The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
BETH HART INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK AND BLUES INTERVIEWS 2014 - BETH HART

BETH HART

Mark catches up with Beth Hart, a woman with a voice to die for, who is bringing her latest album Bang Bang Boom Boom to Australia later this year. We get to talk about her collaborations with Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa and her interesting past...

 

MARCH 2014

BETH HART has a truly remarkable voice and has played with some of the great rock guitarists like Jeff Beck, Slash and Joe Bonamassa. She's visiting us in April for BLUESFEST, some solo shows in Sydney and Melbourne and also a support slot for Mr Beck on his downunder tour. Never having played live in Australia before it's a show not to miss. The Rockpit got the chance to talk to Beth last week and it was the beauty of her answers that revealed a musician very much in love an in-tune with her art.

Mark: Hi Beth, great to get to talk to you, how are you.


Beth: I’m good thanks how you doing? What time is it over there?


Mark: It’s 7A.M. here so I get to chat to you over breakfast. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us down here in Australia.


Beth: It’s my pleasure. I’m so excited to come. It’s gonna be cool.


Mark: First of all we have to make a confession. Even though we had heard the name Beth Hart before the first time we heard your voice was on that first album you did with Joe Bonamassa, it was good enough to have us digging through your back catalogue and catching up.  Do you think that chance meeting opened your music up to a new audience? 


Beth: Oh yeah, for sure. I really tapped into Joe’s audience and I know that because people come up to me at my shows and tell me. And because of the genre choices that we made I think that also opened up a whole new audience for me as I never really went down this kind of Blues, or Jazz or Soul route before. For me it’s always been either Rock and Roll or Singer-Songwriter stuff before, and working with Joe really caught me by surprise how happy I was. And I remembered when it was over I was so happy and in such a place of enjoyment, not having any idea of how successful it would be, and I don’t think I’d felt like that for some time. So it was a great thing for me. 


Mark: And of course the second album with Joe ‘See-Saw’ saw you both nominated for a Grammy!


Beth: Yeah, we were nominated which was pretty cool.


Mark: There are some great songs on there, which was your favourite?

 

Beth: I guess if I had to choose one it would be ‘Strange Fruit’ (Billie Holiday) it’s such a fine song and has such great weight as a lyric.

Mark: Your career has been an interesting one to say the least, with some incredible highs and lows: do you feel that you are at a place now when you can look back on it all and really start to enjoy yourself now?


Beth: Yeah, I really love the question, especially when you said ‘do you think you’re at a place now when you can look back on it’. No one had really asked me in those words before, and I know I’ve thought of it in that way and asked myself, but I think that that really nails where I’m at in my life. I don’t know if that’s because now there’s such a distance between the drugs. You know I really had a hard time especially in my 20’s; and also being married for so many years now and adoring my husband, and also being older: I mean I’m 42 now. So maybe there is something to be said for that distance and also the beauty of being older and how perception can shift and acceptance can come in. Especially I noticed in my late thirties I was having such a struggle; that was before I was medicated for bi-polar; and I remember thinking “this doesn’t make sense. I’ve been sober for years now, why am I still so filled with rage and anger?” And through working, and therapy and whatnot suddenly something shifted in my late thirties and I came to a position of acceptance. It was right before I turned 40 and first I just thought it was a great gift, and then afterwards I thought “maybe this is a fork in life, you either come to acceptance and get freedom from that and move on to new areas of your life, or you hold onto that shit, and you just become one of those bitter people”.  I could see that was where I was going, but because of that gift of coming to acceptance, it’s really set me free, it’s not that I don’t still struggle with shit, or course I do, but all that rage has dissolved. I have so much more love now in my heart for family, myself and others. It’s good to be able to say that out loud.      


Mark: I was going to ask ‘what pulled you through?’ but you’ve answered that so beautifully. I guess it is a gradual process and there are so many people out there who have bi-polar disorder, that just don’t get diagnosed and go through that struggle every day. 


Mark: You’re over here to play one of our great institutions Bluesfest and you also get to play some solo dates too when you’re here?


Beth: Yeah, I’ve been hearing what a great place that is to play and how special it is and I’m really pleased to be there.


Mark: I almost used to live at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne – you have a show there too! It’s a great venue. How did the invite come to play Bluesfest?


Beth: I’m not sure how that came about, I just know that when I heard we had a bunch of dates booked for Australia I was totally shocked! I’ve only ever done press there, but that was been in my late twenties. So it’s been so many years, and it’s very cool! I’ve always wanted to be there and perform.

Mark: It’s great to see you down here, we get a lot more great artists these days coming to see us, but we can’t wait to see Beth Hart. And of course there are also the shows supporting JEFF BECK?


Beth: Yeah, I just adore him; he’s just one of the nicest people in the whole wide world and so dumbfounding to watch! So getting to open for him is wonderful. I just hope he calls me up for something but I don’t think so as everything is so well rehearsed with Jeff. I would never say anything, but I hope he asks me!


Mark: That would be great to see. Before you get to see us you’re playing over in Europe and I see a few dates in Russia also, is it your first trip to Russia?


Beth: You know it’s not, but it was only recently I was there and I did a show in Moscow along with some press, and I was shocked that people knew the songs and were singing along. I was so proud of that, it was such a killer trip, so we’ll go back there shortly and also on the St. Petersburg. And I’m so into caviar! And when I went we had the best!


Mark: That’s certainly the place to go for caviar! You seem to be in the news everywhere I look, whether it’s the tour or the new DVD Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa 'Live In Amsterdam', great DVD, that must have been a very special night?


Beth: It was very tense to be honest! We went out and did a short tour, maybe a couple of weeks, and we played some fantastic shows, and I felt so comfortable and so happy and the whole band were brilliant. I felt totally stress-free but for some reason when we did the Carré (Royal Theatre where the show was filmed) I was very, very nervous the first night, but thankfully we got another night to film the show. And on the second night I still felt so bad about how I’d done the night before that I said to Kevin Shirley (producer of the two Hart Bonamassa albums) – there’s no way I’m ever going to look at this thing when it’s done!  Well the DVD’s been done now for a few months and my manager went down to watch it and said it was great, but it’s only today, which is really funny, that I got to look at some of the EPK (electronic press kit) of it and I thought it was really good! I remember thinking to myself that maybe I judge myself a little harshly and maybe don’t have the kind of confidence I could work on to have. Because it’s such a shame to do something and then not be able to look at it because you thought you did such a bad job. I e-mailed Kevin today to say ‘gee I actually sounded pretty good’.

Mark: Your latest solo album ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’ has been around a little while now, it’s a wonderful album. Will you be bringing many of those songs over for us?


Beth: Absolutely. When we do the shows we’ll be doing some from that, and ‘See-Saw’ and then one or two songs from past records. When we’re doing a festival obviously we don’t have a couple of hours to do a full show so I’ll condense it a bit. But yeah, we’ll concentrate on the last three albums mainly, but still throw in some from the past.   


Mark: Are you someone who is constantly writing or do you go through sustained periods of writing activity?


Beth: Well how it works with me is every couple of years I’ll do a co-write; otherwise I’m always writing on my own at the house. It’s just my favourite thing in the world, I just feel so connected to spirit when I do it, especially when the writing vein is opened up. But one thing that I’ve noticed about me is when I do a lot of touring. In these last 8 or 9 years I’ve done so much touring I’ve finally realised that I gotta take time away to kind of get away from it. The thing is I can’t be in my ego when I write and when you’re out on the road a lot you’re getting that ‘pump’ from the audience and it’s a whole different head for me, kind of like getting high off a drug. An when I’m in that place I’m not in a humility place, I’m in a cocky confident ‘yeah let’s do it’ place; so when I first get home I can’t write from that place. So I usually have to be home for a while, where I’m not getting those shots of adrenaline from the crowd, and then suddenly that yearning and that need to understand and dig deep, beneath those layers comes. And once that comes I start to write again. So since I’ve been home I just finished my seventh song and I really haven’t been home that long. It’s been really, really good, but I know that is about to change and shut down again as I’m getting ready to hit the road again early March. So maybe when I get back after that I’ll really get back into it, but I have to write a lot right now because I have a new record that I’m doing at the end of August so I need to make sure I have some great material for that.


Mark: Wow that’s a great answer, it always fascinates me how differently artists treat and are affected by the whole creation process.  I was reading from your bio and it was great to read that your tastes are as eclectic as I’d hoped is it the art, the individuality, r the emotion that draws you to music? 
Beth: What a good question. There are so many different genres that I adore and have listened to all my life. Growing up as a kid it first started with classical and then it moved onto jazz and Blues from my Mom, and then Big Band. Then I discovered Reggae through my brother and I just couldn’t listen to anything but Reggae for years. Then I fell upon Gospel, Soul music and RnB. Then I discovered Heavy, Heavy Rock and Roll and darker bands like Sabbath. I’m a big Soundgarden fan, big Alice in Chains fan: and then singer songwriters like Carole King. But I don’t know what that thread is that brings it all together for me. But I do know that when I discovered Tom Waits I was totally flattened to the ground. I thought to myself ‘Well fuck this – I should never write a song again as long as I live!’ because his lyrical content is on such a high level, blending imagination with fantastic poetry and a total blue-collar way of looking at things. And it just comes from such a real place. So imaginative and so, so cool! And what I loved most about Tom was his ability to take those lyrics in combination with such a soulful, bluesy and wacky thing altogether. I think a little the same about Fiona Appla and her writing. She can get a little heavy for me, but how intelligent she is! I’m not that well-read! She’s just a genius. I love how some artists really reach for things that are out there and can really bring you in. But then with artists like Aretha Franklin it’s just totally being blow back by the vocal ability and the soul and hearing the church in her! And then Etta! What really blew me away with her was her ability to bring up so much pain and such survival skills in combination with how she sings those songs! And most of the songs she didn’t write, but boy she sure sang them like she did! And I’ve never heard anyone who just had that ache along with a ‘I’m gonna survive the motherfucker – let me show you!’ But there are so many great artists you know and so many people to be touched and moved by.


Mark: I think that’s one of the most beautiful and passionate answers I’ve ever heard.


Beth:  Thank you so much.

Mark: Time has just flown by; I think we’ve just got time for a couple of quick questions. If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Beth: Well it’s actually a live album for me:  Etta James – It’s called ‘Blues in the Night – The Early Show’ and it sound like on the record it’s maybe in front of about 50 or maybe 100 people .  It’s not really early, but it’s not when she’s old, she’s probably in her late thirties, early forties and it’s just the most remarkable thing. It’s just the most remarkable thing I’ve ever heard, the band is raw, it’s rocking, it has amazing musicians. It’s pretty badass stuff! I would have died to have been there and in that room for sure!     


Mark: I’m gonna have to track that down. And finally the easy question: what is the meaning of life?
Beth: Well, it’s love, love without a doubt.


Mark: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit, have a safe trip in Europe and we can’t wait to see you down here!


Beth: Thank you, you’ve been such a sweetheart, have a really great day. Bye.

 

 

Beth spoke to Mark Diggins February 2014

 

 

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