Bitch and Animal have been bringing their spicy fusion of funk and folk, politics and humor, to increasingly larger audiences ever since they set out to conquor the world three years ago. Eternally Hard, released last month, is the duo’s debut for indie-superstar Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. DiFranco co-produced the album and has chosen B&A as the opening act for her current
U.S. tour that makes a stop Sunday in St. Petersburg.Bitch and Animal were gracious enough to engage in a verbal sparring match with this Off Limits editor recently while crossing the country in the garden-on-wheels they refer to as the “Muppet Bus.”
ORACLE: Describe how Bitch and Animal met?
B: We met while (hallucinating) on a mushroom trip. We took a walk together and started playing music within a couple hours.
O: Your music ranges from rap “Best C–k on the Block,” to fiddle-based country, “Miss Me My Dear.” What are some of your musical influences?
B: Cindy Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell and Toni Morrison (novelist).
A: Windshield wipers.
O: Bitch, hailing from Detroit, what inspired you to become a fiddle player?
B: After watching an episode of Sesame Street, one with the cartoon hillbilly dudes in it, I told my parents I wanted to play the fiddle. Of course, they got me a violin and sent me to violin lessons instead. I reclaimed the fiddle many years later in life.
O: Bitch and Animal share writing credit for all the songs on Eternally Hard. Describe the songwriting process – does one compose the melody, and the other complete the lyrics? Are all the songs collaborative efforts?
A: It depends on the song. Sometimes we just get together and start going nuts in a room. Sometimes Bitch leaves a poem straggling around and I’ll put music to it. It totally varies. A lot of songs we just do together, such as “Best C–k on the Block.”
O: What are some of the creative differences Bitch and Animal have encountered?
B: At first, our major creative difference was that I was from an uptight, classical background and made a lot of judgements on our music. Animal really helped me feel freer in the (laughs), vomitity – the beauty of vomit.We argue more about decorating than about music. Animal lets me take over a little, but she gets pissed if I take over too much.
O: Explain how you approached recording Eternally Hard differently from your debut album, What’s That Smell?
B: Well, I went insane while making (our first album). This newer album we were a little more confident, though. We set out to make a safe and peaceful place to barf (chuckles), and then we always wanted to have the right tools to clean up the barf. I think this time we hit it a little better, got a little more.
O: Were you fans of Ani DiFranco before you worked with her?
B&A: Yeah, we both liked Ani (prior to working with her).
O: Describe what it was like working with DiFranco on Eternally Hard.
A: You know those sit-and-spin toys? (Laughs) You know what I’m talking about, right?
O: You’ll need to elaborate a little bit more.
A: You know, you sit down on the thing, you sit in the middle and spin around until you get dizzy. It was kind of like that for me. (Bitch and Animal burst into a fit of giggles.)
O: Is it true that while in the studio, DiFranco played the role of stripper on occasion in order to get you to “loosen up?”
B: Yeah, (while she stripped) we were the backup band. (Bitch and Animal sing “stripper theme.”)
O: What’s a bigger abomination to music, and pop culture in general, Britney Spears or Eminem?
A: Hmm. That’s a good question. But, you should have said, “What’s a bigger ‘a-boob-mination’?”
B: I think it is more important for us, as queer people – “queer” meaning people who are living somewhat outside of mainstream society – I think it’s more important for us to be able to take care of ourselves. Britney Spears is a woman who has been prostituted through show business, and it makes me sad that we are still living in a world where (T&A) is so … (laughs), cheap and available.
A: I only know the choruses to either of their songs. I’ve heard Eminem says mean stuff about people, but I’ve only heard the song where (Dido) sings in the background.
O: Is there any truth to the rumor that Bitch and Animal walk around topless in public?
A: There’s a “rumor” about it? I’ve spent most of my life topless.
B: It depends on what town I am in.
O: What is the best town for sauntering up and down the streets, sans a shirt?
B: Because the female areola is still illegal it is always a risk. In New York City, women are supposedly allowed to walk around topless, but you’d be insane to walk around there topless.I think Provincetown, (Rhode Island), is the best city, but you can get ticketed there.
O: What is your favorite city to play?
A: (Laughs), where are you from?
O: I’m not telling until after the interview.
A: San Francisco or New York City.
O: How do Bitch and Animal occupy themselves while on the road?
A: I decorate, read poems, draw cartoons.
B: I tend to my wheat-grass garden.
O: Your “wheat-grass garden?”
B: Yeah, you know, wheat-GRASS?
O: Oh, got it.
B: We literally have a garden of wheat-grass growing on our dashboard.
O: Describe your lauded live show?
B: It’s like a killer sit-and-spin toy. (Bitch and Animal laugh hysterically.)
O: Come on, ladies, this is where you are supposed to pitch the gig.
B: OK, OK, come on Animal.
A: It’ll be a rocking, beautiful, happy, political, pissed, sexy romp. (Laughs).I probably won’t take my shirt off, though.
O: Not during the entire set?
A: Well, you never know. I heard it gets kind of cold down there.
O: Here’s your chance to give the cerebral singer/songwriter answer.
B: Oh, crap.
O: As artists, what’s the driving force for Bitch and Animal?
A: That’s not really a cerebral question because that “drive” happens pretty much from the belly down (laughs).I’d like to answer a cerebral question but that was more of a gut instinct thing for me.
B: Yeah, we never considered not (writing and performing). That force to create has been there since we met.
O: What is Bitch and Animal’s goal as artists?
A: We’re out to spread p–sy, definitely. (Bitch and Animal’s Web site explains that “spreading p–sy,” means stripping the word (and other words related to the female anatomy), of their negative connotation by imbuing them with a positive connotation (i.e. “p–sy power.”)
B: On an abstract level, we are going around planting seeds that will allow people to view themselves differently and feel freer to express themselves. If people can tap into their (inner self) then it would free us all and make the world a lot more interesting place to live.I’m out to make the world an interesting and safe place. At the same time, my goal for Bitch and Animal is to hit Broadway and make some movies. We have a lot of things to accomplish.
O: Ladies, what do your families call Bitch and Animal?
B: Not very often.
A: (Laughs). And they definitely don’t call me “lady.” My name is “Animal,” born and raised, and that’s “Bitch,” born and raised.
O: Are Bitch and Animal romantically involved?
A: (Outburst of laughter) Are Batman and Robin romantically involved?