Fueled by the poetry of Thao Nyugen, the band's exceptional new release "We the Common" has them touring almost nonstop this year. While in St. Louis they swung by the KDHX studios to share a few of their new songs.
Since 2003, Thao has put forth three albums with the Get Down Stay Down, worked on several other collaborations and performed as a solo artist. Originally from Falls Church, Va., a little over a year ago she took some time off the road and put down roots in San Francisco, Calif. She has expressed that she needed some time away from hopping around place to place, "...I started feeling the desire to be an active part of my life, instead of just watching it pass by. I wanted to try to actually be a real live person, rather than just singing songs about them."
Inspired primarily by her work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and some of the inmates she connected to in those efforts, Thao's storytelling and songcraft on the new LP are steeped in maturity. These songs from the new album are political but with a temperament of positivity, carefully conceived with kindness and offering an open hand to lead you to the dance floor instead of a fist in the face demanding you see reason. In this way, Thao is able to say more on behalf of the humanity of these women and their plight than any pamphlet could ever hope to achieve.
Drawing flies is easier with honey and the band itself is a bustling beehive churning out sweet offerings to tempt listeners like "Holy Roller," "Kindness Be Conceived" and the title track "We the Common." Once you've heard them a few times, you'll begin to sense the saltiness that lies beneath the sweet. You may also start to think much more deeply about the women who inspired these lyrics and respect the hell out of the woman who crafted them.
All photos by Louis Kwok