Originally published on ColumbusCalling.com (July 27, 2015)
The Hiatt name is one that makes you stop and pause. When the press release announcing Lilly Hiatt’s summer tour hit my in-box a few weeks ago, I obviously wondered the first thing anybody who is hearing Lilly’s name for the first time wonders … is she related to John Hiatt?
Of course she is. Lilly is John’s daughter and, oh yeah, a talented musician in her own right having released her second album, Royal Blue, in March. Like our own Lydia Loveless, Lilly can’t be considered a country artist though she does incorporate some twang in her indie-rock-inspired music. Though you might imagine a kid growing up in Nashville might be spoonfed country music from birth, Lilly gravitated to artists such the Pixies, Breeders and Dinosaur Jr. as a teen and those bands helped shape her sound.
Lilly’s going to be making a stop on the Royal Blue tour at Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza on Wednesday night. She’ll be joined by one-time Columbus resident, and constantly touring musician, Aaron Lee Tasjan. The show starts at 9; reserved table tickets are $15, standing room only tickets are $10.
Lilly was kind enough to answer some questions I emailed to her via her publicist.
Your show in Columbus is at a pizza place, but not just any place – it’s a gourmet wood-fired pizza place by day and a legit concert venue by night. We’re in 2015 and it feels to me, moreso than anytime I can remember since I started going to shows in the late ’80s, there are a lot of non-traditional venues serving up live music. What are some of the more interesting venues you’ve played in?
I’ve had a lot of interesting gigs. it’s one of my favorite part of touring. Seeing where you end up. Let’s see, a cowboy dive in Midland, TX was probably the most character building. Couldn’t tell if they’d rather I play a George Jones or a Disturbed cover! But, I came out unscathed and a better performer. Hmmm, there have been tiny garages to house parties to theaters! I like to play all kinds of spots and keep it open. That’s the fun of it!
Growing up near Nashville with a father who is embedded into the country scene, how did you wind up listening to indie rock music and gravitating towards that sound?
I hate gross generalizations but I’m going to make one. In my head, I imagine most kids who live in or near Nashville growing up listening only to country music. Is Nashville as country-centric as everybody imagines or is there a healthy variety of music scenes? Nashville is strongly rooted in the Country/Americana thing. But, it’s always had a pretty versatile spectrum of artists. You can find all kinds of cool stuff. And, now that’s truly bubbling to the top. But, it’s always been around – good garage rock, hip hop, everything. I’m a grunge girl and my big brother was king of that. So, he played a big roll in that he gave me Nirvana’s Nevermind cassette when I was 6! That stuff made sense to me, and I related. Liz Phair, Guy Clark, those were big ones too. I dig it all. Lots of music around when I was growing up.
Speaking of the Nashville rock scene, there seem to be a lot of great young bands … a lot of great non-country bands … coming out of there. Any bands in particular that you are fond of?
Bully!! And I’m becoming Aaron Lee’s biggest fan. Thelma and the Sleaze is rad too.
With country music in your blood, have you always written and performed country music or is it something you came around to later? Are there any early Lilly Hiatt indie-rock MP3s out there in cyberspace that you wrote when you first starting writing your own music?
Haha, I still don’t hear myself as country. Alas, I guess I’ve got that twang. I dunno, I like to change things up and try new stuff, but at the end of the day-it always sounds like me. Different versions of me, but I’ve never been one to consistently reinvent myself. I’m too lazy! HA HA! No, I did have a bluesy band in college and I’m playing a little more rockin’ with my band these days. But, it’s always been about the song at the end of the day.
Lydia Loveless has really opened my eyes (and ears) towards indie-rock leaning country music. I’ve seen her name mentioned in reviews of Royal Blue and I was wondering if you’re familiar with her work and/or if you’ve ever met/performed with her?
Love her! Would love to play with her. A badass. And, she doesn’t limit herself. I love women and to see a tough one just let her hair down is inspiring.
I imagine Aaron might be hitching a ride with you on the dates you two are doing together. Will you ever let him take control of the stereo or is he on a probationary period where he has to prove that he’ll play good music for you? Can you possibly look at him and not always think of Garth from Wayne’s World? “:) (I love Aaron – he’s one of the most down-to-earth guys I’ve ever met)
Haha! He’s killer. Funny, kind and a good hang. Already letting him DJ. He knows what’s up.
Give me a percentage … how many people that come to see you live are already familiar with your material? And how many people come up to you after a show and throw money at you saying, “Wow, you were amazing. I need to take your music home with me tonight”?
It just depends on the night!
Can you tell me a bit about this tour that will bring you to Columbus? Are you traveling with a band or performing solo or with a stripped-down band? If people do their homework and get to intimately know Royal Blue, will they be well prepared for the show or do your set lists include a lot of stuff not from Royal Blue?
Mostly stuff from Royal Blue! But. some from my first album as well. I’ve got Reed McMillan playing guitar with me, I’m on acoustic and he’s on electric. We are having a great time and can’t wait to be there.