Baby Health in Winter
A lot has changed lately for Margo Price: she welcomed her second child, a baby girl, last summer; signed a new label deal with Loma Vista once her contract with Nashville-based Third Man Records expired; and then there was the ever-moving release date for her third album, That’s How Rumors Get Started, which arrived last month and hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums chart.
Price can’t help but “mourn the way of life we all had” prior to the coronavirus pandemic — which has halted the live industry, something the country rocker has been vocal about on social media — though she has found a silver lining in spending so much unexpected time at home.
“With having a one year old, it would have been really difficult to drag her around on a tour bus,” says Price. “She’s just learning to walk, and I might have missed her first steps if I was out touring. But there’s always been a romanticism about the road, and about leaving.” She says she’s contemplating buying an RV for her growing family and “living like nomads” this winter, posting up in trailer parks across America to keep her sanity.
Price has already managed a quick retreat, traveling to James Island, South Carolina with her husband (the pair suspects they had caught and have since recovered from COVID-19), where they kicked back with a bag of mushrooms — and ended up writing 10-plus songs. Meanwhile, Price has also found time to finish writing and work on edits of her upcoming memoir, to be released through University of Texas Press in the near future.
“It’s such a good way to escape, going back to a different time in my life,” she says. “It was almost entertaining to read about the problems at that point [compared] with what’s going on right now.”
On Wednesday (Aug. 26), she released a stunning re-imagined version of her new album’s closing track, “I’d Die For You (Symphonic),” which she debuted at this year’s Tibet House US Benefit at Carnegie Hall. And on Sept. 9 and 10, she will perform two audience-free shows at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl that fans can watch via livestream.
“I wanted to be like, ‘Let’s get the band back together, we’re in this for the long haul,’” says Price. “I’m so tired of just playing my acoustic [guitar] and setting up a phone or camera pointed at myself, and I get bored of watching people noodling on their guitar like some Guitar Center show. I want the unity of playing with actual humans, because that’s what good music is.”
Below, Price reveals how the re-recorded “I’d Die For You” came together, what fans can expect from her upcoming performances, and how she reacted when Trevor Noah personally requested she acoustically cover Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s No. 1 hit, “WAP.”
How did it feel to release a project amidst a global pandemic?
As cliche as it sounds, I think people are listening to music with more intention. I’m less distracted these days and it feels like [music] is feeding my soul. There have been a few records that really felt like a godsend: the Fiona Apple record, the Bob Dylan record, Lucinda Williams and Neil Young … There’s a lot of new art being created right now, that’s one thing people can still do remotely. Make music and play songs.
What has it been like working with a new label and team through so many changes?
I had a few different labels I was looking at, some Nashville labels, and I took a lot of meetings, but what I really loved about Loma Vista was that they saw me at Stubb’s in Austin and followed me since that point. And I love that their roster is so diverse — I mean, Iggy Pop is definitely a hero of mine, and I love St. Vincent, and then you’ve got Marilyn Manson, The Avett Brothers, Sylvan Esso and Soccer Mommy. There was no formula being had, they’re just backing people that they believe in.
Now that the album is out and touring is still on hold, what’s the focus?
I talk to my day-to-day manager, Amy [Schmalz], several times a day, more about visual stuff now, and that was really one of the things I was excited about working with Loma Vista on — I wanted to do lots of music videos. We live in such a virtual society, and now the Internet is your only outlet to the outside world. Going forward, I’m just trying to keep myself busy with writing. I’m already thinking about the next album and trying to put the wheels in motion for that, because I feel like I’ve had my touring career swept away.
Ahead of your upcoming pay-per-view live-streamed shows, why is it so crucial to find new avenues to perform right now?
I gotta think about taking care of my band and crew. I’ve tried to do little performances here and there and donate the money and make merch for them, but a lot of musicians are living paycheck to paycheck — and they were before this hit. Nobody has savings, nobody has a backup plan, nobody has health insurance, nobody has any other way to make money. The band and I had been working on arrangements, and we’d already changed some tempos and added extended instrumentals and transitions and worked out covers and new stuff, and [this performance] is a good way to do that.
Late-night TV performances are still a viable option as well, and you recently covered “WAP” on The Daily Show. How did you react when you got that request?
I was in a grocery store stocking up for vacation, and was like, “Oh man, I don’t know if I can pull that off.” I had heard the song, of course, and laughed my ass off, but it was like, “Well, Trevor specifically asked you to do it,” and he’s interviewed me before and supported All American Made and I thought, “I’m not going to take myself super seriously. This is about women empowerment and they want to see a white woman singing it to see if there’s a different reaction. I’m game.”
Cardi B shared it on her Instagram story and Twitter, but I saw a lot of hate, too. Just go on Twitter and type in “Margo Price” and it’s like, “Stupid-ass white woman covers a hip-hop song.” Come to find out, nobody likes to hear women talking about their sexuality, but you can be objectified all day long. I was like, “Did I f–k up?” My friend Brittany Howard reached out and was like, “Dude, your ‘WAP’ cover, I’m dead.” That was the week I was tripping on mushrooms.
You re-imagined “I’d Die For You” for the Tibet Hall benefit show, but what made you decide to re-record and release it now?
After we performed it in New York, I felt like I had to capture that feeling. [My band] recorded their parts remotely, and I went in a tiny little room in a Nashville studio, but it was freezing and I was like, “I cannot belt this song right now.” I put on a hoodie and drank a bunch of tea and tried to think about my performance at Carnegie Hall. I recorded it during the pandemic, so it was just hitting me harder.
There’s always been apartheid, and there’s always been famine and war and corruption. I just think right now with the healthcare crisis we’re having, especially in Nashville with gentrification and then the tornado hitting and all these small businesses and clubs closing, these places we love and that I cut my teeth in, and you have these dumbass tourists down on Broadway that, no offense, but no one is playing original music, it’s all just covers, so it’s like, where are the writers going to go? I just feel so conflicted.
How much of that has seeped into the new music you’ve been writing?
My mind started going to the deeper meaning of life and spirituality, and “Where do we go after this?” I know this isn’t the end, and I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the problems that are here that I wanted to dive back into more philosophical questions like, “How can you be content in daily life?” But, that being said, it’s all going to come through.
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