The great Pretender speaks her mind

[18 August 2009]

By Jon Bream

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

MINNEAPOLIS — Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde is one of the most outspoken singers in rock ‘n’ roll. Let her rip.

On insisting that her concert be moved from the Minnesota Zoo:

As soon as she heard about the zoo gig, she asked her friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to research the Minnesota Zoo, where, she learned, exhibited farm animals are later sold for slaughter.

“That’s how I decided not to play there. I thought it would disturb the animals anyway. As zoos go, they have some really good policies. But I’m not zoo-friendly myself. I actually had people calling and complaining about it being at the zoo before I knew it was at a zoo. It wasn’t just me.”

On smiling and being happy instead of her usual spitfire self at in Minneapolis in February:

“I saw Iggy Pop a few years ago and he was really happy onstage and I (wanted) him to be diving into the audience and dragging hostages out. Where did he go? But I’m trying to end my life with some happiness in my soul; I’m achieving that and losing something in the deal. What can you do about it?

“I guess I’m going to have to dig deeper to get pissed off at something. Maybe I’m just going to have to install a hot-dog stand next to the stage. It works every time.”

On what guitarist Eric Heywood brings to the Pretenders:

“He’s got irreconcilable style,” adding pedal-steel on country-tinged tunes and “sound effects or soundscapes” on older material. “It’s been a joy having him in the band.” And, yes, he’s “an official Pretender as long as he wants it,” she said, but he’s free to play with Ray LaMontagne or others when the Pretenders are on hiatus.

On her classic hairdo:

“I’m not very experimental with my looks. When I’m onstage, I feel sort of protected (by her hair). It’s like wearing a veil or something. I’m not at all comfortable with that exposure. Once I’m offstage, I’m not very good at being in the spotlight. I’m way too ordinary for that. I don’t think I could get to the level of having bodyguards and not being able to get on a bus and do ordinary things.”

On being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005:

“I hate to say it, but it sounds like sour grapes. It’s for sports, where it’s about being the best. In music, I don’t think it’s about awards. It just doesn’t sit right with me. It never has. In music, it’s about emotions and truth. How can you say who has the most truth in their music? Or the most emotion? Or if it makes people dance? That’s what the music’s for.”

On going to her 40-year high-school reunion this summer:

“It was kind of psychedelic,” but too many people asked for autographs. “I actually told a few people to (bleep) off that night. C’mon, our 40-year reunion? We were all in it together. I wasn’t a very good student. I didn’t like school. I didn’t go to any dances or any of that nonsense. I was trying my best to be a hippie. I wasn’t interested in dating. I hated everything. If there had been a category for ‘Least Likely to Succeed,’ I might have won that.”

On opening a vegetarian restaurant in her hometown of Akron, Ohio, in 2007:

“We’re about breaking even, which is really good for a restaurant. My only interest in it is the cow protection and also to bring life back into the downtown.” She wants to open restaurants in other cities with depressed downtowns and no vegetarian eateries. “I always say I have no ambitions. But that is my ambition.”

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