Grant-Lee Phillips, former frontman of Grant Lee Buffalo catches us up on his various quarantine activities, performing online, and his new album.
1. How are you holding up?
I’m holding up ok. The interruption of touring presents a challenge, especially given I have a new album out. As for being shut-in, I could do without such extremes, but I’m someone who tends to busy myself at home quite easily. I always have been this way. Writing is a solitary process in my case, as is painting, which I’ve immersed myself in. Touring demands my absence at home for long periods.
I’ve come to roll with it, but I miss my family when I’m out. These days I’m assisting my 12-year-old daughter with her online classes and feeling grateful I can be there for her.
2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?
Between the bungled response of our government and the recklessness of folks who refuse to comply responsibly, we’re all suffering. We all want to get back to work and back to school but I’m not about to throw caution to the wind as some have. The anxiety that comes with this makes it hard to sleep at night. Thankfully having an album completed, I’m not staring at a deadline to write or record at the moment. It’s a good thing because my attention is being pulled in different directions. I’m good for short inspired bursts. I’ve written songs this summer about the first responders, songs about our President who wanted to pack the churches on “Easter Sunday” and my latest topical song “Mr. Mailman.” You can see all of this on my Instagram page.
3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?
When everything shut down, I immediately began to embrace StageIt. My Grant-Lee Phillips Live from the Parlor show streams every Sunday night at 10 pm Eastern. It’s a lifeline to be able to maintain the connection to my listeners and a little bit of normalcy. I foresee continuing the series, I enjoy it so much.
Between the bungled response of our government and the recklessness of folks who refuse to comply responsibly, we’re all suffering.
4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?
My old friend Robyn Hitchcock has also embraced live StageIt shows from his home in Nashville and so has Rhett Miller. John Doe has been doing stuff on Facebook. Some friends are going stir crazy and I feel for them. It’s a hard thing to hit the brakes when you’re used to being on the go.
5. Is there any particular genre of music or artist you’ve been listening to during the crisis and why?
I tend to reach for the same few records when I’m in need of soothing. On the top of the stack is Artie Shaw and his rendition of “Stardust.” It takes me out of myself and allows me to overcome gravity for a spell. The recording came out in 1938. Though the Great Depression was subsiding by that time, this was still a very tough year with high unemployment, WW2 was building up. I think “Stardust” might have been one of the few silver linings.
I tend to reach for the same few records when I’m in need of soothing. On the top of the stack is Artie Shaw and his rendition of “Stardust.” It takes me out of myself and allows me to overcome gravity for a spell.
6. Please share with us any new work, online concerts, and such that you’d like us to know about and share with our audience.
My tenth solo album arrives on September 4th. It’s called “Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff.” The title was coined by my daughter when she was 5 years old. Standing in the backyard, she raised a branch of Manzanita to the sky, saying “Come on lightning. Show us your stuff.” It caught my ear of course but the hair went up on my neck when the thunder cracked, and the sky lit up. That memory stick with me. Anyone who goes chasing after songs is asking for a jolt of inspiration.
Grant-Lee Phillips is an American Singer-Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He fronted the band Grant-Lee Buffalo during the 1990s before embarking on a solo career in the 2000s. His latest album, Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff is available on September 4th, 2020 in digital format as well as CD and LP. The first run of 1,000, 12 inch LPs include a bonus red 7 inch with two unreleased songs from the Lightning sessions.
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