Thalia Zedek solo albums have been an irregular occurrence of late: Liars and Prayers, released in 2008, wasn't followed up until 2013's Via — but, right on the heels of that release, the one-time guitarist for bands like Live Skull and Come is releasing a new EP this month. To what do we owe the sudden rush of new material?
"We didn't really get a chance to tour properly with Via," she explains. "I'd had bad luck with drummers — the drummer I'd played with for like 12 years, Daniel Coughlin, had left the band, and there was a series of other drummers that came and went, then the guy who recorded Via, Dave Bryson, ended up moving to Buenos Aires right after. Between that and stuff I'd been doing with Come, I kind of felt like we hadn't had a chance to properly promote Via."
At the behest of her label, Chicago's Thrill Jockey, Zedek went back into the studio to cut the new EP, SIX, which, of course, is six songs (including a Freakwater cover). That way, she has something brand-new to tour behind in addition to last year's record. The tunes on SIX are signature Zedek — the dreamy take on blues, the gravely, honest and serious vocals — but a bit stripped-down compared to some of the more complicated arrangements of her past work.
"It's nice to put something out quickly and stay on a roll," she adds.
The tour that brings Zedek to Pittsburgh this week is her first in a few years, besides some West Coast dates last year and a few on the eastern seaboard to promote Via. Touring still holds interest for the longtime musician, even though she's been playing for 30 years.
"It definitely has its ups and downs," she says. "That's the thing about touring: You can have a great show one night, a packed club and a great audience, you're just on a total high, then the next show, you're playing to the sound man, and the bartender wants to close early. I'm still in that sort of phase of my touring life, unfortunately — there's ups and downs. You kind of need a thick skin."
Last year's excitement for Zedek included some Come reunion shows on the heels of an anniversary re-release of the band's classic album 11:11.
"I think that was a really big deal for us — 11:11 had actually been out of print and unavailable for a long time, and none of us were happy with that," she says. "We felt like there was enough interest in the record that it should be available."
The German label Glitterhouse worked with Matador Records to re-release the album, and the band — still on good terms — played some shows to support it. Zedek says it was basically a one-time thing.
"Does that mean we would never ever do anything in the future? Not necessarily," she says.
But it also doesn't mean they're hiding out in the basement writing an album's worth of songs together.
"No, absolutely not!" she says with a laugh. "We're spread all over the country, doing absolutely different things with our lives."