It was October of 1979 and I had just come into the big city (for me at the time) to see my girlfriend for the weekend and stopped off at my favourite record store after I got off the bus.
I had one foot in the door when a voice that was just….ok I don't mean to embarrass anybody here (sorry Karen, if you're reading)….pure SEX! The voice was sultry beyond anything I had heard to that point and as a healthy teenage male, it sounded like the ultimate siren's call. I stopped drooling and walked/ran to the counter to ask who the hell they were playing. I was told it was a new-ish band by the name of 1994:.
The song I heard was called "Stop This Heartache" and it was from their latest record Please Stand By. I heard several more cuts and I was hypnotized. I left the store but the voice kept going through my head. Then later that evening, I opened the local newspaper and BAM…I see an ad saying 1994: was in Ottawa at a club the very next night. It was surreal. What were the chances? It was like I was destined to fall in love with this band. The catch? We were going to be at a party the same night. This was one of those tear-the-roof-off parties that had been in the works for a year. Well, I painfully opted for the party and passed up the first and last chance to ever see 1994: on a stage.
The day after the party, I stopped by the record store again and as I walked through the door, there was a framed copy of Please Stand By on the wall. It was signed and it read, "Dear Record Runner, Keep spinning that bitch!! Thanks Karen Lawrence". The person that possessed that magical voice had probably been standing exactly where I was now situated, a mere 24 hours earlier. It was like the music gods were trying to tell me something about this band. Needless to say, I always yield to the music gods and I bought the record.
When I got home and put it on the stereo, I fell hard. The entire record was deadly good. Much of the music was of the harder rock variety. Not Motorhead heavy, just good solid rocking songs with vocals that just grabbed your ears and smacked them around with a touch that was strong with an emotional core. Karen Lawrence didn't just hit a note. She mashed it. Not just with power. It was as though her vocal chords took each part of the scale and created a whole new identity for it. The sound was so full, she didn't need harmony vocals for any parts of the song. I was ripe and ready for this band…and this record. And I played it. Boy, did I play it!
What helped the magic was the fact that I couldn't stop staring at the cover. Front and center on the record cover (and this was in the time of LPs, people), in all her glorious splendor was Karen. And man, what a SMOKING HOT picture this was. Black skin-tight pants and a tighter-still blue halter-type top on a gorgeous model-type girl. This was indeed a creature from…well, wherever these kinds of works-of-art come from. It took me several days to realize the rest of the band was on the cover as well.
I later found out that this was their second record. Their eponymous debut had been released a year earlier and flew under my radar. But there was something familiar about Karen's face. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that she was the face I had seen on one of the many promo pictures from an earlier band called LA Jets who were part of the movie, A Star is Born starring Barbra Streisand. Shortly after that I was obsessing over a song by Streisand called Prisoner, which was the theme from the movie "The Eyes of Laura Mars". It was a punchy, more rock-oriented direction for Streisand and it suited her strong voice well. When I got the record, I read the credits and that song was listed as being written by Karen Lawrence. Following up, I found out it was indeed the same person. Wicked voice. Wicked pinup. And Wicked songwriter as well. The holy triad.
I was working in a record store in the early '80s and one day, I happened to open a shipment of new releases and just about fell off my perch. It was a new record by Karen backed up by a band called The Pinz. Still gorgeous, she had now shorn her hair into a new-wavish do that fit the times. When I spun Girl's Night Out the first time, it was like magic. That voice was unleashed once more and wrapped around 10 excellent songs. Unfortunately, there was no record company support for the record and she once again fell off the radar.
Years went by and nary a word was heard about her. I often wondered what happened and why there wasn't more info on such a talented singer as Karen. Fast forward to last year and thanks to the wonderful medium of the Internet, I found her website. Following the demise of 1994, she had started a blues band called Blue By Nature. They developed a fair-size following in the LA area and beyond. Her amazing voice was as vital as ever and the material sounded fresh. I got in contact with her and she agreed to do an interview.
Thirty years later and I finally get to talk to the voice behind that wicked record I heard that fateful day. To my great joy, she proved to be as terrific an interviewee as she is a singer. Here's my interview with the very talented, the very gorgeous….Karen Lawrence.
antiMusic: Well, you've got a great history I want to get into. But I guess first of all, let's talk about what you're doing now, which is Blue By Nature. You played hard rock in the past, as well as sort of New Wave-ish kind of stuff, so I guess it's not a great leap to the blues, but what was it about the blues that made you want to play this kind of music for the last 15 years or so?
Karen: Well, it started out, in the …I don't care about dating myself because I'm really lucky to have been listening and playing music young and in the late '60s and starting in a band in the early '70s and that's really…in fact I just said this to somebody, it's really what was going on then. You know, it was Jimi Hendrix. I mean Led Zeppelin hadn't even come out yet when I was listening to the blues. But that's blues and really all the old guys, when I was in 9th grade, and I got in a band, before I even turned 14…I didn't ask to get in the band, by the way. I was in a music store with a girlfriend of mine, and she was holding up the lyrics to "Mr. Tambourine Man", or "My Green Tambourine", I can't remember which one…yeah, (sings "My Green Tambourine") and I was learning the song so I didn't have to buy it, and some guy came up and asked me if I wanted to be in their band. So I went to their rehearsal that night and that's how I got in a bad. And he, being the guitar player, wanted me to also play guitar and he turned me on to all this stuff. And he was a senior in high school and so we had all these weird cool friends. They looked like these bikers but they were hippies. And these guys would take us in their cool pad, you know, all hippied out, and played blues records, and…God, that was the first time I heard Muddy Waters, "Catfish Blues", and it was just the thing to do. I mean, three chords. It was easy and it had a lot of feeling.
So that is really where I started out in a band, a band that was a blues band, Ezra Brooks Blues band, that's what it was called. (laughs) We changed it. (laughs) So that was the kind of stuff I like. That's the kinds of stuff I started with. In fact I remember, one of our first gigs, by somebody's swimming pool, I did some Jimi Hendrix tunes. That was really tough too. Doing Hendrix was hard. The hardest one though was "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin. That was horrible, because, I mean for me, it wasn't even like blues. It wasn't open enough. It wasn't bluesy enough for me even though I didn't know that. Like a lot of people now say, wow, why don't you do that song? Whatever.
So back then, that band progressed and we got all into other stuff. That band kind of got discovered by our manager, which was like five years later, the manager of 1994 and someone came down and saw us and said well, we want the singer. So I said, okay. Our band is kind of defunct. That first band, the high school band, we weren't getting many jobs and it was kind of defunct. And the leader and I had been boyfriend and girlfriend which we weren't anymore so that was a little awkward. So whatever, I said. Okay. It kind of developed into that. And whatever they did, is what I did. And that was rock. That was L.A Jets. 1994, same thing. L.A. Jets, 1994 were essentially the same thing; same drummer. Same guys. Same manager. Same driving…you know… sort of artistic call, which was the drummer and his sister, the manager. So it was kind of like I was just there. I was not a good songwriter. I had written songs but there were, you know, my god (laughs), some songs I've never played for anybody. (laughs). So I did what they did and it was great. I mean we were signed fast. We got signed FAST. Our manager was really strong. Some of those guys had already been signed in the past. I guess John Desautels and his sister Christine Desautels, they had a record deal before so, it was great. And whatever they did, I'd add whatever I could to it. And I didn't really have that much to (laughs) contribute. It was kind of funny. But who cares. That's what it is. I mean what you can care about that. But anyway, and so it was great. I did what they did, as the singer for the band. And then of course they make me out to be some kind of big hot shot leader. Like whenever they'd want to go get money, especially when it came to 1994, whenever they wanted money you know, for like another drum kit or amps, they'd say, Karen needs something.
antiMusic: Send the girl in…(laughs).
Karen: Yeah, so I would always have to go into the meetings. (laughs). So anyway, it just kept evolving, you know, I mean, I evolved. You know, I'm not a leader, but I ended up being put further and further in a leader position. And on stage, I would be definitely like the leader anyway. So that band was rock and we had our little bluesy influence and it sort of evolved again with the Please Stand By album. The music started to change.
antiMusic: You had Rick in for that record, so…
Karen: Well Ricky, Ricky Armand is VERY bluesy. He's VERY, VERY blues. I mean he can't play nothing but bluesy rock. Really. It wasn't Rick's influence that took the band to a more contemporary of the time. You know the rock era was strong, and there were rock hits, and there was FM radio and then it started to turn a little more poppy. There was a strange sound change. We were all loving this sound. It was all this crazy sounds coming out and these beats. And it was just this sort of…I started to really like it. I started really liking new wave music itself. And you know, I suppose the craziest thing when you start, I mean my god I was 20 when we got our first deal. I think that's pretty young, not compared to these days because all these people had all of our examples. Now when you're 20, look at the influences, my god. The influences are not people discovering new things; they're people who are…I don't know how to describe it (laughs). People in the '70s were discovering new sounds and new things and trying all this stuff. They're not doing that now. Anyway. So I started liking new wave music, and so did a couple of the other guys. Bill Rhodes, the bass player, he's a really good guitar player, and he liked it too so we started influencing it that way. We all started bending it towards that kind of sound, and I think that's why Please Stand By has a couple of quirky songs. Please Stand By to begin with, what was really funny, is I went to New York. I mean I went back to New York after that album. And the band was like, you know, booted out or whatever—dropped—and like I said, I don't even remember working it or whatever, so when I got back there I went to this club. And here I am with poodle hair, and my high heeled leather fabulous boots and my jeans and this look, this ROCK look. I'm a rocker you know, ok, this is what I wear, this is what I do. I went to this club called the Ritz in New York. It's this big old ballroom and it was all new wave, punky. It was downtown, and here I had been on tour and I had been in California so I hadn't seen the scene. California doesn't have a very obvious punky rocky scene. There are people here that have sleeveless shirts and they look like they're going to the beach. They have blue hair. They just don't look tough and the part and quirky and dress weird and all that. It's just not the thing here. I'm in California now. So when I went back and saw all these people and I went wow, I felt like a dinosaur. And I went and cut my hair off like the next day. This one girl I knew had super short hair and I went to her girl and had her cut my hair. Take it off, off. So it was really pretty interesting. And that's when the Girls Night Out stuff was happening. I was with Fred then. On the Please Stand By album, says Fred St. John?
Karen: That's Fred Hostetler. We were already together. Fred was 1994's tour manger. And (laughs) he became my great friend and shortly after that he was my boyfriend! (laughs) So we started, you know, writing together and we had pretty cool places…a little basement in downtown in New York. And he just started writing music. It was very musical. I think, that whole period was just really musical. It sounds almost trendy but it wasn't quite like that. It was just stuff that we were learning. I was playing bass because we'd clash if we'd play guitar so I sold my freaking custom Les Paul. In fact it's on a poster that I'm looking at right now. I'm WEARING it. It was such a good guitar that I had customized AGAIN. Anyway, I sold that and bought a bass. We would write that way. And then when we had our basement, we had our set of drums set up there and I went and sat down one day at the drums and all of a sudden I could play drums.
Karen: (laughs) Only, you know, that kind of drums. (beats sound) You know, that kind of drums. (laughs) It was like, oh my god, we looked at each other, like, holy s---: drums! So that was really a great era. I loved that. It was very stylish. A lot of style going on in New York. And experimenting with this other kind of music was really fun. And here it is my kind of stuff now. Now I'm writing it. I don't have to play… I don't have to write lyrics to what somebody else, to somebody else's chords. You know? It's not very spontaneous…for me. I don't think I'm very good at it. I can do it, but I'm not that great at it. I'm much better when I'm writing out of my own stuff.
antiMusic: And it doesn't have to go around the table 20 times to be approved.
Karen: Oh, shoot, yeah. And you know, when you're in a band---and I think about this often. I really think of this often---when you're in a band, you write like you're the voice of the band. And if you're a girl---I never thought of this at the time. It never even occurred to me because it was all very natural--- that I would be like one of the guys in the band, I am THE guy in the band. I'm not going to sing songs and carry on exclusively in a girly way. Which actually I didn't even know how to fit in. Which I do know how to do now, by the way. (laughs) Then it's my privilege to do it because it's MY band now. (laughs). Yeah, it's really different when you're in a group like that and that's the way I handled it anyway. I don't know. There are other people, other girl singers, I guess, who don't do that, you know? But that's how I did it. So when I went off to do it myself, then it was completely different. It was really fun. It was an experiment in my own style and my own likes, and instincts. You know?
Karen: So we got the Girl's Night Out album out which was lucky. We were very lucky to be able to do. And I still had Christine as a manger and Jack was still behind it, Jack Douglas, those people are very influential you know. They're very strong. And you know, basically on Jack's approval. Jack saying: I'm behind it. The record company will sign you. He's very strong, very strong that way. So I was very lucky to be connected with him. Shoot, a lot of people I know are just still trying to get that one first record out but they don't have that famous person, that person that's going to say: I'm behind this. It's going to be good. When I say it's good, it's good.
antiMusic: Really. And you're on to your fourth by that time.
Karen: Yeah, oh yeah. Might be just floating in a river somewhere. But anyway. That's what that is. And then Fred and I, we just kept evolving again. There was a second Girls Night Out album that we never did. We had tunes for it but we never did that one and…
antiMusic: How come?
Karen: Because they dropped us. (laughs) They didn't give us no more MONEY. There were a lot of problems them too. If that album…I had to do everything on my own. They didn't give us a lot of money. And our manager kind of dropped the ball and they got mad at us, got mad at me because of that. There were some problems and it just wasn't, again, it just wasn't handled right. I think at that time my manager and I split during that album and it was really, it was really, really tough. We were making that album and John Lennon was shot and him and Yoko Ono were recording in the next studio with Jeff. It was a terrible time. It was very bad luck and it was weird. I don't know. I don't think that record, to me I don't think it's all that special. I think it's creative….
antiMusic: I really disagree. I was going to get to all of these later but, I was working in a record store when that record came out, and you mentioned about cutting off all your hair. I didn't know this was coming out. I opened a package one day and this pops out and I'm just about losing my mind, going "oh, my god she's got a new record". And then I looked at the cover, and went: "she cut off all her hair, ahhhh!"
Karen: And you know what's terrible?
Karen: They screwed up. They screwed up my haircut. They cut it off around the neck and everything.
antiMusic: So I put on the record and I was blown away. It's one of my favorite all time records…
antiMusic: I was just going, is everybody stupid here? I don't get this…why I never saw any promotional efforts or anything more about the record!
Karen: Oh, if you don't have money from the record company to go on tour, you're dead. You're dead in the water. And we didn't have money and they got pissed AGAIN, same kind of thing, and it was RCA. It was really disaster. I mean I almost had to sue my manager. I don't want to get into that but I almost had to sue her to get her to release me from my contract. Everything was bad right then. Fred and I used to go out, and they printed posters for that album. These are posters that you slap up on walls in town, right? That kind of thing. There's another one that was a long skinny one that I liked better that had an inside cover with that fireplace thing. Anyway they did a couple of things. They did do a video and anyway they made these efforts with these posters. And Fred and I worked our own little gig down in New York, downtown, worked our own gigs and went around slapping up our own posters. I put a wig on (LAUGHS) because I was so embarrassed to do it---I put on this blond wig. You don't know how broke we were. Oh my god, I can not tell you how broke we were. They were not giving us any money, so, I didn't work. I didn't know anything. So, I mean literally we were so broke, you walk down the street looking for money. Hey, let's go look for money. So you walk down the street and in New York, you could probably find money in 10 minutes. You know, a dollar, I found five dollars. You can do that. Our entertainment was we'd buy a bag of M&Ms—a small bag---whatever that cost, 35 cents or whatever, maybe it's a dollar now, I don't know. And walk down the street. Here's two for you, two for me. Walk down the streets of New York and go walking around like that. That's our entertainment. (laughs) We ate popcorn for dinner, and put honey and milk on it and it taste like it's breakfast. (laughs) It's real good actually. But anyway, our studio, we lived downstairs and we rented it out to bands. And so there was some money, and Fred went out and worked. He went and did like furniture moving. So anyways we had some money going…and so we went out and put up these posters. We had a couple of gigs. I think there were only two gigs and then we played the Ritz. The place where I had first seen this stuff. And that was like the pinnacle of my Girls Night Out stuff. And THEN, and it's freezing cold, oh my god, this sounds like a joke, but to make that album we had to push our equipment, in the road case like all the amps, that's in these road case on big monster wheels that went on tour all over the place. We pushed that thing 20 blocks. I know that sounds funny.
Karen: But I lived on 28th street, and the studio was on 46th street.
antiMusic: (laughs) Oh wow.
Karen: And nobody would pick us up. No cab would let us in their cab because we were musicians and we had this junk. So we had to walk. And no kidding, this sounds like a joke, but you know because you live in Canada. We walked that stuff through snow.
antiMusic: Oh man.
Karen: Yeah. And it was FREEZING cold. Wind chill and 17 below. It was so cold. Yeah, anyway. When the next thing happened, like the spring, John Desautel, the drummer from 1994, called me and wanted to know if I wanted to do a gig with them at the Santa Monica Civic in California. And said that this guy he was living with, these people were managing him and trying to get this new band started or the old band started and was interested in me. Putting money in to me. And did I want to come out and live—no, not live---stay with them in Malibu California to do this gig with the Tubes or something in Santa Monica
antiMusic: And you said, I'm freezing pushing my amp around. I think I can do that.
Karen: Oh, my god, these are the kind of things that you always hope for as a musician, that they're going to ship you out to some hot area from the cold and you know, Yes Please. (laughs) So we went out there and did that gig and this guy was very cool and we were staying at this house way remote in Malibu right on the water. It was so funny because that damn water was so loud and birds were singing, I couldn't sleep. It was so funny. Fred got another job, while we were staying there. We stayed for I don't know, months. I remember being there in December so maybe we went there in the spring and I was still there in December, I'm not kidding. I didn't think anything of it. Thought nothing of it. Maybe we had gone back and sub-letted an apartment, I don't remember. Anyway, I remember writing a letter like the 19th of December, lying at the pool, and writing this letter, saying: "I am going to come back and I am going to pack up my stuff and I'm moving back to California. Which is where I'm from originally. I said I want a trunk with my car. What a concept, it's incredible. You get a trunk with your car, you can carry all your stuff in there. It's crazy. (laughs) We've got this great thing called a trunk. (laughs) Anyway, so we did that, and I stayed with that couple for three years. Fred and I ended up staying with them. And this guy put money into another album, let see, was he around for Rip and Tear? No, we were already gone. So he was putting money into the next project and we had a really good band, oh my god a really good band. The guy, in Project X, he was the guitar player. I used guys from Rod Stewart's band. We had all these wonderful things going on. We did a showcase at the Roxy. I had 750 dollar boots, things were just nice, just writing. And that was all well and good. And then we went our separate ways. Actually that guy was robbed and we had a terrible break up with the couple.
So Fred and I went on our way and started doing the next album which was Rip and Tear for a French company or something like that which you probably never heard. It starts to go towards a ROCKIER era. It just keeps moving that way. So Fred and I were still together and we went to…if I were around anywhere and somebody asked me to sing a song, right, I don't know any songs. I don't know any of your songs. I don't know ANY songs. And to this day I don't know any songs. I just don't know pop songs, lyrics or anything. I may sing them in the car or something but I don't really know them. Even karaoke…I couldn't do it. I can't. I just don't know them. Finally there came one song. A blues song. An Otis Rush song that I heard and said: "Oh my god that song. I love that song. I gotta learn that song." And it had like two verses I think. So I learned that song. And the way he sings it, I listened to it over and over. I was just so digging it. And this was like in the '80s, '88 or something like that. And we went to Europe. Fred and I went to Europe. It was really a vacation and we went to see a blues band playing in Paris and we thought: "Oh, how amusing. Let's go see what Parisian blues sounds like. But we weren't really doing any blues things. It was just like, whatever. We both liked the blues. Fred's 10 years older than me. That's where he's at. Rock and roll and blues is his roots too. So we go to this blues club and it turns out to be some band from Elkhart, Indiana, which is the town next to where Fred grew up and we were laughing about that. They're American. And I sat in on the only song I know and it was GREAT. It like blew me away. I couldn't believe it. I just hadn't even done it before. And Fred and I looked at each other and go: wow that was like freaking fabulous.
So we started, I just started writing tunes. I mean, accidentally on purpose. I'd sit down and say, okay, I'm going to write another blues tune. Let's write another song. I'm writing tunes. I'm just writing tunes down. I'm just writing them. And they're GOOD. And we're having a BALL, at home. Just like, whoa, this is freaking fun. And so I had about 20 minutes of material which I think is about five songs. We started looking for a band. And we ran into this drummer and after the audition he said--- "I gotta go see this really cool guitar player named Rick Dufay". I said, "WHAT? Rick Dufay. I mean I know a Rick Dufay, from New York". So we went to this gig and saw Rick and his band play. And they were fantastic. And we asked Rick if we could use his band and if he wanted to join our band until we could find a guitar player. And that's what did it. And I just kept writing songs and writing them in the car, writing them everywhere and carrying around a guitar. I don't really need a guitar. I just write them in my head. There's nothing complicated about it. And that was my job: just keep writing tunes, writing tunes. And we had a 20 minute gig and Rick had fun. He had fun. He dug it. It's relaxing you know. You don't have to be all about pop music and all clever. It's art. It's right from you. And you know, the better you are, the less you think about what you're doing, and if you're lucky, it's good. (laughs) even though you're not thinking about it. That's what the great feeling is. It's just, you know...that's why it's not as good when you're young because you're not that good. Whatever your instrument is, you're all thinking about it. You're all, "Oh, I've got to work on this riff. Work on that riff…instead of just blasting out off the top of your head. That is just absolutely a stroke, an artistic stroke of you know, you're just massaging your art from inside. It was just four years of creative…and there we go. And who could say no to that?
antiMusic: So is Rick still in the band with you today, because I understand he left at one point?
Karen: Well Rick, being a solo artist he got a bit frustrated and it was time for him to go so he went. And we got two other guys---I don't want to say in the interim because that's not very fair. We did one album with Brad Ayers, the late Brad Ayers who at only age 27 died after the album. He had very bad asthma and it could have been complications from that kind of thing. He was absolutely a sweetheart. The band took on a little different feel then. We had already done, Blues By Nature, had already done a really crazy intense live album, so I was kind of anxious to get another side out. Even the live album. It was like oh my god I remember I was hoarse and I'm screaming and it's almost embarrassing to listen to yourself talk and whatever. And something with a little more control. So we did the last album, the Hard Daze album, with Brad Ayers and then we ended up with another guitar player. And that was pretty good for a while and it turned into a disaster. (laughs) To me it turned into a disaster. He took over. I let him take over and Fred took off and it turned into a just a big fat nothing. So Fred is missed because he was really like a manager…he booked the band. My job was go work out, stay in shape, write songs.. That's my job. Fred's job was work to the band and keep up the publicity. Which we did. We did it like we were signed to A&M records or something. We did a lot of stuff like that. Mailing, had a publicist, and you know, we really were having fun but we were just taking. Being 110 percent with it. And it was just great. It made it really great. We got paid more and more money. We got better and better gigs. And it was just really rewarding. But him not there it came down to this other guy, and he was lousy at it, and flaky and I am not good at it—at all. And so I said, okay, I'm taking a break. I'm tired. But the break has been too long. (laughs). So I'm not playing. The band is not assembled. I've written probably another hundred songs since then.
Karen: I know. It's ridiculous. I'm looking through my track sheets here to try and find a blank one. And it's like, oh my god, look at all these tunes. But that's great. I don't mind that. I'm working with this, about to work with this guy I know who has a blues show. Blues Power is his internet blues show and John Reeks, who is a very, very cool guy and we're going to get together and try to figure out how to get the next cd made, in whatever form that might. Be I'm working on another tune today again. It's really fun.
antiMusic: So Blues By Nature is not around at all now.
antiMusic: Oh, I thought it was. I thought you were just taking a break and were coming back so…
Karen: Well, I call it a break. (laughs) Now I get to do things that I didn't get to do before. Where my job was go to health club and write tunes. Now I can do things like sit down and have a beer. Take the dog for a walk. (laughs)
antiMusic: Yeah. Karen time.
Karen: (laughs) It's been pretty nice but I'm a little, I mean, obviously, of course I am a little anxious. I'm sitting right now in this room I'm in. This little room is like a little shrine to me. (laughs) It hardly has any wall space. I found a lot of photos and stuff, well I've had them, but never had any place for them. And when my NEW husband and I remodeled this house, this room became this little extra room. So it's my room. It's pretty fun. I sit in here and I've got my little recording stuff in here, and my piano, my drums and my guitars and stuff like that. And pictures of me. And you know what's funny? I found a lot of fabulous pictures and because I had this room I framed them and put them up on the wall. I actually was doing something for the company that put out that first 1994 album, did you see that?
Karen: Well for those that don't know. They re-printed it on cd with four live tracks. They sound awful but so what. The other thing is they did a 16 page booklet. They interviewed me. And the guy who interviewed me I've known since he lived in London in 1977 or '788 and he used to call me from there and we would just talk. He's a journalist. Paul Suter.
antiMusic: Oh, yes. I know him well. He loves Canadian musicians. Female that is.
Karen: You know Paul?
antiMusic: I don't know him personally but I read him a lot. I remember reading Kerrang all the time.
Karen: Oh god…well we've been in touch for years.
antiMusic: I know he loved you! (laughs)
Karen: YEAH, YEAH, HE DID. He came to my house and did a really long interview and he wrote a really long thing in there…a history, a thing, I mean, it's great what he wrote. It's really great. And I sent them pictures, I sent them stuff from my little scrap book and I save everything. I don't know why I do this, I'm kind of a packrat I guess, but I save…if I wrote the beginning of it on a napkin, I still have the napkin. I just think I'm going to be historical someday. (laughs)
antiMusic: Well you are…
Karen: I didn't say HYSTERICAL. (laughs). I said historical. Anyway so I save all that crap. So this last song I'm writing, right? I have 10, no, I have one, two three four five…I have six stapled together because I just found it amusing that ever time I printed out, I kind of go, no, let me change this. And then I kept that. I don't know why. It's weird. And a couple of these things were on slides Morley. I hadn't even seen them since we did them. There's pictures I didn't even realize I still had. The picture in there, this one promo we did for that album, I had this outfit and I was on this weight loss thing. And I mean, my GOD, it's fantastic. You should see my ASS! (laughs)You won't see it but it's unbelievable. I'd lost all this weight. I was like on this very strict diet with diet pills, I worked out 3 hours, two times a DAY. And this outfit made by this guy, I don't know his name, but he used to make the clothes for Aerosmith, all the leather stuff. Well this thing is one of those things in LAVENDER. And it just kept getting tighter and tighter, tighter, and they'd take it in and take it in when I would go in for these fittings. And I'd look in the mirror when it was towards the end and I'd look in the mirror and go: oh, who's here?" The mirror behind me? It was me! I didn't recognize ME. I was only like that for two weeks in my whole life. (laughs) Before, I was my normal self, you know, never skinny. So anyway, this outfit is fantastic and it's in there. Because I found the slides and I sent it to him. And then there were other pictures that were promos for Please Stand By.
The one, I didn't even remember that haircut because I went back to New York and cut all my hair off and in fact, that's how I wear my hair now. I think this old picture, like when I'm like 24 years old, I take it to my hairdresser and sit it in front of the mirror and she cuts it like that. And at the end of the haircut, I'll look at the picture in the mirror the whole time and I'll go: yeah, I look exactly like that. (laughs)
antiMusic: I have to admit the cover of Please Stand By was something I looked at more than a few times when I first got it.
Karen: The English company that did the first one record wants to do this one and I accidentally included some of these pictures, so anyways, I want to superimposed this promo shot over the album cover because the album cover for me is just a bad graphic arts job. (laughs) I mean they didn't have graphic arts then. Graphic arts was cut-outs. They didn't have computers to do this. So the guys all have bowls on their heads. And they're going what they hell is going on with those tubie things? Who did that? I mean, one's going through my head in that direction, and another one's bent the drummer's holding…I just don't understand it. And it's terrible. So this picture could be the cover. But the reason I say that is I didn't even have these pictures. So I printed them out at the lab. I have all these pictures starting with L.A. Jets, and the posters, and 1994 poster, and then Girls Night Out. Oh, this is what I was going to tell you. I have this huge picture that was taken for Rip and Tear. I mean I think it's huge; it's like probably 36 by 24, black and white. It's very good. I did my own make up. It's just super severe, black eyebrows, black hair, black lips. Very bitchin' picture, right? It's a very, very good picture right. I had it hanging between these two windows , behind the drums, in my little room here. And when I first got it printed out, people I know now, said "Wow, that's not you!" It really pisses me off. Whenever people come in here and go, is that YOU? "YEAH! Yeah, that's me. Yes." Obviously, I don't even look like that anymore (laughs). It really pisses me off. (laughs)
Anyway, I'm a long way from where I started. But I recently started playing with a friend of mine. He's a solo guy. He does this for a living. He had one job for nine years, as a solo artist singing down at the beach. He's serious. Yeah, he knows every song that Jim Croce ever wrote. (laughs) He needed another body, to get a gig on a Friday night. Literally. He was a younger guy, you know, just a guy I know. And he lives down the street. And we jam every now and then. And he called and said: I need a body. They said: get a girl to play tambourine. And he said, "Well I think I can do better than that". So we go, I play the guitar and he learns my tunes. He taught them to me because all the stuff by Blue By Nature, the Blue to the Bone record…I just tell him: here's the song. Here it is. Here's the key. Here's how it goes, (melody sound). And then they developed it. Mostly because the guys did a lot of the arrangements, getting more elaborate with them. I don't even know how to play them. So he taught me (laughs) how to play them. Instead of just the simple way that I had been doing them. So we have a really good time. I do all my stuff. He likes cover tunes. I just keep telling him, you know Steve, I'm just not interested. In fact, my friend who runs my Myspace, Judy, just sent me a little note that said, "Oh I just heard Bette Midler's "Fire Down Below", that Bob Seger song. You'd sound really good doing that. And it thought wow, what the heck? That IS a good tune, right?
Karen: So I had my office assistant here find it on it iTunes Then I started looking at the lyrics, and I'm going: this sucks! (laughs) This is STUPID. This is very '80s, '90s and very vague and very bad. I don't care. I'm not doing this tune. And I said: I don't need to do this tune. Judy called and said it was like one of my songs, like "Hard Lesson". And I'm going: I can write a "Hard Lesson" any day of the week. And I said, "It just goes like this." And I went in to the other room and started playing a song, playing the chords, A chord, like chords to MY song, to "Hard Lesson" (voices chords) 4/4,. I started playing like that and I go, Shoot. I betchya I've got a lyric around here. And I'm holding my guitar and looking around my messy music room here, where I do have a lot of loose lyrics laying around here right now because I haven't organized it again. And I'm looking around and I see one laying around and I go: yeah, I betchya I can sing this lyric with that song. I started singing and I go: genius! Genius, girl. And That was my song for the weekend. So I've been playing with that. And it's really great because it was too much of a bluesy song before. Too bluesy and it says blues all over the place so it was typical. And I didn't like it. NOW it's really good. I just like to do that. (big laughs)
antiMusic: What's the rest of the material you're doing with him, pretty much all the Blue by Nature stuff?
Karen: Yeah, I do that and anything new I write. I do some of my new stuff. We don't really rehearse. I just bring it out and here it is! Follow me. That's how we do it.
antiMusic: What are your plans for the new stuff?
Karen: Well my new stuff, I'm hoping to get on cd. I've already sent this guy John Reese, some of the stuff. I have so much, really, I mean I could do an album of old timesy stuff. I don't know how familiar you are with Blue By Nature record, but is kind stylized like "Goodbye Mr. Jones". I could do a whole album like that. I'm sending one to my mother if you can believe that. Just the lyric with chords above it and I've going to make a little recording of it, because she's going to like that one. Kind of like "Heart and Soul" only it's really cute. So I'm just going to do another cd. It'll be another Blue By Nature CD. I don't know what it's going to be called. I'm sure my name will be on there somewhere. But I have so much stuff, it's going to be good. It's really going to be good. I'm very happy with it actually. I've just got to get there. The beginning of the year has just been really kind of busy. It's still the beginning of the year, right? (laughs)
antiMusic: Sort of (laughs).
Karen: Well, I keep the office for my husband who's a contractor. So I've been really busy. I sent John one recording and then I have like, I don't know 7 more tunes I could send him, well now, 8 including this one. Oh and another one I had written for a while, a long time, I wrote it about 1997. Never bought it to the band because I was never really done with it. I had a gig with Steve and I said, I'm just not going to this gig without a new tune. I'm going to start looking at some stuff. Let me see what else I've got. So I looked at my stuff and I said, I could do this tune. So pulled one out and said "Let me just finish this. I'm just tired of this so I'm going to finish this and however I do it right now is just how I'm going to do it." And it's great. So I'm just constantly writing and playing. And I have a FABULOUS guitar that I got for my birthday. A new guitar, a beautiful little Martin. A beautiful, beautiful electric acoustic Martin with a thin body. It's very comfy, makes life nice. I've got all kinds of nice little instruments. I've got a traveling guitar. But I do a lot of things now. It's not just two things: work out and play.
antiMusic: There's the picture of you on your MySpace, that comes up whenever you play "It's All About You" which I was going to ask you about. I love that. Is that the new guitar you were talking about?
Karen: Oh, yeah, THAT guitar. That is a very special guitar. No, I was playing that on stage already. It's a very strange little thing that I got from a folk art store east of here, when we played a festival. And you know, between setting up and whatever…there was this folk art store and this little was guitar there and so I got that guitar I think for my birthday too. Now you know what to get me for my birthday. (laughs). Either that or a ring, ok. A ring with some kind of shiny stone. Shiny, shiny.
antiMusic: I'm taking notes.
Karen: Big and shiny. (laughs) I love aquamarine, it goes with my eyes. (laughs) That or a guitar. It's funny because it's just a piece of junk really. But it has such a peculiar sound. It sounds like a banjo. And I play it on stage and people would laugh at it and go, what kind of quirky thing is that? It has the greatest playing. The neck is perfect for me. That's why I liked it. I thought of it as a little traveling guitar. But it has such a peculiar sound, I put it away. And these guys came up to me a couple of years into my playing it on stage and said "Our dad made that guitar." He said, There's only six of them made." And their father was a furniture maker and just on a whim he made that thing. But I had to have it worked on so it would tune properly. Because little homemade things, there's an art to doing the neck. Do you play the guitar or another instrument?
antiMusic: Well a bit of keyboards.
Karen: Oh okay, well you know what I mean. If things don't tune up right, they're not quite properly made or whatever. So I had them work on the bridge and stick a few little things in here and there to make it work. And it's got real cheap plastic tuners, and the pick guard is a STICKER, and so the name is Gold Sticker. Yeah, it's very funky but it's very unique sounding. I've actually put it away because I don't want anything to happen to it. (laughs) But no, that little guitar was a ball. Everybody's always laughing and going WHAT's that? Is that a violin? And oh they'd make fun of me and it was kind of fun.
antiMusic: Do you have something else to do right now or do you have more time?
Karen: No, I'm fine. Anything else you want to know. What could you POSSIBLY want to know?
antiMusic: Let's back up a little bit, or actually a lot. L.A. Jets the record, I guess sales-wise it didn't do tons, but it seems I saw it everywhere. I saw the ads, I saw stories on you. Were you surprised by the recognition you got right out of the gate.
Karen: No because I didn't know anything about it. And again, that was Christine Desautels and she was a great saleswoman. She used to do to things for Coca Cola. She's very strong. And she sold them. She's very smart. And she's just on the ball. That's what she did. So she had the record company do all that. That's what record companies did back then. They would sign this band, and….
antiMusic: They worked it.
Karen: Yeah, they worked it. You understand. You said you were working for a record store. Ok, that's why you saw it. (laughs). Nobody else did. You never heard it on the radio. You're kind of peculiar, if you don't mind me saying so.
antiMusic: (laughs). I've heard that before.
Karen: Yeah. I was always used to getting good attention. Even in our crummy band, that never got work. It just seemed like it was a progression. I just seemed, like, oh yeah, it was good. I was working hard just to make it good, just trying to make it cohesive, trying to make it work for me. I was too busy to think of anything like that.
antiMusic: So how did you guys get involved with the movie A Star is Born?
Karen: Well, we were just in Woodstock working on the second album and that song was written there. My boyfriend was the drummer and he had very pretty eyes and he wrote the chord progression, the descending chords…you know, where they use the bass? He wrote that part, and then --- thank you! --- generally that's all I need. And so then I wrote the song for him. And it was going on the next album. But anyway, that song was written then. And that second album had a lot of problems. That band was signed to a company called The Entertainment Company. And the entertainment company had the contract with RCA. Now The Entertainment Company also took the money and ran. And that album was never done. We never finished. We were also on the Don Kirshner show about that time.
antiMusic: What? I never knew you were on that. I used to always watch that all the time.
Karen: You know what? That's one of those things that I actually forgot. Again, one of those bad kind of memories. And I put it out of my memory until a couple of years ago. And I suddenly remember, oh s---, I did the Don Kirshner show. And I played piano and I sang that song. And we did some other songs. It was crazy. We did a song or whatever that was going to go on the next album. Oh my god. It's all this stuff I have found. Oh and you know where I got that Don Kirshner thing?
Karen: From the archives in New York City. It's amazing to see this. It's really funny. Oh and I remember those pants were $90 and they were cool. (laughs) Anyway, so that is the only time we ever performed that song. And I guess at that time it still looked like we were going to do that second album. Sometime between then we got dropped again. I got called in. ME and the manager to the executive meeting in New York. I thought it was going to be something good. And they balled me out and they said: Where's the money? And I'm going: "What?" It was like I was a thief. It was really weird. And of course I had nothing to do with any of that stuff. I'm just going along, working out in the winter, in the snow, in the mountains, writing songs, and we lived in the studio. Studio, upstairs apartment, downstairs: studio. That's all I know. So this is like, holy crap, my god. So anyway, Charles Casselman, the owner of The Entertainment Company, knew Barbara Streisand. I had met Jon Peters, her boyfriend, the director or whatever he is. I met him one time at the Beverly Hills hotel, during that whole era, I mean, ages before that song and stuff. I guess when I was on tour, maybe even before we were even signed and everybody's all loaded and everything. (laughs) THEY were, by the way, I don't do that stuff because it hurts my voice. I mean I'm just like miss goody two shoes. Give me champagne and that's all I need. And they're all stoned and loaded and all this stuff, and he comes up, he's talking and he says "I'm going to make a movie called EYES and I want your eyes to be in it." So it's like, "Okay, whatever". And sure enough he finally came up with a movie, years later. And Charles put our song in there.
So the very first concert I ever played was for 100,000 people. And Bill Graham, the most famous concert promoter, personally walked me unto the stage. I mean why anything else would be anything? I mean, you know, this is just the next thing. I didn't think anything about it. It was just kind of a joke. It's almost point and shoot. They just pushed me over here, and okay here I am. And you better be good, you're opening this concert for 100, 000 people, that was the Barbara Streisand concert for the movie, the movie. It's just like, okay, go here, go there. Do this, do that. And she did this promo where she stood, because he knows her, she agreed to do this thing and stand with me and ask me questions. You'll see some write-ups say: Karen Laurence Teaches Barbra Streisand to Sing. You know, it's just like a joke. She asked how you move like a rock and roll person. So I just gave her some tips on that. I've never even seen the movie. Supposedly she does one of them, holds the mic upside down or something. I don't know.
antiMusic: You never even saw the movie. That's amazing.
Karen: Nah I can't watch the movie. I can't stand Barbara Streisand being a rock and roller. It gives me the willies.
antiMusic: Around about that same time, you also sang with Jeff Beck.
Karen: That was MUCH later by the way, like in the late '80s and he was doing a record at the Record Plant which I practically cut all my teeth and records at in L.A.. I've recorded at all 3 Record Plants, by the way, which I'm very, very proud to say. San Francisco, the L.A. Jets. The L.A Record Plant, which is toned down. And the New York Record Plant, I don't know if it exists still, but anyway. So he was doing this record at The Record Plant. And I'm just almost like a permanent fixture then. I go in, get free studio time, I've done demos there. Rod Stewart and I had a little pissing match going on because I used his band. And he was recording there and he came in and listened to my stuff. I mean…the studio had me under their wing for years and years. And I've been going there since, like shoot, the first 1994 record or whatever. So the guy who worked there, literally the engineer that did that record used to be our assistant. Steve, Airplane Steve. He even worked for us in New York. Anyway, he was doing the engineering on the Jeff Beck album. They called me instead in the middle in the night and said look, he's got this instrumental he wrote on an airplane, but his manager wants him to put lyrics to it. You guys want to do it. So we said, okay. So we went over there, I think THAT was around midnight. Got the recording, met him, blah blah blah, that's about it. Took the recording home, worked on it till about, I don't know, 8 in the morning until we felt we had cracked the nut so to speak. And I was going to sing it at 2 in the afternoon the next day because I had to get some sleep. Of course I mean that was really bitchin'. I mean Jeff Beck has always been---although I'm not versed in his stuff---he's a guitar player that I really like. His stuff is very brassy. It's like a voice. Of course it was really an honor, brief as it was. If only I'd take just a little more time. It's just that I can't help it. I'm fast. (laughs) But they cut so much of the song out that that was disappointing as well. They didn't double up the chorus and make it a little stronger as far as the song goes. But it's cool. It's great. I love that.
antiMusic: Was he there while you were recording?
Karen: Yeah, he was there. I made fun of him in some wisecracky way. I don't remember…something about the way he played. I said is THAT how you hold a pick? Something like that.
antiMusic: To Jeff Beck? (laughs)
Karen: I said: "No wonder you have such trouble…" or something. "Is THAT how you hold your pick?" (laughs) I'm always just a wisecracker. So yeah that was great. It was kind of weird. It was like a little window of joy. It felt great. It felt really great for about a whole day. It felt great. This was almost euphoric. Very much an honor.
antiMusic: I remember reading Kerrang, and all the magazines when the 1994 record would come out, the first one. Geoff Barton called this "The best female fronted record of all time." And there were all kinds of comments like that at the time in those mags. Were you guys reading this kind of stuff? Did you know what was going out?
Karen: I did see the reviews. I was working my ass off. This phone conversation we're having right now? I would do this like seven times a day when the album was out. I did this and traveled and we'd always go and do interviews and then go play. And this is just… so seeing those reviews and everything, it was almost they were just taking words out of my mouth, or they're taking words off the vinyl or they're just repeating each other. Like that thing about Barbara Streisand. Somebody said that, and you can tell whoever wrote the next article just read that article. (laughs) Because I never said that. (laughs) But anyways, of course I was reading the stuff. Geoff reviewed the re-issue, and that's what he said. I saw that and I said, "If that comment had been made back then, I'd be famous by now." (laughs) You know what I mean? It's like: "Thanks a lot!"
Yeah I loved that comment. Not that I believe it. But you know, the one thing I think about that comment, is that I worked very hard. I was much disciplined. I'm on time. I mean I worked so hard in that band, if I say I'm going to do something I do it. And I'm real honest, you know, and on stage, that's still the same thing. I've only cancelled three days in my whole life. I feel like I work really hard and on stage I'm really strong. And I felt in a way, ok, I'll take that. I kick ass on stage, that's for sure. That I'll say, is unique. Last week about five times somebody said, "Hey, Karen I was listening to the radio the other day, and I said: damn is that Karen on the radio? It sounded just like you." So I said, "Oh great, that's just wonderful. Isn't that fun? Well I guess it's not me because I'm still here (laughs) in the back yard, picking up dog poop. I guess it's not me, huh? But thank you for that." And so I think, well you know, if my writing wasn't that great or my timing wasn't that great or my voice wasn't unique, at least on stage I am singular. (laughs) At least to this point. I don't see any people out there who do what I do. (laughs)
antiMusic: A song that really seemed an odd choice for a cover on the Please Stand By record, was "Wild in the Streets: by Garland Jeffries.
Karen: Yeah, that was Jack's idea. He suggested it. I guess they wanted a cover tune or something. I mean I hate to break any fantasies about it, laughs, but usually that's what it is. (laughs) It wasn't my idea. Jack brought the song in.
antiMusic: But it worked well. It sounded great.
Karen: Really, I liked it. It was kind of a weird voice I did, wasn't it?
antiMusic: Yeah, it was. It was different,
Karen: Yeah, I enjoyed that. You know what was funny? The song "Our Time Will Come" is still one of my favorites. I just relearned that song the other day—maybe not the other, about two months ago. Right around Christmas, I just sat down, and went: what ARE those chords? And I had a recording of the song, which I just recently found because I didn't have a recording of it. Anyway, I love that tune. And like the lyrics. I like everything about that song. And we did that song. Now Eddie Lionetti was producing the record and we were having a ball. I think I trashed my voice during that album. For sure I did. And at the end of the record, because A&M was still pissed off. We went over budget. What are we going to do with this thing and everybody was really confused. A lot of confusion. So Jack was called in, I think we did "Wild In The Streets", then, maybe bring in another cover tune then, and we cut I think it was only one song, I can't remember what the other one would have been. But he re-cut the vocal on "Our Time Will Come", digitally, because the digital thing had just come out. And I'm just telling you it was so un-together. That vocal took me 14 hours, which is not at all the way I do it now. I do a vocal three times now. I sing three times, and if we can't piece something together in there --- most of it should be either the first one or the last one --- then forget it. We're going to get it. I don't do that because I think it takes all the edge, the spontaneity out of it. And that album was a big learning thing for me. I worked really hard at all this. We piece it together between words. Just like that Whitney Houston song, that first song she did was done like a hundred and thirty two times, you know (sings) and "I will always love …" that Dolly Parton song, a 132 vocals pieced together.
antiMusic: You kinda lose the emotion after 132 times, I would think.
Karen: Well you know? You're going to lose something...whatever. So I did this lyric and we pieced it together, "Our Time Will Come" and I think it's just great. I mean I just love it. But when Jack came in to do it, my voice was shot and I said, ah no, you're kidding. We have to redo that, my god, there's no way. I was sitting there with Eddie when we pieced it together and I can't tell you how many edits there were; a million katrillion. And I did it in fewer, probably three takes for Jack. Exactly the same way. exactly. I even popped between the words, the syllables, (laughs) because I knew exactly how we had done it and how the vocal went. I'm like a parrot, you know. But anyway my voice was shot. It had a little more air in the original. It was a little tight. But I still like it. It's okay. I love it. And all those high vocals, I can't even do those anymore. I can't do that, god, for one of the albums when I told you when I came up to California and I was working with that guy. We did this showcase at the Roxy and all this stuff, I was singing and I was using that voice, that high, like a sci-fi movie (does it) like that German, is it Nina Hagen?
antiMusic: Yeah, right.
Karen: Like Nina Hagen. It was hysterical. I loved having that voice. It felt like an opera singer. And to go around singing the high part in opera, the male part, it's hysterical. I can't that anymore. If I can't sing it in a full voice for some reason. I don't have a falsetto.
antiMusic: You don't need it. You've got all the rest of the notes.
Karen: Ah, well. (laughs) I like doing what I do now because I don't have to worry about pop music. I may be sitting here in sweats and trying to keep my German Shepard from eating my off-the fence cat, you know and picking up dog poop in the backyard. And I feel like I'm really living now. I don't have to worry about pop music. That's just so stressful. I mean, look at the way it is now. What on earth is going on out there now? It's not appealing to me at all.
antiMusic: Do you plan, once you get your record out, do you plan on doing shows here and there and still hit the stage?
Karen: Yeah, I do. I plan on just to, obviously. Well not obviously to you, but obviously to me. I don't want to go into some of these little dives that we started at. But where we ended at, doing some festivals, doing some really nice venues. That's what I want to do. That's fine. I think it's just ridiculous nowadays. You know I look at some of those blues magazines from time to time and I see the same people out there pounding it out. About the only thing is maybe Tommy Castro maybe going to Europe and going on the Mediterranean blues cruise and that sounds great to me. But you know what, he's got a family. He had a family. He had a baby and they went still out. Unless your spouse is in the band like mine always was, you can't have a life. I never had that before, the outside love. Someone who wasn't in the band. (laughs) But that's what I have now. I can't teach him to sing, and I can't teach him to play guitar. (laughs) He's really good with power tools. And giving orders. So, I don't really want to be away. Of course I could get right back in that kind of discipline, you know. I could. It's really not that hard. I kind of eat like crap and nobody believes it. People can't believe how I eat and I don't work out and stuff. But it's like, well, I'm sorry. It's just the way it is for me. I just don't want to go on tour. I don't want to do 11 nights in a row. I don't want to play and some of those gigs aren't good, aren't cool. I don't need to do that. Now, that's where the other guy comes in, with John Reese, the Internet Blues Show. You know it's going to have a different concept. And he's an older guy. So we're going to try to do some stuff like that. I mean, my god, I mean YouTube, you know, Hello? I mean I love it when people do come to gigs and see that energy but I want to make sure it's stacked, make sure they are going to be there. And again, it's blues. It's not like it's the most popular thing, or the biggest paying thing. But artistically, it's...I just cannot tell you. I have spent 24 hours here, literally, the last 24 hours, revamping a blues lyric and just having a ball.
Karen: I'm sorry, but that's just really fun to me. (laughs) Then I get to sing it too.
antiMusic: And it's what comes from inside. You don't have to worry about by the time it gets out, the record, the marketing, and everything together, is it going to be on to the next thing by then.
Karen: I don't think I'll be. For one thing for me, the thing I like about blues, is that it's up to my voice. My voice can jam on it. Whereas other music, the only time I cut loose would be the ends. I remember someone saying, why don't you do more of what you do at the end, in the song? Do one of those Karen Lawrence endings here. I thought, what? I didn't know what they were talking about. That's where I get to go up, I get to ad lib and get crazy with the solo and whatever. And with blues it's just all about that. And it's all about just being really good at it. I don't think there's anything that can compare to the four years that our original Blue by Nature was together. My god. I mean, we have songs that are 20 minutes long.
antiMusic: Wow. It's like a jam band.
Karen: Yeah, I start to go into something, the guitar player picks it up. He starts going, the other guy picks it up. We wind up with a whole new section and we're just creating on the spot, and the audience is eating it up. They're just going crazier and crazier. I remember after one song I was so blown out,--this happens all the time, I just have to go lean against the wall and be going (breathing hard). I was EXHAUSTED and drained. And I don't want to say this, but it was like sex when you're 23 years old. I think. As far as I can remember back then. (laughs)
Karen: You know what I mean?
Karen: Only if you were older, and you could really appreciate that. And we did this every night. And we played four hours. So you'd think we'd get tired of this, but it was always new and it was like: I want to make a record right now. It would be perfect. And you're just looking out and they're just expressing it and having a BALL. Because your instrument is good, you're not thinking about that. You're just f---ing around. It's so frigging good, I can't tell you. And always, you know, especially when I bring these songs, check out the song on the live album, BBN live album? "Fun and Games", my god, I wrote that song in the car. I arranged that also in the car. Oh yeah, I used to sing in a gospel choir, a really big gospel choir here and I learned a whole lot of stuff from being in that choir for six months about arrangements and really milking a turnaround and oh god, I really learned a whole lot of stuff . It changed my whole life really. So anyway I wrote the song, I arranged the song in the car and of course, I just love it. And I'm just digging it so much and the band was playing in such crappy little place. I mean, we weren't but 8 inches off the floor that was the stage. And it was a Mexican restaurant, I think. You know the kind of place that at night they move the chairs and turn it into a gig, a little dance floor on the tile.
antiMusic: You're eye to eye with the audience.
Karen: (laughs) And anyways I told them I've got this new tune. And I told Rick about it. And I said, yeah it's really great, blah, blah, blah. And he goes, "Boy how do you keep writing all these songs?" And so I'm standing there on stage and I look over and I say huh? And he goes, "No. Oh no. Don't do that." And I go, "Come on, come on. It's in F. Five, six, seven, eight! D chord! Four, 1, repeat it, I just hold my fingers up because they can't hear me. But I carry it off and they start it. And they're all shaking their heads, and the bass player's going: "Damn it. Here we are. We're in it now" and especially when the band was young we could that. It's a blast when everything is going like that.
antiMusic: Well, I've kept you a long time. Thank you so much for this opportunity and I can't wait to hear the new stuff.
Karen: It's been a pleasure. Thank you for the interview.
Morley and antiMusic thank Karen Lawrence for first of all being awesome (Christmas came early in Moose Creek)!!!! And also for taking all the time for this interview.