisted observations of obsession‘ sung by Hersh ‘like one genuinely possessed' as though ‘some strange course ofprimal therapy demands they be purged from her system‘. Often flippant and automatic. remarks like those turned out to hold more than a shred of truth.
Hersh‘s bi-polarity. a mild form of schizophrenia involving auditory hallucinations. has been a source of confusion and anguish to her for ten years. but one that has served as a direct route between subconscious and song. The disorder is now clearing up. after coming to a head during a traumatic 1990. when she was sued by the Muses‘ ex-manager and by her ex-boyfriend. the latter claiming custody of their four-year-old son. Dylan. and winning. In December. she went to a hospital emergency room. ‘to get something to calm me down‘. and agreed to check in. She‘s told the story before ofhow. whilst there. she said to one psychiatrist who asked her if she heard voices. ‘Well. yeah. but I have a job for it. Don‘t give me anything to make it stop — I‘ll lose my job.‘
Ironically. she can‘t hear the voices that I can on the international line: a multilingual babble oferossed lines from which emerge
6 The List 22 February -‘ 7 March 1991
For Throwing Muses vocalist Kristin Hersh, auditory hallucination has been both a source of personal anguish and a vital inspiration for her band‘s music. With the recent release of a
new LP. The Real Ramones. Alastair Mabbott hears distant voices down the line.
a French business deal. a concerned Borders mother questioning her offspring on the wisdom of attempting a Channel crossing in a blizzard and a family crowded around a receiver singing ‘Happy Birthday". She appreciates the running commentary. though. All that‘s coming through on her end are video game bleeps. She‘s at her home in Newport. Rhode Island. about to set off for a rehearsal with the band. As usual. the process of re-learning old songs is making her aware of how much she has changed since she wrote them. For a start. Good Kristin has Bad Kristin more under control.
‘It‘s not like being invaded any more when 1 do a song. She‘s there pretty much all day long. and we‘re both there when we‘re doing songs. So it‘s a much purer way ofsinging. I'm not afraid to let everything go. because I‘m not afraid that my real personality won‘t come back afterwards.‘
Throwing Muses are based in Boston. indie capital ofthe US. but Hersh has always preferred to stay in the relative peace of Newport. ()0 miles away. The product of a liberal. first-generation hippie background (Allen Ginsberg wrote a poem to her when she was three). she and her step-sister. childhood friend and lead guitarist Tanya Donelly. would get stoned with Hersh‘s father. a Philosophy professor. on school mornings. Perhaps as a consequence. she went on to study Psychology and Philosophy at college — and start a band with Donelly. which was completed by bassist Leslie Langston and drummer David Narcizo. Three-quarters female (new bassist lired Abong has balanced the male, female ratio). they announced their arrival with Throwing