You’re originally from Camden town – what was it like growing up in such a vibrant community? And do you still live there?
I’m writing this on the evening of the London terror attack on Westminster bridge and it’s making me feel really really really REALLY FROM LONDON ..it’s my home and I cried when I heard about this attack…Sometimes I really hate that I grew up in London ..but I kind of love it too. I think everyone hates their home town for a while. It’s adventurous for other people to move to London but for me it feels adventurous to move to Folkestone … it’s got a great art/music scene here ..much better than London I think . What I find really sad is that most people can mess around in London for a bit and when they run out of money they just go home ..to their home town to get married or whatever and settle down near their family, but because I’m from Camden I can’t actually afford to live where my mum lives …she’s old now and I find it really sad I can’t live near her. My mum lives in London and there is a terror attack and I don’t live near her … its making me feel really sad not to be home with my family.
Where did your country/rockabilly songwriting permeate from?
I got old and decided I didn’t want to be an old punk and thought it more dignified to be a lonesome ol’ country gal instead … most punk records are just country music sped up and played badly anyway.
What was it like meeting Wilko Johnson? Are you a fan?
YES I’M A MASSIVE FAN ..how did you know? Weird. I’ve not really met him properly but I used to do the door at the Dirty Water Club for years and he played there loads. There was an amazing band back in the day called Officer Dibble and the top cats who were an R&B band … and the guy Robin who played guitar in that band took me to see Wilko when I was about 16. I was totally blown away. Now I just copy him when I play guitar! I try to do the stare, you know?
Did you enjoy sharing a stage with The Urban Voodoo Machine? What were they like?
They are amazing and I was at their earliest shows … I even put them on once when I used to run a club. I know most of them ….Paul is very professional and a great performer …Nick was a old friend and sadly he died of Cancer but he was an amazing musician and a wonderful person who also suffered from insomnia ..he is one of the few people on the scene who could be bothered with talking to me… he was a genuine person …the band are all genuine …most people don’t bother talking to me cos I’m so un-cool. I was in A&E once with a really bad thing with my stomach ..I stayed over night and was given so much morphine it was unreal I was in so much pain but I had a gig with the Voodoos and Billy Childish so I discharged myself and went straight to play the gig zombied out on the morphine and the pain …I must have been crap cos I don’t think they asked me ever again 🙂
You had guitar lessons with John Etheridge of Soft Machine, what did you like about his style and what other influences are in your playing?
John used to play with Stephan Grapelli… how fucking cool is that .. I’m a massive gypsy jazz fan …He was the guitar teacher at my school so I had no idea who he was when I had lessons …he’s a funny guy. He just used to give me an e chord to play whilst he jammed over the top for an hour … But he taught me ‘House of the Rising Sun’…and I had never heard it before and I just wanted to own that record but I had no idea who it was by so I went into all the shops in Camden and asked them if they had ever heard of a song called ‘House of the Rising Sun’. They must have thought I was so naive. My other guitar heroes are Robert Frip, Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore, Django… Angus Young … Paul Weller and loads of other stuff.
You sang ‘Don’t Bogart That Joint’ over the closing credits of the 2010 film Mr Nice. How did you get involved with the movie and what are your thoughts on Howard Marks?
Joe from The Cowshed Studio just called me and asked me to do it. He was a big fan of mine and wanted to give me a good thing a suppose.
Could you tell us about how you decided to go to Nashville to record? How long were you there and what was the process like?
My London band had sort of fallen apart and I was depressed. So I took a bank loan and booked a flight to New York the next day. I then called a random studio in Nashville called Welcome to 1979 Studio ..it sounded cool ..it’s not on the strip or anything cheesy like that .. its not even in the uber trendy cool east side .. nope, its in the west side miles away from everything … that’s the place for me I thought! I don’t want to deal with any wankers! So anyway I ask them if they could help find some musicians and they said “Well Lou it’s only 2 weeks away .. you need to tell us what musicians you want …like bass ..drums ..pedal steel ..trumpet ??? What ??” So I said maybe I need a producer cos I’m getting on a plane tomorrow to New York and then I’m taking a train to the Grand Canyon so I won’t have any time to think cos I will be in Nashville in two fucking weeks !!!..so they gave me Billy Livsey ..and I’m really glad they did cos he is super fucking amazing and chose all the musicians ..in the space of like a week … he pulled that bunch together! 20 years ago my dad died when I was on holiday in America and I never got to see the Grand Canyon so it was like a mission of mine to get to see that bloody thing … so this whole trip was basically about overcoming my fear of flying and getting to see the Grand Canyon and completing a journey I started 20 years ago … AND making a record ….It’s such a long story that I can’t go into it all here … but anyway I then took a train 32 hours from the Grand Canyon to Chicago and eventually got to Nashville where I met Billy for the first time. He is the most amazing musician and because I was there two days early he lent me his guitar and showed me round the studio and he learned my songs on piano and wrote out all the tab for the musicians ..and so two days later I met the musicians … for the first time.
How did you record the album in 12 hours? Was it all done as a live band?
Fuck it was scary and I think they all thought I was nuts! But yes ..I had booked the recording session for 12 hours .! sessions in Nashville are 3 hours long so it was 2 sessions first day and two sessions the second day … 12 hour total … Its very quick but they are fucking amazing guys … They were very freaked by my manner at first .. I was soooooo nervous … I demanded they all sit in the one room and play through the songs with me first before recording … they were a bit confused by that I think … they just wanted to be given the music and play but I said NO!!! you come and sit in here with me and lets jam around these songs.. They thought I was trying to teach them the songs and I think they were a bit insulted cos those guys literally DON’T practice first ..no they just GO straight into recording. But really I was trying to learn the fucking songs myself. Anyway we did 11 songs LIVE… I never intended to do that many but they are so quick . After I had 2 more days for mixing ..but when I got back to London I felt the songs needed more work ..like my vocals and stuff so I did a few more days in Ten21studio in Maidstone just mixing and playing with vocal a bit … plus one of the tracks “Jolene” I really loved my London drummers sound and my London bassist’s sound so I used that and blended it in with the nashville guys …..and ‘Ride A Train’ I re-recorded at home on my own … I just preferred it more mellow and the Nashville one was too frantic .. probably cos I was drinking Bourbon from 8 am every day I was away! The weird thing is that although it was really quick we all bonded so well … they are like best old friends after all that craziness.. I kept giving them bourbon to drink too .. it was very funny getting them all drunk … and they are not strangers anymore ..they are ALL my friends now and we exchange messages on Facebook etc and when Stu came to London with Lucinda Williams he put me on the guest list and backstage etc … I feel very very honoured but also glad that we are all still friends .. cos making music is more about having a good time than anything else.. life is too short to worry about it too much!