Winning major points for telling it like it is, a noticeably pissed Martina Sorbara spares no details when she calls in from a Travelodge in Winnipeg.
"We just got fucking fucked by our hotel," says the London, England–based frontwoman for Dragonette. "So I told them that, every single interview today, I'm going to tell people what a horrible hotel they are. I said lots of other mean things–I've probably never said that many mean things to one person. I think it might probably have something to do with some PMS I'm having, and also some back pain. But whatever–the woman at the desk got the short end of my stick."
To help take the edge off things, Sorbara cracks open a beer mid-interview. In true rock 'n' roll style, she confesses it's not from the hotel minibar, but that she found it rolling around the floor of the Dragonette tour van. If her mid-afternoon boozing and entertaining on-the-rag ranting drive anything home, it's that Sorbara doesn't have a lot of time for bullshit. And sure enough, she couldn't be more forthright on Galore, the synth-pop-saturated debut disc from the band that includes her husband, Don Kurtz, on bass, guitarist Will Stapleton, and drummer Joel Stouffer. The deliciously hyper-processed kickoff track, "I Get Around", for example, has her proudly suggesting that she gets more action than Winona Ryder did during the grunge years. And "Competition" lyrics like "Your girlfriend's no competition/Goodness I like this being your mistress" take on some weight when you know that Sorbara and Kurtz started shagging when there was another woman in the picture.
Take a strong undercurrent of sex and combine it with an aesthetic that meshes the spirit of the neon-lit '80s with everything from Sgt. Pepper psychedelia ("True Believer") to ragtime jazz ("Get Lucky"), and you've got a formula that has the United Kingdom all atwitter. But for all the gushing accolades from the NME, Uncut, and the Times, life isn't yet Rolls-Royces and hanging out with the Spice Girls.
"London is just so much harder than people think," Sorbara says. "There are so many bands, and so many people there slogging it out. It's really hard to explain. But it was something that I felt I really had to do. It's not like I'm living in London because I think it's the best place on Earth. It was more that I could have stayed in Toronto, blinked, and then be 55."
Yes, as much as Dragonette seems like the U.K.'s latest flavour of the week, both Sorbara and Kurtz come from the Centre of the Universe. Sorbara–whose father, Greg, serves as the Ontario government's minister of finance–in fact spent the post-Lilith '90s toiling away as a solo artist, even landing on one of those Women & Songs compilations that seemed to pop up every six months. What makes her grateful for Dragonette is that she's able to indulge whatever obsession she might have at any given moment, which explains, for example, the authentic Bollywood undertow in the thrillingly exotic "Marvellous". If she's going to channel her Travelodge encounter, we can presumably expect a future work that sounds like Rage Against the Machine teamed up with OTEP.
"What I was doing before was very monochromatic–it was basically piano and guitar," Sorbara admits. "Because of that, I had no avenue for what was going on in my head. That's why Dragonette is so colourful and all over the place. All this stuff never had a way out until now."
Dragonette plays the Plaza next Thursday (November 22).
Link: Dragonette official site