With Halloween barely done and Thanksgiving yet to come, Pink Martini founder Thomas Lauderdale thinks it’s way too early to be talking about Christmas and the holidays. Especially as the retro-swing band just returned from playing “summer” shows in Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s too early, it really is. Holiday stuff shouldn’t be started before November 23,” Lauderdale declares, speaking from his home in Portland, Ore. However, with Pink Martini’s first holiday album, “Joy to the World,” released Nov. 16 via Starbucks in conjunction with the band’s label, Heinz Records, talk up the H-word, he must.
“I vowed never to do one. It always made me a little queasy. But the last couple of years, the music industry has totally changed, so when Starbucks called up and suggested doing a holiday album it seemed crazy not to say yes,” the Harvard graduate tells Metro. “It actually turned out to be very fun — but had Starbucks not called, there wouldn’t be a Pink Martini holiday album.”
Formed in 1994 in Portland, Lauderdale says his band is greatly inspired by Pee Wee Herman’s Christmas Special. That and a need to support his political canvassing back then. “I didn’t like the music that was being played at functions, so I threw on a cocktail dress and that’s how the band started.”
Holidays for all
Don’t be deceived by the traditional track listing on “Joy to the World” — this ain’t your grandma’s holiday album. There’s a Ukrainian song, “Carol of the Bells”; a Hebrew prayer, “Elohai N’tzor”; a modern-day Christian ska song, “Jesus is a Friend of Mine”; an Afro-pop “We Three Kings”; “Silent Night” in German, but with a verse in Arabic and English; Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” in both English and Japanese; and “Auld Lang Syne” done up as a samba.