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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Extended interview with Haley Bonar

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 12:47 PM

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Below is a longer version of the interview we ran this week with Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Haley Bonar. She plays Club Cafe Sunday, June 19 at 7 p.m. with Daniel Martin Moore.

 

I heard a rumor about you. You’re expecting?

Yes, it’s very true! I’m due October 18th. I just found out that I’m having a girl; I’m pretty excited.

 

So you’ll be playing shows around then, right? Tour van delivery?

Oh, God, no. I’m gonna cut off doing shows in September; I think then I’ll be at a point where I don’t want to be on a stage performing.

 

Will you be taking time off after that? Will we not see you back here for a while?

I’m sure I’m not gonna take too much time off. I’ll probably be [home in Minneapolis] over the winter, but because this record just came out, and touring in the summer is fun but not the most ideal, I think I’ll probably try to get back on the road in the spring if possible.

 

What’s with the new album’s title? Golder than what?

I dunno, I’m not sure — I kept being drawn to gold, and thinking about that color. I’ve never really been a big fan of gold. When I talked to my sister about doing the artwork for the record, I thought, “You should paint my face, and make me have a gold grill!” And she was like, “Why?” I forgot about that for a while, but I wanted something that wasn’t so straightforward, like a song title. It’s about constantly moving forward and challenging yourself, with your writing and with your creative process. I thought it was kind of a cool word. I like to make up my own words.

 

I read that the process of recording this album was a little bit off-the-cuff – a lot of live full-band recording instead of laying down individual tracks?

Yeah. We went into the studio, pretty much knowing most of the songs, then just sort of tried to do everything as live as possible. That’s basically 85% of the record, done in a single take. Then I went into the studio after the band left and did a few overdubs, some harmonies and stuff like that. That was the goal of it – the people I play with on this record are so great, and I love what they add to every song, it’s so colorful. I just thought, “What’s the point in using this beautiful studio and these beautiful musicians if you’re just gonna cut and overdub things?” I love playing with them; I wanted to capture that energy as much as possible.

And there’s some stuff on there that we didn’t know at all. I dragged up some corpses of songs in the studio. Like “Money,” I had been working on that song for several years off and on and never really liked it, and I just kinda came up with a version of that and they learned it; I think it was the second take of that that we used on the record.

 

But you maintain a really polished sound – it’s a live, one-take recording that doesn’t sound lo-fi at all.

Yeah. Well, we’re all pretty pro. [Laughs.] I guess we all knew the songs so well, those guys are so quick at learning the songs, that it was easy. I’m sure it’s not it’s not always that easy to do that, but luckily we could.

 

A lot of this record was written when you were living in Portland, right?

A lot of it was, yeah. Some of it was written before, when I decided to leave, then during that transition I was packing up and saying goodbye and moving to the West Coast. Then when I was there, I was lucky enough to have a lot of time to sort of hibernate and write. And I wanted to record it here with my Minnesota musicians in a Minnesota studio, and after we’d done that, I felt like it was time to come back!

 

Do you feel like having that sense of removal from what you were used to had an affect on the songwriting on this album?

Absolutely. I think your environment is everything, honestly. If you’re comfortable and that’s how you like to write and you have your routine and your places you go and people you see, that always is gonna affect how you write or whatever you’re doing. Then if you remove yourself from all those comfort zones, a city you’ve lived in for eight years, which was Minneapolis for me, you sort of just go into yourself a whole lot more than you can when you’re comfortable. Not that I was so uncomfortable and so alone and so lonely, ‘cause I loved living in Portland, it’s such a great city, so fabulous. But it was exactly what I needed – to take time to be alone in a really good way.

 

Beyond having played here — any Pittsburgh connections?

I have a super cool Pittsburgh connection! My mom’s father, Dunc McCallum, was a hockey player, and he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins! It was in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. My mom talks about living there when she was little, and she loves it. I think it’s a magical city and I love it – the architecture, and the mountains and everything. I’m excited to be back.

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