Kristin Hersh’s website breaks down to various projects. There’s her work as a solo artist and leader of a noisy rock outfit called 50 Foot Wave. She’s also an author whose 2010 memoir, “Rat Girl,” was a harrowing account of her rise in the 1980s with Throwing Muses, one of the most influential alternative bands to emerge from New England.
In addition to a new 50 Foot Wave EP, “With Love From the Men’s Room,” Hersh has given her fans something else to anticipate. Throwing Muses will release their first album since 2003’s self-titled effort.
“It’s the best-sounding record we’ve ever made,” Hersh says recently while on her way to a studio in Portsmouth, R.I. (She lives in New Orleans.) “I used to hate being in the studio, because it felt like ripping the limbs off your songs. But now it’s my church. You get to hide and work at the same time, which doesn’t happen to me very often.”
In advance of Hersh’s two-night stand at Club Passim Sunday and Monday, she recently reflected on the multiple ways she keeps busy and how all her work is complementary. “When I reach for a particular guitar, that’s how I know what project the song is for,” she says.
Q. How’s the new Throwing Muses album coming along?
A. It’s called “Purgatory/Paradise,” and it’s 33 songs long.
Q. Thirty-three? Are you going to whittle that down?
A. It’s been whittled down! (Laughs.) We had 10 years off, so we had almost 50 songs. You could call it a masterpiece, but you could also call it long-winded. But it’s the record we’re allowed to die after making. I’m so thrilled. It’s taken three or four years to make it.
Q. Are you enjoying the process of working on it?
A. Oh, my God, I don’t want to let it go. It’s such a work of obsession. The songs are really bossy. They know exactly what they want to be. They don’t care what direction I want to move in. I had to erase a thousand guitar solos until I realized the songs are about the strength in being shattered. All my solos sound kind of noodle-y and all over the place [on this record] because they need to be about pieces.
Q. Your website [www.kristinhersh.com] is a reminder that you seem to have no downtime.
A. Well, I don’t have a real job, but I can look pretty busy. I’m one of those people who didn’t expect to be around this long, so I keep filling my time as if I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff, which I’m not sure was ever there.
Q. What did you learn about yourself as a writer from working on “Rat Girl”?
A. I learned that I’m really, really slow. It all has to be musical for me. Everything is about melody for me, so I write a sentence and then I alter it rhythmically and then I alter it melodically. And then I erase it and start over. (Laughs.) Music will crash right in your face, but writing is sweeter. I find it really touching that anybody would sit down and write words for each other.
Q. Did you reveal yourself in that book in a way that you haven’t in a song?
A. I feel like I work in a vacuum. When I’m in a song, I’m playing what’s true for all of us. I’m not sure that anyone else would see it that way, but I have to in order to perform. I’m wicked shy, and it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not an entertainer, so I have to believe that what I’m sharing is an idiosyncratic version of a universal theme.
Q. You were an early supporter of fan-funding, which musicians increasingly use to finance new work. In fact, your website proudly says “Kristin is 100 percent listener-supported.” When did you realize that your fan base would be so integral to your livelihood?
A. I knew almost from the start. I found myself half playing the game and half trying to get my real work done. My whole career was watered down. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I wanted to be a scientist going into my lab that was not sponsored by some corporate entity. Marketability just should not be a factor when you’re trying to tell the truth. So when the industry began to collapse, it was the death of many good soldiers but also an opportunity to shift an ugly paradigm. I had listeners offer to be my record company for years. I didn’t want to ask any more of them. I mean, they have bought me guitars. That’s so hard, and yet who is so big that they can’t afford to be humble? There’s no one more humble than me. All of my bands are in the studio right now because of [my supporters].
Q. How has that changed your relationship with your fans?
A. I used to live in the studio, on the bus, in the dressing room, in a hotel room. I never saw the people I was playing for. Now they talk to me on Twitter every day. They named my last solo record. They’re friends, and they see through this window that there was never any excuse for rock-star mentality. They treat me like their plumber, which is exactly how they should treat me.
Q. You’re playing at Club Passim. Have you performed there before?
A. I haven’t. I’ve never been folky enough, apparently. I’m scared. I guess I could write a protest song, but I’m not sure what I’d be protesting.