Pop Quiz: Penelope Houston

Aidin Vaziri | Penelope Houston is living a double life. She was the lead singer of the seminal San Francisco punk band the Avengers, which crammed in more than 100 gigs from 1977 to 1979 (including opening for the Sex Pistols at Winterland) and is the subject of a forthcoming eponymous retrospective set featuring the long-lost “Pink Album.” She’s also a critically revered singer-songwriter who just released her seventh solo album, “On Market Street,” recorded with a stellar cast at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley.

Penelope Houston
Q: Has being known as the spiky-haired punk chick from the Avengers held people back from hearing you as the reflective singer-songwriter?
A: I think it’s a double-edged sword.
Q: But the Avengers represent just two years of your life.
A: There was a long period I was doing the solo stuff where I was like, “Let’s not talk about the Avengers.” But I understand why people are excited about the old stuff. We’ve been working for years to get back to the “Pink Album.” I’m always writing for myself anyway. The songwriter I was in the Avengers was the beginning of the songwriter I am now. I’m really the same person.
Q: The anger is still there. It just sounds prettier.
A: That’s kind of one of my things – to write sharp words to lush music. Once you actually listen you go, “Ooh.”
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