Earlier this year, Beth Hart released Fire On The Floor in Europe and will see the album released on February 3rd in the United States. Blues Rock Review caught up with Hart to discuss the album and more.
Fire On The Floor was recorded in just three days. What sticks out to you about that time?
All of it was memorable. I love those songs, I worked hard on those songs and it was nice when we just got in with a killer fucking band and instead of us tripping out or trying to get in our own way or over analyzing shit and taking ourselves seriously, it wasn’t about that at all. We just jumped in there and played down each song through three or four times until the producer said you’re good and we went onto the next thing. And it was easy and relaxed, it was brilliant. It was so nice, especially after the experience I just had prior which was the opposite and it drove me up the fucking wall and so for this to just happen and it being so easy and relaxed like it should be. It’s just music. We’re not frickin doing brain surgery, so to just chill out and make music with each other because you care about each other and you respect each other and you’re thankful you get to do this cool fucking thing. And that’s what it was.
That record really saved me because I just literally came out of the studio and finished doing Better Than Home and that was a nightmare. So I called Ed (van Zijl) over at the label and I just said, you, I’ve gotta make another record right now. He said, “What’s wrong, you haven’t even mixed Better Than Home.” And I said, maybe the record with Better Than Home will be nice, but if I don’t get back in and make another record I probably won’t make another record again. It was just too painful. If you fall off a horse you gotta get back on, so I kind of explained that to Ed and he said, “Boom, you got it.” And so then I called Oliver (Leiber) and said I’ve got a bunch of songs, can I send them your way? And I did and he chose what he thought would be great and he got together that whole group of musicians and like I said, it was just fast and easy, so it was good.
So, you were feeling pretty inspired?
I don’t think I was feeling inspired, I just wanted to have a good experience in the studio because when I was younger and first started out my first couple of albums were pretty painful and difficult experiences, and it sucked because I loved to write and I loved to perform, but I I thought, oh, man, I’m just going to be one of those people who hate the studio, which is really a shame because you need to make a record that you’re proud of to even hope people might be into it to and want to see you play live.
And all these years went by and finally in my late thirties I finally started enjoyed making records and then this happened with Better Than Home and it was, like, I don’t want to go back to how it used to be. So, really, Fire On the Floor, it wasn’t like I was going to make some amazing record or anything like that. I just wanted to have a good experience again the studio, that’s it.
“Fat Man” is a fun song from the album. What was the inspiration behind that song?
That’s a co-write with a really great guy I’ve written with off and on over the years Glenn Burtnick, but he had flown out to L.A. and we’d been writing for a few days on some other material, and then right when he was about to leave we had written a smidgen of “Fat Man.” We had the changes for the verse and some changes for the chorus and a few lyrics, and then he left. And then I was like, man, this song is kind of cool and I went really manic and went off on getting a bridge and really cycling in those kind of rap style lyrics and just thought it was fun, but it’s been done for years and years and years. I probably finished “Fat Man” more than five records ago. It just never made it to a record until now.
“Picture In A Frame” is a frame that really pulls you in as a listener. How did that come about?
It was one of the pieces that I was working on when I was working for the Better Than Home record and I just had the idea of a woman being really in love with a man that she knew she was going to have to let him go. He’s gonna have to go off to war and be gone for a long time. So, I had just got my first house with my husband and we were hanging shit up on the wall and it just kind of made me think of that whole thing of if you can keep that person, just keep hanging up these photographs of them. And also there was a song from Tom Waits that really inspired it from years ago.
You’ve been doing some touring. What’s the most rewarding thing about touring?
Trying to make the audience have a really beautiful experience. That’s really the end all thing. It’s funny because the music I do is all over the place in terms of genre, so it’s an interesting ride. You can take people through a bit of jazz, then into hard rock, then into really confessional story telling where I’m alone at the piano, and then we can do bluesy, country kind of stuff on the acoustic guitars, and we kind of just take them through a ride. But every night I do a different show, so the challenge is how am I going to get that same kind of ride and pull that off to where I can bring those people through a full story and come full circle, but doing it with different music every night. And some nights we get it and some nights we don’t, but that’s something that is really important to me is make sure we’re always on the edge when we’re going out there. I don’t want us to know any song too well because as soon as we do to me it loses that humility that is so imperative to have in a performance and the vulnerability, and if it’s too well rehearsed or it’s too well known your mind drifts off to something else and I think the audience can feel that in some way. So, I think it’s really important that we stay super vulnerable and really in the moment and kind of on our toes.
When you take a look back at 2016, what are you going to remember from this year?
This is a tough year for me. Probably the highlight this year is I’m coming up on two years of being clean again, which is really big to me. I just thought, man, if I could just get one year again that’d be great, but now I’m coming up on two. So, that’s been a big step for me to get my two years.
And then I think this album I didn’t know would be going over as well as what is has. We just won best blues album of the year in Europe for the European Blues Awards, so that was really amazing. That makes me happy and surprised. You never know what people are going to react to and then this tour that we’re on right now is going really smooth and the last couple of tours I’ve been on were really, really hard, so this has been really nice, so just kind of staying in the moment and enjoying it.
Interview by Pete Francis