Q&A Scene: Beth Hart

Tell us about your new single, album and tour.

Well the new single Fire On The Floor is about an old sex addiction I had for years – when I was with an old boyfriend – starting at 19 til I was like 28. We didn’t get along at all and we were so unhealthy for each other but it was it an on fire sexual thing and so that’s what the song is about. It’s just being addicted to this incredible physical feeling that you feel with someone who otherwise just breaks your heart all the time and makes you feel like crap.

The album – is really an interesting little story. When I made the Better Than Home album a couple years ago – even before it was mixed, I asked Ed at the label (Ed van Zijl – head of Mascot Label Group) who rules the world, I was going through such a tough time because one of the producers was passing away – he was dying of cancer.

And so I asked Ed, “Hey man, will you please let me go back in the studio I’ve got a ton of songs and I’ve been writing like crazy, and I’ve got stuff left over from Better Than Home and I’ve also got stuff left over from past albums and then all the songs I’ve been writing recently – because everything was so intense emotionally. And he was like, ”Yes!” So I call Oliver Leiber, and Oliver Leiber who is a genius did two weeks of pre-production and then he hired the most amazing musicians Waddy Wachtel, Michael Landau, amongst other incredible musicians – and we recorded that record in 3 days – and I just love Fire On The Floor

Fire On The Floor is more the kind of record that I like to make – it’s more eclectic, it’s got some jazz, it’s got some blues, it’s got some rock n roll, it’s got some story-telling, but I think overall it’s the kind of record that you want to wake up in the morning and play. You know where as with Better Than Home you might like play at night and get ready to chill out and get introspective, where Fire On The Floor is just all about energy and getting up and having fun.

And there’s some heavy stuff – but it’s not heavy as in confessional and dealing with life’s internal struggles – it’s more like either struggle with love; or excitement with jazz music; and fun – and also some positive love stuff. There’s also a song on there called Fat Man which really talks about the decadence of over-consumption in an American lifestyle and I think it’s really great because it’s not preachy and cutting anybody down, it’s just hysterical coz it points out what is so obvious – so stuff like that. It’s really eclectic – I think both lyrically and musically.

The Tour – Well you know, whenever I go on the road, it’s always the same goal that I have in mind and that is to give the audience a few songs from every record that we have ever done. And that’s one of the things I love about social media – you can literally find out from the town that you are going to – what songs they want to hear. And then we can build the set list around that.

Plus you know – I do not like having to do the same show night after night. I would shoot myself if I had to do the same show every night. So the band knows at least 70-80 songs and then we can mix things up – and they are such an amazing band that if I want to throw a new song at them in sound check they can learn it and play it that night.

So that’s what we’ll do – we’ll do a couple of songs from every friggin’ record and then we’ll play obviously a couple of songs off of Fire On The Floor and then if that record seems to really connect with people, then we’ll play in more and more of those songs. But one of the things I do know is important is that you’ve got to understand that your audience is not always going to have your latest records. They may only have a couple of your first records, so it’s important to show that respect. After all it is about them it’s not about us – they pay the money and it’s our job to make them happy. So that is important to me.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

My favourite work at this point in time is loving the fact that now as a writer I’m not questioning myself and doubting myself. And it’s made the writing process so much more spiritual and so much more enjoyable. And I think, if I’m not being a little too over presumptuous I think that the writing is better overall because of that. I’m not making it about me “oh I’m trying to write this and I’m trying to write that”. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going with whatever comes and I’m just enjoying the process of it and I think that that is making me the most excited as a writer.

Tell us a quick, on the road or in the studio anecdote.

God – I don’t know – It’s all funny isn’t it? You have your good days, you have your bad days. You have your funny stuff.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?

Oooh – what a cool question! Oh my God, I love this question!!

Oh my God- I got to think about it. (Pauses, laughs) Okay! I got it! I would describe my music as a Las Vegas Buffet – coz when you go to Vegas they’ve got every single culture of food that you can get!

So you can get some Chinese, you can get some Thai, you can get some Caribbean, you can get some Mexican food – you know – and I kind of feel my music is that. I kinda feel like it’s kinda like multiple personality disorder you know (laughing) but instead of it being a disorder- it’s a beautiful order – I think it’s just very eclectic – so eclectic food dishes – in a buffet – I would say that. (Laughing)

What, or who, inspires you?

Everybody inspires me you know? Not just musicians, of course not – but a lot of painters inspire me. I might get most inspired by painters, and also by nature – but I’m a big sap in recent years for more what would be called modern artists – Basquiat is a huge inspiration for me. I actually just saw some of his work. But I hated modern art earlier in my life when I was younger. Anything Van Gogh, Renoir – impressionist kind of stuff – I loved that. I really love going to museums, always have – it’s very inspirational to me.

But you know a big big inspiration for me – not to write music – but an inspiration to me – is to just be really aware of how blessed I am to be alive – and how unimportant all the things that I think about that I think are important – I’ve come to realise that it just doesn’t matter what I think, basically about anything.

When I’m nature and I’m fishing, and I’m hiking, and I’m swimming, and I’m kayaking and I’m with my best friend and we’re cooking stuff on the campfire – it’s like- I don’t know – it’s like I get it, I get it at those moments – that it’s just about being alive and breathing in this beautiful planet that we live in – and how that’s as good as it gets and ever will get. So that’s a big inspiration to me.

I think what inspires me the most to write though is when I’m in struggle or I get to meet someone who is in struggle. They are struggling, they are in pain, they’re afraid – but they are not out. They haven’t quit, they haven’t given up – and that is really inspires me to go to the piano. And I think it’s because the piano – I really look at the piano as an altar – that’s where I go to pray to God.

So when I go to make music, it’s like, the last thing in the world I’m thinking about is making a record, I don’t think about that at all when I’m writing. I think about trying to receive guidance and trying to also confess to God – you know, where I’ve mis-stepped, even though I know he already knows that, but I want him to know that I know that to. And so I can work that out in a song and sometimes like the most beautiful feeling of forgiveness – you know I can feel it, you know.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

Which song do I wish I wrote? Oh – I wish I wrote “Thunder Road”. I’ve never bought a Bruce Springsteen record, I’ve never been to a Bruce Springsteen show – I know he’s brilliant and I know he puts on a phenomenal show. Musically he’s never been my cup of tea – but lyrically he kills me. He’s so brilliant. So I wish I’d written “Thunder Road” – I think it’s one of the most phenomenal lyrics ever written.

Many of Tom Waits’ songs also I wish I’d written, but one in particular – there’s a song he actually wrote “Take It With Me” – and it’s all about dying, but you never for one moment in the song feel sad about dying because he doesn’t write it that way. He comes from the perspective of all the things that he’d experienced in his life – and he chooses a few different things – but I’ll give you an example like he says “phones off the hook / no one knows where we are / it’s a long time since/ I drank champagne / the ocean is blue / blue as your eyes / I’m going to take it with me/ when I go”.

So he’s going to take that feeling of when he saw the ocean and this woman that he was so in love with’s eyes – and the way that made him feel – he’s going to take that memory with him when he goes. And he does that throughout the whole song and it’s absolutely genius.

So Leonard Cohen, of course – “Hallelujah”. That is just a phenomenal piece of work. But everything Leonard Cohen writes is a phenomenal piece of work. But it is pretty amazing how the lyrics go in that song and the music, the melody – just absolutely genius – everything he does.

So I could just go on and on and on. I wish I’d written Beethoven – Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” – that is the greatest piece of music I’ve ever heard. So yeah, I could go on for ever, but I’m not going to – coz I know I’ll drive you crazy J

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m doing a promo tour that starts in Europe as soon as we’re done with this States run and we’re going to make a quick music video for Love Is A Lie which I’m really excited about. Scott and I when we take a break after the promo tour, we’re already going to be in Europe so we’re going to get to go to Canary Islands –I’m really excited about that. Then it looks like I’m doing a little bit of work with Rob Cavallo on some stuff I’ve been writing lately and I’m really excited about that – he’s a wonderful producer and a beautiful man, so am looking forward to that. And just you know –being alive and taking good care of myself and spending as much time as I can with my mom as she’s getting older now, so those are the things that are next. And I’m coming back to Australia for Bluesfest in 2017 too which I’m really looking forward to.

What’s My Scene?

My Scene is either on the road with my band who are lovely, and my crew – we are a family.

Another part of my scene is I LOVE to garden. Haha. It’s so un- rock & roll but I love it. I love the garden more than anything. I wake up first thing early early early in the morning when I’m off the road and I just can’t wait to go to the garden shop to see what I’m going to pick next to plant in my garden. I just love it – It makes me so happy – I can be out there for 10 hours easy all day long and come in all covered in mud – and I’ve just had the best time in the world.

I also really love to cook a lot too – I just love it. But there’s lots of things – like camping, I love camping. But that’s kinda my life – it’s making music, its painting, it’s cooking, it’s gardening – its spending time with people I love, and then of course its dealing with mental illness – which is a bitch. But I have more good days now than bad – and I feel very grateful for that.

Beth Hart‘s Fire On The Floor is due for release October 14 on Provogue/Mascot Label Group

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About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.