Charlotte Sometimes making waves 

It’s one of this summer’s most infectious hits — a sunny-sounding sing-along with grim wordplay dubbed “How I Could Just Kill a Man” by 20-year-old newcomer Charlotte Sometimes.

If you think the dirge is dark, you should hear her early work, says the Wall, N.J.-born singer who took her name from a popular children’s book and the song’s title is from an old Cypress Hill song.

“I started writing about being the weird girl in my town when I was in seventh grade,” says Sometimes, who appears Friday at Shoreline Amphitheatre among some 50 acts in the Vans Warped Tour.

“My first poem that I turned into a melody was called ‘Nothing.’ I felt like I was nothing at only 13 years old, because I was battling anorexia at the time and no one had noticed yet,” says the singer, who was born Jessica Charlotte Poland. “I was pretty good at hiding it and at making sure that nothing I ate was of any nutritional value.”

But her folks were also rooting for her to succeed in dance, a discipline she’d studied and stayed thin for, her entire life. Finally, at 14, she’d had enough.

“I realized that if I wanted to get healthy, I couldn’t dance anymore, so I stopped it and picked up guitar instead,” she says.

But “Kill a Man” and its equally acerbic parent album, “Waves & the Both of Us,” on Geffen didn’t materialize overnight. The artist had to feel a whole lot worse before feeling better.

In retrospect, the saucer-eyed Sometimes believes that the anorexia had already done its damage. The jaw condition she experienced next, condylar resorption, affects women who are “very active and skinny.”

“One day I noticed that my jaw had started moving backwards, and my mom said it was all in my head, but I insisted it wasn’t,” she says.

Then, X-rays confirmed her worst fears. Her mandible was disintegrating at an alarming rate.

“They showed me a picture of an 80-year-old man’s jaw, and it was stronger than my bones,” she says. “So it was a long [reconstructive] process, but they took two of my ribs, and now my ribs are my jawbones.”

Seizing her unusual opportunity, with her mouth wired shut for two months and splinted for several more, she wrote. She wrote until her frustration was vented in cuts like “Kill,” whose video features her offing beaus in a variety of wicked ways.

Has this made dating difficult? She laughs.

“Most men are scared of me,” she says. “But they’re usually too intrigued and curious to stay away.”

If you go

Vans Warped Tour

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

When: 11 a.m. Friday

Tickets: $27

Contact: (650) 967-3000 or visit

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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