The pastoral landscape of Vermont yields great skiing and good cheese, but apparently it also lends itself to rock ‘n’ roll. Case in point: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Potter and her band have earned their stripes primarily on the road, hitting the stages of festivals and clubs regularly, but they released a Hollywood Records debut, “This Is Somewhere,” in 2007. Utilizing both acoustics and electrics, organs, pianos and a mic, Potter has established herself as an able, magnetic frontwoman in a rock landscape where many female songwriters struggle to earn artistic and commercial success. This summer, Potter and the Nocturnals will play select dates opening for Dave Matthews Band.
As part of a recently initiated a new video recording project at Sun Studios, Sun Sessions, the band has posted versions of “Mystery Train” and “Outta My Tree” to its Web site. Additionally, Potter is slated to co-host the Jammy Awards in New York on May 7 at Madison Square Garden alongside Warren Haynes.
Potter sat down with Billboard.com with Potter to talk about the album, newfound recognition for her work, and more.
What were your expectations while you were recording and releasing “This is Somewhere,” and how has the album exceeded them?
We were really committed to making the kind of record that would go beyond just the basic “throwback sound.” As much as we love and pull from classic rock, those records have been made already and they were great the first time around. This was an opportunity to make our own sound.
What are the advantages of having signed with a major label like Hollywood Records?
Being on a major label is like living at your friend’s parent’s mansion:
It’s a lot nicer than any apartment we could afford and the fridge is always full of food.
Why is “This is Somewhere” more pop-driven than your previous albums?
Our other records were all done in a matter of days with lots of unfinished ideas, but we took a lot more time preparing for this one. We just started writing songs that had a beginning, middle and end. I guess that’s pop.
How does it feel to suddenly gain all of this recognition when you’ve been making records and touring for years?
It’s funny when people come up to me and say, “Wow, you’re an overnight success!” It makes me want to say, “Have you been asleep for five f*cking years?” But I don’t. To me, we’ve been succeeding on a small level since the very beginning and that’s good enough for me.
Have you written any new songs while on tour? What are your plans for new releases?
We’re always writing. We’ve got a nice little bundle of sad country songs as well as some kickin’ “shake your ass” tunes. The new material hasn’t exactly materialized into a body of work yet.
How do you feel when the press compares you to other female singer/songwriters such as Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones and Sheryl Crow?
When people see a talented girl, it calls to mind the very rare breed of women who have managed to succeed. If I were a dude with the exact same voice, band and songs, I doubt they’d compare me to Sheryl Crow. But hey, I’m not complaining. Big fish, small pond.