Lush’s Miki Berenyi: Still Awesome

Nov 30th, 2007 // 16 Comments

This fantastic Under the Radar interview with Lush vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi, who’s long been out of sight (and refers to herself as “a 40-year-old office employee with graying hair who’s still struggling to shift the weight from her last pregnancy”), made me flash back to Lollapalooza ’92, when the band was first on the bill–and in the unenviable position of playing right before Pearl Jam just as “Jeremy” had crested. The crowd (well, except for me) was, needless to say, not in the mood to hear Lush’s dreamy pop, but Berenyi and fellow Lusher Emma Anderson took their heckling in stride, sassing the drunk-on-their-own-dudeness Long Island guys back and even shutting them up at points. Anyway, in this chat, Berenyi recalls the good, the repellent, and the bittersweet of her Lolla experience:

Lollapalooza was a genuine rollercoaster. I did find it difficult to accept the astonishingly macho attitudes–I remember [Red Hot Chili Peppers'] Anthony Kiedis (I think it was the first night of the tour!) inviting me to come along with the band to “The Ballet.” I didn’t realise he meant a strip club–I genuinely thought they were off to see Swan Lake! Thankfully, I was enlightened and I declined. ‘Why the hell would I want to go to a strip club?!’ I thought. And there was a lot of use and abuse of groupies. I guess everyone involved would say that the girls were willing participants, but a naïve ‘nobody’ is likely to overstep their normal boundaries of their behaviour if they think they will get attention from someone they idolise, and that can lead to rather sordid and upsetting situations ripe for exploitation. That said, there was a genuine sense of euphoria and enjoyment on the tour. Despite a tiny bit of factional bickering, everyone really seemed to muck in and get involved in making the whole experience a memorable and immensely enjoyable one–rather than, say, calling their business manager to see how much the tour had improved their album sales. As a result, no one was afforded star status–we were all in it together. It had the genuine feeling of a travelling circus. I absolutely bloody loved it! Of course, all my memories of Lush are shot through with some sadness as they remind me that Chris [Acland] is no longer here. We had a weird bar count in a couple of songs–the break in “Sweetness and Light” and the one in “Superblast!”–and it was my job to give Chris the nod when the drums had to kick in again. I’d turn away from the mic, look round at him, and he’d always pull some silly face or be laughing hysterically at something. It makes me feel bereft to think that those days–and that person–are gone.

Acland committed suicide in 1996, and Berenyi says in the interview that it’s unlikely the band would go on without him; presumably that means a reunion tour is out as well. Here’s the other song with the weird bar count that Berenyi references:

Lush’s Former Singer Reminisces on Britpop [Under The Radar]

  1. futurehorse

    Sadly, all three of their studio albums can be found in the $3.95 bin at any record store (Ciao! still holds some clout). How can this band be that underrated? I will never understand why they and Sugar, the two budget bin staples, aren’t more wildly popular.

  2. Ned Raggett

    Just wonderful to see — and a great band, saw them four times in the early nineties, entertaining shows each time. Thanks for this link — I did meet her briefly once after a show, and she seemed a very friendly and down to earth soul. More should be like ‘em.

  3. MTS

    LOVE this band. Criminally overlooked!

  4. narymary

    I remember seeing Lush perform for Lollapalooza at Great Woods in Massachusetts. I was one of like, 5 people standing up and dancing and whatnot while they played. I was hoping and praying they’d play “De-Luxe” but thinking they might not since it was an older song. Then, for the last song, Miki said “This is for the few of you who came here to see us” and the band launched into “De-Luxe”. It was awesome.

  5. Nicolars

    Is there a band in existence who would feel it a compliment to be compared to Dodgy? And who even wants to remember anything by Hurricane #1?

    I love this woman – always have, always will.

  6. K-milo

    I have to say i only learned about Lush this year. The Radio Dept. got me into the shoegaze world… Great band. And i love “Ex” and “Undertow”… A great post.

  7. noamjamski

    Even better, the Jones Beach 1992 stop was two days. On the second day there was torrential rain right after Lush played and the rest of the show was called off. So 10,000 irate jocks with those “Cat in the Hat” hats had Lush as their only experience from that tour.

  8. Jess Harvell

    i still have a planet-sized crush on this woman a decade-plus later.

  9. Maura Johnston

    @noamjamski: I had a ticket to that show too!! But my parents wouldn’t drive me out there until the rain stopped.

  10. Chris Molanphy

    I reviewed the beginning-of-the-end Lush album, Split, for CMJ in ’94. It really looked like Reprise was putting the Big Push behind them and they were gonna be the next Breeders (in terms of pop crossover, not sound); didn’t quite work out that way, of course.

    Here’s my review — be kind, I was not quite 23:

    LUSH
    Split
    4AD/Reprise

    In its earlier incarnation, Lush’s dreamy shoegazer rock was bold but probably too offputting for the masses-the band went relatively unnoticed on the second Lollapalooza tour. Their erstwhile masterwork, 1992′s Spooky, pleased a large cult following for whom Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson’s wall o’ voices satisfied both a Cocteau Twins affection and a rock jones. Hearteningly, Split suggests that Lush may be in for the long haul. The band has discovered that their initially limiting style can actually be stretched into many permutations; each song is truly distinct from its predecessor while still maintaining unmistakable Lushness. The bouncy “Lit Up” follows the dire “Never-Never” facilely, and then “Starlust” comes crashing through with guitars that would’ve made Mick Ronson proud. Not quite as catchy as Curve on their masterwork Döppelganger, Lush nonetheless know how to work a hook, as on “Lovelife,” a shiny, Sundays-like piece of pop. It’s hard to say who pushed Lush toward the mainstream. The obvious guess is producer Mike Hedges, whose work with the Cure and Siouxsie suggests a pop sensibility; or maybe it’s mixer Alan Moulder, who brought out the best in Billy Corgan’s sturm und drang on Siamese Dream. Or it’s just possible that Miki and Emma–like Cocteau’s Elizabeth Fraser, who recently decided to start singing more intelligibly–realized it was time to let the rest of the world know what all the fuss was about. Well, they have. As Berenyi sings on Split’s coda “When I Die,” presumably to her growing legion of fans, “I am afraid you’re here to stay.” Count on it. -Chris Molanphy

    Datalog: Release date: June 14. First single “Hypocrite”
    File Under: Shoegazer pop.
    Recommended If You Like: Curve, Cocteau Twins, the Cure.

  11. the rich girls are weeping

    Oh, Lush. I’ll have you know that I spell my “nickname” (because no one actually calls me that…) the way I do in homage to Ms. Berenyi’s awesomeness.

    Idolator, home to the still-rabid Lush and Sugar fans.

    Also,

    Recommended If You Like: Curve, Cocteau Twins, the Cure

    … Can I get an Amen?

  12. noamjamski

    @maura: I went to both but fucked around too much on day one in that merch village thinking I would be catching both days. Because of that I never saw Soundgarden. Blah.

  13. Ahh! Jim lad!

    Wow. What a cool lady. And great band, too.

  14. blueharv

    @jessdolator: Yeah, Miki from Lush was our embodiment of indie-chick hotness back in the early nineties. She’s aged well and watching those vids only served to quicken my pulse once again.

  15. Anonymous

    i was so in love with miki. one time i saw them and she walked by me about 7 times, each time i froze.
    i still listen to them at least once a week. my introduction to them was at lollapolooza in PA, where she immediately called out the frat boys for trying to look up her skirt.

  16. BeRightBack

    Miki was the reason I dyed my hair intense red for the first time. I loved her and this band so very much, especially the album “Gala.” Also: one of the most apt band names ever.

    Thank you Idolator!

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