I came across the Tracy McNeil Band a little over a year ago when doing some research for a project I've been working on for some time. Even if I never finish that project it has been worth it for this musical discovery. Today I have the privilege of introducing you to Tracy McNeil by way of an email interview I had with her.
Her music is contagious and her lyrics are thoughtful, meaning that I may or may not have listened to her album Fire From Burning on loop. For a week. Or maybe more. Below is my interview with her as well as....A MUSIC GIVEAWAY!!!
Dave: I don’t know if they are out there or not, but what are your thoughts on people who may or may not have your album on loop?
Tracy: I know it would drive me crazy to have it on loop, but I’ve been told by others that the songs get better and better over time. With that in mind, then on loop is definitely the way to go.
D: I’ve got a lot of readers in the audience so we’re all wondering - what’s your book recommendation?
T: I’m a bit stuck in the past when it comes to reading. I tend to sway back and forth between John Cheever (The Stories of John Cheever and one of his best novels Bullet Park) and the one and only P.G. Wodehouse (Laughing Gas is a favorite).
D: You’re a transplant to Melbourne from Toronto. What does one do in Melbourne?
T: ANSWER #1: The music scene and strong Italian coffee here are incomparable. Those two things are enough to keep me anywhere, but there really is something quite special about Melbourne. I guess it’s the people. Warm, generous, easy going, and they are continually teaching me to ‘take the piss’ out of life. Canadians are overly polite. I’ve learned to laugh at myself more in Melbourne.
ANSWER #2 It appears to me that the latest craze among the hipsters in Melbourne involves lounging on small patches of city grass, wearing Raybans and waiting (for what seems like hours…) for the mighty Taco Truck to serve up some good grub. I’m thinking, forget music, this taco guy is making a KILLING! I’m definitely in the wrong racket.
D: When words aren’t flowing while songwriting, where do you turn for inspiration?
T: I’m never quite sure if I’m truly inspired or simply just catching a cold. I find the two experiences quite similar in that they both share that subtle pull towards hibernation. Both entail shutting out the rest of the world and settle into a feeling for as long as it will last. Much like the length of a cold, this inspired state is completely unpredictable and often doesn’t show up for MONTHS! When this happens, whiskey often does the trick.
D: I’m scared of two things. First, I’m scared of being stranded in an ocean. Second, I’m scared when tuning a guitar that the string will pop and hit me in the eye. Am I paranoid? Or just cautious?
T: Both of these scenarios are completely possible…highly unlikely, but possible. I’m thinking you’re simply cautious. I will say, that every time I restring my guitar I’m quietly anxious, tilting my head just slightly out of the firing range, in fear of the snapping string. As I write this, I’m rethinking my answer and learning towards ‘paranoid’. This really is a tough question Dave…
D: What are you trying to achieve with your music?
T: If people are connecting to my songs in their own way, then I’m really satisfied. Once I release a recording or do a live performance, it’s an amazing feeling when this music that you’ve worked so hard on, stressed over, cried over and on the rare occasion laughed over, comes back to you with a fresh new perspective. Often filled with surprises and new insight. It doesn’t get much better than that.
D: How has your vision and perspective toward songwriting changed in the last few years?
T: I grew up in a musical family, with a piano, guitars, lots of records and every opportunity to make household objects into sound making machines. With everything from Neil Young to Dave Brubeck on the turntable, and a teenage infatuation with Depeche Mode, it’s safe to say my first ‘writing’ attempts were quite diverse. As I got older I formed a deeper appreciation for the simple drama of country music. Today I try to write honest stories that come from the heart or the senses, it doesn’t matter which. I’m continually working to become less self-indulgent and push myself to write from perspectives other than my own. However this approach does tend to make the process feel more like work. I’m working on it.
D: Do you remember the first song you wrote? If it was during elementary school, could you sing it for us?
T: I do remember the first ‘real’ song I ever wrote, it was called Flashlights and Fireflies. At the time I was really proud of it, but it was absolutely terrible. Written in my summer break after my first year of university, this song will never be heard again.
D: What are the albums you have out?
T: I’ve released two full-length solo albums: Room Where She Lives (2007) and Fire From Burning (2011) I have also released an album called No Time To Die (2008) with Melbourne songwriter Jordie Lane under the moniker of Fireside Bellows.
D: When can we expect another album?
T: Currently the band and I are in the studio recording a brand new album. With an A Side / B Side single to be released early in 2013 followed by a full length album later in the year.
D: Where can we follow you to stay in touch?
All you have to do to enter this music giveaway is to fill out the form below (including your email address*), and you'll be entered! Nothing more to it. The best part is Tracy has loaded me up with goodies to throw at you. T-shirts and album packages including her albums Room Where She Lives and Fire From Burning, her latest album. So fill out the form below, type "Tracy McNeil Band" in the subject line, and cross your fingers. This is music you'll want to win! The contest will remain open until 11/14/12.
*Your email address will not be used for any purpose other than to contact you should you be chosen as a winner.