Peaches: A decidedly fruity lady

Peaches dresses like a porn superhero and has a lot to say about gender politics. James Mcnair meets the singer in Illinois

Showtime has started early for Peaches. As the first layer of a three-band sandwich that sees her followed by Brit-Goths Bauhaus and US tech-rockers Nine Inch Nails, her gig at the Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Illinois will be done by 7.30pm. Oblivious to any pre-watershed mores, she's dressed like some kind of porn superhero, her black PVC cape emblazoned with the letters XXX, and the rest just scanty pink undergarments.

"Fuck the Pain Away!" she screams as her drummer, Samantha Maloney, pummels her kit and blows bubblegum. Peaches roars it at least 20 more times as she jogs a circuit of the venue, hotly pursued by her minder. To my right, Chicago's answer to Beavis and Butthead smirk while cheering their support.

This is business as usual for the woman born Merrill Beth Nisker. Not for nothing did the bisexual star top a list of the Ten Wildest Woman In Music in the New York Daily News, and not for nothing does she count Deborah Harry, Madonna and Christina Aguilera among her fans.

Her new album, Impeach My Bush, is so kinky you'd think twice about playing it for guests lest it be thought a preamble to "adult fun", and listening to songs such as "Tent in Your Pants", one can only conclude that Peaches' weekends are not spent watching Little House on the Prairie re-runs.

Imagine my disappointment then, when I board her tour bus and find no "adult fun" under way. It's just her avuncular tour-manager Dave clocking the dying seconds of Brazil vs France. When Peaches emerges, she's kitted out, relatively demurely, in a long gold dress and gold sandals. Her striking green eyes register mild pique, but as Polish journalists have been telephoning her all afternoon to ask such searching questions as, "Do you rock?" that's perhaps understandable.

So, I say, this striking new band that she has formed with Maloney, former Courtney Love guitarist, Radio Sloan, and JD Samson from Le Tigre - how important was it that it be an all-girl affair?

"It's kind of sad that you even have to ask me that," Peaches says, jumping straight in with gender politics. "I'll be happy the day that someone says to me, 'Wow! Did you see that all-boy band? Every one of them a guy....'"

We should perhaps put the gender issues on ice to advise that Peaches' music is frequently superb. Her earlier albums, The Teaches of Peaches and Fatherfucker set out a distinctive, electro punk stall, their songs often built around little more than a beat-box and a blunt stab of fuzz guitar.

Peaches was a one-woman-band then, an iconoclast whose sexually confrontational live shows part depended on backing tracks. "A lot of people didn't realise I was making the music," she says. "They thought it was some weird performance art or something."

Performance art Impeach My Bush most certainly is not. This time, Peaches embraces a less lo-fi sound that incorporates a full band, the electric guitars wielded by herself and guests such as Josh Homme and Joan Jett as sparky and life-enhancing as defibrillator blasts. Produced by Peaches and Mickey Petralia (Beck, The Dandy Warhols), the stand-out track is undoubtedly "Boys Wanna Be Her."

"I was thinking how men seem to find it really difficult to look at a powerful woman and say, 'Wow! I wish I was you'", says Peaches. "The inspiration might have been 'TNT' by AC/DC, or any of those songs where it's like 'The boy comes to town! Lock up your daughters!' I mean, why is it always a guy who gets to play the Antichrist?"

Oh, I don't know, I say. What about Tom Jones's "Daughter Of Darkness", or "Devil Woman" by Cliff Richard? "Come on - you know how it is. Usually when guys have sex with these women, they turn out to be witches or something. My song is about straight-up admiration. The boys are in awe of this woman and they actually want to be her."

Born in Canada in 1968, Peaches grew up on the outskirts of Toronto. Her father was a "pro ball player" turned accountant, her mother studied psychology. The Jewish school she attended was very conservative, and she didn't connect with her schooling or her Jewish faith. "There were some beautiful stories, but I couldn't take them at more than face value."

Peaches always sung. She would eventually release an album, Fancy Pants Hoodlum, under her real name, but it was The Shit, an avant-garde outfit she formed with friends that opened the creative floodgates.

"It was a big awakening and the start of Peaches," she says. "Peaches is like an exaggerated me without the boring parts. It's not a mask, - it's me being honest and trying to make the strongest, most direct statement I can with my lyrics and my shows."

The gender-based double standards she perceives in the music industry keep cropping up."Take a song like 'Two Boys for Every Girl'," she says. "If I sing that it's considered weird, yet if some guy sings about having two girls, that's fine."

So is her music partly designed to free people's sexual thinking. "Definitely! And a lot of it is directed at you straight males. I want to include, not exclude. In the 1970s we women had a sexual revolution, but you guys never did, and I feel bad for you. Men always want to be in a position of power, but they need to make themselves vulnerable, and they need to learn to entertain girls they way that girls have learnt to entertain boys."

What might such a sexual revolution involve? "A lot of dick-shaking, and a lot of guy-on-guy action. Less clothes on men and a lot of tight clothes on men." I'll think about it, I tell her, but in truth I'm not sure I have the figure.

'Impeach My Bush' is on XL records. Peaches plays the Reading and Leeds festivals on 25-27 August

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum