The Tracy Bonham Interview
By Susan Kaplow of Seventeen magazine, February 97' issue
I fwe gave out video awards, Tracy Bonham would sweep our Coolest, Most Shamelessly Fun Video category. Who can resist "Mother, Mother," starring just Tracy's screaming head on the TV and her real-life mom cluelessly dusting her off?
Tracy doesn't take herself to seriously in real life, either. She smart, honest and-for someone who got famouse for shrieking "I'm hungry, I'm dirty, I'm losing my mind, everything's fine" -amazingly grounded. "'Mother, Mother,' is not an 'I hate you, mom' song, it's an 'I love you mom' song," explains Tracy, "It's about how I am trying to protect her by not telling her the wierd things going on in my life."
Not that Tarcy's mom needs to be overly protective of her hypersuccessful daughter lately-but for a while, things were a bit dicey. In 1987, Tracy (who's originally from Eugene, OR) enrolled at Boston Berklee College of Music to study voice and violin, only to drop out a year later. She bounced back by picking up a guitar, teaching herself to play and getting busy in the Boston music scene. Soon, local bands like Letters to Cleo and Gigalo Aunts became her buds. "I made a tape of myself and shopped it around, trying to get other musicians to play with me," explains Tracy.
Now after a gold record and a world-wide tour, Tracy doesn't exactly have to stress when her rent is due. And she hasn't ditched her Boston Buds either-she just recorded a live version of "Navy Bean" ("A navy bean is bigger than it seems, put it on and don't ask what it means-Parade around...) for a disc called Safe and Sound, a benifit for the National Clinic Access Project and several Boston women shelters. "'Navy Bean' is about a time in my life I let a man humiliate me," explains Tracy. (At least she got a compelling song out of the ordeal.)
While rock star life ("Hours and hours on a tour bus without good food or clean laundry") removes her from her candle-filled Boston pad, she says her reward is just being on stage. "I've never felt like not performing," says the 97 pound powerhouse, who opens her show with a jaw-dropping violin solo, then picks up a guitar-and rocks.
The idea, though, of looking like a performer-decked out in vinyl, leopard, lace-up go-go boots and magenta tinted pigtails-is kind of new to her. "Up until a few months ago, I was very anti-beauty products and fashion," she admits. "Before, I thought concentrating on appearnace was so fake-but it's not, escecially when your putting on a show. Now I'm coming around and realizing it's fun." Just like her videos.