I’m not a big fan of holiday festivities (to put it mildly), however, I must admit that I did enjoy spending this Halloween with Rasputina… well, the first ten or fifteen minutes of this Halloween.  Their 10/30 gig at Johnny Brenda’s spilled slightly past midnight.  The world’s greatest cello rockers, yet again, put on a night of ineffably quirky satire that was as informative (and, at times, misinformative) as it was entertaining (Once you’ve seen Rasputina once or twice, you more or less know what to expect of the next several dozen viewings… but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying.)  There was extravagant makeup, fancy dress, and songs of stubborn weather, the consumption of rodents, and a super-sized Holocaust… They really are the perfect Halloween band.  Although Melora Creager (the band’s leading lady, who I spoke to the day after the show) doesn’t regard Halloween as all that special of an occasion for the band: “Halloween is weird for me because we wear costumes every night we’re working.  I’m glad for everyone to have the chance to wear costumes, but I can’t take the pressure to come with something more amazing for the holiday.”

The band are currently touring behind Great American Gingerbread.  The album, released earlier this year (which was voted by me, in the current issue of High Voltage Magazine, as one of the year’s ten best releases), is a collection of “Rasputina Rarities & Neglected Items,” comprised of previously unreleased material, largely that which was recorded between 2004 and 2007.  Although this seemed a bit odd and random, something Creager is a master of, her reasoning was apparently far more practical than anything else: “I released Gingerbread, the rarities collection, now because I had a new baby and it’s close to impossible to write new songs while taking care of a new baby and even a toddler (Ivy is almost 2 now.) That also makes it a good time for the How We Quit the Forest [their sophomore LP] re-issue and a new covers record that I’m working on.”

Rasputina have gone through countless lineup changes (with Melora remaining the band’s sole constant member).  However, Creager currently finds herself alongside percussionist/vocalist Dawn Miceli and Philadelphia’s own Daniel DeJesus (The UArts grad is currently in his third year as the group’s second chair cellist.), making recent Philthy appearances homecomings of sorts.  However, I was curious as to her take on this seemingly ever-evolving lineup: “Who, besides Trent Reznor, is in Nine Inch Nails? Of course the aesthetic remains consistent, because Rasputina is the art project of my life. We might favor different live songs at different times because of different members strengths and weaknesses, but happily I’ve written different kinds of songs that can accommodate that.”

Much to my surprise (I was unfamiliar with this story), it isn’t just because her fellow cello buddy resides here that gives our city a special place in Melora’s heart.  It turns out… that it’s actually how she first “quit the forest” (yes, I’m aware of the cheesiness of that reference): “I went to a summer art school program in Philadelphia when I was in high school.  Coming from Kansas, it was my introduction to the East Coast and big cities. It was really exciting and fun for me, my favorite memory of Philadelphia.”