Grace Under Fire: Solo Flirtations and The New Nocturnals
The following interview took place at a house party in Vermont at the end of a long day spent with Grace Potter and her boyfriend, Matt Burr who happens to be the drummer in her band, The Nocturnals. We met around noon, had a nice brunch, walked around Burlington, took a trip out to Grace’s childhood home in Waitsfield, had dinner with her parents and finally arrived at a fondue and wine party out in the snowy outskirts of Stowe. Matt was downstairs playing drums in the living room with The Eames Brothers, a local band he performs with from time to time, so Grace and I retreated to a quiet room upstairs for the “formal” part of the interview, although by this point we had already covered a wide range of topics. There was much to talk about with the release of the band’s new album slated for June, Grace’s semi-shelved solo project with legendary producer T-Bone Burnett and The Nocturnals’ recent line-up change.
For much more on Grace Potter and the Nocturnals pick up the current issue of the magazine.
JW: So let’s just start with the elephant in the room. [Nocturnals drummer] Matt [Burr] and you are a couple.
GP: Right, which is something that we’ve not usually shared with the world.
JW: It’s extremely challenging to make the interpersonal dynamic of a band work and very difficult to make the dynamic of a relationship work. When you put the two together it seems like it would be impossible.
GP: It’s not, it’s beautiful. I honestly don’t know how this band would be if we were not a couple. Especially, with a new lineup. With Catherine [Popper] and Benny [Yurco] joining, it did turn it into more of a family. Because before, it was Scott [Tournet] and Brian [Dondero]: two single guys and Grace and Matt, the couple. It certainly made it two and against two. I don’t think that anybody intended for it to be that way but there was a problem with that I think.
JW: What was the problem?
GP: Just that everybody got sectioned off. When we were making This is Somewhere, me and Matt lived in one apartment at the Oakwood Plaza in L.A., which was miserable, and then Brian and Scott lived in another apartment. So no matter what happened throughout the day, they would go back to their apartment and talk about the day, and we would go back to our apartment and talk about the day. I don’t think that that separation did anything good for us. It only fed insecurities and problems that would have come up between band members.
JW: Because they saw it as Team Matt and Grace.
GP: Right, Team Matt and Grace. There’s no way around it, we’re a power couple. I’m sort of the mini art department within GPN and he’s the strategist. I can’t answer a question about our schedule without asking him and he can’t answer a question about which photo we want to use for a press release without asking me. We’re certainly integral in that way. It wasn’t always a problem with the former line-up, but I think it did create problems.
JW: Is it hard to separate the dynamic, because clearly you’re the band leader.
GP: Yeah, definitely. But he’s like the consiglieri.
JW: So are you also the leader in the relationship?
GP: No, he’s totally the leader in the relationship. He’s my boss man. Like I said, I’m a little women. I love cooking, I love cleaning, I love decorating, I love making beds, I love everything that comes with being the women.
JW: That’s such a fascinating dichotomy. Is it hard to separate business from pleasure when you’re making band decisions?
GP: Well we make decisions together. I know in my heart what’s the right or wrong answer lot of the time. That’s something that only the person who wrote the song or has to play it live 500,000 times could answer. Maybe he understands that’s not his place to know that piece of it. And also, it’s a joy to know that there is someone with their head on so straight as him to be my adviser. So yes, my power comes from the music, and my power comes from the decision-making and the leadership that I find in this band, but it also comes from him and certainly his educated decision-making.
JW: You guys must be very confident in your relationship. Whether or not you’d like to admit it, you’re a sex symbol and you’re out there wearing a short skirt while all the guys in the front row gawk at you.
GP: And he’s cool with it.
JW: That says a lot about his character, that he’s able to sit there and watch you get all of that attention, and not get jealous.
GP: We’re not jealous people. We’ve gotten that label because I write songs about jealous people and I write songs about cheating and lying and backstabbing. The treacherous road of love is real, but I’m more capable of dramatizing that and making it more like a movie as opposed to pulling from my own pain. I mean, we’ve been through a lot of stuff. We’ve done horrible things to each other, hurt each other, yelled at each other – all that stuff’s happened. But that isn’t the thing that I feed off of when I’m writing a song because it’s much easier to think how much worse it could be.
JW: You said your last album was 100 % autobiographical. Your new album deals with some intense break-up issues, but you’ve been with Matt since the band formed. Where does the inspiration for all the heartbreak come from?
GP: It’s just like writing a screenplay. I’m not saying that it’s not coming from a genuine place and I haven’t experienced those emotions, but it hasn’t led to the end of the road the way it does with so many musicians. I’m not saying that we don’t have our trials and tribulations and I’m Little Miss Perfect writing a movie all of the time. We go through everything that every other couple goes through. But sometimes it’s amplified versions of all that because of the fame and being crammed in a tour bus with alcohol and everything that comes with being on tour. We’ve had a lot of trial and error. I mean it’s been brutal at times. We’ve actually come to be healthier people because of it. We don’t allow any pills or powders on our bus. None of us use it anyway. I mean, alcohol is my little vice – I used to be the little girl wandering around festivals with a whisky bottle in my hand. Now, if you look at the whisky bottle, it’s probably a whisky bottle full of water.
JW: Oh really, you still want that image?
GP: No, sometimes if you get out on the road and you want to manifest the rock and roll spirit, you can do it without hurting yourself.
JW: The song, “Lose Some Time,” [off This is Somewhere is that about similar themes of infidelity as “One Short Night?”
GP: Oh yeah, the cheating thing is actually not only a popular thing to write about, it’s a thing that we have both experienced. Matt and I have both gone through our phases of free love and letting our wings spread. If you really feel like you love somebody, I think you want to be sure. He and I both know that we were very young when we got together. I didn’t want to limit myself and wish I hadn’t later.
JW: “One Short Night” just sounds very revealing.
GP: Oh it’s completely out there. And it’s a true story.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
- The Rolling Stones with Dave Grohl (Gallery and Clip)
- Lotus "Age of Inexperience" (Official Video)
- Morning Teleporation Share "People On My Floor"
- The National at Public Assembly and on Colbert (Gallery and Clips)
- John Fogerty and Dawes "Someday Never Comes" on Letterman
- Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers "Little Too Late" Live at the Hangout
- John Fogerty: Wrote A Song For Everyone
- The Facebook Photo Contest Top 10
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll