INTERVIEWS ALICE PEACOCK|
DIFFERENT FROM THE RESTWHO I AM [PEACOCK MUSIC] by ALICE PEACOCK is the third time around for ALICE PEACOCK and according to her "...I feel like we've got it right!"
ALICE PEACOCK TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
HER NEW CD WHO I AM
'GRASS ROOTS-ING IT'
AND MAKING A CONNECTION
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
ALICE PEACOCK brings something back to the realm of popular music that has been missing for a while; flawless songwriting with a near confessional quality. It has been a long time since there has been given a singer-songwriter that one can get to know through the music. WHO I AM promises to be little more than music played at your leisure. This is going to be a revelation.
WHO I AM is an album you can listen to all the way through without having to hit the skip button on your remote control. Every song here is important from the stunning opener, DIFFERENT FROM THE REST, the poignant TIME, the urgent RUNAWAY DAY and the hopeful FINDING MY WAY. WHO I AM summs up what every great album should be. Every song goes together yet every song is different from each other. At some turns, she is a guns-blazing roots rocker and at other turns a confessional folkie with a heart on her sleeve.
ROCKWIRED spoke to ALICE PEACOCK over the phone, two weeks before the release of WHO I AM. Here is how it went.
This is your third CD . Does it get easier with time or are there a new set of challenges? How does that work?
I do think it gets easier in that I have a clearer sense of who I am as an artist. I think this record was a real creative milestone for me in that it took a while to find one sound and to get to one place as a songwriter. I am hoping to grow, change, evolve and challenge myself but I think I'm very proud of this record. I feel like we got it right, you know?
On a side note, I was reading your biography page on AMG-All Music Guide your grandfather was in the movie M?
Wow! That's amazing, I'm a huge FRITZ LANG fan.
Well, if your familiar with the film, its the underworld that arrests PETER LORRE and has a kangaroo court kind-of-thing where they capture him and try him, because the law wasn't able to catch this child killer. My grandfather was head of the burglars. He played a guy named FRITZ. He's the guy left behind in the safe when the other burglars are rounded up by the police.
What was it like growing up in an environment that apparently fostered creativity, of the musical kind?
You know, we didn't have a T.V. That was a big part of it, I think. I wasn't bombarded with the media or anything like that . I grew up listening to all kinds of music. A lot of public radio and my parents record collection. My dad had a huge latin music collection which is strange because it hasn't shown up in my music yet
There's a fourth CD on the way.
Yeah, my samba CD! And my mom had THE WEAVERS, PETE SEGER, GLEN YARBOROUGH, JOHNNY CASH. She had alot of folk singers like WOODIE GUTHRIE. We had a lot of religious music and a lot of classical. My older sisters, one of them was into these americana 1970's singer-songwriters like JACKSON BROWNE, JOHN DENVER, CAROL KING, CARLY SIMON, and JAMES TAYLOR and my other sister was into acid rock. I've had a wide musical education. When my peers were listening to KOOL AND THE GANG I bought NEIL YOUNG's LIVE RUST album. I listened to
everything. We were all pretty musical. Mom and Dad both played the guitar. We put on shows and sang and made up stories and plays. It was a pretty loose household when it came to creating. I wanted to be an actor when I was a kid and there would've been no way because they would've had to have driven me to rehearsals. They didn't have money and they didn't have time and there were too many of us. If we were going to be in a play we had to ride our bikes. We had to get ourselves to rehearsal.
It sounds to me like songwriting was always in the cards for you.
I did write songs from a very early age. I was always making up songs but, I don't think I thought about being a songwriter until I met some people when I had just started college. I did summer theater in Wisconsin. There was a summer equity house up there and some of my friends were making there own records. I had never put two and two together and thought 'Wow! Normal people can write songs!' I knew I could write songs but I never thought 'I'm going to be a songwriter!' I knew I loved to perform because that was what I did. I didn't think about it as a career until after college. I thought that maybe I had an aptitude for this. I started performing at open mics and people didn't throw tomatoes. I studied theater in college. I was set on doing some acting. I still may, but I think music was my soul. Acting is wonderful and fun, but it's somebody elses words. I think it was really important for me to figure why I had this talent and what was I going to do with it. I needed to figure out what it was that I was going to say. And when you do that, you become a songwriter.
WHO I AM is a great CD by the way. Are there any tracks from this CD that stand out for you at the moment that stand out for you as favorites?
It's hard to pick a favorite. It's like picking a favorite child or something. I think TIME is maybe one of the best songs I've ever written in that I almost can't take credit for it, because I sat down and it came to me in 20 minutes. I finished it and I was like WOW! I had just lost a dear friend and I had been thinking about life and death and I read this article by STEPHEN HAWKING on quantum physics. When you see a star, it's actually dead and there's always a new life happening. TIME came out of that and I'm really proud of that song. I feel like it all came together on that tune. I like so many of these songs. I think they really come from an honest place. I like them all for all different reasons. People can smell honesty and I think this is a very honest record. I was driving back from FED EX today and I was listening to JONI MITCHELL'S BLUE in my car and I was reminded again of how wonderful she is. That album is such an insight into where she was at that time. They're all relationship songs but they're about different relationships; with herself, with a lover and with life. Like the song LITTLE GREEN - that people have supposed was about the daughter she gave up for adoption. It's not a flattering portrait of herself, but it's an honest one. No wonder I love this album so much. it's like she's reading my mail. I love that she's been brave and has just put it out there.
Explain, it it's explainable, the creative process.
Ususally, I'm sitting down at my instrument or there is a piano and a guitar and I'm just playing. To increase my odds of actually writing I walk by the piano several times a day and leave my guitar outside of its case. I think stuff kind of germinates for me as a songwriter. There are time where I'm not writing a lot and I'm just sort of feeding that creative bank. Today, I had a song idea and I was driving and coming up with some lyrics. I got got home and sat at my piano with the tape recorder going. Tommorrow, I will flesh it out. A lot of times, I'll toy around with a melody and the lyric will come to me. I have yet to put a poem to music per se. Sometimes, what I thought I was going to write about doesn't end up being what I end up writing about becuase the melody kind of leads me to what the song is going to be about. It's sort of a stream-of-consciousness kind of thing. It' a pretty organic process that way. I don't edit a lot and I don't belabor it. If it doesn't come easily, I move on. There's plenty to write about. Life is full of inspiration whether it's a conversation you heard or someone you saw or something you read in the paper.
Your going to touring this summer.
Yes, we're getting the dates together right now. We've got dates lined up and down the east coast in places like Boston, New Hamphire, D.C., Philly, and Atlanta, the Carolinas and Virginia Beach and places like that. The next step will be to get our west coast stuff happening. It's a pretty organic process. It'll be nice to get back out on the road. I haven't been out in about a year and a half. I'm grass roots-ing it and doing this indie, so I'm really excited by this.
What are the challenges of doing this on your own?
The challenges are, you don't have the heavy behind you that can throw their clout around. I don't have anyone saying "If you play ALICE, I'll give you BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN tickets." The advantages far outweigh being with a major label. I was able to make the album I wanted make and I was able to work with the musicians that I wanted to work with. I didn't think one moment about tailoring anything for radio. ANDREW WILLIAMS, my producer and I decided that we were going to let the music be what it was going to be and I feel like I've got a great team around me and I got to pick people that I like. That was my creedo for this album. I was only going to work with people that I like. Life's too short, you know?
What do you want a person to walk away with after hearing your music?
I want them to feel like they've been on a journey. Not like wrung out and hung out to dry or anything like that. I want them to feel that they've experienced some of the essence of me. Some of my favorite records like CAROL KING's TAPESTRY or CARLY SIMON's NO SECRETS, I get a sense of who they are as artists. Music for me has always been welcoming and understanding. It has always been like that friend that is always there. I'd like for people to feel that my music has soothed them or comforted them or understood them. That would be the highest compliment. It means that I'm making a connection and that's why I'm doing this in the first place.