CARAS The Juno Awards catch a lot of heat for being too predictable and too…
- Posted on Apr 19th 2011 4:00PM by Melinda Newman
"We" is her new band, the Siss Boom Bang, her first group since she recorded with the Reclines more than 20 years ago. Lang and the quintet -- partially named because they were in the studio over the Fourth of July in Nashville -- banged out eight songs in three days.
"You're getting the creative spirit and energy and the love in the air between myself and the Siss Boom Bang," lang says about the recently released album that beautifully blends her twangy and torchy sides. "It's very spontaneous and real."
The multiple Grammy winner recently spoke to Spinner about the record, her new accidental band, her strip-club-set video for the first single 'I Confess' and working with idol Tony Bennett.
The video for first single, 'I Confess,' takes place in a strip club. That's not a setting one would normally associate with you.
[Laughs] Yeah, well, it was the director's idea. I kind of like that it's just a complete salad of opportunities there. Everything is going on.
I wasn't in the decision or even in the discussion of that. My choice was to have the two figures be two girls but, like, some question there. I wanted [model/singer] Mav Viola, [who] is sort of the butch one, to be very, very androgynous. I don't think she's as androgynous as I was hoping, but I didn't get that into the whole actual philosophical discussion of the outcome of it. I just wanted it to be more on the ambiguous side of it.
'I Confess' seems to pay musical homage to one of your heroes, Roy Orbison. How deliberate was that?
We definitely set up to write a Roy Orbison song. When Josh [Grange] and Daniel [Clarke] and I sat down to write that, I said, "I want to write an Orbison-esque song" and that's what came out.
Why did you decide to record with your own band again?
We set up a session with the people who ended up being in the band and the second they walked in, there was an energy. But after we recorded those eight songs, it was obvious the band had created a sound and had a vibe together as a cohesive unit. So, really, the band became a band after the album was made. They were so intrinsic to the sound of the record, I really had no option but to incorporate them into what it was.
The title track has a great message about being proud of who you are and celebrating your own song. Was it written for anyone specifically?
That was a song written by my [co-producer/musical director] Joe Pisapia and I think he told me he wrote it for his niece. I loved the message when I heard it and [thought], "That could be an anthem for a lot of different people and I really need to give that song a try."
Why did you cover the Talking Heads' 'Heaven' on the album?
We handed in the 11 original songs and I got asked if I would consider recording three more songs for special packages. We went back in and did three cover songs. I've always loved the song. It's [always] felt like a country song for me. It ended up being sequenced into the actual record.
You are on the upcoming duets album with Tony Bennett to celebrate his 85th birthday. You two have such a great, long history. What's the best thing you've learned from him?
Just the way he conducts himself. It's that old-school grace and elegance he has on and off the stage. It's just beautiful. Obviously, there are tons and tons of musical things I've learned from him, his phrasing and the way he drops a word or drops the length of a word to punctuate something. He has taught me so much, really.
A 2010 greatest hits set, 'Recollection,' celebrated your 25 years of making records. Has your enjoyment of music changed in any way?
The fact that I've got so many years under my belt now, it just gets easier and easier to just enjoy it for what it is. I have a great deal of gratitude and it makes it easier for me to just relax into it and enjoy it.
People are still talking about your transcendent performance of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' during the 2010 Winter Olympic opening ceremonies. Right after you sang the second line, more than 50,000 people in Olympic Stadium roared. What did that feel like?
I don't even know if I was cognizant of that. I had probably another four minutes to go at that point so I was pretty much in the zone. I was really, really, really, really, really focused on what I was doing. I was so, so so focused on delivering the song.
Through the years, you've always followed your convictions even when they're considered controversial by some, including supporting PETA or Tibetan human rights issues. Did that hurt your career?
There's definitely temporary backlashes, but all in all, it could balance out. Obviously, coming out definitely helped 'Constant Craving' and definitely helped 'Ingenue' in terms of the public awareness of me and who I was. It's obviously not my motivating factor in coming out, but I think it did have a positive effect in terms of publicity. But in the long run it may have hurt me because I still don't really get a lot of radio play. I don't know the answer to that.
Is there anything that comes as naturally to you as singing?
Well, maybe we shouldn't get into that [laughs].