Back in the festival’s overrun VIP area, after the band’s set, Hardy and straight-man Micah Calabrese are sitting under a palm tree soaking up some shade in the 95-degree heat. They’re already in the middle of an all-day cycle of interviews, and gearing up for a tour that will bring them across the country to the Middle East on May 11. Nothing changes about Hardy’s forthright demeanor when you’re one-on-two. That’s part of the charm. When I ask about technical problems on stage, she breaks into a rant about the septic tank being cleaned behind their trailer. “It’s beautiful, smelling the shit of 100 bands. Matisyahu — that one smells like matzos!”
And where do Giant Drag fit in among the festival’s superstars, wanna-bes, and indie-approved hipsters? Here’s Hardy’s take: “It’s like the time I was on NME’s cool list. I was the last one on the list — I was #50. Does that make me cool? Or does that make me almost cool?”
Beyond cool is more like it — and being so unselfconsciously comfortable with the subject makes her that much cooler. Critics who’ve compared her with PJ Harvey and Liz Phair? “I don’t care. We have vaginas and breasts and play music. That’s all a journalist needs to know. Stamp that: article done!”
What comparison would she prefer? “John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Weird Al Yankovic, Tupac, Mozart, James Blunt . . . ” She’s smiling now, sheepishly. In fact, the only time she gets serious is when I give her the opportunity to set the record straight about a little Internet controversy. Months before the show, Coachella message boards exploded when Hardy was quoted in a Colorado Springs newspaper as saying she hated the two Coachellas she’d attended as a fan. “I told a story about how I came to Coachella and ended up crying because of the people I went with being dicks to me. Of course, that wasn’t sensational enough. I’ll talk shit, and I’ll stand behind everything I say. But I didn’t fucking say that.”
One thing that Hardy is certain of is that she prefers being a performer to being a ticketholder. “It’s only a million times better. You get a trailer with air conditioning.” And in the hot desert sun, nothing — not even playing a show with Madonna or finding yourself on an NME list — is cooler than that.
Giant Drag + Pretty Girls Make Graves + Joggers | May 11 | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 617.864.EAST
On the Web
Giant Drag: http://www.giantdrag.com/