INTERVIEW: Becky Warren

Hi Becky, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Great, thanks!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Call Me Sometime”?

Sure — it kicks off my record, so it introduces you to a woman, June, who appears throughout the album. She’s pretty cynical about love, so, in this song, she’s warning off anyone who might show romantic interest in her.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

On Devils & Dust, Bruce Springsteen has a song, “All the Way Home,” where the narrator offers to walk a woman home if she doesn’t have any better options. I immediately started to imagine how June might respond similarly if someone tried to pick her up at a bar.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Definitely! Neilson Hubbard and Joshua Britt of Neighborhoods Apart Productions made a killer video for it where I pour gasoline on things and light matches and float around in water with poker chips. Look for it soon!

The single comes off your new album War Suplus – what’s the story behind the title?

The whole album tells the story of June and a soldier named Scott falling in love, Scott’s deployment to Iraq, his return, and the way his deployment affects him and their relationship. Usually, we think of war surplus as the uniforms and other gear left behind after a war, but I wanted to allude to the profound effect wars have on vets and their families, and the fact that far too many of them aren’t getting the care and support they’ve earned.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was difficult! It took me four years because, not only did the songs have to be good, they had to cover the important parts of the story and flow well from one to another in chronological order. I wrote about 40 songs along the way. Recording was really easy in comparison. I recorded to tape at Welcome to 1979,  a great analog studio in Nashville, with stellar musicians—Jeremy Middleton, Paul Niehaus, and Dillon Napier. We had the whole thing tracked, mixed, and mastered in just over a month.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

I moved to Nashville midway through writing this album, and it made a huge difference to my work. The Nashville songwriting community is really welcoming and supportive, and I’m friends with many fantastic writers. I’m part of a wonderful group called East Nashville Song Salon, where I got valuable feedback on a lot of the album’s songs as I was writing them. All of that really pushed me to raise my own bar, writing-wise. Then, of course, the wealth of world-class musicians here made my songs sound fantastic, both on the record and when I play live. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What drew you to write a love story between a soldier and his girlfriend? Is it based on a true story?

I first got interested in veterans and their families because I used to be married to a vet—he deployed to Iraq just a few days after we got married. So the story of Scott and June is fictional, but it’s shaped some by my own experiences. I also owe a debt to a lot of veteran authors whose work influenced the story and the songs. The most influential was Colby Buzzell, whose memoir My War: Killing Time in Iraq, is still my favorite piece of writing to have come out of the Iraq War. Colby wrote liner notes for War Surplus, which is definitely among the most exciting things that’s happened to me as a result of this record.

Did you handpick the themes you would eventually sing about or did they come to mind as you were writing the record?

I had the broad outlines of the story from the start—I knew Scott and June would fall in love and Scott would return with PTSD and they’d split up. So I knew I needed a love song, a deployment song, a PTSD song, a breakup song, etc. But often the way I approached those themes came to me as I was writing the record.

What aspect of love did you get to explore with this record?

Well, you have Scott and June falling in love, of course, and then June’s lonesome love as she misses Scott when he’s in Iraq. And a kind of helpless love when Scott returns and she realizes she can’t do much to help him. And at the end, there’s even a love song about whiskey. So, a lot of love, which is a little surprising since it wasn’t a subject I wrote about much before I started working on this album.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! I’m thrilled to be opening some dates for the Indigo Girls in New England and the mid-Atlantic this fall.

What else is happening next in Becky Warren’s world?

I’m excited to have my first official showcase at Americanafest this year (Thurs 9/22 at 8 p.m. at the American Legion). And the album comes out just a couple weeks after that, on October 14.

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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