Since winning the third all-star season of RuPaul’s Drag Race (and previously appearing on the show's seventh season), the drag queen from Milwaukee has gone on multiple tours, hosted a YouTube (then Viceland, then back to YouTube) series with Drag Race alum Katya, and released multiple records.
Her latest album, Barbara, is split into two halves. The first is filled with '60s surf pop-inspired songs, led by the single “Malibu.” The second half is a little more folk, including a cover of “Stranger.” She also filmed a comedy special in her own living room called One Night Only.
Her Grown Up tour brings her to Orpheum Theatre, where she’ll perform with a full band for the first time. Phoenix New Times caught up with her to ask her evolution as a musician, life with Katya, and to spill the tea on Drag Race.
Phoenix New Times: Your previous tour had a lot of comedy with some music sprinkled in. This tour has more music and a full band. How was preparing for this tour different from ones in the past?
Trixie Mattel: Music shows have a cadence to them, no pun intended. And comedy shows are all call and response. You tell a joke, and the audience laughs. I had to create a call-and-response show that still had a cadence with music, entrances, cues, etc. Basically, a stand-up show that uses live music experiences as punctuation. With the 12 costumes, four wigs, and video content, the audience never knows what to expect from moment to moment.
What’s it like playing with a full band?
My band is beautiful, talented, and heterosexual. I didn't think that was possible. They seem to be looking in every city, but no one looks at them.
I know you wanted to be a musician longer than you’ve done drag, so do you ever see yourself going on tour strictly as a musician without any stand-up?
No. Music was my first love, but comedy is my husband. Video games is my side bitch. I'm currently playing Sims 4. Jimmy John's is my play cousin.
Barbara is also a slight departure sonically than your past folk albums. The first half is filled with poppy, beachy vibes. What inspired the lyrics and sound of this album?
I have a relationship with my music, and like any relationship it evolves and changes, y'know? My boyfriend used to just buy me dinner, and now he pees on me. Barbara is a reflection of the music I learned guitar on, early 2000s power pop. We've already heard "Stacy's Mom," and I was always wondering about Stacy's dad.
Your comedy is as good as your music, and I sincerely don’t know how you’ve mastered the two so well. How is writing for your stand-up different than your approach to writing music?
Songs seem to come out in grand gestures for me. I sit down and can write a song top to bottom in 10 minutes. "Malibu," the single, was quick. It only took an hour. When the inspiration hits, it hits.
Jokes are similar in that they can come out of nowhere, too. But they need a lot of rehearsal. I write all my songs alone, but jokes can't really get off their feet without a live audience. Basically, when I write a song, I know it's good. When I write a joke, I think it's good, but putting it in front of people is how I find out.
You always give fans something different on every tour. How has your comedy progressed since the Moving Parts tour?
I trust my instincts more, so it's weirder. The voice is much clearer. The Grown Up tour is comedy about feeling like you're never really grown up, and I think everybody can relate to that.
I know you’ve been on tour, so you may not have caught the premiere, but what do you think of the new Drag Race queens? Is there a girl you’re gagging over yet?
I'm too scared to get attached because someone else may get disqualified.
Let’s say Mama Ru does a Legends of Drag and pits all of the winners against each other. Who do you view as your biggest threat?
As a winner who actually has a career, I haven't given it much thought. Why don't you ask Jinkx Monsoon?
What’s one piece of advice you can give us for living our own Skinny Legend lives?
Never skip breakfast, and runs aren't just for old pantyhose. Also, eat naked in front of a mirror for an illuminating evening.
Trixie Mattel is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 13, at Orpheum Theatre. Tickets are $39.50 to $175 via TicketForce. UPDATE: This show has been postponed.