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Showing posts with label Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Kate Voss Guest Contributer

For Grace Potter, and her band the Nocturnals, reaching the level of success and fame they have now has been a slow, steady race since their creation in 2002. Now, hot off the heels of their most successful album release ever, the band is set to change the face (and sound) of modern music. But, how did this unlikely group of musicians from Vermont become one of the hottest alternative music acts out there?
        Well for starters, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have stood out from the pack thanks to their refusal to confine themselves to any one genre. They’re a little bit country, with some definite old school rock n’ roll thrown in, and a fantastic bluesy quality that has become their signature. They’re able to transcend genres and appeal to listeners far and wide with their foot stomping beats and Grace’s soaring raspy vocals. Potter explained the diverse sound of the band to Pop Matters back in 2010, saying “We’re really dynamic. This band does not do one thing—we do a lot of things. Some people may walk in and hear a song and think, ‘Oh God, I hate this song,’ and the next song that they hear can be their favorite song and change their life forever. It’s really interesting how much we change from song to song. That comes from our band [being] new and still honing our musical sound together. But also there’s a stream-of-consciousness thing with our concerts, I don’t like to stop very much, I don’t like empty space at all. I’m very much into the flow of a show. A show needs to feel like something that doesn’t stop.”
    That honing of their sound started when Grace Potter first met Matthew Burr in a coffee shop on the St. Lawrence University campus in 2002. Matthew approached her after being thoroughly impressed by her set. The two started a duo based on their mutual admiration for each other’s sound and were soon joined by Scott Tournet, thus creating Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. In 2005 the group recorded and released their first album, Nothing But the Water. The album gathered enough attention on Vermont radio that Hollywood Records signed them and re-released the album in 2006.
    The group soon released their sophomore album in 2007, This Is Somewhere, featuring the singles “Apologies” and “Falling or Flying”. To promote their album, the band started making the rounds on the talk show circuit, which helped to introduce them to the American public. They scored a coup in 2010 when they were picked to be featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland covering “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. Later in 2010, the group released their third studio album, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals which featured their biggest hit, “Paris (Ooh La La)”. Hot off the heels of that release, they were asked to write and record the credits soundtrack for the Disney film Tangled, which was released in late 2010. The contribution to Tangled increased the band’s visibility tremendously, as it performed well in the box-office, is a popular streaming option on some websites, and it’s also sold well in the home viewing market.
    Their latest album, The Lion the Beast the Beat proved to be their most successful to date. They kicked off their promotional tour with an appearance on the cult favorite Direct TV’s Guitar Center Sessions in December. The album hit #17 on the US album charts and #2 on the US Taste charts – both new highs for them. Their second single off the album, “Stars” also proved to be their first single to chart in both the US and Canada.
    What makes Grace herself such a likeable figure is both her perseverance (she’s legally blind, unbeknownst to many) and her ability to stay in touch with her roots despite her success. She explained to The Boot her affection for her home state of Vermont: “Those people are my home and every time I come home, it reminds me that there’s something to be said for being in the spotlight but it can never be a whole part of me. So much of myself is consumed with earning my way, doing it myself and never feeling like things are being handed to you. Growing up that way was humbling.“
It just goes to show, that no matter how much fame or how many awards she may win, Grace Potter will always be a small town girl at heart.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tush - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals w/Warren Haynes

Grace Potter (vocals/ keyboards / guitar) Matt Burr (drums / vocals) Scott Tournet (guitar / bass / keyboards / vocals) Benny Yurco (guitar / bass / vocals) Grace Potter & the Nocturnals’ self-made 2005 debut album, Nothing but the Water revealed a musically sophisticated young band inspired by the music of the late ’60s/early ’70s and fronted by a then-21-year-old dynamo whose nuanced singing, organ playing and songwriting belied her age. The follow-up, 2007’s This Is Somewhere, confirmed that the band had no interest in following trends but was instead in pursuit of timeless expression as it forged its identity. On 2010’s self-titled third album, GPN, toughened by a half decade of nonstop roadwork, flexed their rock ’n’ roll muscles and confirmed that they were in it for the long haul. Now, seven years after hitting the radar, GPN take an exponential leap with the widescreen opus The Lion The Beast The Beat (Hollywood, June 12, 2012). With this musically combustible and conceptually dazzling work, the Vermont-based band forcefully takes its place alongside the best of its peers while building on the rich legacy of its inspirations. During this a la carte age, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have boldly pushed against the current, making a bona fide album that demands to be heard in its entirety . . . not that its 11 songs don’t utterly beguile on their own. “This album is really a different animal than our previous records—no pun intended,” says Potter. “I think what people love about us is the energy we generate playing together and feeding off each other,” says guitarist Scott Tournet. “There’s a lot of drive in our band, and we managed to capture that on this record. We love the music that we cut our teeth on and it’ll always be part of us, but we’ve reached the point where we’re consciously trying to push things forward.” The Lion The Beast The Beat was produced by Potter and veteran producer Jim Scott (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wilco, the Tedeschi Trucks Band). Adding to the firepower of the project is Dan Auerbach who produced and co-wrote the track “Loneliest Soul” and also produced and co-wrote the band’s first single “Never Go Back,” and “Runaway,” both of which were co-produced by Scott. David Campbell (Beck, My Morning Jacket, Jackson Browne) arranged and conducted the strings on the album. The LP was mixed by fellow Vermonter and Grammy award winner Rich Costey (Foo Fighters, TV on the Radio, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball). Alongside the band’s original guitarist/songwriter Scott Tournet, drummer/band co-founder Matt Burr, guitarist Benny Yurco (who joined in 2009), Potter commenced recording the album in October, 2011. They later invited multi-instrumentalist Michael Libramento (from Floating Action) to join them on the sessions. The band tracked the majority of the record live off the floor at PLYRZ, Scott’s studio in Santa Clarita, 30 miles northeast of L.A. “When I first met Jim, I knew I wanted to make this record with him,” says Grace. “He totally gets us. He brought the perfect balance of sonic integrity and laid-back finesse.” The feeling is mutual. “Grace is a rock ’n’ roll superhero,” says Scott. “She can really bring it. She’s full of ideas, she never misses a note and the band is badass.” Last November, while Potter was in Nashville for the CMA Awards, she and Auerbach got together in his studio. “It was a concentrated environment,” Grace says of the breakneck Nashville sessions. “Dan and I were writing lyrics together, singing melodies and trading off ideas, while Benny, Scott and Matt were working up the tracks with us. I love the way Dan’s mind works, because it’s so out there, but he balanced it really well by stepping back and behaving like a producer/writer.” At the end of the three days, they had the spines of “Never Go Back” (the throbbing first single) and “Runaway,” while nailing the madcap “Loneliest Soul.” “In late November, as the song list continued expanding, I felt the priorities starting to shift,” Grace recalls. “I began to look at the whole project through new eyes. I realized then that making this record wasn’t about just putting a bunch of great songs together; it needed to be a cohesive piece of work with connections between the songs.” Not long after the band returned to Scott’s studio, Potter surprised everyone by abruptly calling the project to a halt, despite the fact that the band was playing better than ever, Scott was capturing the performances in all their eruptive immediacy and the record company was excited by the quality of the tracks that were being delivered. Potter, for whom everything musical had always come so easily, had hit the wall for the first time in her life as an artist. “I knew within a few weeks of being in the studio that something didn’t feel right. At first I was in total denial, and we just kept chugging along like we always do – but deep down, I just didn’t love the direction the music was going in,” Grace recalls. “It wasn’t the band or Jim, it was me. There was an unsettling voice in my head telling me to pull back and look at the bigger picture. I realized that I had no idea what kind of record we were making until we were already two months deep.” This shocking realization led to a round of intensive soul searching. “It was a scary moment for me, because stopping is not really in my genetic makeup,” she says. “Pulling out was a real bummer for everyone else because the band was just hitting its stride—but I wasn’t hitting mine. So I called the record company and said I needed a month to work on the existing songs and write some new ones from scratch, plus another week with the band away from the studio to just play music together. Then I jumped in my car and disappeared. I needed to refocus my intentions for this record without any distractions or outside opinion.” Potter pointed her car north and drove. “I did the thing I always wanted to do: the real fantasy road trip. For years we’d be traveling through beautiful country in the tour bus, and I would look out the window and see all these long dirt roads that look like they go nowhere – so this time I decided to drive down them.” Potter’s journey took her up the west coast until she reached the rocky coastline and redwood forests of Big Sur. By the time she arrived, Grace had begun to unlock the riddle of the album. After a week in the California wilderness, she flew back home to Vermont, where she tramped the snow-covered hills, invigorated by the winter air—“and the music came pouring out of me,” she says. “I wrote four new songs in Vermont. Then I traveled again to a quiet place by the ocean, holed up in a hotel room and finished some songs I’d written over a year earlier that just needed a second chance. I had no guidelines, which was part of the problem at the beginning, but also part of the breakthrough at the end.” Potter’s soul journey unlocked the thematic riddle, yielding, among other things, a pair of new linchpin songs in “Timekeeper” and “The Divide,” while also completing the title track, “The Lion The Beast The Beat.” With these key pieces in place, the tracks they’d cut prior to the break, including the stomping rocker “Keepsake,” the yearning “Parachute Heart” and the three Auerbach collaborations, now snapped right into place, conceptually and dynamically. “Once I found what I’d been looking for,” she says, “the floodgates opened, and we cut the rest of the album in two weeks.” With the help of her eager and talented band and co-producer, Potter had achieved what she’d set out to do: to create a musically audacious and thematically unified Big Statement. Less a concept album than a panoramic sonic terrain across which various thematic vectors collide and combine, The Lion The Beast The Beat “plays on the duality of human nature—the fact that we all have our demons and we all have the ability to be good.” Grace explains. “More than ever, I think outside perception affects how we view ourselves… I started thinking about these archetypes: everyone perceives a lion as a powerful, glorious animal and a beast as a flawed, scary, unpleasant creature…but that’s just on the outside. You only have to read a few children’s fables to see those themes: the ‘Cowardly Lion’ from The Wizard of Oz, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast – I’m fascinated by the idea that we all hold such a broad spectrum of impulses and how we choose to act on them makes us who we are.” “’The Lion The Beast The Beat’ is a big part of what made this record what it is,” Grace says of the title song. “It had to be absolutely undeniable, and I think that song lays it all out on the table. It’s a dynamic journey, taking the listener on a series of emotional twists and turns. It took a long time to take shape, but when it did, it became a pillar of the album.” The dark, sinuous “Timekeeper,” which opens with the ticking of a clock, provides the thematic bridge between the album’s epic bookends, while also serving to “transition between the two stages of making the record,” says Grace. “It was a reckoning – a breaking point. I wrote the song while I was in the thick of it. It’s a manifestation of a lot of fears, not just around the making of the album, but around life. This really sums up The Beat… – the beat of a heart, the turn of a page, the tick of a clock…the inevitable reality that time will pass.” The other pillar is the progressively building showstopper “The Divide.” Just as “The Lion The Beast The Beat” demanded to be the opening track, “The Divide” could only be the closer. The album’s denouement is unlocked in the latter song’s recurring passage, “The lines are blurring/I can’t tell the lion from the beast.” “’The Divide’ really presents a question rather than making a declaration,” Potter explains. “The search continues. The end of this album takes you right back to the beginning again. It’s an ellipsis.” “It’s been a journey, but Grace really stepped up to the plate,” says Tournet. “She had a vision and she stuck with it. When I listened to the mixed album, I was blown away by how slammin’ and ballsy it turned out. We went way deeper on this one, and it’s gonna be incredible to play live.” The Lion The Beast The Beat represents a rite of passage for a band that is knocking on the door of greatness. “This process was more painstaking than on any other record we’ve made; a complete labor of love and hate. I credit the Nocturnals for courageously jumping off that cliff with me,” Potter acknowledges. “We all took a risk and I hope that resonates when people hear the album.” “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”