Talking to to Boss Hog singer Cristina Martinez last Thursday, I couldn't have caught her at a better time. In just a few days she would leave for a west coast tour to promote her new EP Brood Star, her first release since 2000. On the phone, she was practically giddy about hitting the road again -- though it probably helped that while we talked she was beachside, on vacation with her husband (blues exploder Jon Spencer) and their 19-year-old son Charlie.
Boss Hog began in 1989 as purveyors of a kind of noise rock they called "pigf*ck," but evolved to incorporate a dance-production feel to their stripped down, fuzzed out rock 'n' roll. After the release of their album Whiteout, the band took an extended hiatus -- they started playing the occasional show in 2009 after almost a decade of zero activity -- while Martinez raised her son.
Now that Charlie's off to college, Boss Hog is running at full speed, planning to follow their new EP with a full album later this year and subsequent touring. Yet when we talked, what made her light up the most was not the band, nor her experiences in legendary music scenes like D.C. in the '80s, and New York City in the late '80s and '90s -- it was discussing her son and parenthood.
Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
So, does your son have amazing taste in music?
He has a completely different taste in music, and I think all children should have tastes that are different from their parents. He is, right now as we speak, writing songs up at the house. He has his little machine, and he samples stuff, cuts up loops and makes beats.
I can't imagine how intimidating it must be for him to make music when he has you and Jon as parents.
I do feel a little bad for him because his friends are aware of who we are. To him we're just his nerdy parents -- as it should be. But every once in a while a friend of his would say something and he'd be completely mortified. [Laughs]
But he's great and we're excited for him: he starts college this fall, and I'm sure he's going to go on and outdo us in every aspect. [Yelling] YOU'RE WELCOME WORLD!
That's great he's going to school, especially when both of his parents not only dropped out of school, they actually wrote a song that had the lyrics, "F*ck School."
Exactly, we're both proud dropouts; school did not work out for us. There are times when he is not excited about school and I realize how incredibly hypocritical it is of me to push him hard. [Laughs] But hey, things change when it's your own offspring.
I understand -- I'm there to push him and try to get him to work as hard as he can, but I understand why he doesn't like school sometimes. I'm often on his side when things go down -- maybe more than I should be. I remember vividly how much it sucks to have somebody trying to tell you something you have no interest in. I just hope I'm being a nice mom.
Seems like it...
[Yelling] STAY IN SCHOOL KIDS! [Laughs]
Let's talk about music. Do you still play guitar?
I do. Not well, but I do. I usually play when we're first writing songs; I'll just pick it up and noodle. But I don't play live ever. It's just to write riffs.
You were a guitar player for so long, playing in the Honeymoon Killers, Pussy Galore...
Yeah, I played drums live too. I've done a lot of things that I didn't know how to do well. [Laughs]
Who did you play drums with?
In Jeffrey Evans' band. What was their name? Oh yeah, the Gibson Brothers! Excuse me, I'm on vacation. [Laughs]
That's right! You're on The Man Who Loved Couch Dancing. How did that come about?
There's no story. We just went down and visited them, and they wanted to do a tour so Jon volunteered us to do it with them, so we did.
Was it a fun time?
Of course! It was a fantastic, crazy tour and there are a lot of bad stories that I shan't repeat. Sorry.
That's okay. When you were staying at home, raising Charlie, did you miss being able to just drop everything and go on a tour?
Of course. It's hard to sit by and watch other people do it. There were long stretches of time where I didn't miss it because I had something else that was super important and great for me to do. But there were absolutely moments...
But then I knew that at the end of a certain time frame, I would be able to go back to it. You knew at the end there would be the reward.
I'm in that situation right now. I have two kids and no social life. People will ask me if I'm going out and I have to tell them, "No, I have kids," and then on many occasions I'll hear, "God, I'm so glad I don't have kids."
[Laughs] We did get a lot of that, actually. When we had our son, nobody else had children. I had a few friends with kids but most people would look at me like I was crazy and ask me, "Why would you want to do that?" It was tough.
But I want you to enjoy it while you have it. Even though it's really hard and I'm sure you've heard this a million times -- you will miss it when it's gone. I still look at pictures of my son when he was young and cry because I wish I could have one more day of that back. Any time; even last week.
Boss Hog plays on Thursday, July 14 at Slim's in San Francisco. For tickets and more information, visit the club's website: slimspresents.com.