The Bowery Presents
Brandi Carlile

WFUV Presents

Brandi Carlile

Blitzen Trapper

Sun, October 28, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Beacon Theatre

New York, NY

$40

Rescheduled

This event is all ages

This show has been rescheduled for Friday, March 22. All tickets for the 10/28 show will be honored.

Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile
“Everyone needs to be risking something,” says Seattle-based singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. She’s discussing the M.O. behind The Firewatcher’s Daughter, her stunning new release – her first for artist-friendly indie label ATO. The 12-song collection marks a triumphant return after a three-year recording hiatus, and her strongest, most rock & roll album to date.

“Rock & roll music as a genre always has a sense of erratic recklessness to it,” she says. “It can’t really be rehearsed – in fact, rehearsal can kill it. On this album, each song has its honest rock & roll moment, even the ballads; it’s between the point where you’ve learned the song enough to get through it, but you don’t have any control over it yet.”

Since her heralded, genre-defying 2005 Columbia debut, Carlile and her indispensable collaborators, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, aka The Twins, have always offered listeners both control and abandon, often within a single song. The most well-known Brandi Carlile tunes, 2007’s “The Story” and 2012’s “That Wasn’t Me,” are dynamic journeys in themselves, encompassing myriad emotions and varied stylistic touches; “The Story” morphs from understated balladry to epic stadium rock, while “That Wasn’t Me” effortlessly straddles country soul and pop gospel. Infused with Carlile’s clarion voice, The Twins’ tight sibling harmonies, and stellar musicianship from everyone, it all simply sounds like Brandi Carlile.

Yet, over four acclaimed Columbia albums, countless sold-out tours, and fruitful relationships with top producers Rick Rubin and T Bone Burnett, something was missing: Carlile and The Twins hadn’t yet captured the distinctive spark of old friends working up new tunes, a slippery magic born of years touring together, and often caught only on raw demos made at the behest of the label. The Firewatcher’s Daughter, by contrast, is a full-on Carlile/Twins co-production, cut live in Seattle’s Bear Creek Studio, with complete artistic control granted by ATO. With this new freedom, Carlile and The Twins, intent on capturing the elusive essence of a song’s spirit, tracked the album live, with little or no rehearsal.

Ironically, during this time of liberation, Carlile and The Twins all transitioned to married life; the Hanseroths became dads, and Carlile’s wife, Catherine Shepherd, was pregnant during the making of The Firewatcher’s Daughter. So when the engineer hit RECORD, the stakes were higher than usual: Carlile and the Twins producing, kids underfoot or on the way, and three years since an album. But true to form, they wrangled it all into song, catching many, many lightning-in-a-bottle moments; the crackling Lucinda Williams-meets-Fleetwood Mac of “Wherever Is Your Heart,” the CSN-meets-Bonnie Raitt of “The Eye,” to the dark folk-punk of “The Stranger at My Door,” the Elton John-meets-McCartney of “Beginning to Feel the Years,” and more – all executed without a net.

“Everything is completely live,” Carlile says. “That’s the only way to make the moment happen. It’s way too easy to say, ‘Hey guys, you get your part down and I’ll spend the rest of the evening by myself in a fucking booth not taking any risks, and trying to nail down my contribution while I drink a bottle of Jameson.’ A lot of the songs are in about the highest key I can sing them in. The vocals were very emotional for me. I was right on the edge – I’d been off the road for a long time, I was on the precipice of becoming a mother, and there was a lot that needed to come out before that could happen.”

The title, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, comes from a line in “The Stranger at My Door,” written after Carlile stared into a bonfire for a long, long time. “I wrote it standing next to one of my frequent bonfires up in the horse pasture on our land. I have a bonfire compulsion. I tend to stand there and stare into them close to every day, and I’m able to tap into something beyond my day-to-day consciousness. I often write lyrics, solve problems, run for President – the usual stuff. Catherine was pregnant and I was contemplating the juxtaposition between religious rigidity and beauty, and its effects on families and society.”

Carlile says she and The Twins always insert a through-line in her albums: “An instrument keeps appearing, a theme keeps getting touched on, or we try to use the same microphone. But of all my albums, I felt the least amount of control over this one. Catherine was nine months pregnant, The Twins’ kids were there, the tension was there, but the love was also there, so the continuity is felt.”

Part of that continuity is the concept of “chains,” which recurs over the course of The Firewatcher’s Daughter, from the lullaby “Wilder (We’re Chained)” to the chorus of the gorgeous “The Eye”: “I wrapped your love around me like a chain / But I never was afraid that it would die / You can dance in a hurricane / But only if you’re standing in the eye.” Carlile lays this chain fascination at the feet of Fleetwood Mac, a band she and The Twins listened to a lot in the run-up to The Firewatcher’s Daughter, and whose classic love song “The Chain” is bittersweet reality. “The twins and I were inspired by that band’s connection and their turbulence,” she says. “I find it fascinating how culturally some things can get cast in a negative light, like a chain. But a chain can bind and connect, like a fire can refine and renew. We would definitely describe ourselves as chained in the best possible way.”

After stepping back from this fine new work and assessing it, Carlile knows exactly what she wants from The Firewatcher’s Daughter: “My goal,” she says, “is to connect on a soul level with our longtime fans and friends, and to reach new people with the honesty of this music. Also, I would like my daughter, Evangeline, to grow up and think I’m cool.”
Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper
A question I ask myself, why make records? And why in particular did I make this record? I've made lots of records, about half of them shared with the world, the other half squirreled away for no good reason.

Songs upon songs upon songs.
But I guess in the end I just had some stories to tell, like the one about the cop turned cocaine dealer, or the murderous 13 year old girl, or the underage lovers who steal her mom's checkbook, her dad's truck and go on a spree down the west coast, free as the wind, until it becomes clear the boy is addicted to heroin, the physical freedom outstripped by enslavement to the substance. And but lets not forget the one about the woman in the black TransAm who steals hearts from wrecked/jaded men deep in their cups, another form of internment. Stories upon stories.
Each story is true in some sense.

So I guess I have my reasons for making a record. For adding to the overwhelming fetid deluge of content running wild, pushing at the banks of cultural consciousness for no good reason. And really the value of a record seems to be increasingly non-monetary. As it should be I guess, the true craft, the reality of music, of voice, is played out on stages across the country, not in bluetooth earbuds.

And so 10 years after Furr, a record that touched a vein and continues to, the song itself more widely known than the band that made it, after 10 years of touring with Blitzen Trapper, after all the drug busts, run-ins with the law, drunken nights/fights/wrecks, flings with fans/groupies/angels, run ins with demons/criminals/saints, TV appearances, court appearances, disappearances, what do we have to show for it?
Nothing much that can be physically pointed to, it's more a feeling. A cerebral kind of currency, of having communed/partaken/contributed to the dialogue of rock music, of the musical arts as well as a sense of America as a whole. This country like a willfully ignorant child, blind to its faults, not knowing how good it has it, half-heartedly adhering to a God that no longer exists, its leadership nothing but a mirror held up to its own fat misshapen face. To possess this sense, this knowledge is worth its weight in gold. This is the true meaning of that genre we are a part of, what we call Americana.

We recently created a theater event that ran for a couple months in our hometown of Portland, OR called Wild and Reckless, half musical, half rock-opera dealing with heroin abuse, desperation, True Love and western power structures. Heady as shit, but in the end as it unfolded I realized it was really about music, that longing for escape, that pure juvenile psychedelia we possessed as kids laying in summer grass gazing up at the clouds in the sky seeing shapes in them, imbuing them with a reality that was not really there but that we saw it and named it. Stories upon stories.

This resultant album Wild and Reckless is a companion to Furr, a second volume in that wild dystopian reality of killers and shape-shifters, and there is a running narrative to it that, like its companion Furr hinges upon Love, love lost, found, hidden. That's the center, the Heart of the matter and all the stories upon stories revolve around it like a menagerie of rocks around a burning sun.

Eric Eddy Earley,
Portland, OR July 14, 2017
Venue Information:
Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway
New York, NY, 10023
http://www.beacontheatre.com/faq/index.html