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Petra Haden on being a Lakers fan, Jack Black and her new musical projects

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Exclusive
112   //    05 Jun 2018, 07:54 IST

Petra Haden is a member of James Williamson & The Pink Hearts
Petra Haden is a member of James Williamson & The Pink Hearts

Petra Haden is one of those musicians that five people may know from five different musical projects. Weezer diehards may remember her work as a member of The Rentals and That Dog. Jazz aficionados may recall her collaborations with virtuosos like John Zorn and Bill Frisell.

People who read liner notes may know the name "Petra Haden" from her contributions to the Foo Fighters, Green Day, and The Decemberists, to name a few of the artists she has done sessions with. Vocal-centric music listeners may know of Haden from her a capella studio albums, including 2005's Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out.

Meanwhile, Haden keeps active with her sisters Rachel and Tanya in The Haden Triplets, which is in addition to her new band James Williamson & The Pink Hearts alongside legendary Stooges guitarist James Williamson.

Williamson and those Pink Hearts will be releasing their debut full-length album, Behind the Shade, on June 22nd via Leopard Lady Records. One week later, the group -- which also includes Frank Meyer of the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs -- will be playing its first-ever live shows, headlining events in Los Angeles and San Francisco. "Riot On The Street," the first video from Behind the Shade, came out on May 15th.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Petra Haden, a long-time fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, on behalf of Sportskeeda. Haden can be followed on Twitter via @PetraHaden, while more on her project with James Williamson can be found online at www.straightjameswilliamson.com.

How did the opportunity to work with James Williamson come about? Did you two have mutual friends?

Petra Haden: In 2012, James was searching for back-up singers for the final Stooges album, Ready To Die. Our mutual friend Mike Watt -- from The Minutemen and Firehose -- recommended me and that’s how I met James. Thank you, Watt!

Your credits otherwise include Weezer, Green Day, Beck, and the Foo Fighters. What was the first session or non-band collaboration outside of That Dog that you were part of?

Petra Haden: From the late '90s into the '00s, I worked on music with my friend Woody Jackson, who is now producing the second album from the group I have with my sisters, The Haden Triplets. Woody and I released an album called Ten Years through iTunes in 2008. It took us 10 years to finally finish it, so the title was a natural fit. It’s original songs with an ambient-folk/peaceful vibe. 

Word has it that you are a big fan of the Lakers. How did that come about?

Petra Haden: One day I was at home channel surfing, not finding anything interesting to watch, but for some reason I kept it on a basketball game and the Lakers happened to be playing. Kobe [Bryant] was on the court and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I've been hooked ever since. It was revelatory — I realized I loved basketball and I loved the Lakers. Although I was born in New York, I grew up and continue to live in Los Angeles. So the Lakers are my team. Basketball is such a fun game to watch and nearly everyone can take part in it. I love how universal it is.

Do you remember the first Laker game you attended?

Petra Haden: Yes! January 12, 2016. They played against the New Orleans Pelicans. My brother-in law [Jack Black] and my sister Tanya invited me and my boyfriend. It was so much fun. We had courtside seats. I was freaking out. To be that close to the players was surreal. I couldn’t stop smiling. I got up and danced around. At that time the Lakers weren’t doing very well. But the night we attended, they beat the Pelicans 95-91. I met Robert Sacre and had a photo taken with him! That was the icing on the cake.

Your brother-in-law Jack has been seen at plenty of Lakers games. Are there a lot of other Lakers fans in your family?

Petra Haden: I don’t believe so. But I haven’t asked.

What about among musician friends? Do you have a lot of Laker fans in your life?

Petra Haden: My boyfriend Steven is a Laker fan. But when the team was in transition, he said they weren’t as fun to watch because they weren’t playing well. But I made sure to watch every game. I had hope. My friend Jackie Pepper, whom I used to babysit when she was seven years old, is now a SPORTS REPORTER and she's a fellow Lakers fan.

Do you have a favorite player on the Lakers?

Petra Haden: I love them all, but I particularly like Josh Hart, Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Josh Hart has these tricks that are pretty great. Sometimes he pops the ball like a volleyball over a player’s head to get around them. It’s very cool to watch.

Is there a particular era of the Lakers that you look at most favorably?

Petra Haden: I don’t really have a favorite era, but I remember being in awe when I first started watching them play in the '90s. 

Sports aside, what are you currently working on?

Petra Haden: I'm trying to schedule rehearsals with my new band, James Williamson & The Pink Hearts. We're making our debut in L.A. at the El Rey Theatre on June 29, and then the next night we play the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Juggling my schedule is a challenge because I’ve recently been out on tour and I'm often recording with other artists.

I just finished a midwest/east coast tour with Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt's band, Nancy & Beth. We're currently in the studio recording a new record. 

My sisters — Tanya and Rachel — and I have nearly completed a new Haden Triplets album, which I’m very excited about. I’m also working on a new project with John Zorn and Jesse Harris called Songs For Petra (Music by John Zorn & Lyrics By Jesse Harris). This summer I’m recording and touring with Bill Frisell. In October, I’m off to Europe with my brother Josh’s band, Spain. 

There’s so much on the horizon! 

Finally, Petra, any last words for the kids?

Petra Haden: We are living in difficult times. I think it’s important at a young age to understand what teamwork is about and what it entails. A good team is made up of diverse members who are able to work well together. When a team works well together, they can accomplish more than when someone does it alone. Working together as a team and helping each other will foster peace and harmony in the world. Go team! 

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EXPERT COLUMNIST
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Downtown Magazine, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.
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