Interview With Anne Husick
By Damion Wolfe
In the Spring of 1998, I psyched myself up for my first solo gig/trip to New York City. I was scheduled to perform at the now famous Sidewalk Cafe (The Fort) in the East Village....the home of The Anti-Folk scene, which has now spread its rebellious seed along some of the major cities of the Eastern Seaboard. Fortunately, this seed has germinated the great talents of Beck, Lach and our own Anne Husick. Anne was the smiling beauty that was manning the sound board that night. Little did I know that later I would be privileged to know the great music and writing of this Darling Diva.
I first heard Anne's rough cut of her CD "International Sweetheart" in the summer of 1998. I was blown away by her sweet melodies, voice and haunting guitar progressions. Her writing style is visceral, with a majestic hint and hooks that just lure you in like a good Queen would. Songs like "Grey Symphony" and "Voices" deserve their place right alongside the Sheryl Crows and Tori Amos' of the world. As I got to know more about Anne, I learned of the many projects that she's been involved with. Sometimes being in 4-5 bands at a time, including her own. She has toured with Ronnie Spector, Joey Ramone, Band Of Susans and appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman singing backup for Wilson Pickett. In a day where so many artists are caught up in their own scene, Husick exemplifies how wonderful it is to have your cake and eat it, too.
Anne will soon be doing a solo tour of England. In addition she continues to perform solo and sometimes with an abbreviated band around Manhattan. She has one solo release, "International Sweetheart," which is available for purchase at her website: WWW.ANNEHUSICK.COM. I highly recommend it. This Musical Muse is also doing a lot of co-writing, publishing and producing for other bands.
Despite her busy schedule, Anne was able to answer some questions for me recently. Please keep in mind that all of these questions were responded to via e-mail. I think you'll really enjoy her responses.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Anne Husick!!!
1. As a songwriter you have a great gift for melody and vocal arrangements. What is your source of muse and inspiration when crafting?
I'll tell you, I usually sit down with a guitar, start f***ing around, make a mistake which becomes the germ of a song. I create a chord structure and the melody pops out, although sometimes the chords work around a melody. The backing vocals write themselves when I'm fleshing out the tune on my 4 track. I don't even think about them. I just sing.
Music is really easy for me. It's the lyrics that I have trouble with. Consequently, I have a lot of music with very specific melodies and backing vocals, but no words. I think that's why I respect the Cocteau Twins so much. Elizabeth Frasier says it all without actually saying a thing.
2. In addition to having your own act, and being your own front man, you have performed with a lot of other acts. This is sort of a rare thing in this day with so many songwriters being caught up in their own scene. Can you talk about the gratification you find in working so much with other artists? Do you find it difficult at all to set your ego aside to invest so much time into someone else's project?
It all started at a Pat Benatar show. REALLY!!! I always thought I'd be the front person. Then I saw Pat (way back in the mid '80s.) I was behind the stage, so I was mostly watching her backing singers. They looked like they were having SO MUCH FUN!!! I realized that there is much integrity in being part of the band, not necessarily fronting it. And when I changed my attittude, work started pouring in. I started singing backing vocals in one band, someone asked me to play guitar in another band, I usurped a bass gig from my roommate Geoff (he was in London at the time) and the rest is history.
I never play music I don't like or for people I don't hold in high regard, so it's fun, satisfying, easy (I don't have the hassle of scheduling rehearsals, booking gigs, doing press - all the crap that I try to avoid doing in my own band.) Besides, since I do play multiple intruments (bass, guitar, percussion, drums, vocals...) I get to shine in different ways with different gigs. And believe me, I wouldn't have gotten to play guitar and sing with Joey Ramone or be on David Letterman with Wilson Pickett if I only wanted to be the front person.
3. One of my favorite songs from your "International Sweetheart" CD is "Grey Symphony." It's catchy and yet haunting in a strange way. Can you talk to us about how that song came about and that time in your life?
I was madly in love with a confused man who dumped me for a girl he met on the subway. This was extremely painful for me. I had such a deep connection with him and I felt utterly distraught, cut off from everything. Deep depression ensued. I wanted to die so I wrote a song instead. (I actually wrote a lot of songs during this period. Pain can be a great sourse of inspiration. Fortunately, I've recently realized that a steamy sexual fantasy is a good way to contact the muse. You should try it sometime!)
4. So often aspiring musicians hear "You need to go to New York so you can make it!" As a long time NYC native what are your thoughts about this? Do you feel like people have to go to a New York, LA, Nashville, etc. in order to gain notable recognition these days, or have those days passed?
I guess it really depends what you mean by 'make it.' To me, making it means a continual succession of opportunities to play music and be creative. Making money is great, but you really have to be willing to starve some of the time. This can be done anywhere. As for notable recognition, I think they have auditions for American Idol all over the country.
5. What are your plans for this next year? How would you like to see your career continue to unfold?
My plans for this next year...
I am going to England for a little solo tour in February. I hope to do this on a regular basis. Right now, aside from playing my own music, I'm writing, singing backing vocals and playing some guitar for an artist named Jenn Elliott. She's got a cd coming out this year on which I co-wrote 4 songs, so I'm hoping it sells millions and millions of copies, so I can make a fortune in royalties. I hope to finally record the manymany songs I've already written. I hope to find more people to collaborate on songs with. This has been a fairly new experience for me and I'm just loving it!
I'd love to get a manager. Or a secretary. I think my career would be MUCH further along if someone else was doing all the crap I can't/don't/won't do. I'm hoping Ronnie (Spector) does some shows. I love her, love her band. She just doesn't work enough. I recorded some track with her a couple of years ago and hopefully they'll find a label to put it out. Aside from that, I'm thinking about a couple of books I'd like to write. Hopefully I'll get started on them.
1. What was your favorite childhood toy?
My stuffed kitty. My mom kept having to sew the smile back on. :-}
2. What was the name of the first boy you ever kissed?
Actually, my first kiss was with Ann Marie, a cute redhead who lived around the corner. The first boy was Eugene.
3. Do you have an "outie" or an "innie"?
4. What are your top 3 album picks of all time?
That's a hard one. Hmmm....
Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic
5. (Spelling Question) Spell the word "periphery."
6. What was your most favorite show ever?
probably Elton John on Thanksgiving '74, the one when John Lennon came out and sang Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Whatever Gets You Through The Night. I was THE BIGGEST EJ fan in the universe. It was very special.
7. As a city girl, would you ever consider dating a guy who drove a pick-up truck? Why?
C'mon!!! I love a man with a bright red pickup truck! I'm really a country girl at heart.
8. What artist/entertainer (dead or alive) would you most like to sit down and share a drink with?
alive - Janeane Garafolo. I have a crush in her. dead - Timothy Leary. Smart, articulate, groovy!
9. Would you ever consider professional mud wrestling?
No. I wouldn't want to break any of my fingernails!
10. You've been exposed to alot of great musicians. Who are some of your favorite acts out on the scene now?
I am so out of the loop right now... I've been listening to Wilco, Radiohead, The Beta Band. I just heard Morcheeba(?) for the first time recently. They're cool. I LOVE Southern Culture On The Skids. Did a bunch of shows (playing bass for Demolition String Band) this past spring opening for them. I just heard this great NY punk band, The Kowalski's. So much music, so little time...