Touring to support their new album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, the Indigo Girls are playing two sold-out shows in Colorado with local favorite Gregory Alan Isakov.
Emily Saliers took the time to answer some questions about the record, what she’d like to learn how to do and to offer some advice for younger artists.
Q: You went indie for this record, what are some of the differences between working indie and being on a label for you?
A: It’s really liberating to be on our own, the main difference is that it’s all on your shoulders, in your camp, you have all the responsibility, financial responsibility. But the more important thing for us is that we don’t have to approve anything through anybody, we’re not worried about what the middle man, nobody’s wasting marketing money. All the decisions are being made in-house.
Does it change your creative process any, knowing that you’ll have total control?
The songs are just going to be the songs, but it does affect the studio experience. There’s a smaller budget, you don’t have a record company putting up the money. We made the record much more quickly, we did two records in three and a half weeks. You sort of have to ask your team to cut you’re a break, charge you less, stuff like that.
Q: Do you have any favorites off the new record?
A: Quite honestly I like all these songs, we play almost every one of them every night. Sometimes you don’t do a song live for different reasons – they don’t translate or you don’t have a band. All these songs can be played acoustically or with one electric guitar. We’ve got Julie Wolf playing keyboards and accordion. I like all the songs, I really do, and I think that they all work well together.
Q: After so many years performing, does it ever get old to have to sing, say, Closer to Fine or anything from the earlier days?
A: It doesn’t get old because everybody sings and it’s just like a big, old sing-along. [Closer to Fine’s] not really like a song that’s performed any more, it’s a time for everybody to get up and clap their hands and sing. So, we don’t get tired of it. We should be tired of it, but we’re not.
Q: What do you always pack in your suitcase before you head out on the road?
A: I have to have a book, or like the New York Times crossword puzzle. And workout clothes. Everything else is pretty basic: stage boots, a pair of jeans, couple shirts and that’s it. I have to have reading material and my reading glasses, unfortunately.
Q: If you could sit down for an hour and play with any other musician, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you ask them?
A: Either Stevie Wonder or Mary J. Blige.
Q: What have you always wanted to learn how to do?
A: If it had to do with music, I’d love to learn how to play the piano, I’ve just never had time. That’s one thing about this life, you don’t have time to take lessons. I’d love to learn Spanish. I’m just going to have to get away for a month and do an immersion.
Q: Do you have any advice for artists that are just starting out?
A: Play as much as possible, now it’s so much cheaper to make a record, a lot of people have home studios, you can put one together on GarageBand. I’d say play as much as possible and find your voice.
Q: When you were starting out, did you have any aspirations that you haven’t reached yet?
A: The only aspirations we had were like, “We want to play at that club that we haven’t got a gig at yet.” Or, “We want the college radio station to put us in medium rotation instead of light.” Things like that, we had no aspirations for a long-term career. But we always enjoyed music, I never felt like, even when we were packing up our cars and eating fast food and sharing rooms – stuff I can’t imagine doing now, even when we were doing that it didn’t feel like we were paying dues.
Q: You’ll be in Colorado next week, what do you have planned for the rest of the summer?
A: We’re touring, through July. We’ve got August off, Amy’s going to do some solo touring behind her new solo record. We’re going to go to the UK in October. It’ll be great to be back in Colorado though, Chautauqua’s one of our favorite places to play.
Q: Anything else?
A: We are doing a food drive, working with a group called Rock for a Remedy and we’re also collecting pet food, so the Humane Society of Boulder Valley will be there. So if people bring four or more items, non-perishable, they’ll be enrolled in a raffle. We’ve collected a lot of food and a lot of pet food so we just want to make people aware and we’d love for them to bring stuff.
And another thing is that Gregory Alan Isakov, who’s opening, he’s awesome.