I SPENT DAYS AND DAYS re-listening to Concrete Blonde. It was a heady roller coaster—sticky nostalgia, a sad twinge that the LA trio's early sound hasn't weathered well, and delight that frontwoman Johnette Napolitano's voice certainly has, as on their new white-vinyl single "Rosalie." Her beautiful voice is still as deep and throaty and strong as when it blasted out of my boombox in 1993.
Concrete Blonde has taken two hiatuses since their heyday in the early '90s—the era of "Joey" and the great vampiric album Bloodletting. They recently reunited for a 20th anniversary show of Bloodletting in 2010. Napolitano and bandmates James Mankey and Gabriel Ramirez Quezada have been touring the world since.
"The band just comes and goes in our lives, when it suits us. It has a more organic place," Napolitano says. "Everybody's got enough space to do what they want. And we're going places where there's no preconceived notions of the band."
Make no mistake, the fast-talking and quick-to-laugh Napolitano doesn't give a crap about those preconceived notions of Concrete Blonde, whose music has matured well beyond their brash and gritty Hollywood origins. "When I was younger it used to concern me, but now I really don't care. It's liberating; you can never be free or know who you are if you give that much of a shit about what people think of you, ever."
And because I can't help myself, I ask her about her interest in vampires. "Come on. Oh, seriously? [Bloodletting] is 20 years old. I was spending a lot of time in New Orleans and that was the flavor. It was metaphorical for a lot of stuff that was going down in my life. It got so silly. People were leaving teeth in my dressing room. Vampires... come on, whatever. It's kinda funny that they're so hot now, people like 'em younger and they don't wear much black."
The Joshua Tree-dwelling Napolitano is more into horses these days. "I got two horses for New Year's. Last night was a full moon, and my white horse was glowing under the moon like a frickin' unicorn. It was blowin' my mind." Yep, Concrete Blonde's vampire days are long gone.