"I'm in a third story flat cooking gumbo with the band" We chat to Carson McHone
Fresh from career best reviews for her 2018 album Carousel, and in the middle of a European tour we had the chance to fire some questions as the talented singer-songwriter Carson McHone.
Hello Carson. What have you been up to today?
Well howdy, today we woke up in Malmo, Sweden. Our last show of the Scandinavian portion of this tour was last night at Folk a Rock and it was a really good one. We have two days off now and we’re staying in Copenhagen. Hoping to get some reading and writing and recharging done while we’re here.
And where are you right now?
In a third story flat cooking gumbo with the band... although we are missing some key ingredients, so it’ll likely be more of a stew - the folks at the grocery had never even heard of okra before.
Tell us a bit about you, what do you do for fun?
For fun I read or watch movies or walk or ride horses.
Your new record Carousel came out earlier this year, what can you tell me about it?
Although Carousel is the third time I’ve gone into the studio we were sort of treating it as a debut, an introduction to the music I’ve made so far, some older songs reimagined, some new tunes, basically an in-depth handshake.
I love ‘Dram Shop Gal’, what can you tell us about that song?
The term “dram” I’ve been familiar with since I was a child, I first heard it at the Cactus Cafe, a Scottish friend, Ed Miller, sang a tune “gie the fiddler a dram”. I heard it again after I dropped out of college and had to take the test to serve alcohol at restaurants, there are “dram shop laws” in Texas, but most folks in the States ask what that means... anyway, it’s a pretty confessional tune, although I wrote it maybe before I could legally drink but I was already playing in bars a lot, so it’s really the darker side of kind of giving yourself to the nightlife. The last verse is very tongue in cheek and I’m not sure everyone picks up on that.
I’m also a big fan of ‘Good Time Daddy Blues’, what’s the story to that track?
Bout a love you can’t kick, even though it neglects you.
How did you go about writing (and then choosing) what songs to cut for the album?
The producer, Mike McCarthy, and I chose the songs that we thought best represented the breadth of my writing and singing style.
What’s the key to writing a damn good song?
No idea, honesty?
We hear a lot about Austin, Tx in the UK, what’s the best thing about your hometown?
You started off in Austin, how does it feel to be playing venues in the UK and Europe these days?
I feel extremely privileged to be able to travel the world and play music. The audiences over here are very respectful, so that’s nice when you know folks are really listening.
You’ve just toured Sweden, how was that?
Sweden was great, I’m pretty sure we saw almost the entirety of the country - up and down the coast, all over, saw some beautiful landscapes.
And were you looking forward to most when you came back to the UK?
I wasn't going back to any of the same towns I’d played before in the UK, so I was looking forward to getting to know some new places. The previous tour I did solo over in the UK went really well so I hope folks come out to see it with the band this time.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
I try to surround myself with folks who treat me and everyone else around with respect - I haven’t run into too many musicians who I feel treat me unfairly because I’m a woman. I’ve found it’s more of an attitude on the outside, the business side, radio and show promoters too. Very early on it happened that I’d show up sometimes with my band and I’d get the last handshake or they’d call one of the guys Carson, that’s pretty bad, not sure that’s sexism, that’s just not doing your job. It is very strange to me when people make bills of all females or things like that, I think it’s really doing a disservice to women, because it’s doesn’t seem to be about the art.
Who inspires you?
The people I play with, the books I read, the records I’m turned on to, or bands I play with. Anything and everything really.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Erin Rae, she’s out of Nashville, beautiful Songwriter.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Usually black, but every now and then with a bit of milk, I ain’t a coffee snob though, if it’s hot and brown and in a ceramic mug I’m happy.
You can find out more about Carson by visiting her website. You can also check out her social media to see what she's up to.