Guest DJ Project - Tara McPherson
Published on 3/17/2010

Check out this really cool radio interview I did with KCRW.  I picked 5 influential songs and talked about how they've inspired me over the years. You can listen to it on the KCRW Website, download the podcast, ect.  They have also posted a transcript and links to the songs I picked! 

Guest DJ Project - Tara McPherson
WED MAR 17, 2010

Tara McPherson has been named the “crown princess of poster art” by Elle Magazine for her work with rock bands such as Beck, Modest Mouse, and Melvins. She offers up an inspiring track from a feminist punk group, one of her favorite driving songs and the song she considers a “gateway drug to metal.” Tara created a limited edition poster for KCRW’s SXSW Showcase and you can see all of her recent artwork online.

For more:

1. The Melvins - Night Goat
2. The New Detectives - Nightmares
3. Led Zepplin - What Is and What Should Never Be
4. Jane's Addiction - Summertime Rolls
5. Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl


Mario Cotto: Hi, this is Mario Cotto from KCRW and I'm here with poster artist and toy designer, Tara McPherson. She's created numerous gig posters for bands including Beck, Modest Mouse and The Melvins and she's here today to share some samples of the music that has inspired her over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. So, Tara, how're you doing?

Tara McPherson: I'm doing really good.

MC: First one on the list, The Melvins here, so awesome. Tell us a little bit about "Night Goat."

Song: "Night Goat," by The Melvins

I picked this song because when I first started going to shows, there was this venue called Jabberjaw that was in LA ,and it was all ages. That's where I really discovered a lot of bands and saw my first poster art there, it was such a big part of my youth. Melvins used to play there all the time, they were one of the first bands that I saw there, and it really got me really loving heavy, heavy music and metal, and so Melvins was my 'gateway drug' to metal. *laughs* It's just a great song, you know, it's just so heavy and intense and you really feel it, like, that one stood out to me. That was the first record I got from them, and that was always my favorite song on that album. 

MC: We just heard some "Night Goat," by The Melvins

Song: "Nightmares," by The New Detectives

MC: We've got here The New Detectives, "Nightmares."

TM: Yeah! This is my first band, and I put this in there because it's such an important part of my life. This was my favorite song that we recorded, and being in this band really got me into making posters for a living. I always loved rock posters, and finally owned some after I graduated college. I was really focused on painting when I graduated, but I finally had time to be in a band (I've played bass since I was 15 years old) and so of course when the time came to make the fliers for the shows, everyone's saying, "You're the artist, come on, do something cool!" And, so you know, it started out with a little black and white flier and then I thought, "Well, hey, I have some time on my hands," (not getting too many jobs right after college), and so I started making them in color, and we started getting better shows with bigger bands on our posters... and that's the whole beginning of how I started doing rock posters. Very important for me and my life.

MC: Did you find that your style sort of developed alongside the kind of music you were into at the time?

TM: Yeah, I mean, how can it not be? You know, we're all products of our environments, and definitely now as an artist looking back, you can see how much the past really shapes the future.

MC: I'm Mario Cotto and this is music by Tara McPherson's band, The New Detectives. The track is "Nightmares," on KCRW's Guest DJ Project

Song: "What is & What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin 

MC: Now here we got a classic dropped in here, this is Led Zeppelin, "What is & What Should Never Be." What is it about the Zepp?

TM: Well, my step dad is like, the classic rock dude, and that definitely is such a big part of who I am... and you know, that's my favorite Led Zeppelin song. My dad used to have a cassette tape of it and we used to drive to Mexico a lot, down into Baja, and that song would come on, it just reminds me of that moment. Like, it's a really calm song, but it's really intense and it's just such a classic for me, and definitely got me into Rock 'n' Roll.

MC: So it's that element of A) it's like, super rad and amazing and additionally it's got this sort of nostalgic quality for you, huh?

TM: Yeah, it has such a good feeling, just takes me back to that perfect memory and perfect place, you know?

MC: That was Led Zeppelin with "What is & What Should Never Be." Tara, next up you have Jane's Addiction with "Summertime Rolls." What's the story behind this choice?

TM: Well, I grew up in Los Angeles and with Jane's Addiction being kind of a local band there, they were such a big part of the L.A. culture. They were one of my favorite bands when I was a teenager, and I love this song because it's so peaceful, and no one's teenage years are ever quite that easy, no matter what your situation. I just remember this song being really almost meditative for me.

Song: "Summertime Rolls," by Jane's Addiction

MC: "Summertime Rolls," by Jane's Addiction. 

Song: "Bikini Kill," by Rebel Girl

MC: Tara, your last pick is a song by Bikini Kill called "Rebel Girl," - why this particular song?

TM: That song and that band, also going back to when I was a teenager, were very much involved with the Riot Grrl movement, and so was I in Los Angeles. That song really encompasses the whole spirit of really finding your true self as a young woman, and to not let anything stand in your way. I think that for me was really poignant, and it made me very proud to be a woman doing certain things and not being afraid to do them. Playing music, deciding to become an artist - in a lot of male dominated fields which there are so many of still - and it just gave me that independence to do whatever I wanted and to just be myself.

MC: That's awesome, alright, so thank you so much Tara for coming out today and joining us on

TM: Yeah, thank you!

MC: Alright so for a complete listing and to find these songs online, you can go to

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