Talkie talkie with Claire!

For today’s interview I decided to sit down and ask your local Claire Nelson-Lifson some questions about things including (but not limited to): music, zines, and records. For the first part of the interview, i sent Claire some questions. For the second and bonus interview, I recorded a short question and answer session at Cracker Barrel. Read on!!

Photo by: Rosalind Greiert
Photo by: Rosalind Greiert

1. What is your name?

Rev. Claire E. Nelson-Lifson (1/2 Jew)

2. Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wiscsonsin, where I still reside (not the hospital, Madison)

3. What bands have you played in and who are you playing with currently?

I have played in Giant People, the New Years Gang, Fire Retarded, the Non-Travellin’ Band, and I currently play in Proud Parents and the Disembodied Monks and sometimes still Giant People

4. Who are some of your musical influences?

Some of my earliest influences include Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and a lot of others I am probably too embarrassed to admit. As a teenager and “adult” I have been influenced by a lot of the early punk and glam stuff, including Patti Smith, the Stooges, David Bowie, T. Rex, the Ramones, and way more. I would say my two favorite bands (out of many favorite bands) are Thin Lizzy and the Smiths.

5. What bands are you digging on right now?

I have been listening to Beyonce’s 4 for the past month or so now. I used to be preoccupied with staying current with all the new music, which can be very exhausting. I am not sure if it is related to me becoming more jaded or me becoming more lazy, but I sort of stopped seeking out new music, because there is already so much good music from the past that I have yet to experience! A lot of current music I really dig happens to be my friends’ bands or bands I have somehow heard about through the grapevine. As a sucker for solid riffs, there seem to be a lot of killer “power-pop” bands these days, like Sheer Mag and MAMA.

6. What advice to you have for people who want to start a band or be in a band but are too scared or nervous?

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST DO IT. The world is a scary and heartless place, but life is too short to not do the things you want to do. As a very anxious and neurotic person, I have to remind myself of that constantly. I have been writing music since 2008, and I don’t think any of it was any good until about a year ago. Even if you don’t play an instrument, start a band anyway! Even if it really sucks and is very discouraging, stick with it! Also, my advice for those who are starting bands is to not play for too long when playing out. Less is more; leave the audience wanting more. One of the biggest complaints I have about live music is how some folks feel the need to play EVERY SONG THEY HAVE EVER KNOWN or whatever and will play for 45-60 minutes in a multi-band bill. My advice to everyone on the earth is be aware of your surroundings and how your actions affect others.

7. Tell me about the Toothtaker zine. What is it about and how did that come about?

The Toothtaker zine is a collection of art by people from around the globe pertaining to a theme that I organized with Aiki Coxhead and Mary Begley. I initially had the idea to publish a zine as a form of self-care during the depths of my seasonal depression. I felt it might be nice to have a vehicle or outlet for my feelings, and I had hoped it would be nice for others to have a way to be heard. The theme of the first issue was “It’s okay to feel lonely; it’s okay to feel wanted,” which I think is more or less a summation of the human experience. I also put together a compilation tape featuring a lot of great bands and musicians. We have the next issue in the works, with the theme being “Peripheral people connected by the grid; how technology feeds our perceptions.” Please send any and all submissions to

8. What is a fun fact about you that people might not know?

One of my legs is shorter than the other

9. How did you get into the haircutting profession?Do you ever get nervous giving a haircut? Was there a favorite or memorable haircut you ever gave someone?

I have been cutting hair professionally for nearly four years. I think the stars were aligned for me to start cutting hair. I am eternally grateful that I found a profession where I am able to express myself creatively. As someone with ADD, I am still stoked about working with my hands and every appointment that I have usually lasts from between 40 and 60 minutes at a time. Having the ability to make people feel good about themselves is more rewarding that I could have ever imagined. It is totally cornball, but being able to see people be visibly relieved or elated when they leave the shop makes me feel good too! The only times I get nervous when giving a haircut are when someone really attractive is sitting in my chair, because cuties make me nervous and my mouth usually turns to mush and I start sweating a lot.

10. Lay it on me, what is your favorite pizza?

I gotta keep it real, I love all sorts of pizza, but I think my favorite slice has to be Ian’s mac and cheese.

11. Tell me about this tape label you are starting???

Around Thanksgiving or Christmas, Erick Fruehling (of Fire Retarded) told me that he was looking into running a small tape label. After I hadn’t heard anything about it for a few months, I asked if he was interested in joining forces. I find that while I am very independent, my greatest successes come from collaboration. This small label is still in the very early stages, but we hope to put out tapes limited to 80-100 copies. A one and done sort of deal. After being in the New Years Gang and living with Erick, I am stoked to team up with him again!


Last month, i decided to have a sit down chat with Ms. Nelson-Lifson at our local Cracker Barrel. It took me a while to transcribe, as I am lazy. Here is that chat!!

H- Overall, how was your meal?

C- My meal was fantastic. I wish I had some gravy to dip my toast in, but I’ll survive. Still don’t like that they put a dumb piece of orange on the plate.

H- Ok.

C- But I feel perfectly satisfied. I feel like I could do even more things with my day.

H- Ok. How’s the coffee?

C- Coffee’s good.

H- What were you listening to today?

C- Today? Well I got a bunch of records so I was sampling this one called Dark Age and it’s like cheesy 80’s power metal that i bought from Tom. And that was pretty cool. And I got a bunch of 45’s like Melt Banana, and I got this Dead Ghosts/Smith Westerns split from 2009. 

H- Oh I have that one! 

C- And then I got a copy of Love Visions, which was apparently Luke Gaspers. And I got a Dukes of Stratosphere 45 and I was listening to Thomas Function. Do you remember them?

H- Yup. The Hussy played with them once.

C- Really?! RIP

H- Yeah, at the Vault in Milwaukee.

C- I gotta bunch of cool stuff today. Got that Queen record, and some Aretha Franklin and Al Green. I got a Built to Spill record. And I bought….

(waiter takes food)

C- Vincent had this rare Kinks record that looked like a bootleg thing, and it’s just like b-sides and demo’s and stuff, and he has this little piece of paper that’s in the sleeve where he wrote down what year each song came out in. 

H- OK!

C- I got a bunch of stuff and spent a bunch of money.

H- Where was this?

C- At the High Noon.

H- If you have one last pearl of wisdom, what would that be?

C- Yeah I could go all day. I think I have a future in, what do you call it? When you talk…. It’s  on the tip of my tongue… (laughing) Like motivational speaking! That’s it!

H- yeah!

C- Ummm… boys are dumb, girls are dumb, everyone’s dumb. Except for dogs and cats. 

H- Ok. Finish this phrase… The early bird catches the _______?

C- Worm.

H- Wrong answer. The answer I was looking for was Larry Bird.

C- The Larry Bird catches the worm?

H- No. The early bird catches the Larry Bird.

C- Where is the basketball?? Wait, what?!?!


Thanks for answering these questions, Claire! Very honored to call you a friend. 

Here are some links Claire sent along. Please check them out!!

Proud Parents:

Giant People:

Toothtaker:  or