Saying goodbye to her
marriage and the Mendoza
Line, the songstress comes alive.
BY LAVINIA JONES WRIGHT
For her solo debut, former Mendoza Line chanteuse Shannon
McArdle had only one objective: to avoid being labeled Alt-country. And if fans
and critics can listen to Summer of the
Whore without expecting it to resemble Mendoza line, then they will definitely find
that it doesn’t and McArdle will have succeeded. With a miscellany of styles
being explored throughout – “Poison My Cup” toys at ‘60s girl group riffs and
drums, “That Night in June” slides into a haunting and groggy waltz meter, and
the steely guitar hits and fizzy organ riffs on “Leave Me For Dead” hark to
“70s movie soundtracks – Summer is an
affecting and complex album by a woman who found herself suddenly unaccompanied
in life and in music after divorcing bandmate Timothy Bracy. Between classes –
McArdle is a teacher in New York
– BLURT spoke to the affable singer
about her unexpected solo turn.
BLURT: Why did you
call the record Summer of the Whore?
I wrote the song “Summer of Whore” about the summer of 2007,
which was just awful for me. It’s just about the feelings of desperation and
the worthlessness you feel when you’re desperate for any type of company. Not to
say I was a whore in the summer of 2007, that’s a character of course, but it’s
about going through extreme sadness and desperation and confusion, and anger
and then realizing that I’m not married anymore. I had all these questions
about how my life is going to be as far as men are concerned.
BLURT: You weren’t
really a trained musician when you joined Mendoza
Line. Is becoming a solo artist something you ever expected?
No and I still don’t. I still know my ten chords on the
guitar. I play the guitar to write songs and I play on the record, and I’m
going to play guitar live, but I’m the world’s worst guitar player because I
don’t have any interest in getting better at it! Writing came very easy to me
because no one discouraged me, I didn’t realize that you were supposed to know
how to play guitar. It certainly was not what I expected to do.
BLURT: What were the feelings between the band members
about disbanding the Mendoza
There was never really a disbanding, there was never really
any talk about it. It was just obvious that the band couldn’t go on because Tim
and I weren’t together anymore. It was something we had both worked on together
and developed together, so we decided that neither of us would use the name
anymore. I think everyone else was just so uncomfortable about what had
happened between Tim and me that I don’t think they thought so much about it.
BLURT: Do you feel like maybe it was a good thing for you
because you got to make a solo record?
For years I had been thinking about doing a solo record and
there never seemed to be time because if there was time for writing songs or
touring or recording, it had to be dedicated to the band. Doing a solo record
was a wonderful experience, and it’s been almost a year and half, so I’m beginning
to think that the marriage breaking up is somehow a good thing. It’ll become
clear to me why in the future.
BLURT: There are a lot of different styles being mixed
together on the record, but it seems that all the songs are coming from the
same place emotionally. It’s kind of like this string that ties all the songs
Yeah, I decided pretty early on that I wanted a narrative,
starting out with these extremely raw, angry, pathetic feelings and trying to
end on some sort of either hope or a strong note with the second to last song
“Come Out and Breathe,” which sort of contemplates finding love again.
BLURT: Did writing
the songs help you deal with the things you were feeling at the time?
I’m sure writing them helped, and the thing that helped most
was finishing a project. Just having it done, I feel a tremendous feeling of
relief and pride.