Just as a public service announcement: It is possible to drive from the Snowdon Metro to the Cabaret on St. Laurent during the peak of Montreal rush-hour traffic in less than 20 minutes. With an illegal left onto Evans off of Saint-Urbain, then another illegal left turn onto Rue Ontario and a final illegal left onto St. Laurent; I made it to the interview on time and without any traffic violations in hand. Ironically the interview started a half hour late and I got a parking ticket when I got back to my car.
Thea and I stood around the dimly lit Cabaret while Nashville Pussy's gear got set up. A male groupie approached and talked to us about meeting Roger Waters at his Old Montreal boutique Hotel. Now the 40 something year old with CD covers in hand was here to gather a few more scribbles from Nashville Pussy.
Finally, Blaine Cartwright (lead guitarist and vocalist for Nashville Pussy) walks in and invites us backstage for the interview. Looking for a lighter with Mother Nature's finest rolled up and dangling from his mouth, the interview begins.
TY: How was your trip into Montreal?
Blaine: Fine, yeah. We picked up a Leslie speaker from a friend – a Leslie speaker for an organ. The driver plays the organ sometimes. It's crazy, that's what we did on the way in.
TY: So that's in Montreal or is it outside of Montreal?
Blaine: Outside of Montreal, on the way from Ottawa.
TY: Okay, you played Ottawa last night?
Blaine: It was good, I'm usually not a big fan of Ottawa, but it was nice.
TY: You actually know Canada quite well for an American.
Blaine: I've been up and down Canada many times, yeah.
TY: What about Montreal, what do you like about Montreal?
Blaine: This place, I love coming here, man. I walked straight to Schwartz's Deli. I passed a bunch of little ones on the way and I bet some of these little ones are better. But I just did the touristy thing, you know. I've been going there since we first came here in 1997. I tell ya, I like everything about it, except for one thing: It's fucking cold. I mean, if we could move this whole city down to Tennessee somewhere, get a baseball team back and all that kind of shit that I like. I like it here; it's like a combination of Europe and America and Canada. I was actually kicked out of Montreal in 1984; we were trying to start another band, Nine Pound Hammer. We were trying to start it here, and our drummer at the time had a girlfriend in Montreal and was living up here with her. He said to come on up, so I packed my stuff in a cardboard box and came on up. At the border they were like "What do you think you're doing?" and I was like "I'm going to visit my friend." They asked "You got any money?" and I got $400, which I thought was a million. So I stayed at this house that he was at, with his girlfriend and girlfriend's mom, and I had a 10 day pass and immigration came to the door to make sure I was leaving and he was leaving when we were supposed to. That kind of sucked. I always liked it here a lot, there are lots of pretty girls and I've always had a good time here. When we play in Montreal we meet the right people and stuff. Some cities are like Austin Texas, I'd rather go there to party than to play. I like playing here, we usually do well here and the crowds are responsive, it's always great. Never any problems and we always have a really nice time. I like Atlanta, but I don't like to play there. This is my favourite place to play, it's a cool town and it's not a big media center so there's less pressure, unlike New York or LA, where if you fuck up everyone knows about it.
TY: Is this the first time you will be playing at the Cabaret?
Blaine: We played here, pretty sure we played here, we've played a lot of different places, but this is the first place I remember being. It seemed really huge back then too and it looks like Carnegie Hall. I love this fucking place. It's the greatest fucking place in town, I'm glad we're back. I really don't know how it happened.
TY: What inspired the name Nashville Pussy?
Blaine: It was the intro to a Ted Nugent record from "Double Live Gonzo" called "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and he said "I'm dedicating this song to Nashville pussy" and I always thought it's a couple of crazy words to put together. Me and Ruyter were living in Nashville at the time and we had girls in the band. Once we thought it was a good name we started thinking of reasons why it had to be our name. I was walking around, came back in and told everybody, and they all laughed and started thinking "why not?" because we were having trouble thinking of a name. There's nothing worse than thinking of a band name, and the worst is thinking with a bunch of other people at the same time. The best thing about having a name was that the argument was over with. France is the only country that's put us on national television; we're kind of rock stars over there. We were on the front page of "La Monde" one day, and here, anywhere that's got a marquee outside, they don't put us on the marquee. Last night, in Ottawa the small marquee didn't have us on there, its like "Come on, please" and they're like "Well, everyone knows, and we don't want any trouble". I can't believe that the word "pussy" is still a bad word. People say "bitch" all the time, and I could have sworn it would have been the other way around, that bitch would be a bad word and pussy would be something fun. Seriously, you can see any TV show, a kid's show where they say "She's a B" as in bitch. You still can't say "pussy". We're not any closer to being able to say pussy than when we started. I thought it would change within a few years, I thought pussy would be no big deal.
TY: What's funny, I think, is that most everyone thinks of vagina when you mention pussy and I think, "What's wrong with that, it's a cat!" They're jumping to conclusions!
Blaine: That's the story we told my grandmother. I had to hear my grandmother say the fucking name, too. That hurt.
TY: What inspires you?
Blaine: Boredom. Boredom makes you write, I still get inspired watching Bob Dylan documentaries. I just find new people to like, and discovering old songs, discovering stuff we liked before. We're still big music fans, I think you gotta be, or else it's going to get boring.
TY: What new music inspires you?
Blaine: Anything that's new. There's an album from a band called the "Golden Gods" that came out 5 years ago. But I'm 46 years old, so 5 years ago is like a year ago. So that's new, and I think they already broke up. Most rock and roll bands that are new break up because there isn't a lot of money in it anymore, so you don't have any reason to keep going other than to keep on going. I don't know a lot of new bands.
TY: How about the old stuff, what do you enjoy?
Blaine: Basic stuff, we listen to Stones and Zeppelin. I listen to a lot of guitar stuff, Johnny Leonard, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, all the hard rock stuff. My hero's James Brown, though. He does a lot of soul and funk. I've got a wide variety of stuff I listen to. Ted Nugent one second, Bob Dylan the next second. Everything but jazz, I think. I don't understand it very well.
TY: How would you describe the band and the music you play?
Blaine: It's just hard, fast rock and roll. It's got a certain punk quality to it, the solos and song writing elevate it above most punk bands, I'm sure. It's like Motorhead and AC/DC fucking while Lynyrd Skynyrd watches. The last record was like the southern rock record that Alice Cooper never made.
TY: What's it like, working with your wife in a rock band?
Blaine: It's nice, man, it's nice. At the beginning especially, because if you're the two people in charge then you've always got them there. We get along better at home than we do on the road. On the road it can get a little frustrating. Overall, it's better than being away from her because I don't have to call home or shit like that.
TY: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Blaine: Practice your ass off. All the time. As much as possible. I got a work ethic late in life, especially towards music, I had a hard time because I was thinking about it all the time, but was only doing it part-time. Now, I was working at it more than anything else, but I didn't understand that whole work non-stop at it. The only time I've ever done well was when I've done that. If you're worth a shit and you work non-stop at it, then something's bound to happen. Something positive is bound to come out.
TY: When did you start playing guitar?
Blaine: It was late in life at 18. My wife says I was like one of those people who learned to play in college, but first, I didn't go to college, and second off, instead of playing sensitive songwriter stuff, I played rock and roll. Usually people who pick up a guitar at 18 years old sound like they're an REM copy band or something like that.
TY: Do you find you play less when you're on tour because you're already playing on stage?
Blaine: Yeah, I don't play at all when I'm on tour, I'll go check my guitar for a second and that will be my jamming for the day.
TY: When do you start missing it after the tour?
Blaine: I don't get to play the guitar in the band, I play the guitar and sing, I don't get to sit back and play like if I was just playing the guitar. I get pretty hungry right away. I'll be home a day or so. I'll take the guitar and just play guitar. Playing and singing is kind of a pain in the ass.
Then it was over. As quickly as Blaine arrived for the interview he runs off, he glides off to the stage for a short sound check. I decide to go home for a quick meal and a few ZZZZZZs before the 11pm concert that night.