For the past ten or so years, the quintet of female rockers known as Antigone Rising have been slugging it out on the road and developing a feverish fan base. Such tenacity and continued tightness has sure paid off for the Big Apple based band in more ways than one, starting with a deal with Lava Records, followed by the release of 2005's From the Ground Up (which started its sales cycle exclusively in Starbucks stores across America). But perhaps the crowning achievement in recent months has been a coveted spot on a few dates of the Rolling Stones' 2006 tour, which will not only puts the group in front of stadium sized crowds, but in the presence of a main career muse. Just prior to a two night stand in Chicago, guitarist/vocalist Kristen Henderson called ConcertLivewire with all the juicy details relating to the iconic act, what fans can expect during those dates, plus insight into Antigone Rising's latest album and future plans.
By Andy ArgyrakisLivewire: This is probably an over asked question, but how did you score such a sweet spot opening for the Stones?
Henderson: Keith and Mick have been fans of the band for a long time and they were begging us to do dates with them. No, I'm just kidding. Actually our manger had some contacts over there and he contacted them about getting us on the shows. We submitted a reel and I guess they really dug it.
Livewire: What type of footage on this film was the selling point?
Henderson: I think it was when we filmed a Doors tribute show for VH1 over the summer. We submitted some footage from that and VH1 was cool enough to give us a three or four minute montage that looks really cool. We played a couple of originals and "Roadhouse Blues" with the Doors sitting in with us.
Livewire: I know you've done tons of touring over the years and are used to being on stage, but are there any special preparations you're making for these dates?
Henderson: This is serious and is the next level up. We've been touring so long that this is just what we do and it comes really natural, but we've actually been preparing and rehearsing. We've been timing the set, picking the songs and getting the staging down to go exactly right. We'll rehearse in Chicago on Sunday night.
Livewire: Have you seen any of the Stones' stage plot so far?
Henderson: Nothing and I'm sure our stage will be quite different than theirs- probably a little bit of space in front. I'm sure somebody knows in our camp. All I know is what side of the stage I report to. I used to get really bad stage fright, so I just don't think too hard about it.
Livewire: What type of tone will your set lists take in Chi-town?
Henderson: The set list is going to be a little more of a rock show. The shorter set can cater to more of one side, especially since we have so many different colors. This will consist of older stuff, probably a lot from [2003's live recording] Traveling Circus and a couple from Ground Up. There will be nothing unplugged and probably not any acoustic [guitars], except on maybe one song. We're planning all electric.
Livewire: What are your favorite Stones CDs?
Henderson: The old stuff really. Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street and even Tattoo You. I remember when that first came out it was sort of 80s all of a sudden, but I've been totally into it.
Livewire: Have you heard A Bigger Bang yet?
Henderson: I've heard it's really cool and I've been meaning to download it. I guess I should get on that!
Livewire: Will you have an opportunity to check out their concerts or will you be too busy packing up and moving on to the next city?
Henderson: Absolutely and there's noting more important! We just went out with the Allman Brothers back in September and we'd do our show, meet fans, sign CDs and then as soon as they were on, our band sat on the side of stage watching. It was like going to school and it was pretty cool.
Livewire: What type of interaction do you hope to have with the band backstage?
Henderson: Supposedly we'll be posing for a picture with the band, which will be really cool. It's really just hitting me now!
Livewire: Let's talk about the disc you're on tour supporting, particularly how it wound up being sold in Starbucks.
Henderson: It was awesome. We couldn't have asked for a better situation... We sat in our record label's office living room style and Starbucks came in around this time last year. At first we thought we were going to be on a compilation sometime for the future, but as soon as we were done, they brought up the idea of doing an entire acoustic record that would be exclusive. It was a no brainer.
Livewire: Did that decision result in flak from any fans who've stuck with you since your indie days?
Henderson: Our fans seem to like what we do and there didn't seem to be controversy. They don't call me on the phone and tell me, but they do post on the message boards and nothing [negative] has happened. Our core fans know what we did for Starbucks isn't that much different than what we do for them on stage. During concerts we have four or five songs unplugged and on New Years Eve we've done one set acoustic and one full band set. In the grand scheme of things, it's a great way to be introduced. We've sold a ton of records already, at least 125,000...It's changed our lives and people recognize us saying "you're the Starbucks band!" It's better than nothing.
Livewire: What's next on the docket in terms of a more traditional recording?
Henderson: The goal is to get into the studio probably within the next month or so in Nashville. We've already recorded a studio album, but it feels dated. We've written a lot in the past three years and the label is cool enough to let us do it... Our biggest focus is to make a really great album in the studio from start to finish that we're really proud of and if we do that, everything else sort of falls into place.
Antigone Rising opens for The Rolling Stones on Monday, January 23 and Wednesday, January 25 at the United Center in Chicago. At press time, tickets were still available for both days and are available by calling 312-559-1212 or www.ticketmaster.com.
More Antigone Rising
Concert review - Beat Kitchen - Chicago, IL May 8, 2003