Neither hard rock or metal, RockUrLife met with rock pop country artist Melissa Etheridge for the release of her 12th record.
Hello Melissa, how are you?
Melissa Etheridge: Very good!
You released your 12th record in September, “This Is M.E.”, and how are the feedbacks since then?
M: It has been very well received. Sometimes I got good reviews and bad ones, but this one got very good reviews and it’s always nice to hear. The best part is that the fans really really like it and when I perform the songs live, they stand up next to the classics.
There’s a word game with the title, in which way this record defines you? Why “this” is you?
M: I think I’m trying to say through the title that this is me, an independent me. This is all of my music influences right there in one bundle. It’s me trying new things, doing the classics and even though there might be differences in the songs, maybe it’s more hip hop (laughs) or soul or country even, still at the core of each song is me, is me the lyrics, the voice, the guitar.
You released it on your own label, why did you want to have your own company?
M: In these days the record business is very limited, very very limited. Of course everyone knows about the internet and the technology which lowered record sales. So large record companies need just to focus their resources on what they know are going to sell large and that’s between 15 and 30 year old people (laughs) the only one buying records still. So I didn’t fit that and I also knew that me record company would put an album on my noun but they would be fine with just the amount of sales from my fans etc. I knew this was the jumping point where I could get my own distribution and own my own record.
What topics are you dealing with in your music?
M: Well the topics are about and from myself. Everything is autobiographical. It’s either what I’m thinking, feeling about the world or it’s my own experience. Everything comes through my experience and the way I observe different things.
What do refer “Monster”, “Do It Again”, and “Stranger Road” here?
M: “Monster” is a statement, a tacking back of power of myself or anyone who has ever felt that the things that they are make them different, monstrous to some people. “Hey you think I’m a monster but I’m full of desire and love”. “Do It Again” is a song about love, about thinking that I wouldn’t ever do it again once you lose a couple times and you’re not so ok to go back into the game again but saying that’s worth it and that’ll do it again. And “Stranger Road”, I like to write songs about my hometown, my home state of Kansas. I like to write like what if I was still there.
How do you begin a recording process? When do your write music?
M: I start with inspirations and that can happen all the time, that can be here or I can record something on my phone. I grab inspirations when I can. Then I’ll set specific time and put things together.
Your three favourite tracks?
M: “Ain’t That Bad”, “Monster” and like now, maybe “Like A Preacher”.
And why? (laughs)
M: (laughs). They’re very different songs for me so I think I enjoy listening to the tracks that kind of step out. I love playing those songs live so that’s probably the reason.
You asked your fans pictures to elaborate the album cover. How did you have this idea and why didn’t you ask them in the past?
M: Mostly technology, it’s easier to do it now and it was a way to igniting the fan base, getting them a part of the album sending me those pictures and then creating an app where they could find their picture in the whole mosaic. My fans are a big part of me.
You’re a rock pop country artist, those genres are successful in the US, and how can you explain it? Because in Europe, the situation isn’t the same…
M: It is! I never achieve to have success in France and I don’t know whether it’s because of the genre or maybe the language barriers?
We also noticed that there won’t be any French gigs on the euro tour. But there’s a link between those.
M: I know, I know! Yes we tried to make it happen because I requested a gig in Paris, because it’s a solo gig and I could have come down here and play small places but we had time restrained and we couldn’t work something out. I was very sad but I’m hoping to come back this summer and maybe do a festival.
Do you watch the TV show “Nashville”?
M: Un peu. (laughs) I’m aware of it but I don’t watch a lot of TV.
How did you find out that you wanted to play music?
M: When I was very little I listen to the radio and my older sisters bought albums, my parents too so there were a lot of music in the house but they weren’t musicians. When I was 8, my father bought a guitar for my sister, they wouldn’t let me play but I did and my fingers bled and kept playing and I just loved it and I always did.
And how did you get in this type of music?
M: I was always drawn to the singer songwriters. I always wanted to write my own material and that kept me on a very specific place and then the music and the bands I would play in, in high school, were cover bands. First it was country and then just pop music so I learn that style and wasn’t oriented to hard rock for example.
What are your influences?
M: Everything from the singers Aretha Franklin, Robert Plant, Janis Joplin to the writers Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, to musicians Keith Richards etc. They were all my inspirations.
Any small story? An anecdote to relate to us?
M: Oh I do have a story about France! There was a gig in Montpellier where the stage is on hydraulics and the first time I played there they loaded the stage and unfortunately one of the stage hands got his foot stuck by the stage and it cut his foot off! Which was horrible, I still remember. When I returned ten years later, same stage hands, still there! He remembered me and he said “no I’m fine” and that was the only guy who got seriously injured during one of my shows and that happened in France.
Finally we are “RockUrLife” so what rock Melissa Etheridge’s life?
M: Rock n’roll! Rock n’roll is an attitude, is a strength, a power and I, rock n’roll rocks me. But also my family rocks me. Well what else? Oh yes, cannabis rocks me. (laughs)