Bedside Manners: Catching Up With Juliana Hatfield - Rolling Stone
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Bedside Manners: Catching Up With Juliana Hatfield

Juliana Hatfield adds a dash of wisdom to her alt-rock formula

Hopeless crushes. Eating disorders. Low confidence. Sweet
vulnerability maskedin angst and sung to simple melodies was the
formula exclusive to JulianaHatfield, the indie-rock virgin, whom
girls longed to emulate and guys longedto deflower.

With both a new record company and sense of self, Hatfield’s set
to releaseher latest effort, Bed, an album that factors
another variable into herequation: maturity. “I think it’s more
adult … I don’t mean adultcontemporary sounding, but I think it’s
a little more grown-up lyrically,” sheexplains, her flawless face
betraying no expression.

Despite the current trend toward production-heavy, layered
recording, Hatfieldopted for a purer, more stripped-down sound. “I
had just been listening tothings that were very raw and dry, the
kind of things where you can reallyhear all the instruments very
close to your ear when you have headphones on,”she says. “I guess I
was feeling raw, and I didn’t want to pretty it up or putanything
on top of it.”

Bed, as the title implies, finds Hatfield treading on
unexploredterrain. “I’m sick of sneaking around/When am I gonna
meet your kids?” sheshocks us with her childlike soprano on
“Sneaking Around.” Perhaps it’s herway of letting us know that it’s
time, at long last, to banish the “Like aVirgin” headline that
followed her up the college charts and onto the cover
ofSpin magazine a half decade ago. “I was just writing
about what wasgoing on in my life,” she says. “Whatever I write,
it’s reflecting that.”

Apparently then, there’s quite a bit going on in her life,
although she won’tlet on. “My life’s so boring,” she complains
unconvincingly. But given thatshe was once tagged Evan Dando’s
“friend and sometimes girlfriend” (in theHead Lemon’s own words, in
fact), it’s difficult to believe that the existenceof this stalwart
indie-rocker is anything short of, well, at leastinteresting. When
conversation turns to Dando, Hatfield becomes
surprisinglyreceptive. “Evan also got himself out of Atlantic,” she
says. “He’s trying tofind a new label and make some good
demos.”

The two recently recorded together again for a Gram Parsons
tribute album.”When I was hanging out with Evan, that’s all he
listened to,” Hatfield says.The record, scheduled for a January
release, includes the likes of ElvisCostello, Wilco and Beck, who
duets with Emmylou Harris.

Hatfield is not without her own label travails: She recently
split fromMammoth Records, the label that helped put her on the
musical map. “When[Mammoth] left Atlantic, they had to let me go
and I wanted to leave,” shesays. “They didn’t really care about me
anymore or get what I was doing. And Ijust don’t want to make music
where I’m not appreciated, so I wanted to gosomewhere I was.”

Her new album is the first to be released on Zoe, a new
subsidiary of Mercury.However, she has not signed a contract with
them. “I’m free to go where I wantafter this,” she says. “I’m very
hesitant to commit to a long-term thingbecause of what happened. I
realize everything can go bad so quickly and Ijust want to wait
until I find something that seems really good.”

Until then, Juliana plans to take her newfound, somewhat
wavering self-esteemon the road this fall. “This stuff is more
confident and laid back … Ithink.”

Newswire

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