Before the otherworldly chanteuse, a.k.a. Annie Clark, 31, hits the road with our cover boys the Black Keys, she'll rock ''SNL'''s season finale on May 17


This will be your first time on Saturday Night Live. Does it feel different from other shows?
SNL is, to me, the pinnacle of TV. That’s the show I grew up watching. It informed my sense of comedy, and I discovered bands through that massive platform.

So will you be changing your approach at all?
There’s some choreography that I was already doing in my show — and when I say choreography, I mean basically me bastardizing [late German modern-dance legend] Pina Bausch. TV is a tough medium, actually. With a concert, you have the lights and things you can create mystery with, but with TV, the cameras are in your face, so you have to work a bit harder to maintain that same mystique. It’s a fun challenge.

How did you end up singing ”Lithium” with the surviving members of Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony recently?
I had met Dave Grohl once at a party, but I didn’t know them. Like everyone, I wished that it was Kurt up there singing, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen again on planet Earth. So I was really touched and honored to be asked. It was kind of coming full circle, because I don’t think I would be playing music if it wasn’t for Nirvana. Those guys changed my life forever.

You’re a guest on To Be Kind, the new album by post-punk icons Swans. What was that like?
I was asked to sing one note for as long as I could hold it, then take a breath and sing it again for the length of a song. By the end, I was singing two notes for about 50 minutes straight. Your body goes through a lot of changes; it feels punishing but also like this big release. My brain went to this whole other place. That band, it’s crazy the stamina they have. It’s a lot of violence — violence that really pays off.