The sense of foreboding in Lydia Lunch's music, spoken word, literature and art also extends to interviews. "Good luck with the transcription," she says after our phone chat ahead of her North American Retrovirus tour.
Reached at home in Barcelona, the 53-year-old who first made her name in music in the late 1970s as the virulent vocalist for New York no wave group Teenage Jesus and the Jerks had just returned from leading an artistic workshop entitled Post-Catastrophe Collaboration for 47 women in Rennes, France.
"It was like a mad orgy of creative juices," she says. "I'm glad we didn't all start bleeding at once. It could've been a flood that France would've never recovered from."
Lunch disdains the icon status post-punk fans have ascribed to her and continues to make music (she has three bands on the go) to satisfy her contrarian urges. She's avowedly confrontational ("I shit in the face of history," she says), but not all her work is gloomy. She just published a cookbook.
Originally she intended to bring her rock group Big Sexy Noise on tour, but paperwork scuttled the plan. Instead, she's doing back-catalogue stuff with drummer Bob Bert, bassist Algis Kizys and guitarist Weasel Walters.
Does she still relate to Teenage Jesus after all these years? "How could anyone not relate to lyrics like ‘I woke up screaming?'" she replies. "The music is still fairly outrageous. It's so precise, it's so brutal, it's so angry, and it made me really angry to start playing it again. I just think women need to be encouraged not to be afraid to do really ugly music."
Lunch promises the event will be more "jolly" than angry, but don't expect a delightful romp. Even talk of her cookbook, The Need To Feed, quickly turns heavy.
The idea came from the HBO vampire series True Blood. Actress Michelle Forbes has said that Lunch inspired her character, Maryann, a cannibalistic organizer of culinary blood orgies. That got Lunch thinking.
"I've always cooked for people. I got my name stealing food for [the band] Mink DeVille because we were hungry," she says.
The final chapter, Weekend Detox, chronicles the toxic dump sites she's lived near and the relatives from her hometown of Rochester, New York, she's lost to cancer.
"If you shop in a big supermarket, it's like buying drugs off the street," she says. "You don't know what you're getting. That's just one of the things I wanted to make people aware of. And, you know, to make it fun and sassy and sexy as well."