Q&A: That Dog.'s Anna Waronker On Her Band's Reunion Shows, Josie And The Pussycats And Sweet Valley High

That Dog., "He's Kissing Christian"

Did people at the label try to tell you things like that That Dog. would've been bigger if you guys did things like racier videos?

Ummmm, no. I don't think so? I don't think they did. I think that was more my thing.

Do you think they were scared to pressure you because your dad's a record company legend?

I don't know... it was such a different time. I wanted them to be really clear on who I was and who we were as a band when we started working with them because I didn't want to be in some machine with people telling me what to wear and what to do. Or what to sing. It was such a bizarre unique time in music, and I didn't feel any pressure ever. And honestly I would say to my dad, like, "Do you think someone's blah-blah-blah-ing because of you?" and he said, "People don't throw away money. They are clearly investing in you. It's not like they're giving you $20 to go get a t-shirt made. They're pouring money into this thing you guys are doing. They can't be doing that as a favor to me, why would they? It's a waste of their money. It's a business." Not that he's money-centric, because he's not, he's so artist-centric, but he's also a very straight shooter and it was helpful.

How did being raised by a record exec impact your musical education?

It didn't. I didn't have one really. He played music a lot in the car, stuff he was working on or stuff the last label was working on that he was trying to figure out what to do with. He would always play stuff and want my opinion so I learned how to listen to music critically, I think, but I never took music lessons or learn to play certain types of music or anything. I just saw him nurture artists and how he would talk about them and he would say the same things to me.

Was Totally Crushed Out! supposed to have a storyline or just the running theme of crushes?

I never wanted to write love songs. I thought that was cheesy and cheap. So when I started writing that it was supposed to be like a Beatles parody love song thing. And then I wanted to write more love songs. So I thought, well, then they're all love songs. I'm gonna start writing about all the crushes and all the boys, all of it. And I was also like, 20.

Did you have a special affinity for the Sweet Valley High books?

No, it was more the aesthetic of it that I liked. I was more into—I forget what it's called—the teenage alcoholic movies, the eating disorder movies... I think I need a little tragedy and drama.

After School Specials?

Yeah! Those are a little more fun for me.

It would be criminal not to ask: Are you writing new songs for That Dog.?

Welll... uh. Hmm. How do I answer this. We have not yet discussed exactly what we want to do in the future. We only planned on doing a couple shows, and then we threw in the Largo ones. So we haven't had an official conversation all together about what we see the future holding, but we've had individual conversations and it seems like there will be something for sure. I've started to put that hat back on.

That Dog. play Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight.

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