Hello Terri, tell me about your tour, I understand you’ve been to Europe before?
Yes I have, but I had not been to Holland, so in that aspect it’s a whole new experience for me. And the majority of our tour is in Holland, except for one date in Brussels and one date in Germany, coming just in this next week, the last week of the tour.
The Dutch seem very keen on your type of music; I think it’s a good scene there?
Yeah, it’s been going over really well. The majority of the places that we’ve played, people have been quiet as mice, and really receptive to the songs and to the CD. It’s been quite a change up from playing in the States.
I’d read that your earlier trip to Europe had started you song writing and performing again?
Yeah, I had become quite bored with the scene back in the Eighties. I had been playing in a bar, doing cover tunes, and I had slightly changed my daytime career, and had started to work in television and film, and I was off pursuing this new career, and it sort of off-balanced my time, and my need to play music, and so I went on a hiatus from writing songs, and playing guitar, for about six or seven years. And I believe it was 1991, I took a vacation to Europe, and visited many countries, and many cities, and it was while I was standing at the Charles bridge, in Prague, when there was quite a few younger people hanging around one night, playing guitars and singing American songs, mostly Beatles songs (sic). And I quickly became very saddened that I had given up my guitar, and writing songs, and just feeling disappointed that I couldn’t participate that evening, and I decided right then and there that I needed to go back home and re-acquaint myself with my best friend, my guitar, and get back to writing tunes. So coming here now, to tour Holland, is so like a full circle experience, where I have a conclusion now, and I have this really great opportunity to be here, and play my songs for people in Europe.
On that particular night, were you not in a position where you could just borrow a guitar, and sing a song, or did you feel less confident about doing that at that stage?
Well I really truly had not been playing for several years, so I had to go home and re-learn how to play the guitar, because there wasn’t anything that I could still recall from memory, the chord changes and lyrics and stuff like that, so no it wasn’t possible for me. All I could do was to stand there, and be still, and just sort of silently weep a little.
I’d read a quote, something like, “Reading your journals is like fastening yourself to a Lars Von Trier film.” Is that something you’d go along with? Have you been to Denmark at all on the tour?
No, I haven’t. I hope to return though someday. I hear that that might be a possibility to cross over into Denmark.
Are you a fan of Lars Von Trier films?
Yeah, I have become most certainly...there’s two films anyways that I’m a great big fan of, and I haven’t seen Dogville yet, but I hope to get to that right away when I get back to the States.
One of the things I suspect you get asked about quite a lot, is Lucinda Williams singing on “GayleAnne”. How did that come about?
Well we had been communicating with each other for several years since my first record came out, back in ’97, we had been acquainted with each other, and I would speak to her from time to time on the phone, or communicate with each other in the mail, from time to time, and when I was in production making “Fool” she came through Florida on tour, and while we were on the phone one evening talking, just getting caught up on each other’s lives, I just took a notion to ask her if she would sing some harmony somewhere on the record. Then she obliged me, and that’s about all it took. She’s a really nice lady, and a very generous artist. She contributes and supports a lot of unknown acts like myself, and for that of course I’m very grateful.
It sounds very good; it has a really nice feel to it.
If you had your choice, is there anybody else you would like to sing with?
I’ve been thinking about Dolly Parton lately, so there’s definitely a long list of artists that I admire, but Dolly, for whatever reason, has been on the surface of things lately…
I’m sure that would work really well as well. “Dreams Worn Thin” includes the phrase “Bible Belt Orphans”, which is the name of your band. Which came first, the band name, or the song?
Oh the song did.
Yeah, and there was not really any particular reason that I came up for naming the band from that line in the song, but it just made its way. It just sort of clicked and retrospectively it does sort of suit my band situation, in that we all come from different bands in town, and we’re all our own separate artists at the same time; Musicians, writers and whatnot.
Are any of them with you on the tour?
No, unfortunately I haven’t really done all my ground work here yet, so that I have the privilege of bringing over a member of my own band just yet, but I hope that in the future, perhaps on my next time coming over to Europe, I’ll be allowed to bring somebody over with me. But I’ve had the privilege, and the honour, of playing with Holland’s BJ Baartmans (www.bjbaartmans.com) who’s playing guitar. He’s a singer songwriter, and also a record producer in Holland, he’s pretty well sought after, so I’ve been put in very good hands.
On the album “Whatever Happened Between Richard Payne and Burton Post” was apparently inspired by a 1959 Life magazine, and you actually went over to West Virginia to research the story. How did you go about that?
Well I went to the library to search the film files from the newspaper articles, the original newspaper articles, and there was really no more information there than there was in the Life article, but my family lives in West Virginia and so I didn’t go completely out of my way. I was there for a reunion of sorts and spent some time there in the library, trying to search something up, which was an experience in itself. I had to look through a lot of papers, a lot of film, just to find the original article, because I didn’t know when it had originally taken place, but that’s how that went.
You’ve been playing for twenty years, apart from that hiatus you mentioned before, do you always play original material, or do you play covers?
Of course, back in the Seventies and the Eighties, I played covers, but I’ve been writing since I was eleven or twelve years old, and I tend to mostly do originals, but right now I do a small handful of cover tunes. There’s a couple of tunes that BJ and I are playing on this tour, and back home there’s a couple of covers that we play.
Anything that we’d know?
Well we’re playing “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” by Bob Dylan, and we’re playing an old traditional folk song called “Cuckoo”, and we just started to cover… oh actually we do Richard Thompson’s son, Teddy Thompson, we do “Missing Child” by Teddy Thompson. That’s a straight up country tune that he wrote, and we’re enjoying it.
I’d read an interview, which I think was probably around the time of “Leaving this Town”, and your ambition, or hope, at that time, was that you might land a publishing deal in Nashville, and get some songs covered. I was wondering if that was still part of what you hoped for, and who of the modern Nashville bunch would you be happy covering your songs?
Well y’know I went to Nashville and had a handful of meetings with some publishing companies, and I thought back at the time that that’s what I wanted to do. I felt that maybe that’s where my talent was, not necessarily for performing, but maybe just as a songwriter, and I quickly found out that I don’t feel like I fit in, in Nashville, and I don’t really truly have the urge or desire to move there, and stay there, and try to work myself inside that crowd. I drove home thinking that my meetings had gone really well, and that I would oblige them in continuing to send them new material, but when I got home and sat down I started to write something completely left of centre, and I knew that I couldn’t be put in that box, as they say, and write in the box, so I’ve sort of changed my views, I certainly wouldn’t turn down a publishing job in Nashville, but I think that I have to have a hit single all on my own before something like that is going to happen for me, and so I don’t think I’ll go scouting for a deal, but if it happened I certainly wouldn’t turn it down, but that would probably be the way it would happen for me, I suppose. I certainly would like to have somebody like John Hiatt or Emmylou Harris cover a tune. I’m a big fan of the Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton, so it’s hard for me to say because my songs vary so much in style, that any of that is ever likely to happen, but you never know.
That’s reassuring, all of those names that you listed aren’t really what I’d call Nashville artists mind you, although I suppose quite a lot of them live there, and probably record there, but they’re not really what I would call… People talk about Nashville being a town to break songwriters’ hearts really, so you probably want to keep well away I would think.
Yeah, well I wasn’t going to quite put it like that Barry. I try to be more diplomatic, but you hit it on the head.
Do you play anything other than guitar?
No, I pluck around on a couple of things. I have a banjo and a mandolin at home, and an old upright piano, but I tend to do all of my work on the guitar.
Do you have a few of them?
I usually am on my Guild. My 1973 Guild D35 I have a 1995 OOO-1 Martin guitar that does really well in open tuning, and it stays in an open D most of the time, and every now and then I’ll pick up my 1976 Alvarez twelve string, because the twelve string definitely brings something very specific to a tune.
The album “Fool” was recorded and co-produced by David Schweizer in Orlando. This album seems to be getting more exposure than the last one, are you planning another, is it too early for that?
Well in my mind I’m already in the studio, I’m very anxious to try and perpetuate this experience that I’m having right now, because I have a deal now with CRS in Holland, and I’m enjoying the company that I’m keeping right now, with BJ and also the record company, I want to keep the momentum going, so I’m going to try my best to be able to afford, by year’s end, to start a new record.
Would you record again with David Schweizer again in Orlando, or would you maybe go somewhere else?
I want to stick to recording at home with David for right now, he’s just an exceptional human being. And just like playing with BJ, if I return to Europe I’m definitely going to call him first, and I just believe in keeping the relationships faithful, and I have good reason just to continue working with David Schweizer.
And what have you been listening to recently?
Let’s see, well I’ve been listening for the past two days to Sarah Harmer, “All of Our Names”, and a couple of days ago I was listening to Rodney Crowell’s “Houston Kid”. I listened to that for several hours, and that’s what I’ve had on my mind.
What’s planned for the rest of the year, have you got that far ahead?
Well, I need to go home and get back to work and make some money, and consider going into the studio and starting another record, and hopefully CRS will be bringing me back over to Holland by the end of the year, from what I understand, to go out on another tour.
Right and do you think you’ll come back to England at that stage then?
I hope so. I hope that we’ll get to some other countries and spend a little bit more time.
Ok, well that’s been great Terri, thank you very much indeed for your time.
You’re welcome Barry.