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Sara Century has operated on the fringe of the underground music scene in Fort Collins and Denver for the past few years as a member of hardcore bands and, most recently, as one of the primary songwriters in the outsider punk band the Amicable Splits and the far-more-difficult-to-classify Magazine-esque act the Somnambulists. Going solo in 2009, Century has cultivated a musical persona that is as fascinatingly abrasive as Lydia Lunch, as creatively eccentric as the Fiery Furnaces and as delicately charming as Tracy Bonham. Century's imaginative universe, captured in song, is fraught with offhand heroics, soul-shaking anger and thorny vulnerability. We caught up with Century recently and talked about the social aspect of being in a scene and her latest release.
Westword: You're a fairly outspoken critic of musical cliques and collectives of all kinds. What do you find so objectionable about them?
Sara Century: In theory, say a bunch of people decide that their music all sounds alike and they want to play together and be around each other. This is a really good idea in general. But whenever you go, "No, it's our club," it turns into something ridiculous. It isolates other bands and new styles of music, and it isolates the bands in the collective. It's cool to a certain extent, and I have that kind of thing going with some bands who I love both as bands and as people, but I'm not marrying them, and I feel like we're free to see other people. I read this interview with Exene Cervenka who said back in the day, there weren't scenes — there was a single scene. So if you were into underground music, you had to go to all kinds of shows. Whereas now, things are more compartmentalized into very specific subgenres.
What can you tell me about your new album and how it differs from your live performances?
The live show is a lot more frantic and intense, and I always feel like I'm about to have a complete emotional collapse every time I play, and that's why my sets are usually only about fifteen minutes long. I recorded the album with Billy Armijo from Bedsit Infamy, in my pajamas in his basement, drinking beer. If you ever meet Billy, he's one of the most chill, laid-back people you'll ever meet, and he put no pressure on me. The album can't be like my live performance, because I was relaxed during the recording, so everything is slower, nicer. Billy Armijo is the pop genius of Colorado, and he made it sound really nice and accessible in a way that I don't think my live show necessarily is. Orchestra of Friction is the first part of a two-piece, and I want to release the whole thing on vinyl as a big LP called Ugly Baby, because that was my nickname as a baby.