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Johnette Napolitano: Her Life Back When She Was In Hollywood, With Famous Band, Concrete Blonde

Johnette Napolitano: Her Life Back When She Was In Hollywood, With Famous Band, Concrete Blonde
We went back to the beginning of badass female led rock bands, before most of us were familiar with No doubt, and The Pretty Reckless. It led us to a conversation with 1980's Hollywood Female lead and vocalist, Johnette Napolitano,  of Concrete Blonde. She helped pave the way for many other female artists, that we’re sure of. If you have never listened to Johnette or heard of Concrete blonde, then you should get schooled with the band, especially if you're anyone in appreciation of good alternative rock. Their music is available to stream everywhere, including Youtube. 
How did Concrete blonde form? What role did you play in the formation?
Jim Mankey and I met working for Leon Russell back in 1980, I think. Everybody was a musician, 
so everybody hung out in the studio all hours, and somebody was always recording. There were 3 studios.
We just sounded good together, were studios rats and it just sort of fell together
 
What are some female bands that really inspired you and how?
Fleetwood Mac, definitely, they were a very, very big deal. Christine McVie, even before Steve Nicks joined the band was one of my favorite women players, and wrote beautiful stuff in the earlier version of FM. 
 
What was the first record you ever owned?
Well, I was way into my parent’s records first. Johnny Cash, Gershwin, Marty Robbins, and of course serious rat pack soundtracks: Dean Martin, Sinatra. Soundtracks. The Alamo, Carousel. Big huge massive wood furniture stereo hi-fi vinyl. 
 
How did your parents feel about your music at the time?
They immediately spotted something in me when I was little, and would pick out melodies by ear on the piano. My Dad bought me a guitar for my 11th or 12th birthday, I think. Maybe even my 10th. 
What made you stand out as a female artist at the time? 
That I sing like a motherfucker.
 
Have you ever felt the pressure of expressing ideas or styles of music in the industry that you did not hold true to yourself?
Well there was a major label that wanted us, but wanted us to cover a song, and I didn’t want to do it. If it turned out to be a big hit, it wasn’t our song, and we were mainly writers and didn’t dig that, so they ended up passing on us because they just didn’t know what to do with us. 
 
 What did fame look like then and how does fame look like now in your observations? 
Physically difficult. Emotionally difficult. Had I a more normal sort of childhood, had been more secure as a person in the first place, I may have been more comfortable with the whole thing. 
 
In the genre of rock, how has the music shifted from then to now?
I don’t think rock changes much at all, bands grow up listening to bands and theres another band and they’re influenced by the band who was influenced by a band. It’s all guitar, bass, and drums at the end of the day, and no one’s reinventing the wheel here. 
 
Whats the difference between breaking out as a female musician vs breaking out as a male musician in your opinion?
That would have changed depending on era, genre, etc., so that’s a tough one to answer. 
 
As you know musicians are trend setters for all kinds of stylistic pieces - What are some of your favorite current pieces in your closet and why? Are any of them vintage?
Oooooh, now you’re talking! I’ve been in vintage since high school, 40’s jackets, armadillo purses with those crazy red rhinestone eyes. Yes, I’m just cutting down a vintage wedding gown into a skirt as I’ve used it twice in videos now and the lace is pretty gone. I have a fantastic 70’s coat I got at the local swap meet for $10, my friend who is a much better seamstress than me took out the bulky 70’s lining and replaced it with a nice satin. Chongsams. When we played China, I bought silk. Vintage was cheap in the old days, the stuff I like, rayon dresses, vintage sweaters with the pearls and rhinestones on them. Someone stole a sweater off the stage in the early days and apparently felt guilty because years later
I got it, and my painstakingly studded beret, back in the mail.
 
How did you choose to expresses your self - how would you describe your style and demeanor when performing on stage?
I can’t really say. I ‘channel’ a lot of the stuff, I go back and read some of the old songs and just say, ‘who WAS that?’ No idea. A great show I usually don’t remember, it truly is an out-of-body experience. 
 
Do you often see your self being nostalgic? Why or why not? 
Oh God no. These are incredible times. Technology blows me away. I can do anything. In 10 minutes I can track a guitar part and run it through 4 or 5 amp sounds, it’s just awesome
Tell us a little about your last performance- What was it like?
The Triple Door, Seattle. I’d just found out my brother had been killed a couple days before and I was just - well, it was a blessing to have the gig. They're great there, and it always sounds great, and I’ve studied Flamenco for many years here and in Spain and I had local Flamencos opening for me and it was really, really, beautiful. Peaceful. I like to work on the stage with the lights before doors, and
I had a beautiful shooting star sky, like here at home in the desert. It was great. Read a bit from my
upcoming Rough Mix #2 book. People were great. 

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