Sarah Peacock Has Her Fans to Thank for New Album 'Burn the Witch': Exclusive

Sarah Peacock
Anna Haas

Sarah Peacock

When her tour bus caught fire and burned at a California truck stop in 2016, Sarah Peacock didn't think her heart could take much more of the music industry. But the kindness of fans and strangers wound up fortifying her spirit and led to her new album, Burn the Witch, whose title track is premiering exclusively on Billboard below.

"That was a huge turning point, at least in my personal life and also in my music life," the Nashville singer-songwriter tells Billboard. "At that point I was about 12 years into playing music full-time, and lots of ups and downs and a lot of heartbreak. I was ready to give up and find something different, but my little, mighty tribe started standing up and showing up for me in a way I didn't expect."

That included fans making financial contributions, musician friends sending gear, another person sending Peacock a sound system and then someone who approached her at a concert to give Peacock and company their motor home to use for the rest of the tour.

"The tribe, they spoke, and I felt like I needed to listen," Peacock recalls. "They were showing me the music was bringing everyone together and it was making a difference and mattered. So I was like, 'Alright, well, I can't give up now,' so I kept going. It was a turning point where I didn't realize people were paying attention before, but now I did. So I really wanted to use my platform to make something incredibly impactful."

Peacock began writing Burn the Witch's songs in short order, working on the album while also releasing a couple of EPs in the interim. She established her own label, Road Dog Enterprises, and recorded the crowd-funded 11-track set in Nashville with producer Shawn Byrne. She also pushed herself out of her comfort zone, particularly on the gothy, rock-styled title track, which explores parallels between the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and the bullying and intolerance of contemporary society.

"I read a little history about the witch trials, and interestingly enough, I discovered that the whole thing started because of a pre-teen in the community who started rumors about this lady she didn't like," explains Peacock, who co-wrote "Burn the Witch" with Sheena Brooke. "I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a pre-teen for hardly anything.

“It got us thinking about how while we don't burn people at the stake anymore, we have social media. We have cyber bullying. We have people ostracizing community groups for being different. And of course there's just a lot of discrimination going on, and it feels like a pretty helpless situation. So we decided to go with the theme here and basically write the story of the Salem Witch Trials, hoping people would read between the lines."

As for the sound, Peacock reveals that she's a huge rock fan. “I love Led Zeppelin. I love Heart. I've listened to some Metallica over the years, so it definitely has that more rock vibe, with this sort of acoustic Americana twist to it,” she says. “I really enjoy when a song can tap into more of the rock roots. I feel so at home there, stylistically."

With Burn the Witch, her eighth album overall, coming March 27, Peacock is planning to tour very heavily to promote it. And with her muse rekindled -- literally and figuratively -- she's ready for more writing and recording in the near future.

"I feel like in some way or another every project that I do is kind of like the evolution of my internal growth as an artist," she says. "I feel like each project is different from the others, and I think part of being an artist is being able to have permission to explore new ideas and new feelings and new sounds. Now more than ever I feel like I have people who are paying attention and will follow me wherever I go with it."

Listen to “Burn the Witch” below.