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Lisa Germano performing, December 2007
|Lisa Ruth Germano|
|Born||June 27, 1958|
Mishawaka, Indiana, U.S.
|Genres||Alternative rock, dream pop, folk rock|
|Musician, singer, songwriter, graphic artist|
|Instruments||Violin, guitar, accordion, piano, vocals|
|Labels||Major Bill, Capitol, 4AD, Warner Bros., Ineffable, Young God|
|John Mellencamp, Neil Finn, Indigo Girls, Eels, OP8, Yann Tiersen, David Bowie|
Lisa Ruth Germano (born June 27, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Indiana. Her album Geek the Girl (1994) was chosen a top album of the 1990s by Spin magazine. She began her career as a violinist for John Mellencamp. As of 2018 she has released thirteen albums.
Germano was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, one of five children of violinist Rocco and Betty Germano. She studied music, including piano and violin, as a child. When she was seven, she composed a fifteen-minute opera for the piano.
Germano was working as a violinist when rock singer John Mellencamp invited her to play on his album. For seven years she toured and recorded as a member of Mellencamp's band, appearing on The Lonesome Jubilee (1987),Big Daddy (1989), Falling from Grace (1991), Human Wheels (1993), and Dance Naked (1994). During the 1980s she also appeared on albums by Simple Minds and the Indigo Girls.
After recording with Henry Lee Summer, Bob Seger, and Carrie Newcomer, Germano began a solo career with the album On the Way Down from the Moon Palace (1991), recorded in Indianapolis and released by her label, Major Bill Records. Although sales were low, the album got the attention of Capitol Records, which signed her to a contract and released her next album Happiness (1993). Personnel changes at Capitol resulted in the departure of most of her benefactors, but she retained the rights to her album.
She signed a contract with the British label 4AD, which had a manufacturing and distribution deal with Warner Bros. in the U.S. Ivo Watts-Russell, founder and president of 4AD, was a fan of Germano's work. He remixed some of the tracks from Happiness with producer and engineer John Fryer, who had been involved in Watts-Russell's This Mortal Coil project. In early 1994, 4AD issued Inconsiderate Bitch, a limited-edition EP which contained five of the remixed tracks. In April of that year Happiness was reissued with different artwork, mixing, sequencing. Two tracks, including a cover version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", were replaced.
Germano's album Geek the Girl (1994) was reviewed positively by the press and was a noted album of the 1990s. Much attention[where?] was given to the track "...A Psychopath", which contains audio from a 9-1-1 emergency phone call by a woman who was being terrorized by an intruder in her home. In 1995, Germano contributed the song "The Mirror Is Gone" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Bothered produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Excerpts From a Love Circus (1996) was praised by Spin and Rolling Stone. Earlier that year, Watts-Russell approached 4AD's musicians with the idea that each act would find another person or band to collaborate with on three songs. The recordings would then be released by the label as a monthly series of EPs. Germano worked with rock band Giant Sand, but after their tracks had been recorded, the label decided that the series would be unfeasible and rejected the idea. Germano and the members of Giant Sand liked the results and enjoyed collaborating, and despite the labels' lack of interest in the recordings, recorded an album in less than a week. Managers for Germano and Giant Sand made a deal with Thirsty Ear Recordings to release the album as a one-off project under the name OP8, and the album Slush was released in February 1997. In April 1997, 4AD began promoting "I Love a Snot" (remixed by Tchad Blake) to radio and retail stores in America, but sales of the album remained static at best. "Lovesick" from Excerpts from a Love Circus was remixed by Trevor Jackson (a.k.a. The Underdog), and released by his label, Output Recordings.
Sales began to sag noticeably with the release of Slide, produced by Tchad Blake, in July 1998. The distribution deal with Warner Bros. ended, returning 4AD to independent status, and without Warner Bros. Slide received less promotion. Before the album was released she was invited to sing backup vocals on tour for The Smashing Pumpkins. Although she rejected the offer at first, singer Billy Corgan persuaded her that she would have a more collaborative role, and she agreed to join the tour. She rehearsed with the band for four weeks in Chicago. The night before the tour was supposed to begin, Corgan dismissed her (via the tour manager) with no explanation.
Intent on resuming the promotion of Slide, she went tour, opening for Eels and then headlining smaller clubs. While on tour she was notified by 4AD that they were dropping her from the label. By the end of 1998, she announced that she was done with the music business. She fired her management. Nonetheless, in 1999 she performed in Toronto at Lee's Palace.
Germano moved to Hollywood and began working at an independent bookstore. Songwriting remained part of her life, and she collaborated with Yann Tiersen, David Bowie, Neil Finn, and Joey Waronker. In 2002 she released two compilations of songs from her back catalog. Concentrated is a selection of "greatest hits" with a few oddities, such as the Underdog remix of "Lovesick". Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs is composed of rarities, such as "Breathe Acrost Texas" which was omitted from the reissue of Happiness, and tracks that were previously unavailable. Each copy came with an insert painted by Germano.
Later that year, she began gathering songs she had been writing and recording mostly by herself at home during the previous two years. She sent CDs of these tracks to labels and friends in the music industry. The first to respond was a longtime acquaintance, producer and label executive Tony Berg. After the relative success of the ARTISTdirect websites, CEO Marc Geiger started Ineffable Records with Berg in 2002. Germano was the first act signed to the label's roster.
Lullaby for Liquid Pig was released in 2003 with help from guitarist Johnny Marr (of The Smiths and Modest Mouse), Neil Finn, and Wendy Melvoin. The album met with critical acclaim, but the label shut down. Three years later she was invited by Michael Gira of the band Swans to join his label, Young God Records. The label released the album In the Maybe World (2006) and reissued Lullaby for Liquid Pig (2007) with a bonus disc of unreleased live recordings and demos.
In 2012, Germano was the violinist on two national tours by Tammy Lang, the Chelsea Madchen tour in which the singer parodied Nico of Velvet Underground and her outing as a subversive country-and-western alter ego Tammy Faye Starlite. Drummer Pete Thomas played on both tours, as did guitarist Peter "Petey" Andrews. The band "played some of the best blues rock music I've heard in years," wrote Huffington Post music correspondent Wendy Block.
With David Bowie
With Michael Brook
With Neil Finn
With Howe Gelb
With Indigo Girls
With John Mellencamp
With Simple Minds
With Yann Tiersen