Neko Case: A force of nature

a force of nature Songbird Neko Case is finally coming back to Tacoma, the town she paid tribute to with her songs “South Tacoma Way” and “Thrice All-American.”

Case enjoyed her highest charting album to date when “Middle Cyclone” reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. And with the rock press still buzzing about the new disc, she’ll headline Tacoma’s Pantages Theater on Tuesday and Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on Thursday.

But years before she appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman,” graced the cover of Paste or did a voiceover for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” she lived in Tacoma.

Friends say she played drums and was into the local punk scene in the ’80s and early ’90s. Just check YouTube to see her go-go dancing in a video that Tacoma garage-punk band Girl Trouble shot for their song “Cold Shoulder.” Case is also the inspiration for Girl Trouble’s song “Neko Loves Rock and Roll.”

Tuesday’s show will be her first Tacoma appearance with her Americana-flavored solo songs. But alas, Case quit doing interviews with her hometown paper years ago. So here we gather her thoughts from our archives and other sources:

On Tacoma: “I miss a lot of things about Tacoma, but I’m afraid to look at it. I don’t know what happened to it. Every time I go back, another one of my favorite buildings is gone.” (The News Tribune, 2001)

On moving to Vermont recently: “I lived there when I was a little girl, and it was my favorite place I ever lived, and the people were so kind. I always wanted to go back. … I was really scared to go back because I thought that it would have changed or been mowed down, and they would have built condos or something out there. But it turns out they’d gone backwards in time. Everybody I knew as a kid still lived there and looked exactly the same. It was really bizarre.” (Paste Magazine)

Her striking “Middle Cyclone” album cover: “I don’t like getting my picture taken. And I thought, If I was an 8-year-old boy, what would I want to see on the cover of my record? If I was an 8-year-old boy, I’d want me to have a sword.” (Time Out New York)

Dreamy inspiration: “A lot of songs come to me in dreams, which sounds super flaky. I had a dream where I was speaking to a tornado, and the tornado was asking me to read a book for it ’cause it couldn’t hold the book in its hands. It was kind of demanding at first because he thought he had to be a badass tornado. And then he was finally, like, ‘Could you just read it for me?’” (Canada’s Q TV)

Nature’s influence: “Well, I think I’m pretty obsessed with nature and the natural world and the place of humans in it, and how humans work very hard to separate themselves from nature. So we’re always kind of taking kind of the observer seat, when really, we’re kind of welcome to be a part of nature. So sometimes I think that messes with natural instinct and just fast decision-making and just things like that.” (PBS interview with Tavis Smiley)

Being inspired by Eastern European folk tales: “I think maybe Christians didn’t have as good a sense of humor as ancient Russians did. (Russians realize) that death is funny. And that humans are animals. They have that right. The Bible tries to make humans not animals the whole time. I think it’s a bit of a mistake.” (The Associated Press)

On remaking Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me”: “Probably one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, ever, and you know, he makes the line ‘when we’re older and full of cancer,’ just, it’s kind of funny but then it’s so beautiful. He just so threw in the towel right there. You’re just like, ‘Nilsson, no, let me hold you!’” (

On the 32 minutes of frogs at the end of “Middle Cyclone”: Co-producer “Darryl (Neudorf) and I were sitting around in the studio, and we were almost finished with the record. We decided to see how long it was, and I said, how much time is left over on an audio CD? He told me, and I told him that we should do something with it, that we shouldn’t waste it. So we decided to put some soothing frogs on there. I didn’t even think anyone would notice, but honestly, it’s one of the most asked-about things on the record. They usually think it’s crickets, but it’s frogs.” (

Ernest A. Jasmin: 253-274-7389

Neko Case

When and Where: 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, in Tacoma, and 8 p.m. Thursday at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle

Tickets: $33 for the Tacoma show; Seattle is sold out

more details: 1-877-784-4849 or