INTERVIEW: Award-Winning Austin Singer/Songwriter Barbara Nesbitt
Hi Barbara, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey there, Vents! I can’t complain. Been busy traveling and playing, and that’s always a good thing. Thanks so much for the interview!!
Can you talk to us more about your single “Old Devils Can Die”?Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
“Old Devils Can Die” was originally inspired by an old southern colloquialism, old devils never die, and by my Aunt Peachy. The idiom basically means that when troubles come around they tend to stick around. My Aunt Peachy once told me, “Barbara, it isn’t’ true. Old devils CAN die.”, and she said it in such an impish way that it gave way to all manner of imaginings as to what she was referring to specifically. The song evolved into a story about standing your ground in the face of bullies and people who want to take and hurt. It’s ultimately an empowerment song.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
I am looking at making a video for that and for “At Large In Tennessee” early next year!!
The single comes off your new album Right As Rain – what’s the story behind the title?
Right as rain is another old idiom I have always loved. I wrote it into the chorus of “At Large In Tennessee” as a way of describing someone who finally got away from a bad marriage and was on her own, finding liberty and finding herself a “right as rain refugee.”
How was the recording and writing process?
My writing process is all over the place. Sometimes I am inspired by something I see or experience, sometimes a whole song can be built around one word or phrase, sometimes seemingly out of thin air! And the process runs the gamut from easy and effortless(ish) to pulling teeth and can’t finish it for years. Recording has been interesting this time because I basically did it in three cities, Austin, Nashville and San Diego. There were a ton of logistics involved but I got to work with some of my very favorite people.
What was it like to work with Jeff Berkley and how did that relationship develop?
I have made all of my “solo” albums with Jeff! I met him when I lived in San Diego and we hit it off right away with our love of Star Wars and inappropriate humor. He was making such wonderful records at his studio, making the kind of record I wanted to make. It was a great match from the start. A no-brainer. He knows me and my songs and he can get inside my head and help create what I want to create. It’s pretty awesome.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He is a huge influence on the album. The more albums I make, the more I know what I want and things I want to hear and I think he is a big part of how that came to be. He has taught me so much over the years about recording and mixing. And his ideas about tone and dynamics and levels and instrumentation are some of the best I know.
After few years of seeking for different sounds, what made you want to go back to your roots?
I don’t know if I was seeking something different when The Whiskey Sisters came together (which is what I was doing the last few years). It just sort of happened and was glorious, but it ran its course. For me, it was natural progression to get back to writing the way I do as a “solo” act. And I don’t think I ever really tried to write a certain way, it’s just what comes out. It’s an expression of who I am and the way my mind and heart work.
How have your travels around the world influenced your music and this record in particular?
I think everything you experience in life is in some way, small or large, a piece of what comes out in your writing. It may not be explicit, but there is always something of what you have seen and learned and become as you travel your path. I know that being afforded the luxury of traveling the world has added richness to my life and experience that no doubt are part of what my songwriting has become
Any plans to hit the road?
I am always kind of on the road. I do a lot of fly in dates on the east and west coasts, I do plan to be on the road in the southeast in early spring and I hope to get back to the UK at the end of the summer. It’s always so much more rewarding when you have a shiny new record to bring along.
What else is happening next in Barbara Nesbitt’s world?
Let’s see, the new record will be released in January and I have a few shows in Austin to promote and support it. I will likely start writing for the next one, too! No rest for the weary! I have a reunion show with my very first band in Virginia in the spring and I’m just gonna travel and play and write and sing and push Right As Rain as much as I can for as long as I can.
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