Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Meadowlark”?
My mother’s nickname was Tweedie. After she died people would often say, “Now you have an angel looking over you.” However, I didn’t feel that at all. All I felt was distance. After the success of Willow Springs, my touring increased tenfold, and I was traveling most of the time. As thrilled as I was to be in demand, being gone from my wife and daughter is incredibly hard. Long tours sometimes become unbearable.
“When writing and recording this song about being homesick, I noticed a yellow bird outside the window. It would visit me every day. It was a yellow bird, a Tweedie Bird I’d thought. It almost seemed a wounded or a flightless bird, because it was always in the grass outside my window. It would watch me for hours. For a few days there, I even wondered if it was a visitation of my mother.
“I found out it was a Meadowlark. Then, just like my mother, one day…. she was gone. This is a song about longing, and trying to be brave in the face of those enveloping feelings of loss and isolation. Even though we may feel flightless sometimes, we all still have wings.”
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
I was on the road and I knew that I was going to be needing a video. So I just started filming anything I thought was interesting or beautiful. When on the road in Europe its not so easy to be uploading stuff, so it became quite a laborious process. The ending with my daughter was not intended to be in the video but when I saw it, it seemed a perfect way to end it.
The single comes off your new album Orphans – what’s the story behind the title?
I had these songs that wouldn’t go away and I had been working on a few Orphan based idea songs, but they never came to any good. When it came time to name the album, it seemed no better name than Orphans for it. That was what these songs really are. They were a group of displaced creations that were cast aside in the Darwinian arena and were slated to die a quiet death. They staged a protest and kept singing in my ear telling me to not let them be forgotten. Orphans no more.
How was the recording and writing process?
There was no additional recording for these songs due to my studio had just been dismantled and put in storage. There were things I wished I could have gone back and fixed and added but it was kind of nice not being able to. They had to stand on their own.
What role does LA play in your music?
Anywhere I have lived or spent a great deal of time in, is always an influence. LA was a place I called home on a few different occasions. LA took me and then it almost killed me. It made me stronger and made me question my resilience. It cloaked me in fantasy while it picked my pocket. It dazzled me with the narcotic of fame and money, and showed me how far down a man can fall. It was my priest and rabbi and it was the stripper at the 7th veil on Sunset who only wished to separate me from my money. I love LA….and she can also be an insidious siren.
Would you call this a departure from your previous work?
Its a collection of songs from my previous work, so its not a departure.
What made you want to pick up these songs backs?
They did…..They were songs I was still playing live, and the frequency of audience members asking about said songs, made me think they might be stronger than I had thought. I’m a terrible judge of what people might like….
Did you get to make some re-write treatment?
No, and I wish I could have….but sometimes you end up screwing up songs that were fine. So this has been fun for me to accept them for what they are….warts and all.
Did you find new inspiration?
Do the work… inspiration, is what comes when you open yourself up to life… some writers sit around and wait for inspiration… I go out and find it… its everywhere… its waiting for you… not the other way around.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m always hitting the road…..and sometimes it hits back…..My life is such that I can’t afford not to be on the road. It is what i’ve always wanted. To travel around, play my songs. I always figured it would be in a boxcar….but its nice I get to play stationary venues too.
What else is happening next in Michael McDermott’s world?