Rasputina’s cellos will ring through O.P. Rockwell
October 18, 2016
Twenty years have passed since the cello-fronted rock band Rasputina released its debut album “Thanks for the Ether.”
Throughout that time, Melora Creager, the band’s founder, lead cellist, singer and composer has experienced the ups and downs of the music business.
“I went through a period where I studied what rock music was and in comparison, it’s easy,” Creager said during a phone call from her home in Troy, New York, just outside of Albany. “So, I got more that way over the years and found just how difficult the music on ‘Thanks for the Ether’ is.”
Park City audiences will get to hear those sons when Rasputina — Creager, pianist Luis Mojica and fellow cellist Polly Panic play O.P. Rockwell at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.
The band will perform the songs from “Thanks for the Ether” in order.
“It feels good to play these songs again because we haven’t played most of them live over the years, so I think our fans will be happy to hear them,” Creager said. “This is a fun challenge for me and the rest of the band to play a totally new set list, even though it’s comprised of older songs.”
In addition to the tour, Rasputina will release a redux of the album called “Ether? You’re Welcome.”
“It’s interesting going back to that album, because for anyone you have a whole lifetime up to then to make that first record,” Creager said with a laugh. “I mean there are 18 songs on that album.”
The biggest influences for creating “Thanks for the Ether” were Creager’s cello practice books.
“They were all classical music and had all of this complicated bowing techniques,” she said. “You can hear that in the songs. And as we come back to them 20 years later, oh, my God, they are so hard to play.”
Even the lyrics were interesting to revisit.
“A lot of them are really negative,” Creager said with another laugh. “I didn’t think I would like to sing ‘Poor Me’ again, but it’s been great, because I feel like I’m singing like a different character.”
Creager came up with the idea of creating a rock band out of cellos after playing with bands like Nirvana.
“Nobody could hear the cello, but people would tell me how much they loved it,” she said. “So, I thought, what if people could actually hear the cello? They might like that. I would really like that. I also thought I could also meet other girls like me in the rock scene who played the cello and make friends with these misfits like me.”
The songs Creager wrote were spooky.
“I studied classical music as a kid and started with the piano when I was 5,” she said. “I started writing songs back then and they really haven’t changed over the years. They were all inspired by old photographs.”
Along with the compositions, Creager came up with complementary fashions that bled into the live performances.
“A lot of the ideas came from being naive,” she said. “I just thought it would be fun to dress up in these costumes and play cello in a rock band.”
While Rasputina still presents itself in a dark Victorian-like aesthetic, the framework has evolved over the years.
“I was so uptight and strict with the band when we first started and I thought the songs should be about this one thing and we should wear only white lingerie, camisoles and corsets,” Creager said. “Now, while we do wear those iconic costumes, it is more mixed up in history. We can pretend to be an ideal.”
Creager’s draw to the cello was natural, she said.
“The flute and clarinet were more for the popular girls to be in band, so to be in orchestra, it was hard as a kid because we were geeks and nerds,” she said. “But I loved the cello. It is as great as all of those people say and it has captured my love and attention all of these years. It’s a very emotional instrument and so warm.”
Creager’s career has been a roller coaster, and it all came to a head two years ago, when she was recording the songs that would eventually become the 2015 album, “Unknown.”
“That album was very strange,” she said. “I went through intense personal problems at that time and was literally out of my head.”
She wrote the songs and recorded the album in three weeks.
“That record just came out of me and it felt very channeled,” Creager said. “It was not only the most personal record I have made, but it also was the fastest album I had ever made.”
The experience was cathartic.
“It was a moment in time where I received a lot of positive transformation after going through those hard times,” Creager said. “I was dealing with serious fear and pain, and the idea was to do this for myself as musical therapy. I didn’t care if it ever came out. I didn’t have an ego or, what I thought, was a business need to release it.”
Thanks to the album, Creager has a more positive outlook on life.
“I’m in a happy place right now,” she said. “I’m a drop out from the conventional music business and I feel happy not to care or take part in that.”
Rasputina will play Saturday, Oct. 22, at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main Street. Doors will open at 8 p.m. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit http://www.oprockwell.com.