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Lisa Germano performing, December 2007
|Birth name||Lisa Ruth Germano|
|Born||June 27, 1958|
Mishawaka, Indiana, U.S.
|Genres||Alternative rock, dream pop, folk rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer, songwriter, graphic artist|
|Instruments||Violin, guitar, accordion, piano, vocals|
|Labels||Major Bill, Capitol, 4AD, Warner Bros., Ineffable, Young God|
|Associated acts||John Mellencamp, Neil Finn, Indigo Girls, Eels, OP8, Yann Tiersen, David Bowie|
Lisa Ruth Germano (born June 27, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Indiana. Her album Geek the Girl (1994) was chosen a top album of the 1990s by Spin magazine. She began her career as a violinist for John Mellencamp. As of 2018 she has released thirteen albums.
Germano was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, one of five children of violinist Rocco and Betty Germano. She studied music, including piano and violin, as a child. When she was seven, she composed a fifteen-minute opera for the piano.
On the road with Mellencamp
Germano was working as a violinist when rock singer John Mellencamp invited her to play on his album. For seven years she toured and recorded as a member of Mellencamp's band, appearing on The Lonesome Jubilee (1987), Big Daddy (1989), Falling from Grace (1991), Human Wheels (1993), and Dance Naked (1994). During the 1980s she also appeared on albums by Simple Minds and the Indigo Girls.
After recording with Henry Lee Summer, Bob Seger, and Carrie Newcomer, Germano began a solo career with the album On the Way Down from the Moon Palace (1991), recorded in Indianapolis and released by her label, Major Bill Records. Although sales were low, the album got the attention of Capitol Records, which signed her to a contract and released her next album Happiness (1993). Personnel changes at Capitol resulted in the departure of most of her benefactors, but she retained the rights to her album.
Working for a British label
She signed a contract with the British label 4AD, which had a manufacturing and distribution deal with Warner Bros. in the U.S. Ivo Watts-Russell, founder and president of 4AD, was a fan of Germano's work. He remixed some of the tracks from Happiness with producer and engineer John Fryer, who had been involved in Watts-Russell's This Mortal Coil project. In early 1994, 4AD issued Inconsiderate Bitch, a limited-edition EP which contained five of the remixed tracks. In April of that year Happiness was reissued with different artwork, mixing, sequencing. Two tracks, including a cover version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", were replaced.
Germano's album Geek the Girl (1994) was reviewed positively by the press and was a noted album of the 1990s. Much attention[where?] was given to the track "...A Psychopath", which contains audio from a 9-1-1 emergency phone call by a woman who was being terrorized by an intruder in her home. In 1995, Germano contributed the song "The Mirror Is Gone" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Bothered produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Excerpts From a Love Circus (1996) was praised by Spin and Rolling Stone. Earlier that year, Watts-Russell approached 4AD's musicians with the idea that each act would find another person or band to collaborate with on three songs. The recordings would then be released by the label as a monthly series of EPs. Germano worked with rock band Giant Sand, but after their tracks had been recorded, the label decided that the series would be unfeasible and rejected the idea. Germano and the members of Giant Sand liked the results and enjoyed collaborating, and despite the labels' lack of interest in the recordings, recorded an album in less than a week. Managers for Germano and Giant Sand made a deal with Thirsty Ear Recordings to release the album as a one-off project under the name OP8, and the album Slush was released in February 1997. In April 1997, 4AD began promoting "I Love a Snot" (remixed by Tchad Blake) to radio and retail stores in America, but sales of the album remained static at best. "Lovesick" from Excerpts from a Love Circus was remixed by Trevor Jackson (a.k.a. The Underdog), and released by his label, Output Recordings.
Sales began to sag noticeably with the release of Slide, produced by Tchad Blake, in July 1998. The distribution deal with Warner Bros. ended, returning 4AD to independent status, and without Warner Bros. Slide received less promotion. Before the album was released she was invited to sing backup vocals on tour for The Smashing Pumpkins. Although she rejected the offer at first, singer Billy Corgan persuaded her that she would have a more collaborative role, and she agreed to join the tour. She rehearsed with the band for four weeks in Chicago. The night before the tour was supposed to begin, Corgan dismissed her (via the tour manager) with no explanation.
Intent on resuming the promotion of Slide, she went tour, opening for Eels and then headlining smaller clubs. While on tour she was notified by 4AD that they were dropping her from the label. By the end of 1998, she announced that she was done with the music business. She fired her management. Nonetheless, in 1999 she performed in Toronto at Lee's Palace.
Moving to Hollywood
Germano moved to Hollywood and began working at an independent bookstore. Songwriting remained part of her life, and she collaborated with Yann Tiersen, David Bowie, Neil Finn, and Joey Waronker. In 2002 she released two compilations of songs from her back catalog. Concentrated is a selection of "greatest hits" with a few oddities, such as the Underdog remix of "Lovesick". Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs is composed of rarities, such as "Breathe Acrost Texas" which was omitted from the reissue of Happiness, and tracks that were previously unavailable. Each copy came with an insert painted by Germano.
Later that year, she began gathering songs she had been writing and recording mostly by herself at home during the previous two years. She sent CDs of these tracks to labels and friends in the music industry. The first to respond was a longtime acquaintance, producer and label executive Tony Berg. After the relative success of the ARTISTdirect websites, CEO Marc Geiger started Ineffable Records with Berg in 2002. Germano was the first act signed to the label's roster.
Lullaby for Liquid Pig was released in 2003 with help from guitarist Johnny Marr (of The Smiths and Modest Mouse), Neil Finn, and Wendy Melvoin. The album met with critical acclaim, but the label shut down. Three years later she was invited by Michael Gira of the band Swans to join his label, Young God Records. The label released the album In the Maybe World (2006) and reissued Lullaby for Liquid Pig (2007) with a bonus disc of unreleased live recordings and demos.
In 2012, Germano was the violinist on two national tours by Tammy Lang, the Chelsea Madchen tour in which the singer parodied Nico of Velvet Underground and her outing as a subversive country-and-western alter ego Tammy Faye Starlite. Drummer Pete Thomas played on both tours, as did guitarist Peter "Petey" Andrews. The band "played some of the best blues rock music I've heard in years," wrote Huffington Post music correspondent Wendy Block.
- On the Way Down from the Moon Palace (Major Bill, 1991)
- Happiness (Capitol, 1993/4AD, 1994)
- Inconsiderate Bitch (4AD, 1994)
- Geek the Girl (4AD, 1994)
- Excerpts from a Love Circus (4AD, 1996)
- Slush (Thirsty Ear, 1997) (with OP8)
- Slide (4AD, 1998)
- Concentrated (self-release, 2002)
- Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs (self-release, 2002)
- Lullaby for Liquid Pig (Ineffable/ARTISTdirect, 2003)
- In the Maybe World (Young God, 2006)
- Magic Neighbor (Young God, 2009)
- No Elephants (Badman, 2013)
With David Bowie
With Michael Brook
- 2006 RockPaperScissors
- 2007 BellCurve
With Neil Finn
With Howe Gelb
- 1998 Hisser
- 2013 Little Sand Box
With Indigo Girls
- 1989 Indigo Girls
- 1990 Nomads Indians Saints
- 1992 Rites of Passage
- 1994 Swamp Ophelia
- 1997 Shaming of the Sun
With John Mellencamp
- 1987 The Lonesome Jubilee
- 1989 Big Daddy
- 1993 Human Wheels
- 1994 Dance Naked
- 1998 John Mellencamp
- 2010 On the Rural Route 7609
With Simple Minds
With Yann Tiersen
- 2001 L' Absente
- 2003 C'etait Ici
- 2008 C'etait Ici: Live
- 1987 The Sound of Music, The dB's
- 1988 Rebels Without a Clue, The Bellamy Brothers
- 1989 I've Got Everything, Henry Lee Summer
- 1991 The Fire Inside, Bob Seger
- 1991 Visions and Dreams, Carrie Newcomer
- 1991 World So Bright, Adam Schmitt
- 1992 Candyland, James McMurtry
- 1993 American Caesar, Iggy Pop
- 1993 Strays, Junkhouse
- 1995 Glum, Giant Sand
- 1996 Caledonia, John P. Strohm
- 1996 Dead Spy Report, Craig Ross
- 1996 In Flight, Linda Perry
- 1997 Eli's Comin', Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro
- 1998 Dopamine, Mitchell Froom
- 1998 The Globe Sessions, Sheryl Crow
- 2001 Las Vegas Is Cursed, Hector Zazou
- 2002 Anna, Anna Waronker
- 2003 0304, Jewel
- 2003 From Every Sphere, Ed Harcourt
- 2003 The Official Fiction, Something for Kate
- 2003 True Reflections, Boyd Tinsley
- 2004 Impossible Dream, Patty Griffin
- 2005 The Roads Don't Love You, Gemma Hayes
- 2009 Amor Vincit Omnia, Draco Rosa
- 2009 Devil's Halo, Meshell Ndegeocello
- 2009 Goodnight Unknown, Lou Barlow
- 2009 The Sun Came Out, 7 Worlds Collide
- 2010 Intriguer, Crowded House
- " Alumni return for South Bend Youth Symphony's gala 50th anniversary concert at Notre Dame". By Andrew S. Hughes South Bend Tribune May 20, 2018
- Dave Thompson (16 November 2010). Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie. ECW Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-55490-271-2.
- Lisa Germano. Strings. String Letter Corporation. 1994. p. 138.
- Wilson, MacKenzie. "Lisa Germano". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- Phares, Heather. "On the Way Down From the Moon Palace". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- Alyssa Katz (December 1996). Pop Therapy. SPIN. SPIN Media LLC. pp. 93–. ISSN 0886-3032.
- "Live Reviews: Latin Playboys/Lisa Germano April 21, 1999 Lee's Palace, Toronto". Chart Attack, April 21, 1999
- "Channeling Nico in Silverlake". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
- "Lisa Germano | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
- "Lisa Germano | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
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