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

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before