On her recent UK tour Courtney Marie Andrews sat down with Chaz Brooks before a sell-out show at London’s Bush Hall to talk about her recordings new and old, what she loves about England and compares venues to American ones.
Last time I reviewed you was only six months ago in Guildford.
I remember that, that was such a lovely show.
So, from there, 80 people in a pub, to here. It’s only six months.
It’s crazy, yeah. Not too long ago.
So, how the success? What do you put it down to?
It’s been great. It feels like ten years of work. It’s the classic thing that happens, right? When it all happens it all happens at once. People think it’s overnight, but it’s ten years of putting out records and stuff [laughs]. It feels like a long time coming but also exactly when it needed to happen. I’m older now. I’m 26.
You left home when you were 16 ….
Yes, It’s actually over ten years now ‘cos I’m going to be 27 in about a month.
When you left home what did your family say?
I think my mom was nervous, naturally. But I was very determined. She knew that I was serious about it. I was a trouble-maker but I wasn’t so much of a trouble maker that she said “no”.
What does she say now?
She’s super proud. Yeah. She’s a very supportive mom. She’s always been into creative types so it’s not too far off you know. She never said “become a dentist” [laughs].
And you’ve sold out two nights?
From 80 people six months ago to 700 now.
You were on on Jools Holland six months ago.
That definitely helped, yeah, It’s so cool. It’s such a great show and really unlike any other show in the world. America has late night talkshows, but nothing that’s dedicated to music.
You’re touring until mid-November pretty much non stop.
Yeah, and now it’s looking like maybe December. Mid-December.
What do you do to relax on tour?
When I’m relaxing I just shut off. I read a lot of books. Long sleeps. I also run sometimes and when I get a lobby call at 8am I will try and do a little run. But I’m all in when it comes to touring. I’m sort of on all the time. I try not to be but it’s just hard. I’m a focussed type of person. I take my time to relax when I’m home.
Yes. Recently I’ve been listening to Bobby Charles, Little Feat. I’m really into that sound right now. They’re not from New Orleans but both of them have a New orleans tint on them. I just love that sound.
You’ve just had the reissue [the album: On My Page]. Is that just UK or worldwide?
Right now it’s Europe but my label in the States is going to be reissuing it as well.
Does that feel strange? How does it feel for that to come out now?
It feels great. I’m so grateful because when I released that record I was kinda broke and couldn’t put it on vinyl and I couldn’t afford to repress it so once the 1000 copies were out that was it.
What’s next recording-wise?
Three days after this tour ends we’re going to L.A. to record my next record. Everybody that’s here on this tour will be there except for the key player. The key player’s a piano player out of Seattle and then we have this guy Daniel Walker who’s going to be playing organ and auxiliary keys.
How long will it take to record?
We have ten days.
Will that be enough?
It will, because of the way we record. We do a lot live. I don’t record very produced in a sense. We record, we try and get the best take that we can, if there’s anything that’s bad we might fix it, but otherwise that’s the take.
It sounds like when you’re singing live.
Exactly and Honest Life was recorded very much the same way.
When will it be released?
We’re looking at February right now, I hope. You know how these things go. February is the goal.
Will you be back to promote the album.
Yes we will be back in the Spring hopefully.
And the reissue has gone in the charts.
Yeah, that was really exciting.
What’s it like going back and playing these earlier songs now?
I’ve always played a couple of them. They’ve never really left the set. But I’ve trying to relearn some of them because I’m guilty of chewing off older songs and just playing new stuff. So I’m trying to get better at it ‘cos I know people really want to hear the old stuff. It’s hard as I get so passionate about the new material I’m creating. I always add something in the set people know.
Yeah. The band and I have been doing “Tonight I’ll be staying here with you” we might do it tonight. And we also do a Bobby Charles song “He’s got all the whiskey”. We used to do “Do Right Woman” a huge Aretha Franklin song. I’m a huge Aretha Franklin fan. She’s one of the reasons that I sing.
You can’t get any better than Aretha Franklin.
No. It’s insane. She sang those before autotune [laughs]. And the songs, songwriters – she helped write some of the songs and they are just the top of the crop. The songs are just so incredible.
What do you like about England?
You know, I love it more and more every time that I come here. I love the smartness of the people here. There’s an intellectual quality that I feel. The people on the music, art and journalist scene are all very polite and also very intellectual and thoughtful, which I really admire. It’s a bit different than anywhere else so I really appreciate that. I love that everybody drinks tea and listens to the BBC. I think that’s really great [laughs]. I’ve discovered eggs on toast from England so that’s great. We don’t really do eggs on toast in the States, we do eggs with, never on.
And how is this venue. How was it last night?
Oh it’s beautiful, beautiful. You don’t really get venues like this in the States. That’s the other cool part about England and Europe, you play these non-traditional spaces that are older and were other things many years before that. This looks like it was previously some kind of billiard room or ballroom or something like that. Looks like it was a ballroom.
Next time you are in England you should play some churches. You in a church would be fantastic.
Yes, I’ve played a few around Europe and you just don’t get that in the States. It’s usually clubs that smell like piss and beer, which are lovely in their own way [laughs] but’s it’s nice to come to these elaborately decorated beautiful old spaces.
I’m reviewing the gig tonight so I look forward to seeing you again later.
You’re welcome. Thanks for coming.
Interview and Photos by Chaz Brooks