Antigone Rising’s Kristen Henderson on writing a memoir and a new album

Folk-pop rock group Antigone Rising has been recording since 1993, with out lesbian Kristen Henderson at the helm. Since their debut album She’s Gone a Little Mad in 1996, the band has been through multiple line-up changes, but bassist/vocalist Kristen and her sister Cathy on guitar have been mainstays, assuring the group’s signature sound would remain.

After two decades of member and label shifts, Antigone Rising are readying for their new album and Kristen is working on a book with her partner Sarah Ellis. The book is called Times Two and focuses on the couple’s story of starting a family together, as they both became pregnant at the same time.

Kristen recently took the time to answer a few questions from AfterEllen.com fans and readers via e-mail, including the details on their new lesbian frontwoman, Nini Camps.

AfterEllen.com: What can you tell us about the recording of the new album? Is there a concept or a theme?

Kristen Henderson: I can tell you that we’re in the really early phases of planning for the new album. Some of the songs are definitely written, but we still need a few more songs before I’d say we’ve got a full album. We are discussing producers right now. The band is hoping to work with Jay Joyce again (Patty Griffin‘s Flaming Red and Antigone’s last unreleased studio CD, Tales From Wonderland).

Kristen Hall (formerly of Sugarland) told me how they planned for their first album. She said every single song was written to be a smash hit single. She wanted to be sure they knocked it out of the park. We are definitely employing that philosophy with the collection of songs that will land on this release. The goal is to make an album of the greatest songs we’re capable of.

AE: Will your partner and babies come on the road with you?
KH: I am sure Sarah and the babies will join me on the road when it makes sense. But logistically, that won’t be nearly as often as I would prefer. The babies do set up camp in the studio with us, however. And it’s pretty heavenly.

AE:What can you tell us about your forthcoming book?
KH:
The book is called Times Two. It’s coming out through Free Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). We just handed in the first draft yesterday. The book is about mine and Sarah’s struggles with fertility issues, how we eventually conceived our babies on the exact same day, and the trials and tribulations you go through when you and your partner are exactly the same pregnant!

AE:How did Nini Camps joining the band come about?
KH:
Nini and I have known each other since the ’90s. We’d always been friendly while touring on the circuit. In 2007, I ran into her at a Michelle Malone show and we got to talking. We made a date to write a song together, and from there we started writing more and more songs. During the Antigone line-up shift, Nini was advising me more as a confidant, and she and I were really starting to dig in with our writing. We started focussing on making sure the songs worked really well for whoever ended up joining the band. Nini was content staying behind the scenes, but then some great show opportunities were offered to us (Joan Jett and The Bangles dates). We still didn’t have a permanent lead singer, so Nini sat in. She knew the songs better than anyone. We got great reactions from the crowds, so we told her she didn’t have a choice in the matter. She was in!

AE: Over the years with various changes in the lineup, did you ever think of calling it quits?
KH:
I never thought of calling it quits until this last line up shift. I was pretty sure I was done at that point. That split was fairly devastating, and I was focussing on trying to get pregnant. So I really tried to put Antigone Rising in the past tense. By the time I was three months pregnant, though, I realized there was no way my kids weren’t going to see me do what I love. Antigone Rising has been my life’s work. It’s in my DNA. I don’t have the option of just quitting it.

AE:How has the band’s mindset/feeling changed over the years in regards to being indie then signing with a label and going indie again?
KH:
We don’t think too hard anymore about indie vs. major. The state of the music industry has been in a constant state of flux our entire career, so we just roll with it! We take each opportunity as it comes. And our goal has always been to capitalize on the opportunities to the best of our abilities. That’s what we will continue to do.

Antigone Rising is on a U.S. spring tour now.

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