Straight from the Heart
Lucy Michelle on rock royalty, the worst jitters ever, and her jubilant new solo album
Attack of the Heart is your first album without the Lapelles. You aren’t parting ways, are you?
Lucy Michelle: No, going solo wasn’t about breaking off. It was about working with different musicians, trying something new. With a band, you come in with the shell of a song and the band helps fill out the parts. Solo artists have the freedom to say, “This is what I want to do,” and people go and do it and make it sound 10-million times better. I still hate the term singer-songwriter though.
Is the songwriting different?
LM: Making the last Lapelles album, HEAT, was pretty therapeutic. I was going through a hard time and dealing with the difficulty of doing adult things and making adult decisions and becoming my own person. With Attack, it was a little more celebratory. I understand a bit more about myself and what I want to do with my life.
So the sound is different, too?
LM: Yeah, this album sounds more traditional rock, country, and jazz. The Lapelles are eccentric and different. Not to say this album isn’t those things, but the shape and arrangement are more straight-forward: A-B-A-B.
Your stage fright was once so bad that you threw up on-air at Radio K. Does striking out on your own mean things are better on that front?
LM: Well, definitely much better than that.
You worked with John Munson and Chan Poling of the New Standards on this album. How did that happen?
LM: I’ve known John and Chan since they asked me to join their annual New Standards Christmas show a few years back. We ran through some of my songs at John’s studio last summer, and it went so well I got up the courage to ask if they’d do the whole album with me. My budget was pretty “eh,” so they basically offered up their services, which was very generous of them.
They’re heavy hitters. Was that intimidating?
LM: I used to listen to their music in high school, so yeah, at first it was daunting. But we quickly became closer friends. They’rejust really nice, sweet guys who cared about my music. That was huge for me.
You recently landed a two-month residency at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles. Which has better crowds: California or Minnesota?
LM: Minnesota all the way. And I wish I could say I’m just being nice, but it’s true.
Didn’t a fight even break out at one of your Cali shows?
LM: I was playing at this nice place in Santa Cruz and one guy got more and more drunk. He hassled my husband then came up right in front of the stage and starting yelling. When people tried to kick him out, he started taking swings at the engineers. So we’re standing there, still playing, while this guy gets arrested and is crying as he gets taken away. It was crazy.
Might this inspire some new music?
LM: Yeah, like a whole album of Irish fighting songs.
Lucy Michelle and her band, featuring John Munson and Chan Poling, release Attack of the Heart at the Cedar Cultural Center on April 27.