Hynde is touring again after an eight-year gig with motherhood

May 27, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Chrissie Hynde is afraid some people might have the wrong idea about her. She's worried that they might have heard stories about her being a hard-nosed, domineering control freak -- or, worse, taken them as fact.

They're not. The leader of the Pretenders may be a lot of things -- feisty, plain-spoken, irreverent, even politically incorrect -- but a control freak? Not hardly.

"I don't want to control my life, I want my life to control me," she says, over the phone from the New York offices of her record company. "I've always believed that if I allow my life to control me, then I can experience a great deal more than if I think that I'm on top of it and I set my own agenda from year to year."

That agenda doesn't always have to do with the usual rock 'n' roll priorities, either. At the moment, Hynde is in full road-mode, happily promoting her band's new album and eager to start playing gigs again. But "Last of the Independents" is only the Pretenders' second new album since 1987, while this current outing marks the band's first tour in eight years.

"I've had other things to do for that eight years," she says, a mite defensively. "It hasn't even been an option."

She doesn't elaborate -- at least not right away. But as the conversation ambles on, she eventually admits that her chief priority for much of that time was to stay home and be a good mother to her two daughters.

"The last time I was on tour, I had two infants in baskets," she says. "There was the coach with the band, and then there was the coach with me and the kids. I can't sleep in a coach, over night, but the kids could. So that would mean that by 8 o'clock in the morning, I'd already be totally irritable, jarred, jangled from driving and having done a show and not sleeping. And then Mary Poppins would come on. You know? Not my idea of a rock tour."

So Hynde just "chilled out altogether, and attended to my first consideration, which was looking after my children. But now I'm freed up. I can kind of do it a little bit. So I'm delighted.

"I mean, I adore my children above all else. Of course I do. But I've got to rock."

She pauses a second, and then adds, ominously, "But [the children] have nothing to do with it. You won't see them or hear from them. Nobody gets to meet them. Nobody has to know their name and who they are. And if anyone tries to -- " Hynde stops, trying to think up an appropriate threat.

"Well, I suggest just don't."

Advice taken.

Hynde admits that it's a ticklish situation for her to be in. "It's a package," she says. "They come with me, in many ways. But they're, you know . . . ."

Of course, nobody ever said being a rock 'n' roll grown-up would be easy. There are times, Hynde says, when she worries that others might find her enthusiasm for the music a tad unseemly for someone her age. But she's certainly not going to let that stop her.

"I'm in my 40s, and I love it more than ever," she enthuses. "So I will enjoy it. I'll still go out and buy pop papers. No one can stop me, it's not illegal. If I want to say I love Urge Overkill and everyone turns around and says, 'Well, you're retarded,' fine. So be it. Allow me to be a rock 'n' roll retard for the rest of my life.

"Bear in mind that, after all, I am just a girl from Akron, Ohio. Like, I'm nobody. And I can now stay in hotels in New York and stuff?" She laughs, clearly delighted. "I mean, my friends in Akron can't go and stay in a hotel in New York and just hang out and do the things that I do. They have to like, get to work in the morning and stuff. I caught the gold ring, man."

That's one reason she doesn't mind many of the impositions that come with rock stardom. "When I'm asked to sign autographs and people say, 'isn't that a pain?' I say, 'No.' When I write my name down on that piece of paper, I'm signing a contract in my own mind that says, 'You do not have to go to work tomorrow. Sign here.'

"I love this stuff," she continues. "And I've learned the art of pulling back and getting out of it as soon as it starts seeming a little bit monotonous, as soon as it starts feeling like a career. I don't want to make it sound that I'm so superficial that I can say that it's all just good fun, don't take it seriously, because I've never met a musician who doesn't take it very seriously.

"But it is entertainment, after all. And I've decided that if I'm going to be in entertainment, then I want to be entertained, too."

"Last" call

To hear excerpts from the Pretenders' new album, "Last of the Independents," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6207 after you hear the greeting.

The Pretenders

When: Saturday doors open at 8 p.m., performance at 10 p.m.

Where: Hammerjacks

Tickets: Sold out

Call: (410)659-7625

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