Stories From the Queenie

PJ Harvey Page 2

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Stories From the Queenie - PJ Harvey Page 2
By Cam Lindsay1992
PJ Harvey release a second single "Sheela-Na-Gig” in February and their first album the following month. Dryis released by Too Pure (Indigo/Island Records in North America) in limited quantities with a bonus disc of demos called Demonstration; it becomes an instant, critically acclaimed hit. NME raves: "Fulfilling our greatest expectations… A great power trio harnessing and bending the rawest, most elemental rock format with... pure power.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Polly describes her shock at the attention her band receives. "I couldn't believe it. It didn't make sense to me at all to start off with. I thought, ‘Why do people want to buy this nasty, bendy sounding music?’ It's touching some nerve somewhere. I like the rawness of it, and I think maybe that is what people are looking for now. They want a bit of rough around the edges.” Reflecting back on the album in 2004 with Filter, Harvey admits: "Dry is the first chance I ever had to make a record and I thought it would be my last. So, I put everything I had into it. It was a very extreme record. It was a great joy for me to be able to make it. I never thought I'd have that opportunity, so I felt like I had to get everything on it as well as I possibly could, because it was probably my only chance. It felt very extreme for that reason.” Rolling Stone names Polly Best Songwriter of the Year, as well as Best New Female Singer. Dry reaches number 71 on a 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 1993 that NME critics compile and Kurt Cobain lists it as one of 50 favourite albums. Polly becomes a feminist icon without even trying. Nearly every review or interview discusses Dry’s assumed feminist skew or labels her a riot grrrl, but she rejects the notion. "It's quite simple,” she explains to Vox in 1993. "I wouldn't call myself a feminist because I don't understand the term or the baggage it takes along with it. I'd feel like I really have to go back and study its history to associate myself with it, and I don't feel the need to do that. I'd much rather just get on and do things the way I have been doing them.” Polly causes a fuss and throws the when she not only appears on the back of Dry topless, but also on the cover of NME in April with her back to the photographer; neither truly deserve such controversy, however. She tells Option: "I was very surprised when all this thing happened. I thought, ‘What is all the fuss about?’ He was taking pictures of my back and I had the vest on and my friend said, ‘I think it would look better if he could just see your back.’ And so I took my vest off and we did the pictures. It taught me a lot, really, that everybody wants to read so much into every single thing that you do; even if you do it in the most naive of ways and innocently, it’s going to get things put on it. I don’t think it’s changed the way that I do things — I wouldn’t ever want it to either, because then you’re being influenced before you even create something.” Automatic Dlamini release From A Diva To A Diver featuring Polly. The band go on an extensive tour that culminates at the Reading Festival. Once the tour finishes, Polly reportedly has a nervous breakdown due to the increasing pressures and expectations — though, The Guardian later explains it was because of a break-up. She tells the newspaper: "I couldn't do anything for weeks — little things like having a bath and brushing your teeth, I just didn't know how to do it. I never want to go back there again.” However, she disregards it when talking to The Observer in 1995: "I ran home back to what I knew and felt safe around and I did a lot of repairing for the next year. I didn't stop doing things. I was writing new songs. I was working on new material. I was fine. I didn't have a breakdown. People seem to want to imagine I went into some kind of sanatorium for a year — nothing like that. I worked on building up my stamina, emotionally and mentally and physically.” PJ Harvey regroups and ends the year recording their second album in Minnesota with renowned engineer Steve Albini at Pachyderm Recording Studio. They record the album live off the floor with very few vocal overdubs for an austere, stripped down sound. In a press release, Polly reveals she chose Albini because "more than any other engineer I know, he captures the sound of a band playing live — the sound of real instruments, of a drum kick. It doesn't sound processed, squashed or recorded in any way. It sounds like you're standing in front of a playing band. I think the instruments on the album sound like they're breathing and real. That's what I've always wanted to capture on record.” Meanwhile, in an interview with Gourmandizer, Albini confesses: "Polly Harvey ate nothing but potatoes, with occasional sauces, during the entire recording of her Rid of Me album.” A bidding war arises for the band and they choose Island Records worldwide.
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Article Published In Oct 07 Issue