By Jason Cherkis
from the Collegian, Tuesday, March 23, 1993
Sitting in her Sommerville, Mass. home, all Thalia Zedek needs is a good phone. As lead singer and guitarist in the band Come, Zedek’s phone is busted — it doesn’t ring.
“It’s been bonkers for like a year,” Zedek says, adding that she has to rig the phone with a piece of cardboard to get it to work.
In proper punk rock fashion, ear plugs used to do the trick but now she alternates between the cardboard and a matchbook cover. Who needs AT&T or Candice Bergen?
Zedek admits she hasn’t brought her do-it-yourself punk ethic to the rest of her home.
“The light in our refrigerator is broken, but I haven’t done anything about that,” Zedek says.
She’s got a good excuse. The band just finished a successful European tour, released its full-length debut, Eleven: Eleven, on Matador Records and made a video for the first single, “Submerge.” Zedek and her band are, to say the least, keeping busy. And with Come’s American leg about to start, Zedek is frantically preparing for the travel that will take the group to both coasts.
Like any solid democracy, each band member is given specific chores to fulfill before and during the tour. Just two days before the tour’s start, Zedek works as the leader — her job is too get the group’s ’86 blue Dodge Ram tuned up and ready for the long trek.
Just two days before the tour, Zedek is spending the afternoon making the van less institutional.
“I took it in for a tune up and made curtains for the van,” Zedek says. “They’re pretty cool, kinda sleazy, but in a good way. It’s sort of this fake silky material.” In a way, the band’s sound is pretty cool and kinda sleazy — but certainly not fake, or silky for that matter.
Although Zedek may be coordinating the trip, the other band members — guitarist Chris Brokaw, bassist Sean O’Brien and drummer Arthur Johnson — have just as tedious a task.
Brokaw, owning up to his responsibilities, says he is in charge of making sure the band gets the proper dough for each show. Johnson is the tour’s bookeeper and O’Brien has to hook up the spare tire on the van’s back door.
Zedek says the band is like a well organized family when it hits the road.
“We get along pretty good. We fight about the little stuff but we all feel the same way about the important stuff,” Zedek says. “We all want to get better. We push each other.”
So far the band’s buddy system has produced powerful results. A cathartic amplified swirl, Eleven: Eleven may finally give Zedek her payback. Long since cast in the shadow of other indie ice queens such as Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Hole’s Courtney Love, Zedek is getting some much deserved attention.
Throughout the ’80s, she was a prominent member of both the Boston and New York City punk scenes with bands such as Uzi and Live Skull, but seems a little hesitant toward her newfound indie stardom.
“It’s good I guess, it’s cool. I guess … kinda surprising,” Zedek said.
Oddly enough, the band should be used to sudden success. Three days after the band’s first show, Seattle’s Sub-Pop records asked it to record a single-of-the-month. The single, “Car,” soon lead Come to produce its full-length album.
Sounding as if the bulb in her fridge is really bothering her, Zedek’s Patti Smith-esque motor punctuates the band’s collective sonic heart attack. Songs such as “Power Failure,” “Sad Eyes” and “Fast Piss Blues” set a somber, bluesy tone for Zedek to spread her pipes over.
“I think she’s one of the best rock singers around,” Brokaw says. “I was really into Live Skull. It sounds really cheesy to say it but I feel lucky to be in a band with her.”
One thing is for sure, Zedek is no Whitney Houston; her unfeminine voice suits her fine but has lead to some confused fans.
“Nobody anymore asks me what am I to my face,” Zedek says.
To Zedek, everything leads back to the road, away from her phone and fridge. It is on tour where she seems most happy.
“I really like travelling … the physical part of travelling,” Zedek says. “I like sitting in the van and watching the road go by and knowing that the next day, I’ll be somewhere else.”