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Music Interview: Isabel Monteiro, Drugstore

By Scott Wood Last edited 86 months ago
Music Interview: Isabel Monteiro, Drugstore

isabelmonteiro.jpg
Isabel Monteiro by Katja Medic

To call Drugstore an 'indie band with occasional cello' is like calling a good bottle of wine 'fruit juice with some alcohol in it. Isabel Monterio, self-confessed "mildly deranged woman in a crazy rock'n'roll band" has a glittery eyed passion about being in a band which translates into music that is mad, sad, angry, raging, drunk, randy and reflective and longing.

Initially about it in the late nineties, their greatest hit was "El President", a duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke. The band then dissolved but Isabel is back, living in her cave in Kew after various adventure and unpleasantries in East London with some new cowboys for the band ("Drugstore Cowboys, geddit?) and a sold out show at the ICA on 5 May. We popped by to 'Say Hello'.

On the song "Mondo Cane" you wrote the lyric "I'll drink til I'm senseless, whatever the wine". How're you feeling at the moment?

On top of the cave and buzzing, delighted to see a few pretty lights ahead.

Your blog's written really well. If Drugstore was a book, what sort of book would it be?

Exciting first chapters, shambolic plot in the middle, and with a pretty dramatic ending. Oh, and filled with 'El Dodgyo' metaphors and cringing typos throughout.

Some Drugstore songs sound steeped in London. Do some songs have sense of place for you?

Don't think I've ever written anything quite as literal as "Stuck on Mile End Road with You" yet, but songs tend to trap the place and vibe of the moment, whenever they spring to life. There's a bunch of stuff that's very London, claustrophobic, grey and introspective, but every now and again the openness of the blue sea and a Brazilian pepper gets thrown into the mix.

What are the new cowboys bringing to the Drugstore sound?

The Drugstore roadmap has completely opened-up. The new cowboys, Tito, Guy and Leon have injected a huge amount of beauty and flair, and often surprised me. We're gonna make a great album together filled with crying slides, cheeky tremolos, sharp melodies, subtlety and class. Drugstore fans are in for a real treat.

You're in Kew now, after a housing nightmare in east London outlined in your blog, what's Kew like?

I've ended up moving from one end of the District line to the other. The contrast could not have been greater: from the deprivation of the east, to the wealthiest suburb on the west side.

I'm in songwriting mode, and Kew Gardens has been perfect: waking up to songbird, the only smoker left in the village, going for long walks along the Thames path, rock'n'roll sunglasses on and a mini-bottle of Brandy in my pocket. This must be heaven.

Like a lot of us, you're not London born and bred. What were your first impressions of the capital?

Fell in love straight away. I come from a city, São Paulo, that heavily relies on cars. I don't drive, and was delighted and impressed by the public transport here. Yes, it's a bit rackety in places, and the fares have shot through the roof in the last few years, but still, you can just about get anywhere. I love it. IT just needs to fully revert back to Public Investment. It's the city's greatest asset.

Have you picked up on any noticeable London tendencies?

Good one: less plastic bags.

Bad one: that bloody symbol of selfishness: those huge corporate umbrellas that knock everyone else out of the way. Bastards.

Are there any London bands, musicians or music clubs you think we should know about?

Could list a couple of things, but instead I really wanna highlight the importance of keeping places like the ICA running. A lot of art institutions and museums have seen a decline in public funding and had to resort more and more to scavenging and begging to the corporate rats. It's criminal.

And finally, your ICA gig is sold out so do you have any other gigs, CDs, downloads, line of Drugstore outfits or jars of jam you'd like to ask us to look at?

Got quite a few things bubbling in the pipeline: more gigs, masterplan for upcoming single release and working on album material. Also, getting a book idea together, something on the lines of "ridiculous life of a mildly deranged woman in a crazy rock'n'roll band - uncensored!" I'm looking for a suitably shame-free, generous publisher to finance book research in the Maldives. Know anyone?

By Scott Wood

Drugstore play the ICA on 5 May. We'll be there.

Last Updated 15 April 2010