She’s right. Who would’ve thought the cover image of Peaches’ 2003 album Fatherfucker – where she sports a fetching beard and bathing suit – would find a mirror image in mainstream Eurovision star Conchita Wurst?
“So I decided this album I’m not struggling,” says Peaches, “it’s not a controversial album, it’s a celebration.”
Controversy has always been an easy bedfellow for Peaches, just by virtue of her incredible and confrontational live shows. We’ll never forget an early 2000s Manchester show where she performed unannounced and spat fake blood in our face.
“I think that it’s become even more important now, with such a digital experience that everyone is having,” she says. “I’ve always been a champion of being there. That’s why I feel like I’m a performance artist, because I want to be direct with you and right there. I feel the celebration, I feel the anxiety, I feel the elation, I feel the repression.”
Peaches recorded Rub with Vice Cooler, the coolest queer you’ve probably never heard of. From an Alabama broken home, he saw Peaches as a 16-year-old and started putting bands on in his basement, before hitting the road and befriending the likes of Deerhoof, Fugazi, Sonic Youth... and the head peach.
“I took him on tour many times, ‘cos I have this insane energy, too. We talked so much about music and production and what we like aesthetically. I bought a little house in LA and it had a garage, and we just worked there every day – ten hours a day, from scratch, nothing. For a year. And it was great, ‘cos there’s no sexual tension and there’s no ulterior motive. It was like, ‘Let’s get this done’. We were a little shell shocked after, we were a little bit, ‘What just happened to us?!’”
What happened was Peaches return to the grubby, raw, messy self of her first two albums.
“I agree this album is back to basics, raw, fuck you.” And it’s a fun fuck you, that you can fuck to. “It’s actually very well produced, but the rawness hasn’t been taken out. We had it mixed by an insanely expert mixer, but we were like, ‘No, we wanna make it more raw, we wanna make it tougher.’ ‘Cos if you can make things slicker, you can manipulate sounds.”
There’s one moment on Rub where things take a more literal fuck you, on Free Drink Ticket. There’s a real malice, the kind of song Peaches hasn’t written before. It happened with Planningtorock and taps into the raw feelings of a break up – but equally applies to bitchy club culture.
“We were in the studio together and I was like, ‘Could you leave the room for a minute?’ And it just came over me and was like ‘waaargh!’ And in Planningtorock style, we pitched the voice down and then we were listening to it and grabbing each other and fearing for our lives. Who is this person?!” When Peaches isn’t scaring herself shitless, she’s making the sexually charged, minimal punk electro she made her name with. Lead single Light in Places is a fantastic example, one of the poppier moments – and complete with a lasershooting light-up dildo in the video.
“With that video it’s so funny, all the comments they were just great,” she says. “Somebody wrote the best comment, ‘Power bottoms be like...’ I was like, ‘That’s it!’” In a culture of bottom shaming, it’s great to hear someone talk so openly about anal pleasure. Especially for guys, who have an anatomic advantage.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with a ‘straight’ guy and you go near his buttocks and he’s just... Totally shocked. And there’s always an, ‘Oh, uh, what?!’ And then it goes either way. But it always feels like it’s free game to go to a woman, which doesn’t make any sense. As I’ve explained in Back It Up, Boys – there’s actually a physiology that makes it more pleasurable and intense for a man.” She laughs, and we regale her with some personal tales that confirm her point.
And as we get ready to leave Peaches on the couch, we get a bit nostalgic about electroclash, the movement that barely was, that got mercilessly derided but still managed to enlighten a whole generation of ‘gays of a certain age’.
“I actually read a really good article on electroclash recently, why it only survived so briefly, and how because it was about bringing back the celebration of gender and culture, and nobody was ready to handle it yet. Then it went into nu rave, where it went all fashion and more straight. Electroclash was the first queer movement that’d happened in a while after riot grrrl. But then it influenced everything that came afterwards, so fuck all y’all.”