1. You are going to release your new album 'Never Say Never' on October 5th. Tell us about the new album.
When I began writing the new album, we were ushering in a new era of racial bias, social inequity, and moral degradation. Who could have imagined that we could not have set our expectations low enough?! My song writing reflected the inner turmoil so many of us like-minded folks were feeling. Looking back now, this emotional rawness fuelled by disappointment and frustration inspired me to turn the challenges and adversity into deeper affirmations of love and hope. I’m grateful and still sane because I could channel the energy into my music.
2. What is the idea behind the album title 'Never Say Never'?
My journey has taken me down a road gutted with potholes of all sizes – some small enough to narrowly escape, others craters too cavernous to avoid without snappy reflexes. But we all get our fair share of pits and punctures. The trick is to simply never give up. ‘Never Say Never’ is the gentle tap on the shoulder whispering the message, hang tough, stay the course and keep moving forward until you hear yourself say, ‘I did it!’ Now onwards.
3. What was your favourite part about recording the album?
One of the great joys I had making the album was recording in an all-analogue, renovated 17th Century 90ft barn at The Grange Residential Studio in the beautiful English countryside of Norfolk. I felt completely free from distraction. Back in Brooklyn the week before, I had been struggling to concentrate on lyrics with the shattering construction noise outside our door. Brooklyn was getting new water mains. At ‘The Grange’, working in a residential studio provided the perfect environment to focus our energy on creating the best work we could.
4. Are there any anecdotes you can share with us?
When I decided to record the album live with the band, we wanted to get into a rehearsal studio to shred through the songs, so we could focus on performance when we hit the studio. We were looking for a place we could work off the clock. Ash arranged for us to use a recreation room at Holiday Cottages in Lincolnshire. We showed up with all our gear but there was a ten ton (I may be exaggerating) gigantic pool table in the middle of the room. Determination and sweat elevated the table to a remote location (don’t mess with Ash, Bob, Mat or Roy) and the game room was reclaimed. The album was made.
5. Tell us about your band and the team you worked with on the album.
I am a full-fledged addict for working with inspiring people. And, this is where I can tell you that it really takes a great team to make anything great. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by incredibly talented people. I’ve had the privilege of working with my producer and song writing partner Henning Gehrke for many years. We met in Germany, where Henning has his studio. He has such a strong artistic vision and knows exactly how to bring out the best in the musicians he works with.
As far as my band goes, anyone who knows me knows that my standards are pretty high. And I can tell you that these musicians are so good, they even make this cynical singer shed a tear from time to time. The band features Ash Wilson on guitar, Bob Fridzema on Hammond and keyboards, Mat Beabel on bass and Roy Martin on drums. We live to play and play to live. It’s that simple. Oh, and we adore each other.
6. You are heading out on tour in September up until October. What are you looking forward to most? Any favourite songs to play live?
I’m really looking forward to the UK tour. I’ve spent so much time here now, it feels like coming home. It will be the first time we’re unveiling the songs from the new album, and that will be exciting. We’ll sprinkle in a few favourites from 'A Force of Nature' as well.
7. What’s the best gig that you’ve been to, or has inspired you the most?
I cry through shows I love. I was in the audience for David Gilmour at Madison Square Garden, and on the bill with Tom Petty at Ottawa Blues Fest and Paul McCartney in Las Vegas. There wasn’t an ounce of water left in my body after these three shows.
8. What’s your favourite UK venue so far, and why do you like it so much? Can you share some memories about this venue?
I have to say it is the people that leave an impression on me more than the particular venue. That’s why an intimate show can be as rewarding as playing a big stage. It’s the people I remember. I never know where I am anyway. But, I would be remiss not to mention that performing at Carnegie Hall was indeed a tremendous honour.
9. Do you have a pre-show ritual? If so what is it?
My pre-show ritual is to just relax with the band and crew. I try not to miss an opportunity to laugh with the guys and enjoy their company. My tour manager Al keeps his eye on us and the clock and gets everyone on stage on time.
10. How do like to relax on a day off during a tour?
There aren’t too many days off on our tour, but when there is time, I go exploring. I’m a former marathon runner and love excessively long walks, so getting on my feet after many long hours in the bus is a physical and emotional necessity. When I’m home in Brooklyn, I walk with my pit bull triplets and an oversized dog stroller that two of my girls insist on using on the return trip home. It’s quite a sight, but anything goes in New York.
11. What is the one item you can’t go on tour without?
I’m looking at my suitcase, trying to decide which item I’d grab first in a fire. I’ll choose three things: first my sneakers (oops trainers) because I can’t live without them, second would be my Emily Dickinson poetry book, and third would be my bag of eclectic jewellery because everything I have/wear has a special meaning to me and was picked up somewhere along my travels on this wondrous journey.