The Gossip just won't stop blowing up. Today they're in the New York Times Magazine, bookending Lynn Hirschberg's combination state-of-the-music-industry address and Rick Rubin profile. That the Gossip can be called a "new" band when they've been around for over seven years is bewildering and sad, and makes the conclusion of the article all the more ominous:
Rubin headed back to his Range Rover. In the car, he said he had some live footage of the Gossip that he wanted to show me. "I saw the group at the Troubadour, and they blew my mind," he said. "It was the best show I've seen in five years. Afterward, I met with the band. They felt stressed, and they were having trouble writing songs. The energy in the room when they were performing was so intense, and I'm not even sure how we'd get it to feel like that in the studio. So we decided to record a live show during their European tour, and we're going to release a DVD of the live album as their first release."
Rubin looked pleased. Beth Ditto, the lead singer of the Gossip, is exactly what he has been looking for since he took this job at Columbia: she is an outsize personality in an outsize body with a Joplin-esque, bluesy voice. Ditto is the kind of artist Rubin loves — unique, ambitious and open to guidance. "For a band like the Gossip," Rubin continued, "the support of a record company like Columbia is still really important. I grew up in the independent music business, and you still really need the muscle of the majors. A record company call can still get you heard like nobody else."
Rubin paused. "That's the magic of the business," he said. "It's all doom and gloom, but then you go to a Gossip show or hear Neil [Diamond] in the studio and you remember that too many people make and love music for it to ever die. It will never be over. The music will outlast us all."
True enough. But what kind of "guidance" does Rubin have in mind? And what's all this about the Gossip needing his "muscle"? Last time I checked, they were pretty muscular on their own. Last time I checked, they were a radical feminist punk band saving the lives of queer misfit smalltown American youths one song at a time, too busy living their politics to save the corporate music industry from its own demise. Is that in danger of changing? Where do they go from here?
The Gossip and Neil Diamond. Peas in a pod.