An interview with Tami Hart

AE: Yeah, I want one of those [kids], but it would have to be one that dances with me. I know you used to be on Kathleen Hanna’s label, is that how you got to be involved with JD Samson and MEN?

TH: Yes that is. Mr. Lady was run by two people — Kaia Wilson from The Butchies and Tammy Rae Carland who’s an amazing photographer and art professor. I was in high school and I lived in this really small sh—y town in South Carolina and I was, like, a queer punk.

AE: [Laughs] So I’m sure that was easy.

TH: Exactly. It really was not. Initially I always played these hard punk songs but in my spare time I’d write these teen angsty songs. I listened to a lot of Nirvana-style acoustic songs because I was looking for a way to get out of the South, because college was never something that was on my radar. So I started sending them these demos I was making and (eventually) they wanted to sign me.

AE: That’s really ballsy as a high school student.

TH: Yeah, it’s weird because I had such determination. I sent them literally 20 tapes because after sending one I got an response from Kaia herself saying, “Don’t give up, keep doing it.” I don’t think she was telling me to keep sending her stuff [Laughs] but I sort of took that as her message to. And then she called me one day and said she wanted to sign me.

AE: Whoa.

TH: Yeah and Le Tigre was on that label. They were the biggest band on that label and I met JD when I was like 18 and we’ve just known each other for a long time. When I toured with my acoustic stuff with Le Tigre — I opened several shows for them and back in November — she asked if I was interested in joining MEN for touring and I jumped at the chance.

AE: I have this image in my head that it’s just a party everywhere you guys go.

TH: [Laughs] Honestly, when I was getting signed to Mr. Lady that was like college for me and it was such an education in how to be a touring musician and with feminism as well. And now I sort of feel like I’m in grad school with MEN. [Laughs] They are such a professional hard-working band and I’ve never been in a band like that before. It’s always just been sort of a party, which is great, but now it’s like, OK this is what I want to do with my life so I’m just learning how to do it.

AE: Do you think it’s been harder or easier to cultivate your solo project while touring with MEN?

TH: I think that it’s been easier because, like again, I’m getting such an education and I just want to see how it’s done and get ideas for my personal project. I’m getting so inspired and learning so much everyday and I’m realizing, OK, I need to really get serious about showing up for sound check and they do so many interviews and they are very consistent and very on-time for everything and it’s really good for me to be around that.

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