Chrissie Hynde, hold­ing out for the in­de­pen­dents “The thing that turns me on about mu­sic is the anti­estab­lish­ment as­pect.” Chrissie Hynde

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY ROGER CATLIN style@wash­post.com

Chrissie Hynde lit out of Ohio as a young wo­man, found her way to Lon­don, wit­nessed the birth of the punk scene and came up with her own in­deli­ble band, the Pre­tenders, in 1978. The pic­ture of a tough, snarling front­woman, Hynde con­tin­ues her cam­paign with a dif­fer­ent band (save for drum­mer Martin Cham­bers) on an arena tour with Ste­vie Nicks that stopped in town in Novem­ber. The tour also pro­vides time for the oc­ca­sional head­lin­ing show, in­clud­ing one Mon­day at the Fill­more.

The tour started last fall, after the re­lease of the first Pre­tenders al­bum in eight years, “Alone,” and Hynde’s re­veal­ing me­moir, “Reck­less: My Life as a Pre­tender.”

We spoke with Hynde, 65, re­cently from Mem­phis, where she had just vis­ited Grace­land and had to be re­minded that she was ar­rested there once (“I for­got about that!”).

What has it been like on the Ste­vie Nicks tour? It doesn’t seem like a nat­u­ral fit.

I met Ste­vie over the years, and we like each other. I think the tim­ing was right. I re­ally didn’t know what to ex­pect at all. We were in are­nas with her and tra­di­tion­ally, I don’t like big venues. I like clubs and the­aters. But I’ve been — in fact the whole band has been — sur­prised at how much we en­joy the are­nas, be­cause of just the way it’s lit and the sound.

We re­ally liked it. So we took on an­other leg of it, which is what we’re on now. And then on our days off, we get to do our own shows. Which is great, be­cause we get to do a longer set. But it’s slightly frus­trat­ing, be­cause we go in, and we hadn’t played those songs for a while. It can put us in a state of anx­i­ety, but that’s al­ways good.

Your lat­est al­bum was done with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Was it just a co­in­ci­dence that he’s also from Akron?

It’s a co­in­ci­dence. I prob­a­bly left Akron be­fore he was born. I left in 1973. I don’t know how old Dan is, in his late 30s? But he feels like he’s older than me. His mu­si­cal sen­si­bil­ity is re­ally so­phis­ti­cated and very old­fash­ioned in a re­ally good way. He re­ally hears mu­sic in terms of vinyl al­bums — side one, side two. So he has all th­ese el­e­ments, and his knowl­edge of mu­sic is very clas­si­cal, I think, and very mod­ern.

You call it “Alone,” and it fol­lows your 2014 al­bum, “Stock­holm.” Was this go­ing to be a solo al­bum in the be­gin­ning as well?

The rea­son I prob­a­bly called the “Stock­holm” al­bum solo is be­cause I was asked for 30 years, “Yeah, but it’s re­ally just you, isn’t it?” ev­ery time I did an in­ter­view, and it got so frus­trat­ing that I fi­nally said, “Okay, so call it Chrissie Hynde.” But that didn’t feel right, so we went back to the Pre­tenders.

I think of this al­bum as a Dan Auerbach/Chrissie Hynde al­bum. But when peo­ple first lis­tened to the al­bum, they said, “Oh, it’s good to hear the Pre­tenders are back.” So I called Dan and said, “What do you think about that?” And he said, “I don’t care what you call it. Call it what­ever sells the most records.” Q: I was look­ing at some of the duets you’ve done over the years. I had for­got­ten you had done “Luck Be a Lady” with Frank Si­na­tra. What was that like? A: I went in, as I al­ways do, very, very un­pre­pared. I think it’s just a throw­back to when I was in school. I never did my home­work, and I still can’t get my head around any­thing un­til I’m ac­tu­ally do­ing it. So I re­ally let my­self down of­ten with my last-minute prepa­ra­tion.

The one that I think was prob­a­bly my most fa­vorite un­known gem in my mind was the one I did with Wil­lie Nel­son. I cer­tainly guested with some of my fa­vorite artists — Em­my­lou Harris, I was on an INXS al­bum, I was on Mick Ron­son’s last al­bum. I’ve been on an Elvis Costello record. I sang back­ground vo­cals for U2, and my name isn’t on that — “In the Name of Love,” I’m the back­ground vo­cal­ist. Tons of stuff.

But you do it be­cause you like the artist, you go in, you’re friends, you do it, and then you leave. I kind of don’t want to be in the main­stream. The thing that turns me on about mu­sic is its anti-es­tab­lish­ment as­pect. In my head, that’s where I’m at. I’d rather stay in the shad­ows. But not so much that no­body knows who I am and you can’t get gigs. So you’ve got to tread the mid­dle ground all the time. Q: Amid all your rock songs, the 1994 bal­lad “I’ll Stand by You” has be­come some­thing of a stan­dard among younger artists. How did it come about? A: That was a very cold­blooded at­tempt to get back on the ra­dio. I was writ­ing with Tom Kelly and Billy Stein­berg, and their whole thing is to make hits. At the time, the Pre­tenders weren’t re­ally on the ra­dio so much. Then I re­al­ized how I had taken that for granted, be­ing on the ra­dio and how I missed be­ing on the ra­dio. Be­cause that’s why I al­ways made records, was to be on the ra­dio.

So when I worked with Tom and Billy, that was re­ally what I say was a cold­blooded at­tempt to write some­thing to get on the ra­dio. To be hon­est, I was a lit­tle ashamed of it. I didn’t even want to put it on the record, be­cause I thought it was a lit­tle bit too sen­ti­men­tal. It didn’t ful­fill my rock cre­den­tials that I thought I had to have.

But I played it to a cou­ple of girls who weren’t in the mu­sic busi­ness; they ac­tu­ally worked in a box­ing man­age­ment com­pany. I like to play stuff for peo­ple who have noth­ing to do with the mu­sic busi­ness to get their real re­ac­tion of peo­ple who work in shops — you know, real lis­ten­ers. And I looked over at th­ese girls, and they both were in tears by the end of the song, so I said, “Yep, we’ll do it. Put it on the record.”

I re­ally en­joy do­ing it now. I love it. I wouldn’t put any­thing out that I didn’t be­lieve in. There are songs I like bet­ter than oth­ers, ob­vi­ously. Q: Which ones? A: It just de­pends if there are songs we haven’t played for a while; when we bring them back it’s al­ways good. We’ve got quite a few songs now, and we can only do so many. I think an hour-long set is per­fect, but peo­ple ex­pect more at your own shows. I mean, we could play three hours. But I don’t like to see any­thing for three hours. I just think it’s too long. I don’t think it’s a proper show. But that’s just for me . . . I think I would just be­come a bore. Q: One of the sur­pris­ing things about your me­moir is how big a role drugs played. A: Yeah, I was sur­prised my­self. At one point I said this was a story about drugs. It wasn’t unique to me. Q: There is such a dif­fer­ent kind of drug epi­demic now. A: Oh, it’s a scan­dal. It’s a huge prob­lem. I think it’s a big­ger prob­lem than we’ve ever had in this coun­try. Th­ese painkillers are pre­scribed, they get Vi­codin, OxyCon­tin, what­ever they get, they steal the pills, they get hooked on them. Ev­ery­one I know in Ohio is on pills.

Ob­vi­ously, there are all sort of drugs that are life­savers. I’ve taken them all. But I don’t take any­thing now. And I look around me now and I don’t see many peo­ple my age who can say that. The Pre­tenders Mon­day at 8 p.m. at the Fill­more, 8656 Colesville Rd., Sil­ver Spring. Tick­ets: $45. 301-9609999. fill­more­sil­ver­spring.com.

JILL FURMANOVSKY

Chrissie Hynde, front­woman of the Pre­tenders, and Dan Auerbach, gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist of the Black Keys. Hynde worked with Auerbach on the Pre­tenders’ lat­est al­bum, “Alone,” their first in eight years. The band, fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal drum­mer Martin Cham­bers, re­turns to Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day night.

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