Friday Fun Fun Fun Fest Interview: Babes in Toyland
The Babes are back in town
Babes in Toyland4:55pm, Black stage
"I don't do half-assed," declares drummer Lori Barbero. "If Babes in Toyland are rocking again, then I want us rocking at 700 miles per hour, no less."
At 53, the Minneapolis-reared timekeeper admittedly resisted the idea of reuniting with her former bandmates, initially.
"I thought, 'Can we physically do this? Can we really play hourlong sets every night?' I mean, I don't act my age. I probably do more things in one day than the average 24-year-old, but still, I was skeptical at first."
Together since 1987, the Minnesotans dropped three rancorous alt-punk LPs in the Nineties' front half, also popularizing that era's "kinderwhore" craze. Her babydoll dress and Mary Janes belied a wrathful wail, while Babes singer Kat Bjelland had the girl-next-door-gone-awry look on lock. Trailblazing bands like Hole, the Lollapalooza '93 vets gingerly fizzled as the decade advanced, officially disbanding in 2001.
For seven years Barbero lived locally, working for South by Southwest and tending bar on Austin's Eastside. She returned to the Twin Cities last fall, as a Babes' reunion rumor mill began to crank.
"Honestly, I thought it'd take us, like, a year to get these songs down again," laughs the former White Horse drink-slinger. "But after about five rehearsals, we nailed 'em."
Barbero drummed casually during Babes' hiatus, in the Minn.-based acts Eggtwist and Koalas, while Bjelland fronted alt-rock outfit Katastrophy Wife and raised her now-16-year-old son. The women hadn't conversed in a decade.
"Until Kat and I reconnected, I hadn't realized how much I loved Babes in Toyland. I really missed these songs. Lately, I'm having so much fun playing drums again that I don't care whether there's five, 100, or 10,000 people in our audience. I just love playing in a band with Kat again."
The pair – plus Prissy Clerks' Clara Salyer, who replaced longtime bassist Maureen Herman in August – conclude their fall tour at Fun Fun Fun Fest. The animated talker (a "go-go-go Sagittarius") relishes in rock, despite the utter anti-glamour of life on the road.
"We take showers at truck stops," she says. "Being a musician is hard, hard work, but I've had a great life. If I died tomorrow, I'd know my life couldn't have been any more fun."