If you’re a fan of music, there’s a good chance you’ll have a few bands whose music has kept you company throughout your formative years and helped shape your world consciousness without you even knowing. For me, The Beastie Boys and Luscious Jackson took turns being that band. At first glance, the two bands may not seem to have a whole lot in common, but for a young Jewish girl who put the “urban” in “suburban,” they symbolized endless possibilities and a life-long affinity for New York City.
One commonality that is a lesser-known fact, is the presence of drummer Kate Schellenbach in both bands. You see, before Adrock, Mike D and MCA were rhymin’ and stealin’, The Beastie Boys were a young hardcore punk band with Kate as the lone female at the helm of their drum kit. (There were a few other notable lineup differences at the time as well. Adrock didn’t come to the band until later.) Some years later, after Schellenbach was out of the Beasties and had helped form Luscious Jackson, she became the first out lesbian musician I had known of. As far as I was concerned, she was living my dream and the band’s eclectic fusion of rap, jazz, rock and hip-hop is what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Years have gone by and a lot has changed since the band’s last proper album, Electric Honey, was released in 1999. The three remaining members — Kate, Jill Cunniff and Gabby Glaser — started families. Kate and her partner took their family across the country to L.A. where she started a new career as a segment producer for TV talk shows. But, with times changing and the emergence of new technology, 2012 has opened the doors for reuniting three of the musicians whose heavy bass lines and relaxed Bohemian grooves threw some much needed cold water on the fiery angst of my teenage years.
I got to speak to Kate Schellenbach about the band’s PledgeMusic project, recording on different coasts and what it was like working with our website’s namesake, Ellen DeGeneres.
AfterEllen.com: First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
AE: Well, actually, I am not exaggerating when I say that you, in particular, are probably one of the first idols I can remember having.
AE: Yeah I mean, I go back to your Beastie Boys days, and Luscious Jackson’s first album, In Search of Manny — there are so many different instances in my life that I can point to and say that your music has been a part of it. Instead of taking notes in college — I’m not that proud of this — but instead of taking notes I would just sit and write the lyrics to “Naked Eye” over and over again. The only time that I ever ditched soccer practice was to go see your show in Chicago at the Metro my senior year of high school.
AE: Looking back on everything, when I think of Luscious Jackson, your music always made me feel like New York was the place to be. I can remember listening to “City Song” while picturing myself moving to SoHo one day. So much has changed though in your life and the band’s life and just New York in particular since your last non-child oriented album, and I’m not sure where Jill and Gabby live —