"The best show I've seen in five years," sez Rick Rubin of the Gossip | Rock Candy

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"The best show I've seen in five years," sez Rick Rubin of the Gossip

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2007 at 2:21 PM

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The Gossip, the three-piece riot grrl/garage band with Arkansas roots, features prominently in the cover story on Rick Rubin in Sunday's New York Times magazine. It's a pretty good profile of Rubin and his vision for Columbia Records (he's been the co-head since May), including talk about a plan that Rubin and Jimmy Iovine at Universal support that would make music something consumers subscribe to, like cable for television. But for all y'all provincial Rock Candy readers, we'll pare down the article to just the glowing mentions of the Gossip and its lead singer Beth Ditto, who's from Kensett. They open and close the article.

The lede.

Rick Rubin is listening. A song by a new band called the Gossip is playing, and he is concentrating. He appears to be in a trance. His eyes are tightly closed and he is swaying back and forth to the beat, trying at once to hear what is right and wrong about the music....As the Gossip, which is fronted by a large, raucous woman named Beth Ditto, shouts to a stop, Rubin opens his eyes and nods yes. This is the first new band signed to Columbia that he has been enthralled by, but he is not yet sure how to organize the Gossip's future.

The conclusion.

Rubin headed back to his Range Rover. In the car, he said he had some live footage of the Gossip that he wanted to show me. "I saw the group at the Troubadour, and they blew my mind," he said. "It was the best show I've seen in five years. Afterward, I met with the band. They felt stressed, and they were having trouble writing songs. The energy in the room when they were performing was so intense, and I'm not even sure how we'd get it to feel like that in the studio. So we decided to record a live show during their European tour, and we're going to release a DVD of the live album as their first release."

Rubin looked pleased. Beth Ditto, the lead singer of the Gossip, is exactly what he has been looking for since he took this job at Columbia: she is an outsize personality in an outsize body with a Joplin-esque, bluesy voice. Ditto is the kind of artist Rubin loves — unique, ambitious and open to guidance. "For a band like the Gossip," Rubin continued, "the support of a record company like Columbia is still really important. I grew up in the independent music business, and you still really need the muscle of the majors. A record company call can still get you heard like nobody else."

Rubin paused. "That's the magic of the business," he said. "It's all doom and gloom, but then you go to a Gossip show or hear Neil in the studio and you remember that too many people make and love music for it to ever die. It will never be over. The music will outlast us all."

Quick thoughts: The Gossip is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "new band." Rubin the ascetic, listening to the Gossip eyes closes and swaying, and then giving a nod of approval--that's an amazing image.

Previous: Beth Ditto on a magazine cover for no-good reason and Beth Ditto on a magazine cover baring it all.

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