Melissa Etheridge Interview

photo credit Rose Gardina

by TC Krentz

TC Krentz of the Boston Girl Guide spends some time exploring the life of newlywed Melissa Etheridge after the release of her eighth album Lucky.

BGG: Many of your past records seem to have themes to them.
Does LUCKY have a distinct theme?

Melissa: Well, it’s not so much a theme, like Skin was- that was a concept that had one emotional thread all the way through. This album is a celebration. It’s definitely the beginning of a joyous time in my life of the last couple years, very hopeful. So, there’s a theme, yes. But I wouldn’t look to it to have a beginning/middle/end thread to it.

BGG: Sounds like the inspiration comes from the joy that’s been in your life lately.Melissa: Yeah, and there’s a couple of social issues on that as well- it’s not all love songs- it’s personal and political. But when you finish it I don’t think you’ll have confusion. It’s a celebration.

BGG: How did you record this?
Melissa: It was three different sessions; I started recording in September of 2002 and ended in September 2003- it was in & out, though. With three different producers.

BGG: Do you have a recording studio yourself?
Melissa: Oh, no. I like to go work somewhere and then come home- home is home, work is work.

BGG: What’s your favorite song on the new CD?
Melissa: My goodness- that’s hard. If I had to listen to one song… it’d depend on what mood I was in! Probably “Tuesday Morning.”

BGG: About your upcoming House of Blues’ gigs- are you specifically booking smaller venues this tour?
Melissa: That’s very much on purpose. When my management & I got together we asked, “How do we want to present this? How do we want to make an event out of it?” instead of just going back to the same places we’ve been the last couple of years. I wanted to make it a very special show, very intimate. The House of Blues and the Fillmore in San Francisco- those types of venues we’re playing- these private places that they’re calling Superclubs. They hold 2000 people yet they can stand, be right up there and they serve a little alcohol. It kind of lends itself to a rock n roll atmosphere… So we’re doing multiple nights in those types of places. I’m very excited about it because it really lets me let my hair down.

BGG: Will you have a full band with you?
Melissa: Oh yes, I’ve got Kenny Aronoff on drums, my bass player of over 10 years Mark Browne. I have a brand new guitar player and he is amazing! Phillip Sayce- wait til you seem him. Amazing-not like overly “woah I wish that guitar player would shut up…” He’s just perfect!

BGG: Do you like to play the larger venues as well?
Melissa: Yeah sure- I like to play where the audience is having a good time! Whether it’s 50 people or 50,000. Different buildings have different atmospheres.

BGG: Do you have a favorite concert hall?
Melissa: Well, I really enjoyed Madison Square Gardens- that’s a lot of fun!

BGG: What are you listening to these days?
Melissa: Well, I just got onto itunes- the Apple music store. That thing is like Christmas! I’ve just have been downloading! Outkast- love that. Going back to get “oh there was that old song I liked off of that album or by this artist”…and new artists like Coldplay.

BGG: You’ve done a lot of duets with people. The latest with Dolly Parton… Who would you choose to duet with if you could pick anyone- dead or alive?
Melissa: Well of course I’d always be one to play with Janis Joplin. I think I’d love to sing with Steven Tyler actually.

BGG: An artists question for you- how do you deal with writer’s block?
Melissa: I’ve been writing since I was 10 and I trust my writing. I believe in it. If I come in and say “OK, I’m going to write from 10 until 2 today” and I sit down and absolutely nothing interesting comes- then I wasn’t meant to write that day and that’s fine. If come in for two weeks and get nothing then I’m not supposed to write for two weeks. I don’t ever panic about it. I just write when I can and try not to be too judgmental on myself. I will think sometimes “Is this because I am not experiencing life enough in here? Perhaps I need to stop sitting here in this room and go out there and feel something.”

BGG: You’ve got a newly remastered release of your debut album? What brought that on?
Melissa: The record company came and said “what do you think about this?” and I said, “Oh my God am I that old- 15 years ago? How did that happen?” (laughs) They were saying a lot of people are doing it so I said why not-it’s a good little record; it’s done me well

BGG: There are some added live tracks from the Roxy- what time frame is that from?
Melissa: From back then- that was my second show at the Roxy- the one where hardly anybody came, right after the album came out.

BGG: Here’s our one personal question- your marriage was pretty high profile. Were you attempting to keep it out of the press or was there a conscious decision to share the event publicly?
Melissa: I’ll tell you- it was a reality that definitely sat in the room with us while we planned the wedding. The planners, Tammy & I knew we’d be kidding ourselves and said, “Look, this is a celebrity wedding with political overtones-absolutely”. We knew just from the celebrity part of it there’d be coverage on it. We also knew that that coverage could be social/ political in nature. We could’ve worked like many people to keep it absolutely secret until the last minute and just do it. But that takes a whole lot of work and usually doesn’t work out; somebody is going to tell someone something at some point. We can prepare and make a choice of what we’re going to say, knowing that this personal thing we’re doing is always going to be political in nature. So we decided to make a publicity release that we were engaged- but that’s all we were going to say. I chose not to speak about it. Then when we were married we chose to let one (press) come- the In Style reporter. Because we wanted it to be treated like a wedding, and to not make it so political in nature, even though it was. And to just give some video footage to In Style television show. Now as it goes on, it gets picked up by others so there were helicopters and now there’s more picture and all this other stuff. It was a very personal thing that we were doing but we also knew it’s a celebrity thing…

BGG: You’ve been on the music scene for so long now- what are your thoughts on where women in music are these days in general?
Melissa: I’ve always thought & said that the music business is hard for anybody- man or woman, and if you are just singling out the women… tastes come and go. There’s times when we’re massively popular and there’s a lot of women making a lot of music. I think a lot of it is what’s available- it ebbs & flows just like any other musical taste or genre. Women do just fine. We’ll always be fine & we’ll always be around.

Photo's of Melissa Click Here

Record Review for Lucky