10 Questions: Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

With a new album in the works, Brandi Carlile has hit the road to showcase some of the new songs to her fans.

She’ll be playing three Colorado dates this week, including a sold-out shows at Swallow Hill and the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins.

She took some time to talk with us a few weeks ago before her opening night in New Hampshire.

Q: You’ve got a new album coming out this year. What can you tell us about it?

A: We’re just wrapping it up, we’re doing mixes right now. It’s a really cool, really special record. We recorded live to tape again and a lot of musicians played on it, including our band, obviously. It’s so being wrapped up right now, I’m having a hard time looking at it from a bird’s eye view, I’m really proud of it.

When is it coming out?

We’re hoping for early September, late August.

Q: And the tour, who is in your band this time around?

A: Well, Tim and Phil, the twins. And Josh, our cellist and that’s it. Every once in awhile our guitar tech and dear friend sits in and plays guitar with us but for the most part, that is the band.

Q: On this tour you’re playing a lot of smaller venues and many of them are selling out, will you be playing bigger venues next time around?

A: The whole point of the tour was to go out to these really small listening rooms, acoustic because we’re playing without a drummer on this tour. We’re just kind of like setting up rugs and candles and lamps and all these things on the stage and making this living room atmosphere and then we’re just playing our new music. We’re playing oldies too but it’s a way for us to put our new music out there, to other people’s ears.

Q: Is there anything that you can’t live without on the road?

A: Coffee is the number one thing I can’t live without anywhere but especially on the road. Actually right now I’m drinking a triple short soy latte. But coffee is coffee as long as it’s not loaded with a bunch of sugar and shit.

And fishing poles, because on our days off we try and go find a little pond, it helps us center ourselves. And, I’m gonna have to throw whiskey on there. Coffee, whiskey and fishing poles, that’s all you really need in life.

Q: You gotten to work with the Indigo Girls, who else would you like to collaborate with?

A: If I got to pick anybody, Elton John.

Q: In concert you’ve covered everything from Elton John to Radiohead to Patsy Cline… how do you decide which songs you’ll cover?

A: I love to cover songs that are sung by male singers and turn them into girl songs, I love that. And I love to cover songs by people that are no longer out touring, playing their songs because I believe, I believe in doing covers, that’s how we end up with standards in the first place. By people covering artists and paying homage to those who came before them. And I think that we should cover people and keep the songwriters that we learned from in the history books.

Are you bring out any new covers this tour?

Yeah, we’re doing a couple Beatles’ covers, I’m singing a new Leonard Cohen cover with the opener, Gregory Alan Isakov, he’s my favorite new singer-songwriter, I love him.

Q: Of your songs, are there any you get tired of playing?

A: Yeah, all the time. And then I don’t play them. If I get tired of playing a song, I will not play it. I will wait until I’m not tired of it any longer and then I’ll change it somehow, add a new instrument or have somebody guest and play a banjo or a violin. Or I will change the way I sing a line or the chorus, I will do something to keep it fresh, or I won’t play it, because it’s got to be honest. But it doesn’t happen very often.

There was a time that I pulled “What Can I Say” off the set list for six months and just not played it and now I feel fresh singing it every night.

Q: Some of your fans are very devoted – what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever had a fan do?

A: I’ve seen a lot of tattoos of my autograph and I’ve seen a lot of tattoos of The Story logo. I saw one of my face one time, and I’ve seen a lot of tattooed lyrics. I guess the tattoos are probably the weirdest thing I’ve seen.

Does it freak you out?

I’m cool with it, totally. Look, I’ve been a fanatic, you can’t be an artist and not have been a fan of somebody at one time. And until you can understand fans you don’t deserve them.

Q: Your foundation, the Looking Out Foundation supports causes you feel strongly about – obviously the environment is one, but what else?

A: Well, the Looking Out Foundation is just an indescript helping hand foundation for any cause that we believe in. We actually haven’t been doing as much environmental stuff as people think, we’ve leant a helping hand to some places and churches and there have been a few personal tragedies that we’ve been able to assist people in. We obviously did some work with Honor the Earth and we do a lot of work with Reverb, Captain Planet and a lot of education, environmental education.

It’s basically an opportunity for us to look outside of ourselves and lend a helping hand where there is need. It is what it is. It’s called the Looking Out Foundation because we have a song called “Looking Out,” but I thought it would be a cool name, we just want to look out for people in our community.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about the tour?

A: I think this a really, really special tour. The twins are singing and there’s a lot of banter going back and forth with the band. For some reason we all feel really comfortable together and I think that if you really want to catch a glimpse into how we function as a family, this is the right tour.

This feels more to me like a Carter Family tour or like a Grand Ole Opry episode. Occasionally it borders into Hee-Haw but it’s the best time we’ve ever had together on the road. This is a fun tour to see.

Brandi will be at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen on 4/14, Denver’s Swallow Hill on 4/16, and the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins on 4/17.

Visit Brandi’s website and Myspace

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