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Click on the links below to read the articles:
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Reviews:
Free to Do What? :
Erasing Clouds Review April 2002
Shake It Up! Review April 2002
Ink19 Review May 2002
Cosmik Debris Review May 2002
Seattle Weekly Review June 2002
Yahoo.com Review June 2002
Umbrella Music Review June 2002
Tribute to the Movie 'Nashville' - SFBG.com August 2002
Sleazegrinder.com Review 2002
Mote Magazine Review 2002
The All Music Guide Review 2002
Circa These Thoughts are Occupied 7" :
Exclaim! Magazine Review April 2001
Splendide Zine Review 2001
No Depression Review Nov/Dec 2001

Interviews:
Yo Yo a Go Go - Nada Mucho.com Interview July 2001
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Free to Do What? – Erasing Clouds Review
April 2002, Issue 9
By Dave Heaton

As The Tennessee Twin, Cindy Wolfe and her band take hyper-traditional country, delivered with skill and panache, and mix it with subversive lyrics that alternate social critique with portraits of interpersonal relationships. It's an interesting fit; there's something appropriate about an American who cites Dubya as one of the reasons she's staying in Canada playing music that is American by definition…and not just American, but of the heartland, of the most, um, "traditional' parts of the country. With a title song that takes on corporate influence on democracy ("free to do what? to buy this thing or that?") and a drawing on the disc that turns the American flag into a shopping bag, Free to Do What? has a nice, critical edge to it. Yet there's also humor at work, as evidenced by the line that the music walks between reverence and parody. There's the exact balance between the two--this is genuine country music, written and played superbly. Great melodic hooks are supported by country ballads and dance-hall shuffles. There's steel guitar, accordion, the whole works. There's even a fine cover of a Dolly Parton song, "Wildflowers." Yet as authentic as this all is--it is clear that Wolfe and the others love country music--there's also something playfully rebellious about the way that such authenticity blends with the lyrical critiques. When Wolfe's singing about domestic violence or critiquing the "everything's for sale" capitalist mentality, the lyrics jibe with the chosen musical style in an interesting, layered way. Free to Do What? also works, though, because there's such a jubilant sense of fun behind it, a quality that lifts you up to dancing while also adding an optimism to the social critiques.

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Free To Do What? – Shake It Up! Review
April 2002, * * * 1/2 out of 5
By Claudio Sossi

Transplanted American Cindy Wolfe, now setting up shop in Vancouver, is a real twin (her sister being Allison of Bratmobile). One look at the CD cover or after a minute of listening to the opening title track will spell out where the "Tennessee" part comes in. Free To Do What? is a honky-tonking good time that'll have you clapping, singing, and partying along with Wolfe and friends in no time.

In taking the country route, Wolfe has the sense to write and sing material suited to her vocal style. While this doesn't amount to a powerhouse style like Neko Case or Kelly Hogan, Wolfe delivers on other accounts. What we get on Free To Do What? is a vocal delivery loaded with more than a little charm and honesty.

And then there's wit to spare. The title track is as scathing an indictment of corrupt values as its title suggests, working well with its country twang. The Apple Of Your Black Eye, a collaboration between Wolfe and New Pornographer Carl Newman, has lyrics that live up to its hilarious title while Ruben, Oh Ruben is one of the funnest "character" songs you'll hear ("he's our mailman!"). Maija Martin's accordion adds a nice dose of Zydeco here as well.

The noteworthy musicianship doesn't stop there, either. Shane Nelken's tasteful guitar playing does much throughout, while pedal steel player Mark Thibeault adds a perfect weeopy tone to songs like Oh Darkness. The versatility here ranges from barnburners like Southern Duckhead to more delicate takes like the cover of Dolly Parton's Wildflowers.

A feel-good collaborative environment comes through all over Free To Do What? (which, I'm guessing, probably makes their live shows memorable), with Wolfe expertly leading the proceedings. Instant fun.

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Free to Do What? – Ink19 Review
May 2002
By Matt Cibula

Cindy Wolfe peers at me accusingly from the cover of her CD: she's pregnant, she's wearing some kind of demented princess gown/prom dress green satiny thing, and she's holding a protest sign: "FREE TO DO WHAT?" She's angry, but she's country; she's funny, but she's serious; her twin sister Allison Wolfe sings for Bratmobile, but Cindy always favored the western swing of their native Tennessee, so she chooses to do her protest songs as alt.old-ass.country. She channels Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn and all those honkytonk angels whose nasally twangs rocked the house back in the '40s and '50s and '60s... but making it all subversive and political and stuff. Not radical (remember early k.d. lang?), but spunky and respectful all at once.

That's what makes Free to Do What? so much fun: Cindy and her band hit it dead on. Her voice is pinched and perfect as she bangs out heavy-handed protest anthems like the title track ("Mr. President from the elections that weren't free / Thanks for all the violence and all the hypocrisy") and lighter smarter stuff like "The Apple of Your Black Eye" ("No I ain't fixin' no black-eyed peas / But you can have a black eye if you please"). She's got an ear for the big hooks, as you can hear in album-closer "It's Just Propane," and she's got a taste for blood, as she proves in the Gram Parsons rip "Big Emo Eyes." And her band is wonderful, especially fiddler/singer Monica Chattaway, accordionist/singer Maija Martin, and the rhythm section of Kurt Dahle and Coco Culbertson.

So there's everything to love about The Tennessee Twin and nothing to hate... unless you count the 33-minute running time of this CD.

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Free to Do What? – Cosmik Debris Review
May 2002
By DJ Johnson

Cindy Wolfe and her band play a truly alt version of country music. It's bouncy, it makes you feel good even when its message is "tomorrow can't get worse than today," and it's funnier than a long George Dubya speech with lots of "hard words." Wolfe, the identical twin sister of Bratmobile's Alison Wolfe, has moved from the US to Canada, reportedly at least in part as a reaction to the current administration, and her sister convinced her to follow her country heart and start a band. Turns out her band is one of the most entertaining around and she's quite a writer. Gotta love a line like "These thoughts are occupied, but not by you." My thoughts are occupied, too, with questions like "where have I heard this pedal steel player before?" Mark Thibeault, eh? Damn, the guy can make it twang. So can Cindy. Her voice has a great little nasal twang to it that reminds me of Bobbi Jo Bob, the fictional country singer in the 80s mini-series, Fresno. Yep, Bobbi Jo Bob with good songs. What a concept. This is only their debut. It's just gonna get better. That's the amazing part.

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Free to Do What? – Seattle Weekly Review
June 13 - 19, 2002
By Seattle Weekly Staff

Vancouver, B.C.'s Tennessee Twin whup the country into shape.

Country music rarely, if ever, raises a defiant fist in the dust-covered face of convention. Even alt-country tends to hug the rails of established tradition, eschewing modern politics for old-fashioned songs about drinking and heartache. Of course, all that will change if Tennessee Twin's Cindy Wolfe has her way. On the band's debut record, Free to Do What?, Wolfe (twin sister of Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe) is raising the consciousness of trad country and putting it to work for feminist and anti-capitalist causes. Here, the personal is the political; Wolfe's status as a squeaky-voiced white girl is both a vehement political position and a reason to scrutinize her own beliefs. On the peppy title track, she delves into her own privilege, singing, "Free to do what?/To ruin the whole world/What I've been taught as a North American girl." On "The Apple of Your Black Eye," she turns typical depictions of spousal abuse upside down by granting power to the victim rather than lingering on her trauma. Even the record's cover, with its image of Wolfe in a silken party dress, hands clasped round a huge protest sign, signals a shift toward empowerment. This is music that kicks and fights its way toward equality, rather than whimpering for it. Tizzy Asher

Tennessee Twin play Graceland at 3 p.m. Sun., June 16. $8 adv.

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Free to do what? Yahoo.com Review | UmbrellaMusic
Monday June 24, 2002
By Jay Somerset

It doesn't take long to fall for the charm that is Cindy Wolfe, lead vocalist, mandolin and sometime tambourine player for The Tennessee Twin. Her nasal voice, reminiscent of the old-time twang of Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn, makes me want to buy a barn and throw a summer festival. Her voice is so authentically southern that, admittedly, I thought she was putting me on and was playing a faux alt-country urban hillbilly character. As it turns out, she was born and raised in Memphis.

In the title track 'Free to do what?' Wolfe asks: "Once upon a time I took a class called History/ It taught me how to make the world safe for democracy/but when I raised my hand, asking what had United Fruit planned/ Teacher said just sit back and thank God that you're free/ Free to do what?"

From these lines it's easy to see why she moved to Canada and signed on with Mint Records, a company known for giving artists the right of way. Wolfe came to Vancouver a few years ago and says that "Dubya" will keep her from going back to the States any time soon. Their loss. The entire album is a romp of fiddles, accordion, mandolin, pedal steel, guitars and sugar sweet harmony-leaving the listener with the feeling of stepping into a family affair, a backyard barbecue. But, as with all backyard barbecues, this is not for everyone; if twangy vocals make you cringe, and you just couldn't get into Robert Altman's Nashville, keep-a-going.

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Free to Do What? SFBG.com Review
Various artists A Tribute to the Soundtrack to Robert Altman's Nashville (Mint Records)

August 20, 2002
By Jimmy Draper

What with the immensely popular O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and Ryan Adams earning their fair share of Grammy nods and name-checks from Elton John, alt-country looks poised to possibly give today's dollar-driven Nashville a run for its money. Not that Shania and Faith need fret about new day jobs, of course, but it seems mainstream America may actually be interested in country music that's a little more, well, country. Whether that's good or bad depends on whether you'd rather an act like Neko Case become a household name or remain your "little secret," but considering Adams's newfound success, chances are that all the selfish indie-snobbery in Whiskeytown won't keep Case's next album of old-schooled country crooning off the charts and airwaves when it hits the street later this year.

Which must be a promising prospect for Cindy Wolfe, Case's old pal from Tacoma, Wash. On her Vancouver-based band's full-length debut the Tennessee Twin founder – and yes, actual Memphis-born twin of Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe – writes no-New Nashville numbers for yes-depressed listeners disenchanted with today's C&W world of gloss-pop superstars. Delightfully simple (but not simplistic), the dozen down-home slices of vintage country on Free to Do What? sound like a young Dolly Parton performing at the small-town hoedown in Waiting for Guffman's fictional musical. Sure, she's got a twang-tongued valley-girl drawl that'll deter as many ears as it wins over, but invest enough time in Wolfe's endearingly unpretentious and almost too-naive tales of bad-news boyfriends and cantankerous mailmen, and Tennessee Twin may win you over as one of alt-country's most charming new acts.

Wolfe and almost two dozen other country-nut Canucks and Americans appear on A Tribute to the Soundtrack to Robert Altman's Nashville, a perfect (and vastly superior, far more entertaining) successor to the O Brother soundtrack. "Directed" by Carolyn Mark – an underrated, understated solo artist from Victoria, B.C. – the 20-track tribute features Case, Kelly Hogan, the Corn Sisters, New Pornographer Carl Newman, and the Sadies' Dallas Good, among others, rerecording songs and dialogue snippets from the 1975 masterpiece about Music City biz and politics. It works brilliantly, too: the "cast members" embody their characters and inhabit their songs so impeccably – whether hamming them up or playing them down – that there's no need to brush up beforehand on the film's often confusing, crisscrossing story lines to fully enjoy the album.

Despite alt-country's increasing popularity outside of its overly insular "urban hick" cliques, however, it's a no-brainer that Free to Do What? and Nashville – both released by north-of-the-border indie Mint Records – won't come close to matching O Brother's and Adams's major-label successes. But then again, going tête-à-tête with U2 and Aerosmith at the Grammys isn't exactly the point. More important, acts like Tennessee Twin and those in Carolyn Mark's gaggle of wonderfully game tribute-contributors are content to keep the whiskey-drenched, steel-pedaled spirit of old country alive. And at least until the day when all those musicians who "slap a little electric fiddle on top of their pop and call it country" – as Wolfe recently put it – are handed their walking papers, there are few greater true country successes than that.

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Free to Do What? – Sleazegrinder.com
By Stu Gibson

Fantastic, this is. Classic high lonesome sound, plaintive vocals, pitterpattery train drums, basslines you could walk, nay BOUND, past Nashville on, with lashings of twinkling pedal steel leading the honkytonkmerrygoround into a dance with Patsy Cline while being leered at by Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell and George Jones (when he did a few good rockabilly-esque songs to compete with Elvis. O-k-a-ay). Reminds me hugely and pleasingly of The Wannabe Texans who I stumbled upon a few months ago, and similarly play a rootsy countrycajunbluegrass stir-fry which sounds instantly familiar but at the same time totally fresh, like you always imagine honky tonk to have been but never quite was. Simple, but very well written songs, sweet without being saccharine, with some brilliantly dark, quirky lyrics that are reminiscent of good ol' Hank Williams. On the magical Oh Darkness - "Why can't I see through my window, is it too dirty or am I just too short". Or on The Apple of your Black Eye - "Don't ask me for black eyed peas but you can have a black eye if you please / don't ask me for more fried okra, if you did I might try and choke you". Several of the songs are in the same stable as Gram Parsons (Blue Eyes, We'll Sweep Out The Ashes) in the way they swing a-go-go... The anti-Bush title track is a hugely pertinent statement (Recorded last September I'm assuming it was writ up before Sept 11th) what with his talk of exercising his itchy Texan trigger finger - "Free to do what? - to ruin the whole world" and "Mr. President from the elections that weren't free / Thanks for all the violence and the hypocrisy." There's not a bad moment in all of this, if you like varying noise with stuff like Gillian Welch or Lucinda Williams go out and buy it. Hell, buy it anyway, it's cool.

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Free to Do What? – Mote Magazine
By Gabino Travassos

Vancouver's American exile Cindy Wolfe delivers old-timey country twang with a political edge, a punk bite, and a whole trunkful of great guitars, accordions, and holler. Take the killing songs of Gillian Welch and fuse the speedgrass fun of a Bloodshot band like The Meat Purveyors, take the Freakwater / Carter Family vocal class, and then write some amazing songs. In "Oh Darkness" the chorus "oh why can't I see out my windows / are they just too dirty or am I too short to see?" is fine contrast to the title track, an ode worthy of Woody Guthrie: a battlecry opposing the United States of Excess which surely is on repeat in the Adbusters layout room. Who writes songs like this any more? The music is rock-solid with a handful of New Pornographers (Todd Fancey, John Collins, Kurt Dahle), Buzzards (Shane Nelken, Mark Thibeault), and members of The Gay (Coco Culbertson, Maija Martin), and more superheroes like Monica Chattaway on fiddle and vocal harmonies. The punks and riot grrls in the audience would recognize Cindy's twin sister Allison who convinced her sister to assemble a band to open up for Bratmobile's first Vancouver show. Without that push we wouldn't have songs like "The Apple of Your Black Eye" or the delightful poke in your "Big Emo Eyes": "Shall I pine away for you, until my face turns blue, I think not..." Mercy.

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Free to Do What? – The All Music Guide
4 Stars Out of 5
By Jason MacNeil

Dedicated to her mother, lead singer and songwriter Cindy Wolfe has a perfect voice for the country & western era of the original Grand Ole Opry. And while the songs hark back sonically to the likes of Kitty Wells and an early Dolly Parton or Tammy Wynette, lyrically the songs touch upon modern issues such as globalization, Prozac, and the Western ways of the world on the title track. "Oh Darkness," with its pedal steel guitar and gentle harmonies, exemplifies most of the album's simple strength of a timeless honky tonk barroom style. "Southern Duckhead" is one of several high points where everything seems to fit in just under two minutes. "Tomorrow I'm Gonna Leave Him" is also brief but symbolizes most of the album's professional yet lightly produced charm, with some wry humor added in sporadically. An odd selection is "Aunt Apple and Cousin Orange," a '60s flower-power pop song that has some country elements, but neither complement each other. The concluding songs have a small Celtic trace running through them, with Wolfe doing an admirable job on "Wildflowers," penned by Dolly Parton. Doing justice to such a sacred style of the genre is a difficult chore, but the album lives up to the requirements in spades.

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Exclaim! Magazine Review
April 1, 2001

By James Keast

Former Olympia, WA resident and puppeteer Cindy Wolfe wanted to form a country band with her twin sister Allison. But since Allison has been occupied by her band Bratmobile, the Tennessee Twin has remained paired in name only. Having relocated to Vancouver at the behest of a New Pornographer a few years ago, and reluctant to return South, Cindy has used a rotating backing band for her heartfelt ballads and hillbilly barn burners. In addition to a debut seven-inch and upcoming full-length on Mint, Cindy Wolfe can also be seen in Low Self Esteem Girl (playing opposite Carl Newman, directed by Blaine Thurier, both New Pornographers); the film was recently awarded Best Narrative Feature at the South By Southwest Film Festival.

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These Thoughts Are Occupied
b/w Oh Darkness 7" - Splendide E-Zine

By GZ for Splendide Zine

Forget alt-country -- this is the genuine article. Cindy Wolfe (actual twin sister to Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe) leads her skilled ensemble through a pair of twangy ballads that wouldn't sound out of place in any bar-room jukebox. "These Thoughts Are Occupied", while semantically suspect (you see, a mind can be occupied, but thoughts themselves can't...oh, sod it), is a perfect tale of post-breakup bravado, teaming Wolfe's mandolin and high-pitched, girly-girl vocals with fiddle, accordion and some gorgeous pedal steel; it goes on a little too long, but is otherwise flawless. "Oh Darkness" lacks the memorable lyrics of the A-side, but compensates by being shorter and sweeter, with more of that gorgeous mandolin/pedal steel interplay. If you can get your head around the concept of buying a country single by an expatriate Californian and her Canadian friends, you'll be well pleased by Tennessee Twin. Bring on the full-length!

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These Thoughts are Occupied
b/w Oh Darkness 7" - No Depression Magazine

November/December 2001 - Issue #36
By Rick Cornell

Like Mint-mate Neko Case, Lucinda "Cindy" Wolfe makes country music backed by a rotating collection of instrument-wielding friends from the Great Northwest. On this debut recording, Wolfe (the Memphis-born identical twin of Bratmobile’s Allison Wolfe, hence the nom de twang) offers a pair of self-penned, decidedly old-style tunes. Wolfe’s vocalizing, while not quite showcase-caliber, is well above serviceable, and a roots orchestra built around mandolin and fiddle does its job without making a fuss about it. But it’s the writing that offers the biggest payoff, especially the nifty chorus of "These Thoughts Are Occupied" — "My thoughts are occupied, but not by you," zings its punch (to the heart) line, as some poor bastard learns he’ll get 86'ed if the narrator’s former lover returns.

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Yo Yo a Go Go Nada Mucho Interview
Saturday July 21, 2001
By Matt Ashworth

Opening tonight’s evening session at YoYo a Go Go will be The Tennessee Twin, the country band headed by Olympia native Cindy Wolfe. Nada Mucho caught up with Cindy at her current home in Vancouver, Canada this week to talk about her band, her influences, puppets, heroin, and this year’s Yo Yo lineup, among other things.

Nada Mucho: Who is The Tennessee Twin?
Cindy Wolfe: The Tennessee Twin is basically the name of my country solo project. I came up with the idea and started writing songs in 1997 when I still lived in Olympia. Originally, I conceived of a Cindy/Allison (Wolfe, Cindy’s twin sister and front woman for Bratmobile) country duo, as Allison and I are both country music fans, but it proved impossible as Allison lives on the East Coast and I live on the West Coast.

NM: Do you have a set lineup now, or is it pretty much you, your songs, and whichever talented musicians you can find at the time?
CW: Yeah, that's pretty much it. I use a rotating back-up band, generally composed of Vancouver musicians since that's where I live now. My accordion player, Maija, has played every show I’ve ever played, though.

NM: How would you describe your music?
CW: I call it country, but others may not. I’m certainly not trying to be "new country", which isn't country at all. A lot of my songs have been about the typical relationships gone wrong, but one of them is about a mailman from Tennessee, another is about a depressing apartment in Vancouver (there are many!), and one I just wrote, (which I’ll perform for the first time at YoYo), called "Free to do What?" is an anti-globalization song. Writing ballads seems to come more naturally to me than upbeat numbers. I try to perform mostly my own material. I never do more than two cover songs in a given set.

NM: Where are you recording your album this fall, who will be playing on it, and what label will it be released on?
CW: It will hopefully be recorded in late September/early October at jc/dc studios in Vancouver – that's the studio of John Collins and Dave Carswell of The Evaporators fame. Dave is also in the Smugglers, and John is also in the New Pornographers. John will be playing bass with me for the first time at Yo Yo tomorrow! They’re my oldest Vancouver pals (not in age, just in how long we've been pals!). It will be on Mint Records, of Vancouver. Players:

Me: Lead vocals, some harmonies, and mandolin.
Shane Nelken: Electric guitar.
Todd Fancey (a New Pornographer): Electric guitar.
Mark Thibeault: Pedal steel guitar.
Corinne Culbertson: Drums, harmonies.
Kurt Dahle (another New Pornographer): Electric bass, harmonies.
Monica Chattaway: Fiddle, harmonies.
Maija Martin: Accordion.

NM: What with the success of bands like Wilco and labels like Bloodshot, it seems as if all the punks have gone country. Did we miss some sort of memo?
CW: Punks going country does seem like a current trend, huh? Allison and I were born in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived there until we were three or four. My mom convinced my dad to move to Washington State at that point. Then they got divorced and my dad moved back to Tennessee when we were eight. The custody agreement stated that we had to spend every summer and every-other Christmas and spring break with my dad, so we've done a lot of time in the south. My dad has always listened to a lot of country music, being from East Tennessee, so we did too. We turned out punk mainly because my mom decided to move us to Olympia in 1980. My country claim to fame is that I’m related to Chet Atkins (who just died)! One summer I brought a boyfriend with me to Tennessee. His name is John Atkins, so when we went to East Tennessee to visit my grandparents, he told them that he thought he was related to Chet Atkins (Chet Atkins was also from East Tennessee). My grandfather laughed and told us that we were related then, 'cause he was also related to Chet Atkins. Apparently, my grandfather's brother was married to Chet Atkins aunt. Then my grandmother told me that Chet Atkins' father was the tuner of her family's piano. My grandfather thought all this was so funny I think because HIS parents were first cousins, both named Wolfe!

NM: Ahhhhh, the South. . . It definitely sounds like you’ve had some diverse experiences to shape your musical tastes.
CW: Yeah. We grew up listening to a good deal of traditional country, like Hazel (Dickens) & Alice, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline. I’m not into typical country lyrical content often, but I find it amusing and some, like Dolly and Loretta, wrote pretty progressive stuff for the genre and times. My mom was pretty radical, so we get that from her.

NM: Do you get sick of people saying, "Hey, is your sister Allison Wolfe from Bratmobile?"
CW: No, not really. I’m proud of everything she's done, and it's free publicity anyway. It’s kinda weird though when the ONLY press you get is "twin of Bratmobile"!

NM: That’s all going to change once this interview runs – hundreds of thousands of young music fans will go out and purchase your album and the subsequent press push will be near-overwhelming. Allison will get asked, “Hey, are you related to Cindy from The Tennessee Twin?”
CW: Very funny. Well, I’m not totally living in her shadow, so whatever happens is fine. I don't have an album yet for folks to run out and buy! But I hope to after recording in October (or sooner?). Allison does get mistaken for me sometimes. One of the Smugglers told me he overheard some girl talking about the movie I acted in, Low Self-Esteem Girl (independent Canadian film Cindy starred in), and said, "Yeah, the girl from Bratmobile's in it!"

NM: I was just teasing you a bit; it doesn't sound at all like you're living in Allison's shadow. It’s very cool that you have such broad creative interests, what with the puppet shows, acting, and music. What's next?
CW: Working less at the library, finding a cheaper apartment in a building that's not architecturally hideous (tough in Vancouver), getting an acting agent, one last puppet show? Recording a full album in the early fall, playing a free day show in Tacoma at Wright Park on Saturday August 18, writing a screen play, eventually going to medical school to become a forensic pathologist (maybe then I can legitimately carve up my enemies!) – just joking, admissions boards!

NM: Did you have any acting experience before Low Self-Esteem Girl? Is it something you'd like to do more of?
CW: Yes, I’d like to do more acting. I did a significant amount of acting in both high school and college, then none until Low Self-Esteem Girl. My friend Blaine wrote, directed, shot, edited, and everything else. It’s a comedy. I play a born-again Christian! We got into last year's Toronto international film festival (the first year they've accepted video-projected digital films), and won best narrative feature at the last South-by-Southwest film festival in Austin in March.

NM: I understand you used to be a puppeteer. How does acting compare to doing puppet shows?
CW: Lots more facial expressions and subtleties in acting! The problem with puppets is that nuances and facial expressions are difficult to convey. I was a better puppet master than puppeteer! I was good at coming up with ideas, storylines, dialogue, and interesting puppets and props. I would conscript my friends as puppeteers at the last minute, and they were usually better puppeteers than I was. I did mainly improvised dark comedy. I’d like to do another puppet show sometime, but for a while there, I was afraid of being pigeonholed as a puppeteer!

NM: What did you think of Being John Malkovich? That was the first time I was really conscious of puppeteering as a real thing that real people do, and I’m sure it was the same for other folks.
CW: I found the film interesting, particularly for Hollywood. But my biggest gripe about the puppeteering is that marionettes aren't puppets! They’re puppets on strings! In fact, one of my puppet shows concerns this conflict.

NM: Why Canada?
CW: When I was living in Olympia I started seeing a Vancouverite, Carl Newman (of Zumpano and the New Pornographers), and we decided eventually that we wanted to live in the same place, so the only way we could do that legally was by getting married. I couldn't handle Olympia anymore at that point, as I’d gone to high school there and suddenly tons of punks were turning into junkies, so I moved to Vancouver just before my paperwork was finalized ('97). I’m a landed immigrant in Canada. But now we're separated.

NM: Were there other factors that contributed to your getting fed up with Olympia? After living here a few years I’ve begun to notice all the bullshit a lot more – kids pretending to be homeless because its hip, faux-activism, snobby pretentious assholes, junkies . . .
CW: Well, the economy in Olympia sucks, and it got to be too stressful working for my mom. I had a used furniture store for about a year, but retail life bored me and drove me insane, and when one of my employees/friend overdosed and died above my store and I was there to discover it, I decided for sure I was getting the fuck out of Oly.

NM: Which band on this year's Yo Yo schedule are you most excited about? (Other than Tennessee Twin of course.)
CW: Unfortunately, I will only be able to go to the Saturday night show. I’m definitely excited to see what Mark Robinson’s new project is like. I heard he's still obsessed with Canada. I saw Flin Flon play in Richmond, VA, a couple years ago, and I liked it.

NM: Cheesy rock journalism question: Name five albums you want on a deserted island.
CW: That's tough. I'll try to answer this anyway, with stuff I’ve been listening to a lot over the past year. The Handsome Family: Through the Trees; In the Air (both are excellent and I haven't heard their new album yet), Lee Hazelwood: Cowboy in Sweden; Poet, Fool, or Bum (both are great), Love: Forever Changes, the New Pornographers: Mass Romantic (I coined this slogan), George Jones: Cup of Loneliness 2-CD Box Set.

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Last Updated: 10.07.02; no depression review added.
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