Florence Welch on Covering Green Day, Quitting Drinking
Beyoncé isn’t the only artist who channeled a recent rocky patch in her private life into an ambitious multimedia project. In April, Florence and the Machine released The Odyssey, a 47-minute film featuring songs from last year’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – an attempt, according to Florence Welch, to make sense of “the car crash of a relationship breakup I was going through.” Welch recently spoke to Rolling Stone about somewhat mellower topics, including her skate-punk past, why she loved Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child and when she knew it was time to stop partying.
What’s the most British thing about you?
I’m attracted to things that aren’t simply pretty – there has to be an element of darkness to it, like the beauty of the smog. That comes from growing up in London. I also find it very hard to say something intimate without following it with a joke. “Quickly, make it sarcastic! Pull it back!” I don’t know if that’s a British thing or just a Welch family thing.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Little House on the Prairie. For Christmas, my aunt gave me and my sister little custom smock prairie dresses, and we would make a prairie in our house, with a lake made out of towels. I may have sensed something unsettled in my parents’ marriage; they eventually divorced. The book might have symbolized some kind of domesticity or stability to me.
What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
I’ve been reading Patti Smith’s M Train. She’s given us some really beautiful parts of herself with her [two memoirs]. It’s incredibly inspiring the way she can truly be herself in the public eye.
What are your earliest musical memories?
My dad has great taste; he used to play me the Velvet Underground, the Smiths and the Stones. He was excited when I got to sing “Gimme Shelter” with Mick Jagger. He said, “You know, I always thought that was the song you were supposed to sing.”
It’s hard to imagine, but you were really into skate punk.
The first CD I ever bought was Green Day’s Dookie. It was my first clue that there could be a whole identity around the music you liked. I had the shoes and the world’s baggiest cords. The only thing I didn’t have was a skateboard.
You even recorded a complete cover of Green Day’s Nimrod a few years ago.
I was going to see punk bands, and [producer-artist] Dev Hynes and I bonded. We were talking about how we loved Nimrod, and we recorded it in his kitchen with just his guitar. It’s out there on the Internet! Later, I met Billie Joe Armstrong, and he told me he liked it. My 13-year-old self’s head was exploding somewhere in the past.
What is the best part of success?
I love to experiment, to create a world to get lost in. I can do that as a job, down to the outfits and the staging.
Paris Hilton Revisits 'Stars Are Blind' 17 Years Later Alongside Kim Petras
- Woo Ah Meets Sliving