INTERVIEW: Nellie Pearl

Can you talk to us more about your single “Sunshine”?

Rachel: I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology. One story that’s always stood out to me is the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. Sunshine is an alternate story of Icarus, who is tired of the worry, stress and sadness in the world. He comes across the sun, who makes him a deal he can’t live without, worry or care about but at the end of his life he will cease to exist on any plain. I wrote that thinking about life and death. Never knowing if we will exist after we die. The notion behind Sunshine is the message to live your life, amidst the shit you have to walk through, to see life as a single opportunity to live without worry about the trivial things.

Who come up with the concept?

Upright bassist, Gregg Manfredi, knew of the artist, Romero, through the industry. He saw some examples of Romero’s work and thought it would be a good fit for Sunshine.

The single comes off your new album Lonesome No More! – what’s the story behind the title?

J.Mitchell: Kurt Vonnegut wrote about a character who ran for president on the slogan ‘Lonesome no more!’ in his novel Slapstick. The idea behind it is that every American will receive a new combination of middle names that would be the identifiy factor for whom one was related to. Thus creating a world where everyone had a family and no one was lonely. I like that. Sometimes your blood family doesn’t feel or act like family and sometimes people don’t have family in the first place. I like to believe that we all have family out there somewhere and that we can all be truly lonesome no more.

How was the recording and writing process?

J.Mitchell: The recording process was quick and smooth. We recorded and produced our EP in Gregg’s home studio so this was a different process for us as a group. We rented a studio near Detroit in Plymouth, MI for 10 days and recorded 16 tracks. The studio was an old chruch building which was hauntingly appropriate as most of us in the band have had interesting experiences with religion. Gregg and I are both very particular about the sounds and tone we make, I’ve learned a lot from him, so we end up staying at the studio for 10-12 hours a day producing the sessions. Chris and Rachel also produce but are perhaps more reserved with their opinions than Gregg and I. I especially like Rachel in the booth when I’m recording vocals or anyone else. Her input and ideas are interesting and they come so naturally to her. She’s a unique talent.

As for the writing, most of it for this album was done outside of rehearsals. Both Rachel and I had written tunes we introduced to the band. There certainly are a lot of times, much more now than last year, that a song is introduced and than Gregg comes up with a middle section to drop in somewhere. He comes up with some really quirky stuff sometimes but they’re great ideas. He has lots of great ideas.

How has Louisville influenced your music?

J.Mitchell: Louisville is a wonderful city in a wonderful state. We love Louisville and Kentucky. We are fortunate to have a rich history in both progressive and traditional styles of music. As a band that loves to play country & western, folk, rock, surf, bluegrass and experimental music Louisville is a great place for us. Louisville has a lot of historic cemeteries which should inspire anyone to get up and live before they die.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

J.Mitchell: Several of the songs I wrote on this album were written while backpacking and hitchhiking around the US and Mexico. I’ve been nomadic for sometime and have always taken a banjo or guitar with me to write and play. Look to the Ceiling was written while hitchhiking in Northern Cali around Lake Shasta looking for work on a pot farm. I wrote the lyrics to True, Fiction on the plane ride home from the adventure. That was the first time I had the pleasure of flying home instead of hitching, the hills of Cali treated me well. The title track, Lonesome No More, was written in San Antonio at a new friends house while hitching back from a few weeks in Mexico. Drug (Across the Floor) was written right before I left on that trip. I impulsively took a bus to New Oreleans the night before New Years Eve 2012. I stayed a week then hitched through Texas down to Monterrey and Tampico Mexico. I wrote a lot of the lyrics for Live/Die on that trip but in several different songs. It would be a year later before I combined them and wrote new music. The Children (Are on Drugs) came late in the process and slipped it’s way into the track list. It’s mark a shift in the kind of lyrical content I’ve been inspired to write. It’s very personal as most of it is a letter to some family members but generalizes to how fucked up life really here in America. We bury over 100 millions tons of trash every year. Millions of children, up to the age of 18, are fed chemical diets to rid them of ADHD, depression and anxiety when the ones benefiting from such a diet are the pharmaceutical companies and the politicians and doctors they give kickbacks to. The world is crazy, humans are sick, fat, at war, depressed and angry but no ones wants to stop fucking and we keep making lots of people. Which is fine if we can figure out what to do with all of us and our trash. I don’t know what the answer is but I think about it a lot. Maybe one day I’ll have kids and take them to see the Great Trash Mountain. Sounds like a good surf track for the next album.

How’s the road been treating you so far?

The road is treating us well. We have done much traveling since last summer as we wanted to spend more time out of the public eye just rehearsing in private and getting tighter. So far the shows we’ve played have been great! Our best yet.

What is happening next in Nellie Pearl’s world?

We’re excited about the future. We are playing a lot on the road this summer in the Midwest and the south. We are playing a festival in August with Gillian Welch, Houndmouth and the Lone Bellow.

We have a new tune coming out this summer that we recorded at La La Land here in Louisville where Ray Lamontange recorded his recent album with Jim James. The song is to be part of a compilation involving politically charged tunes to raise awareness of the growing oppression by the GOP towards women, the LGBT community, immigrants and any other group that doesn’t share their values. We are truly disgusted by the acts of our governor little Matty Bevin and our senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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