Listen to the Indigo Girls' Song 'Fishtails' Off Their Upcoming Album 'One Lost Day': Exclusive Premiere
Four years between albums offered the Indigo Girls plenty of time for the duo to make the new One Lost Day, due out June 2, "a fresh start, in a way," according to Amy Ray.
"We're happy with our last record (2011's Beauty Queen Sister) but we also knew it had been a long time and we wanted to kind of just expand and grow and look at it in a different way," Ray tells Billboard. "At this point in our career we know that we have to keep evolving to stay relevant. We wanted to dig in and really be present and open to everything. So we worked with a new producer (Jordan Brooke Hamlin), a new mixer (Brian Joseph), some new players, and that was kind of the first step to open it up to a lot of things."
Recording with Hamlin, who came to the Indigos' attention through her work with Lucy Wainwright Roche, was a new twist for Ray and bandmate Emily Saliers. "She was a fan, an admitted fan, which we haven't really worked with before," Ray says. "The other producers we worked with are fans but not people who have grown up with our music. (Hamlin) was someone who knew our whole catalog; she's young and has been listening to us since she was a teenager, and she already had in her mind what she would do for the perfect Indigo Girls record without hearing what we were writing." Once she got demos, Ray says Hamlin put the duo through their paces.
"She started diving in and building these little 'frames' around them, sounds she envisioned on them," Ray recalls. "The funny thing is she kind of knew us so well there was space in there for duo arrangements to emerge; we didn't have to do a ton of adjusting to her ideas." Ray says Hamlin also pushed for more pre-production than is usual for the Indigos. "We all practiced together, which we've never done before," Ray says with a laugh. "We might have done that on one record with Mitchell Froom, but (Hamlin) would come back and forth and sit with us. She came in as a player, too -- she plays many different instruments -- and we typically don't work with people who are gonna play a lot on the record, too. So the way we worked with her is really different than the way we ever worked with another producer."
Ray says "Fishtails" was the first song for One Lost Day to carry what would become the Hamlin stamp on the album. "When I made a demo of 'Fishtails,' I accidentally shifted the pitch and tempo, which also provided some insight into how I wanted to approach it," Ray says. "Jordan came back with this soundscape around the song that evoked all of the emotion of the words and really showed her vision and the production skills she had to pursue it. For me, this was the shoe-in and assured me we were on the right path in using her as a producer." Listen to "Fishtails," which Billboard is exclusively premiering below.
The song itself, adds Ray -- who, like Saliers, had a daughter between albums -- is "about a lot of things, mostly about loss of innocence/coming of age, topics that are always compelling to me in the context of where I live and seeing the kids grow up around me."
After a one-off performance on May 23 at Summersound Live at the Tanglewood Music Center near Boston, the Indigos hit the road in earnest on June 17, with dates booked into early August and more coming. But with kids now part of the equation, "we're going to do a little less than we normally do. It's not gonna be 200 days of the year or anything like that. It's a little bit more slimmed back, just to keep in mind the balance of family life and stuff."
This time around, their kids will be hitting the road with them too. "Maybe a week here and there," Ray notes. "We only have one bus and we have a band, so it's pretty crowded if both kids are there at the same time. So there'll be short little spurts when we take them, but it's fun when we do. Mine is just a year-and-a-half (old); Emily's is two-and-a-half, and they get along."
So is this the Indigo Girls: Next Generation? "We make jokes about it, I think, 'cause I don't want it to happen," Ray says. "My kid definitely loves music, but we don't wish the music industry on anybody now. We just want them to be friends, growing up to know each other and be like cousins. Emily and I usually don't spend much time together when we're not on tour; we live, like, an hour-and-a-half away from each other. But it seems like we spend more social time together now so the kids can play together, which has been really nice."
May 23, 2015 SummerSound - Live @ Tanglewood Music Center - Lenox, MA
June 17, 2015 Meijer Gardens - Grand Rapids, MI
June 19, 2015 Ann Arbor Summer Festival - Ann Arbor, MI
June 20, 2015 Schuster Performing Arts Center - Dayton, OH
June 21, 2015 Telos Wireless Pavilion - Charlottesville, VA
June 23, 2015 The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC
June 24, 2015 Track 29 - Chattanooga, TN
June 26, 2015 Chastain Park - Atlanta, GA
July 5, 2015 Humphrey's by the Bay - San Diego, CA
July 7, 2015 El Rey - Los Angeles, CA
July 8-9, 2015 Montalvo Arts Center - Saratoga, CA
July 11, 2015 Oregon Zoo - Portland, OR
July 12, 2015 Woodland Park Zoo - Seattle, WA
July 14, 2015 Edward A. Kenley Centennial Amphitheater - Layton, UT
July 15, 2015 Chautauqua Auditorium - Boulder, CO
July 16-18, 2015 Eaux Claires Music Festival - Foster Farms, Eau Claire, WI
July 17, 2015 Weesner Amphitheater - Apple Valley, MN
July 19, 2015 Capitol Theater - Madison, WI
July 21, 2015 Vic Theatre - Chicago, IL
July 24, 2015 Bergen Perfoming Arts Center - Englewood, NJ
July 25, 2015 Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center - Westhampton Beach, NY
July 26, 2015 XPoNential Festival - Camden Waterfront, Camden, NJ
July 28, 2015 Wolf Trap - Filene Center - Vienna, VA
July 29, 2015 Freeman Stage at Bayside - Selbyville, DE