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
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
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.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most