Get ready to rock, Boston, because Letters to Cleo is heading back to town for their annual homecoming shows this weekend. The fan-favorite, ’90s alt-rockers will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Aurora Gory Alice with a two-day stint at the Paradise Rock Club Nov. 16 and 17. Ahead of the concerts, we chatted with singer Kay Hanley about returning to the Hub, what’s next for Letters to Cleo and more.
Letters to Cleo star Kay Hanley talks Aurora Gory Alice, Parks and Recreation and bad Boston drivers
How excited are you to be heading back to Boston to celebrate 25 years of Aurora Gory Alice?
It’s always awesome to come home. Home is home, and it just always feels great. And the crowds, they’re hometown crowds, so any band it’s just such a kick in the pants. The interesting thing about the shows we’ve done over the last few years is that we have a lot of new fans who never saw the band back in the day. They kind of stumbled on us from things like our movie soundtracks, 10 Things I Hate about You, The Craft and Josie and the Pussycats. These are people who never thought that they’d see us, so we have this whole other crew of people who like the band. That’s been really exciting too.
How do you feel Boston has changed since you left the city?
I grew up in Boston. I’m from Dorchester, so when I come back to town, I’m either down the Cape, which is where my family is during the summer, or I’ll take the bus into Boston and stay in a hotel or something like that. This summer, I took a car back from the Cape to Boston to do a bunch of s—t that I had to do, and at one point, I had to pull over because I had gotten flipped off, or screamed at by other drivers. All the streets are so messed up right now, that I can’t drive. I realize I’m probably like this too, but the drivers are so f—king agro. There’s a lot of traffic in L.A., where I live now, and you spend so much time in your car that if people were crazy, had a hair trigger like they do in Boston, you’d just lose your mind.
So are you aggressive like a Bostonian when you hit the road?
Not anymore. I’ve gotten real zen about driving.
What was your reaction when Aurora Gory Alice started making waves all those years ago?
We were really surprised to hear the song on MTV, being played [on radio]. I will never forget, we were driving into Cleveland to play a show there, and we had on our favorite station WMMF, and they started playing “Here & Now.” We were in our van pulling into Cleveland for our gig, and we were like, what is happening right now? We were shocked, just shocked. It was an incredible feeling.
Speaking of surprises, how shocked were you when Parks and Recreation gave the band a shoutout?
That did come as a surprise to us…I remember at one point, someone from the show called [our manager] Michael Kramer and asked for a particular shirt design that we had never made, which was the cover of Aurora Gory Alice. We had never made that design of a shirt, so we were like “We don’t have that.” The next thing you know, the Adam Scott character turns up wearing a shirt that they had designed on the show. Every time the Adam Scott character was like depressed or whatever, he would be at home wearing his Letters to Cleo shirt. The first night it happened, we started trending on Twitter worldwide. Like what?
The shirt became a thing, and then when they did the season finale of the second to last season, they did the Pawnee community concert, we got to play at it. It was so fun! And I literally had to drive 10 minutes to get to the set where they did the concert. It was five miles away from my house.
Does it feel good to have the band back together again these days? What’s the future for Letters to Cleo?
It’s fun because it’s for fun. We’re not trying to make any money. We’re not trying to reignite our artists’ careers or anything. It’s really just because we’re like family and have a great time writing and playing music together. Settling into a few times a year of doing this is exactly where I want to be. It’s just not something I’m interested in pursuing full-time, speaking for myself.
What about another album?
We keep saying that, for next year’s homecoming show, we want to have a full-length album. That’s the goal. That’s something I think we all really want to do.
If you go:
Nov. 16-17, Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, $29.50+, crossroadspresents.com