Antigone Rising is doing just that. The all-female, alt-country rock band’s ascent began in earnest in 2005 with major label debut. Now, with two new EPs set to drop, founding band member Kristen Henderson spoke with AfterEllen about meeting Keith Richards, drinking on tour, and the band’s unique method of releasing music.
AfterEllen.com: What’s the first song you remember hearing that made you want to perform?
Kristen Henderson: My mom was a big Elvis Presley fan so we listened to a lot of Elvis records in our house. Cathy and I used to strum tennis rackets while looking in the mirror to “Suspicious Minds,” and we never looked back.
AE: What role, if any, does your sexual orientation play in your artistic process/identity as a performer?
KH: I feel proud of who I am, and am extremely committed to the LGBT community and the causes facing us. As far as my artistic process and identity as a performer, I am a mom, a wife, a sister, a woman, and a lesbian. I bring all those things with me into my process and my identity.
AE: Do you ever feel pressure to represent?
KH: I don’t feel pressure, but as a visible artist, I do feel it’s important. I don’t think anyone should come out if they’re not comfortable doing so, and I do believe that everyone goes through their own process. I hope that my willingness to be out helps others coming up in the business to feel comfortable enough to live their lives honestly, or as honestly as they can.
AE: What’s exciting to you about your new album?
KH: The most exciting thing about the two new EPs we are releasing in 2014, for me, are the songs we’ve written. I am really proud of how the songs sound and that we were able to record most of the two EPs in Nini Camps‘ home studio in our hometown of Sea Cliff, NY. I think what’s exciting about it from a fan perspective is that it will be an ongoing process, the way we release the songs — so in essence, we’ll be serving up a never ending album in 2014.
AE: Can you explain the thought process behind releasing a music video, followed by an acoustic or alternate mix version?
KH: We decided with this release to shake things up. Artists make a full length CD, promote one song on the CD, and that’s all consumers care about. So the one single on a 10 song CD gets all the attention, and downloads for that matter. As an indie band, we don’t have the time or money, honestly, to completely disappear to go write and record 10 songs — only to be heard from every two and a half years. We have to make every song count, not just one or two out of ten. So we decided that every two months or so, we will release a new song and make an event out of each and every release.
AE: What unique challenges/opportunities does social media/the internet offer to musicians?
KH: The internet has only ever created opportunities for our band. I’ve never looked at it any other way. I do believe that, in a sense, the internet has put a cramp in the side of the major label music industry, but it has also enabled many more artists to have a career.
AE: What’s the atmosphere in the music industry like for women at this point?
KH: Well, based on Miley Cyrus‘ latest performance — I’d say not great. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s got a great voice and is talented. But, let’s just say, it’s perfectly clear what the atmosphere is still like for women in the music industry when you see a video like “Wrecking Ball” and the ensuing shenanigans that followed.
AE: Who is your dream audience member?
KH: I don’t want to say I like one type of audience member over another, but we did just get off an Olivia Cruise ship where we performed for 1,900 women.Let’s just say it was an awesome event.
AE: You’ve opened for a bunch of great bands. Highlights?
KH: Keith Richards called me “yummy” backstage when we opened for The Rolling Stones. I’d feed most guys a knuckle sandwich for that type of comment, but coming from Keith Richards, I kinda melted. Our final night on tour with The Allman Brothers, Greg Allman and Warren Haynes sat in with us during our set. Rosanne Cash, one of my all time personal favorites, joined us on stage one night in New York City (I cried), and we got to join The Bangles nightly for “Walk Like An Egyptian” when we toured with them in 2012.
AE: How do you stay sane on tour?
KH: I’m not sure I can answer this completely honestly, but let’s just say there is much truth to our song “That Was the Whiskey…”
Whiskey & Wine: Volume 1 will be available March 25.