Photo by Adrien Broom
The other day I had a lovely chat with the vivacious Grace of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. We chatted about the intentional sexy style of the bands last self-titled album and her musical curiosity. It was truly a pleasure speaking with someone so enthralled with the effects of music on humans. You know when she’s composing music, she’s really got her listeners interests at heart.
So how’s the tour going?
It’s been amazing. This is our first time as a band really gunning it, going for the bigger venues, and selling them out. It feels very fulfilling.
Does that fulfillment come from your sort of new found freedom based on the recent realization that you guys don’t fit neatly into a music genre so you might as well just let the songs happen without overthinking them?
Absolutely. For years we felt we were being pushed into a corner; like the jam band or blues band scene. We’re none of that but all of that and it’s great to expand and add character. The road is wide open and it’s a great place to be.
How did you guys come to that realization? Did something in particular bring it to light?
There was never one moment. I think it’s just about growing up. You grow up and realize you don’t want to be one thing and luckily for us, we realized it before we hit anything big time. If you hit it big time as a pop princess, then you’re going to be a pop princess forever. If you hit it big time as a real deal rock ‘n’ roll band, then you have a lot more access and ability to take it in multiple directions.
So you said the fans are eating up the music. Can you tell me about the album?
We enjoyed making it so much. We really spent time getting comfortable in the studio and get visceral and human with our studio experience. So often the studio can be scientific, pragmatic, and linear; everything falls in line but not always in a good way. This time around we had so much fun making the record, writing the songs, collaborating. It was a good time and I think you can hear it in the music.
Is there a music or theme behind the whole album?
I think there was an intention with this record to be sexier but also more driven with a more guttural feeling of humanity and movement. I wanted to make a danceable record. I wanted people to be able to dance and move.
Do you have a favorite track?
So hard to pick one, they’re like your children! I really enjoy “Paris (Ooh La La)”; it’s been around for so long, it’s like my old naughty drunk friend that just won’t leave. I wrote it in 2007 and tried to get it on the last record. I spent three days writing and we’ve recorded it 11 times. The version you hear is the 11th version. It makes me proud to know it finally got the exposure it deserves.
Can you tell me more about your music writing process? There are a lot of you in the band: do you all write together, is there a token writer, a collaborative effort….
It depends; there isn’t a whole lot of co-writing. I like writing. I like closing myself in a room and writing. If I feel like a song needs help or I need more inspiration, then I’ll go to Scott or Matt, the three of us are the founding members. The three of us have a creative symbiotic synergy that allows us to write quickly and in a healthy way together.
What inspires you when you’re closed up in a room?
I really love getting inspired by movies and trying to “can” hour long beautiful stories into a song. Sometimes I get inspired by other people’s music. I’m a pretty competitive person so I really love listening to a song and thinking, I want to do it my way and better. It also really depends on the day and my mood. What inspires me most about closing myself in a room is that I like to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, going to bed knowing I created something.
You said sometimes music inspires you. What are you listening to right now?
I just downloaded a bunch of Cole Porter which I love. I like listening to music which isn’t like ours. I like taking my head out of what we do and going deep. I love classical music, like Haydn and Chopin. I love waking up to Lute music to enter the day slowly and peacefully. And my new obsession is spa music. I’m in this mode where I’m doing a case study on spa music and what makes it and why certain spas chose certain music, etc. I’m interested in the idea that sound can affect your mood and equilibrium in such a big way. I’m also really loving Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. That shit is on fire.
If someone said your music career could only last one more year, what would you need or want to accomplish in that year to feel satisfied?
Saturday Night Live. That’s the last thing I want to do. I want to play and act on SNL. I wanted to be on SNL when I was a kid. My acting career didn’t pan out which is a really good thing because I’m doing what I love and doing what keeps me creatively charged.
Well, I hope it happens and that you certainly have more than one more year left in your music career! Thanks for the interview and all the best for the rest of your tour!
Be sure to check out Grace Potters and the Nocturnals. Grace’s sultry rock vocals, peppered with a slight twang, and accompanied by a phenomenal band make for a great collection of tracks that fans are eating up as if it were nobody’s business.