"I’d drink a bottle of wine and just write every single night" In conversation with Courtney Marie Andrews
Hey Courtney, how the devil are you?
Haha. I’m great! I’ve just finished a rehearsal with my band, in a very sweaty storage space, and now I’m enjoying the sweet, sweet air conditioning in my car.
You’re originally from Arizona, I've family in Cottonwood, AZ so I know it well, what’s the best thing about your home state?
Good ol’ Cottonwood! One of my best friends is from Cottonwood. It has some great charm, that area. I am in love with my home state. It took leaving to learn that. Every time I go back, I realize what a unique part of the world I grew up in. The Sonoran desert has such a strange beauty. That’s probably what I love most, the feeling of coming home and seeing those big ol’ saguaros again.
You left home quite young, what was behind that decision?
Although Phoenix is a big city, for a lot of people you grow up living there with an eagerness to break free and search for something beyond, like you would in a small town. I’m a daydreamer, and always romanticized leaving for some grand adventure. Leaving must just be a part of me on a molecular level.
You’ve done plenty of travelling in Europe and the US, what is it about that that has a pull for you?
Every time you set out on the road, you start writing the beginning of a personal story. Every tour feels like a book that you can get lost in. That’s always been the appeal for me. I love change, and spontaneity. That’s something that I need. I’ve never handled the mundane very well. This lifestyle is not for the light of heart.
The genesis of Honest Life seems to have been in Belgium, what was it that got the creativity flowing?
While living in Belgium, I was going through a breakup. I didn’t know any of the band I was backup singing for on a personal enough level to spill my guts to them every single day. So I wrote, and wrote, until I felt okay. I’d drink a bottle of wine and just write every single night. I probably have 10 or 15 songs that I’ll never show anyone from that period because they’re just TOO heartbreaking.
You worked in a bar when you went back to the States - how does having a normal job stack up with being a touring musician?
It was a big change, but it was exactly what I needed for my mental state at the time. I needed to get to know folks who didn’t live and die by music like I do. I needed to feel normal as a bartender so I could feel normal as a musician again. Once Honest Life had a release date, I was ready again. As far as music goes, I’m a lifer, but sometimes you need to take a step back, reassess, and take a hard look at yourself.
I really love ‘Irene’; who is she?
'Irene' was inspired by a friend, but most of us have been Irene at some point in our lives. Irene is someone who is amazing, but doesn’t know it yet.
What can you tell me about ‘Table For One’? It has such a forlorn feeling to it.
When working at the bar, I’d tell people tour stories, and they’d often romanticize my life as a musician. ‘Table For One’ paints the sometimes low points of touring. I did a lot of touring alone in my early days of touring, and it can feel very isolating. You have a lot of time to self-reflect, which is a theme the song visits as well.
What can you tell us about some of the songs on the record?
These songs are very personal, and honest, hence the title.
If people could only listen to one song from the album what would you recommend?
I’d say the last track, 'Only in My Mind', only because in a lot of ways, I feel this track lyrically sums up what I tried saying on the entire record.
What was your process for writing/choosing songs for the album?
Choosing songs for this record came very naturally. This was the first record I’ve written, where all the songs felt like they belonged together in a big way. There was only maybe one or two tracks that we rehearsed that ultimately didn’t make the cut.
I’m a huge fan of the record, were you surprised at the reaction to it?
I am eternally grateful for the reaction. I poured my heart and soul into, and I’m glad that it translates, and comes across.
You’re heading back to the UK soon, what are you looking forward to most?
One of my first solo tours over to the UK, I was able to open for my friend Damien Jurado at Bush Hall in London. It’s come full circle, because now the band and I will be headlining Bush Hall, and it’s sold out! They’ve even added a second night. That’s pretty unreal and magical for me.
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
I’d listen to Bobby Charles 'I Must Be in a Good Place Now'.
Finally, how do you take your coffee? (Or alcohol?)
Coffee with cream, tequila with a lime, and whiskey on ice with lemon.
Thanks so much for your time Courtney, look forward to catching one of your shows in September.
Courtney Marie will be returning to the UK for End Of The Road festival and a few local dates at the end of August, early September. For all the details visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and listen to the album on streaming services everywhere.