How’s this for a lineup: Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Courtney Love, Amy Poehler and Tim Robbins. Just to name a few. Oh, and Peaches, too. All in the name of the late, great Allen Ginsberg. This is the company in which Peaches found herself earlier this month, performing alongside former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte as part of a show celebrating the 60th anniversary of Ginsberg’s Howl. The two did a very strange version of the Ginsberg poem Birdbrain – even stranger given the pair had never met prior to the night in question.
“It was fun for me because I did something out of my comfort zone,” says the woman born Merrill Nisker. “The song Will and I did is normally more of a punk rock song, but I made a hip hop beat the night before and we just sort of rambled over the top of it. It was done in kind of a beat poetry style, which was really cool. We decided not to plan too much, just see how it went – and it was awesome!”
Peaches is soon to go on tour to promote something new, but it’ll be a different kind of tour to the kind she’s been best known for over the past 15 years. This time, Nisker is headed out on a book tour – it’s called What Else Is In The Teaches Of Peaches, named after the famous line from her breakthrough single ‘Fuck The Pain Away’, and it documents the last half-decade of her life via the photography of Germany’s Holger Talinski, who first met Nisker back in 2008.
“We’ve been working so long on it, and I was very involved with the edits – the edits themselves took a few years,” Nisker says. “I wanted to have more funny and onstage pictures, and he wanted more pictures of me in the corner and me sleeping. The photographer is a skater kid that approached me six years ago to take photos at a show, and he ended up being this really lovely guy. I more or less brought him into my life. He began photographing private moments, live moments, family moments – it was all there.”
For someone best known for her public persona and her extravagance when it comes to costuming and live performance, it’s interesting to note just how Nisker’s guard has lowered at Talinski’s behest, with his entry in on some of the quieter, more intimate moments in her life. According to Nisker, this is exactly what she wanted out of What Else as a book experience.
“It was funny – I was showing the photos to another performer friend of mine, and more or less the first thing that she noticed was the fact that I didn’t have a lot of make-up on in a lot of the shots,” she says. “‘You look rough!’ I wasn’t sure what kind of response that was, until she added, ‘I love that! I could never do that!’ I think it’s great that this book shows people the private and the public of my life. There’s humanity. There’s ugliness.”
Peaches returns to Australia in May for the first time in years as part of the Groovin The Moo festivities. One act on the lineup that she is particularly excited about catching up with is UK megastar Charli XCX, who is at a very different stage of her career than she was when Peaches first encountered her.
“I met Charli when she was maybe 15 years old,” Nisker recalls. “She opened for me about six years ago at the Royal Festival Hall. It was one of the first shows I ever did in support of my last album [2009’s I Feel Cream]. She was singing songs about Darth Vader and had all these cute costumes. Years later, I get this email from her – she tells me she’s playing in Berlin, so I’m invited along. I couldn’t believe it was the same little girl. I was like, ‘Oooh! Somebody’s had sex and taken drugs!’ She’s an incredible talent and a great songwriter. It’s been amazing to see her grow.”
You can expect all sorts of craziness when Peaches plays at Groovin The Moo as well as a select run of headlining shows. As a live act, she is more or less unparalleled; a high-energy, wildly unpredictable performer who will give you every last drop of whatever she’s got. One thing not to anticipate, though, is new material – not yet, at least. A few bits and pieces have dropped over the last few years, but the fact remains that we’re now six years without a Peaches album. According to her, that will come to change.
“I like the structure of the album. Maybe that’s just me being old-school. I enjoy the process of albums and making videos for every song. I like to see it as an entire body of work – it’s how I use it. I don’t know what the future holds, but maybe I’ll be the artist to step forward and give the album format one last try.”
Well, if anyone could bring the album back into fashion, it’s her. “I’m gonna do it,” she drawls, projecting her own headline: “Peaches Brings The Album Back!”