Dana Fuchs is a blues/rock singer. She is currently touring the U.S. and overseas for her latest album, Love To Beg, which was featured on Blues Rock Review’s Top 20 Albums of 2011. On March 2, she was at the Regatta Bar in Boston for an acoustic set with guitarist Jon Diamond. Liz Lohnes was able to speak with her before the show.
Love To Beg was your latest album. What was your inspiration for that album and how is it different from what you’ve done in the past?
It’s different because I think we’ve grown. Jon and I write all the songs together and when we first started it came from that soulful, rock and roll place. Everybody was telling us to figure out what we were. Some songs were rock, some songs were R&B, and some songs were blues. So for a first album we sort of threw all of that away. After touring and putting out a live CD we said “the hell with all of that.” We’re drawing on country, jazz, blues, rock and those influences can’t help but come out. We were much more confident and unapologetic about being all over the map. Most songs were written on the road because we were really touring non-stop. Meeting new people and seeing new cultures is what got to (be) the theme of Love To Beg because I realized everybody is the same. Everybody just wants to be happy, want the people the love to be happy. It’s that simple. So, that’s the theme of that tune and all the songs on it are about, I always joke and say jealous love, tortured love, angry love, and sisterly love. You see it all when you travel the world.
Tell me more about your tour. It looks like you’re going to be traveling more.
We go to Europe a lot. We’re hitting the States a lot more this year too, which I’m happy about. We just got back from Scandinavia. We were flying in a blizzard every day the last week of the tour, not one flight delayed. So different from here, Norwegian pilots just fly like it’s nothing. We’ve built a nice following in Europe and we’re hoping to do the same in the States. I’ll get to be in New York and then we head to Germany and also to Prague and France for the first time too.
What’s your favorite part of touring?
I love meeting the people all over the world. We’re lucky because when we’re over there we always get a promoter or a fan wanting to show you their part of the city. I really love the travel part and I really love my band. I love hanging out with them. So that’s even more fun than the shows sometimes!
You’re well known for your role as Sadie in Across the Universe. How did that role impact your career?
It’s been awesome. I feel like it’s still impacting it. I go to some countries that are just now getting the film and they’ll see me and go “Oh it’s Sadie!” Getting any kind of credibility like that just makes it easier to get someone to pay attention to what you’re doing and give you the opportunity to do it.
Aside from having the voice for it, what drew you to the blues/rock genre?
I grew up with a lot of the classic rock in the house and I just loved it. I was the youngest of six kids. I came to New York, met Jon and he was playing with a blues band. I had never really seen a blues show live. I heard a guitar solo when I was outside, so I went in and couldn’t believe the music I was seeing and hearing. It turned out to be sort of a jam night and they invited me to sing. I tried to sing “Stormy Monday” and I butchered it so badly! Jon said you have a good instrument but you don’t know how to sing blues. He asked me who I listened to. I replied with Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, and Beatles. He told me to go listen to everybody they loved. I started listening to people like Etta James and Al Greene. There’s so much sadness in that kind of music. I’ve had a pretty tumultuous life, I mean who hasn’t. But I was really just drawn to that. Everybody has a story that can be a blues song. So I would just belt out a song and realized it was like years of therapy.
Do you have any advice for aspiring bands and artists who want to be doing what you’re doing?
The number one thing I can say is, just keep doing it. Don’t look for the payoff, it’ll eventually come if you stick with and hone your skill. No one starts out with all the talent and skill and connections. When I started singing around 16 years old, I wasn’t as good as I am now. Years of experience gives you a lot. If you stick with it, eventually it will happen.
We’re going to be all over the map again this year, do another record. I’m going to do another film. I’m playing a singer again. I don’t know when we’re going to shoot that yet. I love doing films, but I would never stop touring to pursue an acting career.
Is there anything else you’d like Blues Rock Review and the readers to know?
Thanks for keeping the music out there, alive, and keeping people exposed to it. I like that it’s blues/rock by the way. I’ve been called blues, but I’m definitely not a straight blues artist. I have that rock in there too.
Interview by Liz Lohnes