Our good friends over at Blackout our presenting a great show this Saturday, March 21st when Shilpa Ray comes to her “second home” of Athens, Ohio for a night of rock and roll. (attend on the facebook here) Shilpa is no stranger to Athens have played here many times over the years in various incarnations and she is heading back from a SXSW tour in promotion of a new EP (stream it here) and an upcoming full length, both put out by the fine folks at Northern Spy Records. In addition to singing backup vocals for Nick Cave and putting on some great records (including one on Cave’s own label) she has made time for new material including an EP of Lou Reed and Dinah Washington covers. We had a chance to talk with Shilpa while she was out on the road and thought we would share. Go this show.
Tickets are on sale in advance by clicking here! Blam Blams (athens) and Dana (columbus) will open the show.
AQUABEAR:Â You’ve been a staple in Athens music scene since the days of Beat the Devil and now for years as a solo artist and with the Happy Hookers, what makes Athens special for you?
SHILPA RAY: I’ve always loved the music scene there. It heavy on Rock n Roll and you down get that in Brooklyn much. I’ve also been adopted by various people in Athens so it really is like my second home.
AB:Â What’s your favorite Athens show memory? Or Ohio memory overall?
SR: There’s a few. Some are painful so I’ll stick the fun shallow ones instead. Let’s see… When Dirty Johnny of the Makebelieves dressed up as Curious George for Halloween and started rolling around stage with someone dressed as Snow White. That was visually stunning. Getting trapped in a snow storm. When our van broke down and we played as a CCR cover band to pay for the repairs. The after parties. ALWAYS the after parties
AB:Â Favorite Ohio band from over the years?
SR: The Makebelieves, Dropdead Sons, We March
AB:Tell us about the new LP, Last Year’s Savage.
SR: I wrote and recorded it through years of severe depression.Â It’s pretty raw and heavy.
AB:Â With the Make Up EP, what made you decide to release a cover EP? How did you select the songs?
SR: This is my story and I’m sticking to it:Â Make Up – I had an epiphany about this song when I was in Palermo around Christmas time after the Bad Seeds tour. Lou had died late October. I found out 10 minutes before I had to play solo before a sold out crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Needless to say his passing had a massive effect on me. He was my childhood hero. Europe was hard to grasp for me in a lot of ways. The culture, language barriers,the overload of dairy and ghettos of freshly placed refugees from countries, some I had never heard of before. I was exhausted and getting drunk outside a bar where you can get Marsala for a Euro, basically all I could afford. There were tons of kids dancing in the streets getting high and happy, when this stray yellow lab comes up to me and starts swaying back and forth. The song Make Up came on and I started swaying with the dog. It was one of those rare moments I felt alright.
What A Difference A Day Makes – We had decided to go to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame during a tour stop in Cleveland. I was pretty cynical about the whole thing and tour hadn’t been smooth. I had to send a dude home for being a brat in Kansas City among other places and was feeling pretty exposed as the bad guy. It was a stressful situation and trying to justify my actions in the passive aggressive world of music where no one’s making any money felt daunting. I separated myself from the group, the costumes, the Katy Perry and the Beyonce and hung out in the listening booth for hours. Dinah Washington came on and put every wannabe singer, myself included, to shame. What a voice! She draws her breath so long and never loses the listener. I had to challenge myself with this one. I hope I can sing like her someday.
AB:Â You are out on tour right now, are you debuting new material? If so what is it like to play those songs in front of audience after working on the album?
SR: Yes! It’s kind of freaky cause it’s never as tight as the rest of the set. It can be a mind fuck at times, to sing, play, remember and get judged all at the same time.
AB:Â What are you listening to right now?
SR: This very second? Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos (editors note: hell yeah)
Make Up is available via Northern Spy Records!
3/17-3/19 Austin, TX â€”SXSW
3/20 Hot Springs, AK â€” VOV Festival
3/21 Athens, OH â€” Smiling Skull Saloon