Piney Gir: From 'The Muppets' To 'Geronimo' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Piney Gir: From 'The Muppets' To 'Geronimo'

Play associated audio

What do you do if you're an aspiring drummer and someone steals your drum set? Well, if you're Piney Gir, you become a singer — because, as she figured it, they can't steal your voice.

Gir grew up in a fundamentalist Pentecostal household in Kansas, attending church four or five times a week. She got the solos in the choir and grew to love performing. The singer, whose real name is Angela Penhaligon, eventually found her way to London and the world of indie art-rock.

Her sound has been compared to Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, but on her latest album, Geronimo, Gir sometimes seems to be conjuring up '60s pop from girl groups to The Troggs. The singer-songwriter spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about making the album, her music influences and her next project.


Interview Highlights

On naming the album Geronimo

"There's a double meaning to that title because I'm a little bit Native American. I came back to the States to record this album, and it felt like a bit of a homecoming. And there's a lot of tribal drums on it, so that's a bit of homage to him. But also, it's that fearlessness, that battle cry. I wanted to do something I'd never done before, and I wanted to do it with my whole self and dive in and just try something new. So it's that kind of 'Geronimo!' So it has those two significances for me."

On recording with a live band

"I think you get a certain live energy when you can look at your drummer in the face or you can glance over at your guitarist and give him a wink. You can even take the song in a bit of a more jammy direction because you can take it as it comes versus contriving it and structuring it in a rigid way. So it gave us a kind of freedom."

On musical influences growing up

"I grew up mainly on a diet of church music, which was sort of bluegrass and gospel influence with a bit of 'happy-clappy' thrown in there — you know, that kind of happy Jesus music where people play tambourines and dance around, very melody-driven. In that sense, I can thank my church education. ... Friday nights, my dad was often doing a youth ministry. My mom and I would watch The Muppets and that was amazing. Johnny Cash was on there and Elton John. I got kind of hooked on The Muppets, so that probably planted the seed."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Novelist Nuruddin Farah: Facing A Blank Page Is 'Bravest Thing' A Writer Does

Farah's latest is called Hiding in Plain Sight. It's the story of Bella, a Somali photographer living in Rome who gets drawn into the lives of her niece and nephew after her half-brother is killed.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ballot Questions Draw Voters In 43 States

Ballot measures cover a lot of ground this year — from minimum wage to school calendars to one involving doughnuts and bear hunting. NPR's Charlie Mahtesian takes NPR's Scott Simon through the list.
NPR

Tech Week: Voice Mail Hang-Ups, Apple Pay And Zuckerberg's Chinese

In this week's roundup, Apple rolls out its mobile payment system but confronts a security test in China, the problem with voice mail messages and Mark Zuckerberg shows off his Mandarin.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.