Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde puzzled fans and colleagues alike when she announced from a New York stage on Saturday that the band was playing "one of our last shows ... ever." Were the Pretenders, who'd just released a box set covering their 27-year career, now calling it quits? Or was it just an April Fools' Day joke?
It turns out that the reports of the Pretenders' demise were, if not exactly exaggerated, at least premature, as Hynde later clarified.
"When I said this is our last show, I meant this is the last show of this tour," she said in a statement released Wednesday (April 5). "I think I said I am real tired, but maybe I was so tired that it sounded like I'm retired. I often think about leaving everything and spending the rest of my days on a beach somewhere, but then, who doesn't?"
Hynde had alluded to the lure of warm beaches when MTV News asked her about the band's future at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, last month. "I'm a rocker — I don't want to work. I want to goof off," Hynde said. "So if it feels fun, I'll do it, and if I'm doing other things — like hanging out on a beach in South America — that suits me, too."
That South by Southwest showcase was the very reason the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers (see "U2, Pretenders Among Rock Hall Inductees; Grandmaster Flash, Sex Pistols Denied") had launched their tour in the first place. Traveling from England for just one show in Texas didn't make financial sense, even to promote the Pirate Radio box set, so they booked a 12-date tour, which wrapped on April 2 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
"That's how I like it, to just break even," Hynde said. "Keep the thing moving along nice and keep it as small as possible, and not get too crazy.
"The thing between you and the audience, it's an intimate relationship, and no one can take that away," she continued. "I don't know about the Internet and all that business. It's not my thing — I've never really been on the Internet; I don't even care about it. But the show — not in a stadium, not on a screen — when you're standing there and you can see the band and they can see you, to me, that's my favorite thing. What could be better than that?"
While Hynde said that putting out a career retrospective feels like a "preemptive early retirement," she decided to get involved with Pirate Radio because "it was going to happen with or without me." Each disc contains 20 songs — including classics such as "Brass in Pocket," "Back on the Chain Gang," "Night in My Veins" and "Don't Get Me Wrong" — but fans will probably be more interested in the rarities, which include demos of "Precious" and "Watching the Clothes," alternate versions of "When I Change My Life" and "Worlds Within Worlds," and covers of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done," Morrissey's "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and the rock classic "Louie, Louie."
Hynde is forthcoming about the quality of these newly released tracks: "Some [are] good, some not so good," she said. "Some stuff people who bought the Pretenders records won't have, and those who haven't any records [will get] some idea what we've been up to."
As for what the Pretenders will be up to next, Hynde said she has no idea, noting that she doesn't feel pressure to record a new album anytime soon. "We'll see," she said. "If this [tour] feels really good, when I get around to it, we'll put some songs together. I don't have any plans and I'm not bothered about that. If it happens, it happens."