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|February 21-27, 2008
• Deep in the Southern jungle
by Carey Murphy
• See Sia sing
by Erica Grossman
Deep in the Southern jungle
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers talks about the new album and why Boulder is one of their favorite places to rock out
by Carey Murphy
When the Drive-By Truckers roll through town on Saturday night for their show at the Fox Theatre, it brings to mind some positive memories and associations from Patterson Hood, a DBT guitar player and one of the band’s three singer-songwriters. Last summer, during the group’s brief acoustic tour, Boulder fans arrived in force. And Hood remembers it well, a fact that may account for the three stops in Colorado the band will make during their present Homefront Tour. Asked about the enthusiasm of Colorado fans in general, he acknowledges, “We pretty much clicked… from about our second time out here. Our Boulder shows last year were among the best of The Dirt Underneath Tour, so we’re really happy about coming back.”
With last month’s release of Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, the Drive-By Truckers reveal yet another side of an already complex musical identity. Sprawling across 75 minutes, the album continues to explore the many dimensions of the Southern psyche in all its glory and horror. But despite its dark components, Hood feels a great deal of optimism exists. “There seems to be a lot of searching and questioning in the songs on this album. That and a running theme of taking care of your family, no matter what. There are 19 songs and it’s a lot for people to initially take in, [but] there’s a lot to it, and the closer you examine it, the more there is to draw from it.”
An understandable concession, particularly realizing the three different identities the band creates from their three different songwriters: Hood, singer-guitarist Mike Cooley, and singer-bassist Shonna Tucker. Hood notes this characteristic of his band to be a distinct advantage: “I think having three writers in the band pushes all of us to write better. We’re all really big mutual admirers of each others’ writing. There’s a weird connection between us that none of us can explain, but it’s a big part of what we do. Cooley and I might both bring in new songs to a project written completely apart from each other about the exact same thing, but from a totally opposite point of view. Shonna comes in with three songs and they fit absolutely perfect on this album.”
For Hood, though, it’s all about the opportunities to perform, and he says the band is ready. “We’ve all had some time off and are rested and ready. I’m looking forward to playing the new [songs] out. Last year, we did that acoustic tour, which was great fun and was a big part of creating this album, but now I’m ready to plug it back in and rock it the hell out.”
On the Bill
Drive-By Truckers will perform with the Felice Brothers at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Fox theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.
See Sia sing
A pop star colors outside the lines
by Erica Grossman
The standard press interview is an awkward situation in which touring musicians field questions from nerdy reporters. “[I do] like 15 of these fucking things a day in between a sound check and flying to the next city and doing a show for like six months,” says pop singing sensation Sia during one of those pesky phone interviews. “But it works.”
Despite the way it might come across, Sia isn’t callous about having to chat with a stranger during her busy day. In fact, the entire phone conversation is filled with sporadic laughter and bouncy statements in a raspy Aussie accent. By the end of the exchange, it is apparent that when it comes to Sia, things aren’t always what they seem.
“That’s the tricky and difficult part of this job — answering the same questions all day every day. But, like, so what? There are people that have real problems. My biggest problem is having to talk about myself all day long.”
There is a lot to say about Sia. She’s a vocal sensation, a songwriter who uses only her voice. Originally from Australia, she made a mark for herself in the U.K. as the voice behind several club dance remixes. A broader fan base arose when she lent her vocals to Brit-electronica group Zero 7 for several singles. One of those tracks, “In the Waiting Line,” was chosen by Zach Braff for his Grammy-winning Garden State soundtrack. In addition, Sia’s song “Breathe Me” increased her American publicity when featured on the show Six Feet Under.
But despite this seeming success, it wasn’t until her most recent album, aptly titled Some People Have Real Problems, that Sia received the kind of attention she once expected. Previous attempts at fame failed because of inexperience, poor marketing by no-name record companies and a refusal to do small-time press.
“In the beginning, it was just naiveté really,” Sia says. “I had my head shoved so far up my ass that I thought that I was fucking Radiohead or something.”
But now Sia is working hard at promotion and just being herself — something that isn’t always easy to recognize. Some People Have Real Problems is illusory from the beginning. The cover and inside artwork are Crayola-kid-meets-Microsoft-Paint — bright, simplistic, fun and brash. You would expect juvenile, happy-go-lucky tracks sung in a cute fashion by this blonde, bright beauty. Instead, deep soulful beltings take your hearing captive and hook you into the songs about desperation and walking away from love. In other words, the substance of Some People is all big-girl. That juxtaposition has even garnered her some flak.
“I’ve been in trouble with a lot of fans for making this dichotomous art,” she says. “They say it misrepresents the album. I don’t care. They’re all aspects of who I am, and I’m allowed to do whatever I want.”
In fact, that art might be a better glimpse into Sia’s character than her music. For a full-time singer, music isn’t her biggest priority.
“I don’t really listen to much music,” she notes. “Only when I’m falling in love or really miserable do I ever resort to music.”
Sia’s relationship with her own music possesses a similar detachment. After writing a song, she will largely ignore it until it comes time to record or perform it. Sia considers her relationship with her music to be a subconscious action in which she unknowingly harnesses musical gifts.
“It’s just like channeling,” she notes. “I’m not even really present for a lot of it. Someone will start playing some chords and I’ll just go ‘Blurp!’ and a hot bunch of words and a melody will fall out of my mouth. It’s as simple as that.”
Though this séance act of musical creation might not be that easy for many artists, it certainly works in Sia’s case. Her songs are an outlet for love and sadness, and aren’t really meant to represent the gamut of her daily life and personality.
“My music doesn’t really reflect who I am, you know? My drawings and my videos reflect who I am way more than my music does,” she says. “Music is a good place to get out all your shitty feelings. I’m fun and I want to have fun.”
And that’s okay. All too often, we want our artists to reflect what the record companies say they are — brooding, deep, tortured souls. It’s reassuring to see an artist comfortable enough in their own skin to put their work in the public eye without playing into preconceived roles. In Sia’s case, her music is for her audience, not for any sort of narcissistic look into her identity.
According to her, accessing music is universal and open for any type of interpretation.
“As far as I’m concerned, once you put a record out, it belongs to everybody else,” she asserts.
And if that means translating the tracks into the soundtrack for your own personal sentiments or tragic devastations, so be it. Sia doesn’t need to fit any of those expectations. After all, some people have real problems.
On the Bill
Sia will perform with Har Mar Superstar at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.
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