Monica Queen first came to notoriety as the frontwoman with critically-acclaimed Neil Young-inspired Glaswegian country rockers Thrum, whose one album, 'Rifferama' , came out on Fire Records in 1994.

After Thrum broke up, Queen disappeared from the music scene for a few years, coming briefly back out of retirement to pen 'Lazy Painter Jane' for Belle and Sebastian, with whom she has since performed on stage both at the London Royal Albert Hall and the Camber Sands festival.

Recent years have seen her reunited with former Thrum songwriting partner and guitarist and electronica expert Johnny Smillie. She has recorded with him two albums under her own name , 'Ten Sorrowful Mysteries' (Creeping Bent, 2002) and 'Return of the Sacred Heart' (Vertical), which came out in March. Queen's records have become increasingly spiritual. Pennyblackmusic spoke to her about 'The Return of the Sacred Heart'.


PB : Who plays on 'The Return of the Sacred Heart'?

MQ : Johnny produced the album on his computer and plays and programs everything.

PB : Does the album feature any special guests?

MQ : Jim White guests on the first track, 'Fly Away'. It was his suggestion to do it. It is a John Denver song.

PB : 'The Return of the Sacred Heart' uses more traditional instruments whereas 'Ten Sorrowful Mysteries' uses guitars and electronica. Did you want to go back to a more traditional sound?

MQ :'Sacred Heart' is very much guitars and electronica. It is just used in a more sparse way than 'Ten Sorrowful Mysteries'. We find electronica can be quite beautiful. Kraftwerk's 'Neon Lights', for example, is sublime.

PB : Both solo albums are quite holy and spiritual in feel. Do you feel more spiritual as you grow older?

MQ : In this world we need to look for love wherever we can find it. Let's slow down and contemplate more than what drugs we can get this week.

PB : With your music becoming more delicate and spiritual,is it harder to play to a live audience ?

MQ :Yes, it is. It is the price of seeking the higher ground.

PB : Live audiences can sometimes be not very respectful of artists on stage. They can talk all the way through a whole gig.

MQ : Only blaggers and dark angels will fall to this level. Our genuine disciples are reverent.

PB : Have you played on anyone else's records apart from the Belle and Sebastian EP, 'Lazy Line Painter Jane' ?

MQ : Yes, James Grant's last two albums, 'I Shot the Albatross' and 'Holy Love', and Chris Coco of Radio 1's Blue Room 'Next 'Wave' album.

PB : Do you still play with Belle and Sebastian if asked to ?

MQ : Now and then.

PB : When you used to rehearse, you used to jam with Johnny and play Neil Young songs as well as Thrum songs ? Do you still do that ?

MQ : Neil is still king. You just have to have a better understanding of the great man to hear his influence on us now. It is all about essence.

PB : What did you think of his last album, 'Greendale' ?

MQ : It is not his best work, but 'Bandit' is worth the admission price into that crazy world.

PB : What is your favourite album of his ?

MQ : 'Ragged Glory'.

PB : Do you gig a lot in Scotland ?

MQ : We play occasional shows. We're playing Edinburgh at the Caledonian Backpackers on the 10th June.

PB : This new CD is a little folky, a little country, a little holy and very spiritual. Who are Monica Queen's fan base ?

MQ : Those who seek beauty.

PB : Thank you for your time.









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