Published Aug 21, 2012Cat Power has persevered through depression, alcoholism and an emotional breakdown, and now she seems to have emerged on the other side. Her new album, Sun, will come out on September 4 through Matador Records. It represents a fresh start and marks her first collection of original material in over six years.
Exclaim! took this opportunity to interview Chan Marshall and reflect back on her tumultuous life and career in our extensive Timeline feature. For a taste of a many ups and downs that are chronicled in the piece, here is a breakdown of some of the story's most notable facts.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Cat Power:
1. Chan Marshall began smoking in elementary school.
In 2006, Marshal tells Stop Smiling magazine how Myra Lee introduces her to another lifelong habit. "I started [smoking] when I was in second grade. My mom would come home from work, before we'd go out with her, and she'd light a cigarette -- Kool Kings. We'd sit on her lap and play around for a minute, then she'd go take a shower. She'd always leave her Kool King lit in the ashtray, so that's how I started smoking.
2. In the '90s, Marshall considered suicide during a live show.
Only a year earlier she'd been contemplating suicide at her show at New York's famed Knitting Factory. "That show I was deciding, how, how could I kill myself right now? There was no way to do it. Like, I could jump on these people, but they would catch me. I could hit myself on the head with the guitar but they'd take it away from me. There was no way to do it. I could choke myself, maybe. It was like Satan was in the house, it was horrible."
3. Marshall's risqué New Yorker photo shoot was a result of alcohol abuse.
At that point, Marshall explains that her drinking had caused her to have diarrhoea for two months straight, and when she landed in New York for the Avedon shoot, she had to be taken out of the airport in a wheelchair. "The reason why my fly's undone is because it hurt so bad, because I was killing my organs."
4. Marshall experienced a psychotic break in 2006.
In Magnet she discloses that the breakdown is the climax following a two-day cocaine and alcohol binge, some disastrous press for The Greatest, and a troubling story about the election outcome in Palestine. She closes the windows and doors and stays inside for 10 days, listening to Miles Davis, drinking, doing cocaine, fasting, and praying.
5. Marshall's 2012 album, Sun, was over a decade in the making.
"It was supposed to come out before The Covers Record," she says. "I was already touring with The Passion of Joan of Arc, and I wanted those songs to be Sun. As far back as 2001, I already knew I wanted to do this record. Then I had more songs and more songs. Then [in 2008], I went in the studio in Silver Lake and I had all these other songs, but I started to write new songs that were becoming Sun. I played what I wrote for someone, and I never had done that before, and that person said, 'These are all corny, sounds like old Cat Power.' I just felt, like, horrible. I didn't write for eight months."