PEACHES with NINE INCH NAILS and BAUHAUS at the Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lakeshore West), Saturday (June 24), 7 pm. $29.50-$59.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
On her latest electro-jacked raunchy rock 'n' roll opus, polymorphously perverse princess Peaches covers the following themes, in chronological order: the impeachment of bushes (both her own and the douchebag leading the U.S. into the ground), fucking, well-hung dudes, sexual aggression, tough-ass broads idolized by all genders, "going downtown," Heidi Fleiss, the aphrodisiacal powers of watching two guys get it on, clitoral stimulation, fucking, being a "bad girl," slippery dicks, givin' 'er, gettin' it, being wet and "[sticking] it to the pimp."
But get the woman on the phone and she says something even more shocking than all that trash-talk.
"I think I'm mainstream," yawns the North Toronto-bred Peaches from L.A., where she's lounging with a coffee before heading to a rehearsal with her brand new band, a rock-solid roster of dykeons and tough chicks: the Need's Radio Sloan, Le Tigre's JD Samson and Eagles of Death Metal's Samantha Maloney.
"All those ideas? They're really normal for me - and why shouldn't they be? Why is it a beach party when Jan & Dean sing, 'Two girls for every boy' but a scandal when I sing, 'Two boys for every girl'?
"Most of the world's problems stem from straight male insecurity and anxiety about being homosexual. I think we need a sexual revolution so they can all get fucked more and relax!"
Greetings from Planet Peaches. It's hot as hell here, and you can find anyone attractive in the right light. There's no need for a Pride parade, cuz according to Peaches we're all a different shade of queer, and that's something to be proud of every single day.
Peaches may not necessarily get it on with girls in her personal life on a regular basis any more ("Don't call me post-gay," she moans. "Never say never!"), but the girl is queerer than Will, Grace and every character on The L Word.
The non-hetero revolutionary cause benefits more from just one of her songs than it does from a hundred Rosie O'Donnell cruises.
That's cuz the Teaches Of Peaches are all about queer politics in the sense of decentring the norm. You may think tunes like Fuck The Pain Away (her unofficial anthem, which, rumour has it, was banned from an L.A. strip club due to overplay) are just about sex, but Peaches' mission is to overturn power structures, dismantle gender binaries and end misogyny, all while ensuring everyone gets off.
"My whole deal is to question authority and why power happens in certain places. If you let people have power and don't question their standards, Bush happens. If you allow Church into Parliament, you don't get sex.
"With this album [Impeach My Bush, out July 11 on XL], I keep hearing things like 'Suddenly Peaches is political,' but it's no different from anything else I've done," says the macho- femme performer, who's currently dividing her time between her adoptive homes of Berlin and Los Angeles, where she recorded the new disc.
"I've always just made party music for people to fuck and go crazy to, and whatever content I put in flips the message and makes it subversive. You sing along, and it's only later that you realize what you've been singing."
Peaches' MO today isn't far from the content of the painfully earnest ditties she produced over a decade ago, when she was known as Merrill Nisker, half of local folk duo Mermaid Café. Yeah, I was young and naive at the time, but I still remember being genuinely awed by the tragic tale of two boys in love when I first heard Mermaid Café's ballad Gabey & Mike on a mixtape from my grade 9 crush back in the day. (Peaches is quick to credit the tune to the other girl in the band.)
She dabbled in jazzy avant rock and funny outfits as Fancypants Hoodlum, then tried to reconcile her growing affinity for "new electronic sounds" with her distaste for the medium's customary navel-gazing knob-twiddler live performances.
By 2000, with the aid of regular collaborator Jason "Chilly Gonzalez" Beck, she'd signed a deal with German label Kitty-Yo, planned to relocate to Berlin, and figured out how to "make electronic music that was just as in-your-face and exciting as a rock show."
In the same way that Peaches fucked with the proverbial master's tools to break down the boy-dominated master's house of electronic dance music with her self-titled debut EP (on T.O.'s Teenage USA) and her Teaches Of Peaches (Kitty-Yo) breakthrough, she appropriates classic dude-centric musical forms and dirties 'em up on Impeach My Bush.
This time she's taking her trademark sound even further. Along with squelchy electro and simple punk, our girl's busting out massive arena-rock power chords and the sweaty booty bounce of club-ready hiphop.
Peaches claims the arena-ready sound is just another step in her inevitable evolution.
"The first album was 'I've arrived, here it is,' and I did it all myself. There was no computer, no ProTools. The second album was 'You think I'm just this sexual thing? Well, check me out with a beard. '"
"This one," she pauses dramatically, "it's 'Let's start the revolution!'"
Gone are the Roland 505s and lo-fi production, replaced by Les Paul guitars and Marshall amps, original 808 drum machines, Moogs and real instruments played by Peaches and appropriately rock 'n' roll guests like Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, the Gossip's Beth Ditto and Joan Jett. (Joan Jett!)
"Joan says I'm saying what she wishes she could've said back then. She called me up to hang out with her in San Francisco on her 47th birthday."
The disc's lyrics work in tandem with the ball-rockin' aesthetic to signify stadium-sized subversion. Boys Wanna Be Her is AC/DC's TNT in a parallel universe, where guys and girls alike shake in thrall to the new bad girl in town; Two Guys is Jan & Dean perverted and plugged in; the crashing Missy and Timbaland-styled Tent In Your Pants is a direct response to Busta Rhymes's Light Your Ass On Fire; Fuck Or Kill folds an "Impeach [my] Bush" mantra into Peaches' self-described update of "Make love, not war."
"I thought Yoko Ono invented that line, but she didn't. I asked her about it and she said, 'No, it was the hippies. '"
Is Peaches worried that her bid for mainstream acceptance might be hindered by FCC outrage at the album's combo of XXX content and direct attacks on the Bush administration, especially now that she's working on domestic soil?
"It's ridiculous if it does," she snorts. "Look at Dirty South rap; that song Skeet was number one on the charts, and it's about jacking off. I mean, sure, there's a big, big machine around that kind of music, and unfortunately I'm not black and from the South, so I can't be part of that scene."
Is there some truth to Peaches' assertion? Folks are much more comfortable with the classist, racist stereotype-affirming raunch of Li'l Jon than they are with a rich white girl from North Toronto murmuring about slippery dicks, in the same way, mass media likes its female icons to be "Oops, I did it again" hypersexualized objects, not women with body hair and sexual agency.
And that, says Peaches, is the main reason she's trying to bring her Teaches to as many people as humanly possible - even more so now that she's absorbed the faux trash of LA.
"I finally went to a Hollywood party the other week, for Dom Perignon and Karl Lagerfeld. He's shot me," she adds, "so he knows me. Paris Hilton walks by on her cell, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson are dodging paparazzi.
"The saddest thing, though, is that when I looked closely at Paris and Lindsay, they have such sweet faces. They're really, really young - like 21? 23? But they're so fucking terrified. They don't even know who they are yet, and there are cameras following them everywhere. That's why you see pictures of them on the phone all the time - it's their way of keeping up a guard. God, it's sad."
Peaches sighs, then brightens.
"Don't worry. That's exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing."