Neko Case talks cars, music and t-shirts

With a week remaining in the “Mercury Cougar Muscle Car ‘Splosion” raffle benefiting 826 National, Neko Case kindly took some time to speak with us about the beautiful car on the cover of her Middle Cyclone record (it’s the grand prize), the Poketo t-shirts and upcoming musical exploits.

Q: How did you get involved with 826 National?

A: I heard about it through my friends and Poketo in Los Angeles. They do a lot of charity stuff through their t-shirts and I originally loved them because they had such excellent shirts, made in the US by a family and it was just a really great organization. They have the softest t-shirts I’ve ever met.

I talked to them about designing a t-shirt for a charity and they suggested 826. I started researching and I couldn’t believe what an exciting innovative, original and fun program it was for kids. And they made it free for kids. A t-shirt seemed great but then it blossomed into this other idea of doing a raffle and it kind of snowballed.

Q: What are the other prizes in the raffle?

A: The car is the grand prize, but there’s several others over the days of drawing. There’s a big package of music from ANTI and Sup Pop records which are huge packages of music. There’s stuff from Tazo tea, Rand McNally amps and Chipotle gave a ton of burritos.

There’s a Carr amplifier – they’re a company out of Pittsboro, North Carolina that makes my amp and Paul (Rigby)’s amp. Everything’s made by hand and with lots of love, best sounding amps ever.

We also have a guitar donated by Gibson that everybody in T-Bone Burnett’s Speaking Clock Revue signed. People like Jeff Bridges, T-Bone, Leon Russell, Elton John… there’s so many people that have signed it that I actually get star-struck and I always leave a lot of people out.

And there’s a vintage Gretsch “Silver Duke,” that is my personal guitar, and it sounds amazing. It was signed by Michael Stipe, The Roots, Jimmy Fallon… they’re both star-studded guitars that sound fantastic. You can win a lot of stuff.

Q: The car itself if on the cover of Middle Cyclone, and it’s pretty awesome, where did you find it?

A: I bought that car in Denver years ago and it’s been living in Tucson, Arizona ever since. It’s my baby and I feel terrible but it was sitting in the garage because I was on tour all the time.

Luckily, it’s Arizona so it’s not rusting out but at the same time cars need to be driven.

I thought, ‘It’s such a shame that this beautiful, antique, vintage, gorgeous, working machine is sitting in a garage when it could be driving around and looking sexy.

Q: What do you drive now?

A: I live on a mountain so I have to be more practical, I have to go up a steep mountain in the snow to get to my house. I have a four-wheel drive truck and a tour van. If I was at home all the time, I could take care of it in the winter and drive it in the summer but I’m gone so much it gets neglected. I didn’t want to sell it because it means so much to me.

Q: Why does the Cougar have the name “Angie Dickinson”?

A: It reminded me of watching “Police Woman” as a kid and every time I looked at the car I thought that it looks like what Angie Dickinson would drive if she wasn’t at work. That’s what she’d drive up to the station in, with her thigh-high boots and her trench coat just looking hot.

Q: Do your other vehicles have names?

A: Yeah, my tour van for a long time was called “The Ultra-Beaver” because it was born in Canada and it looked like a little beaver – it was brown and because of the grill. I had a truck called “Mrs. Santa Claus” because she was red, and then my new truck is named Captain Kangaroo – Kelly Hogan named it on our last tour.

The new tour van is called “Bloody Caesar.” It’s a burgundy color and named after a Canadian cocktail with clam juice in it, it’s disgusting but some people love it.

Q: What do you have coming up musically?

A: I have a tour coming up with my regular band and a tour in April with The New Pornographers. Right now, I’m just writing for a new record. It’s a good job.

Q: SXSW starts soon, do you have any fun SXSW memories?

A: It’s all about the eating for me. When I think about SXSW, the memory that comes back before anything else is veggie chorizo. I’m not even a vegetarian but I love fake meat. And queso. That’s what comes into my mind. Also, I really miss Las Manitas, I miss the watermelon juice.

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