Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Amy Annelle on the Lumpy, Bumpy, Long and Dusty Road

Amy Annelle and her band incarnation, The Places, are midway through an epic trek to bring you the songs from Songs for Creeps, their latest missive from the land of skewed folk/country experiments and hazy, stark confessionals. These pages have been laying it on thick for Songs for Creeps, but don't take our word for it. The Village Voice sez, "she stomps via fuzzy acoustic blues, often woozy and mellow but sometimes sparking like a weirder, druggier Folk Implosion. A great voice and a dexterous tunesmith", and Treble makes some favorable comparisons to Iron & Wine and the Microphones.

Amy and crew will be in DC tonight at the new place to be, The Red & the Black, along with "French gypsy/prog/psychfolk/punk duo" Vialka and acoustic guitar heroes Sean Smith and Matt Baldwin. See future tour dates here. She took some time to talk with iff about her music and life on the road.

iff: "Blessed Speed", from Songs for Creeps, is something of a road ode. The whole album gives me a feeling of dislocation and drifting. Do you do a lot of writing on tour?

Amy Annelle: I do a lot of writing on the road, but more when I am wandering or rambling than I do when I am actually on tour playing music every night. I've spent more time on the road than I bargained for, and yes, its lurid and lucid hand has shaped my life and songwriting.

iff: What's the strangest place you've ever played?

AA: The strangest place I play is in my dreams, and it happens pretty often.

iff: You've been recording a lot of covers lately, including songs by older folkies like Bert Jansch and Michael Hurley. I love how you're calling attention to great, underappreciated singer-songwriters. How do you pick which songs to cover? Can we expect to hear some covers at your shows?

AA: I cover songs that I can't get away from. Once they get inside me like that, it's a just a matter of letting them back out again, through my voice and hands. I haven't been playing covers on this tour though the songs on the covers album (FAWNS WITH FANGS: Selections From the Dark Heart of the Thicket) were all part of a live set at one time or another. The last new cover we played live was a Kinks song, "Complicated Life"off Muswell Hillbillies. I love Ray Davies' songs, I want to play "Here Come the People In Grey'" or "Too Much on My Mind" next. I usually only play one or two cover songs at a show, if any.

iff: You sometimes write about exploring places off the beaten path. When The Places arrive in a city and have a few hours to kill before load in, what's the agenda?

Amy Annelle: Usually we get to town in time to load in right before the show. It's the next day that you might have some time to hang around, drink coffee, walk, fix gear, eat something, go to the thrift store. There's honestly not a lot of time for exploring on tour. When I'm rambling, I like to look at maps and find areas that have a lot of blank space, towns printed in small fonts, or just start walking towards something that looks interesting. Old or ignored. Broken. Scrap yards, abandoned drive-ins, game trails, abandoned homesteads.

iff: Recently, Mark Eitzel, Will Johnson, Vic Chesnutt and Dave Bazan toured as the Undertow Orchestra, performing each other's songs. Would you be into such a tour, and if so, who would you love to play with?

AA: I can't name names, but yes I would like to do something like this and sort of have something in the works.

iff: When can we expect to hear the next Amy Annelle solo album? What are your plans after the tour?

AA: I use The Places handle for my songwriting. Other projects will have different names. After this tour I maybe am recording out west. I have a whole album worth of songs ready to go. I have no fucking idea what I am doing after this tour. I am worried about it right this minute.

Visit The Places online and check out a trove of tracks here.

MP3: The Places - Don't Sing Love Songs


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