Interview with Lilia Halpern (Incinerator)
by Chrissy Prisco
Tonight kicks off Lilia Halpern's Monday night residency at PA's this month. A veteran of the Boston music scene, Halpern sat down with me last week for an interview.
Braving the nearly-below zero windchill, the two of us met up at The Independent in Somerville's Union Sq. With Tom Janovitz (brother of Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz) dj'ing the night, we were happy to hang out and talk music.
I asked Halpern how it all started with her band, Incinerator. "Well," she replied "our first show was on David Bowie's birthday in 1993." Having moved to Boston to attend college, Halpern got sucked into the Boston music scene early on. Attending shows at the Rat and Middle East, she quickly became enamored with bands like Helium, Flying Nuns, Fuzzy, Apollo Landing and Tackle Box.
"I didn't publicly play any music until I had been around it all. There was a kind of mystique about playing in a band, I realized music was a way to express myself," rememberd Halpern. "I wasn't aware of the 'chick rock' scene until that point."
After their first show on Bowie's birthday, Incinerator (the only band Lilia has ever been in) went on to play shows around the area, touring to the mid-Atlantic. Although there weren't many shows, by 1996 the band decided to hit the studio and record a self-titled EP. After that, the band went their separate ways.
So, why now? What brought Halpern back to the music scene after all these years? "Well, in 2010, I signed up for Ladies Rock Camp to learn drums. I had begun to record and play music at home after having my son. My interest was renewed in music after singing to him."
Although Halpern was slowly getting back into music, she says she was not involved in the scene at all until Billy Ruane's memorial at the Middle East in late 2010. "I played Dolphins, a song by Fred Neil which Tim Buckley made famous." That same night, she met Karina DaCosta (28 Degrees Taurus) who would immediately light the spark under Halpern to get back to playing music.
"I was most surprised, in having met Karina and discovering what the music scene was about now, at how supportive it was" says Halpern, "Back then (in the early 90's) it was tough because of gender issues. If you were a woman playing guitar, you were a 'woman guitar player' not just a guitar player."
Last Spring, Halpern hit the studio and recorded new songs at Q Division (she cites Q Division's Ed Valauskas as being a major source of motivation and support to her as well) "The people at Q Division were instrumental in me making music again," she stated.
With the hopes of a new EP and a full-length in the near future, Halpern is happy to be back. "This past year," she says, "so much of making music in a satisfied way has been because of the support of the community."