Age 63 seems a little late for a debut, but earlier this year – 36 years after founding the Pretenders – Chrissie Hynde released her first solo album, “Stockholm,” which she wrote and produced in Sweden with Bjorn Yttler of Peter, Bjorn & John.
The tour, which features material from her fabled band as well as “Stockholm,” stops at Ovens Auditorium Saturday. The Ohio native spoke to the Observer from her home in London about going solo, touring, aging and the difference between men and women in rock.
Q. I was surprised this is your first “solo” record.
A. It’s just branding. It doesn’t mean anything. For 30 years, I said, “No, no. It’s a band. It’s a band.” Then I went to Stockholm with these guys who weren’t prepared to leave. I went back home to London and thought, “Now what am I going to do?” It’s embarrassing, because I always said I wouldn’t go solo.
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Q. Why’d you want to make this record?
A. I wanted to make a record so I can go back out on tour. There’s a cycle. You go on tour. It destroys all your domestic and personal life. Then you come crawling back home and try to put it back together. And then domesticity destroys your musical life. You start missing being in the band and on tour. You have to make a record because you have to have something new to take out there; otherwise you might as well be a covers band. It’s kind of crap, to be honest. I like all of it. People that do this aren’t very good at routine. Routine is healthy for children and animals. Musicians are like dumb animals. You need a routine, but don’t want it to last too long or you get freaked out.
Q. There’s a perception that artists do their best work in their youth, but – as with “Stockholm” – many artists are releasing some of their best work after long careers.
A. Rock ’n’ roll certainly started out as music for teenagers. By the time you were 23, you were too old to be in a band. Right now, age isn’t as relevant. There’s no generation gap. Everyone is interested if you have something to say, or just an interesting way of saying something. Artists have a tendency to think it’s over for them, and then all a sudden something comes along. When Quentin Tarantino dragged out all these actors from the ’70s and rebooted them. Michael Douglas playing Liberace (in HBO’s “Beyond the Candelabra”). Maybe it’s his greatest role. It’s an interesting thing in show business. A lot of bands and people have come out (with good work) in their 50s and 60s. That was unheard of in the ’60s.
Q. You actually thought you might be too old when you moved to London and got your start in the punk scene, right?
A. I thought I was too old to be in a band. I was 24. I was older than the guys in the punk scene here (in the U.S.). I saw a way into doing what I wanted to. I was a s----- guitar player, but in punk it didn’t matter.
Q. At the time there weren’t that many women in rock.
A. I was pretty shy to play with guys. I wasn’t a great guitar player. I was good at telling people what they should do to make them sound the best. I was good at orchestrating – don’t play above the third dot on this. I don’t have any technical (background). They’re like, “I do sound good!” If you want to sound good within the band, it’s not about who’s the best. It’s about how you complement each other. I think my strength is sitting back and hearing that. I can also write some songs.