This interview took place on: 2/28/12.
Well, I first wanted to do it--I mean God would definitely be my inspiration, and my faith, initially--and I'd always wanted to do a hymns record because I grew up singing hymns in a Southern Baptist church. And then I was asked by this company, Kingsway, to do a whole album of hymns and I thought that sounded really good...
Leigh: Yeah, because I'd done a few songs for them on compilations before, so they just wanted to see if we could do a whole record together. So they approached me, and they took old hymns, y'know like 200-year-old sacred words, and rewrote melodies to them. I got the opportunity to rewrite some of the melodies and I enjoyed that. And at first, I thought, "well this will be really hard to do if I already know the songs," but I didn't know them.
Leigh: I chose a few; I chose like two of them, but otherwise, the producer was really great about choosing them. I think he did a really good job.
Leigh: John Hartley.
Leigh: On those compilations I had. He was the producer for those.
Leigh: Yes, two more.
Leigh: Yes, hymns, and I guess I'll give it away a little bit to you; I think we're going to try to do an ambient kind of thing, like a Delirium thing but with old hymns. I'm not sure how it will all work, but I'm really excited about it.
Leigh: I would love to do another record like that, but they haven't asked. Those guys just disappeared into their own projects. I don't know. I haven't heard from them in a long time.
Leigh: Yeah! Sixpence and Leigh Nash solo stuff, and a few covers. I only play one hymn during these full sets, because I've just got one that I really, really love. And without turning it into a different kind of night altogether, I think it feels really good to play this one very impactful hymn. It's called "O Heart Bereaved and Lonely." It seems to do the trick for the whole show.
Leigh: No, because they were so old, they were not of the variety that we used to do in church. No, I think the Baptist hymnal hymns are maybe not quite that old. So, no, I just kind of trolled through the Internet and found some really old hymns that I liked the words to and wrote melodies to them. It was really fun, I liked it a lot.
Leigh: It comes out [August 7]! We're booking shows. We've got shows on the books! I think where we're really interested in touring is clubs like we did in the beginning. So that's what we're into. We've got a great booking agent working, but we should be busy throughout the summer. The record name has changed now from Strange Conversation to Lost in Transition, which I believe you've probably heard about already.
Leigh: No, it's Transition. And, I think, the reason for that change is, I mean, it was obvious for us. This has been such a ridiculous waiting period. Very frustrating for us. So that's what it's felt like - being lost in this transition. And transition's bad enough, but getting lost in it really sucks. *laughs* But we've got the artwork and everything's done. We're really excited. The record's beautiful.
Leigh: I know! It's crazy.
Leigh: I know! It's crazy. And we got back together five years ago to just make records and put 'em out in a normal fashion and that's not what happened cuz we tangled with a label again. So, no more.
Leigh: Yeah, but we're using this group, they're called Orchard Group, and they kind of quarterback records without being a record label. So we're maintaining the independent nature of the release, but also we're not completely left holding the bag. *laughs* We're spreading the bag out a little bit.
Leigh: Yes. Nothing added or subtracted.
Leigh: "Safety Line" is one of my favorites. I love "Sooner Than Later," which I guess you've heard, but this is recorded differently. Cuz all the songs for the record were recorded at the same time up there with Jim Scott in California. That's where we made the record. And it's the best studio experience we've ever had making a record. That's why it's really been such a sad couple of years, because we were SO excited when we left that studio. And when we were in the studio, the whole thing was just beautiful and perfect. Jim is such a great producer. And then the wind got knocked out of our sails very, very quickly with all of EMI's troubles and it's taken forever to get the record released back to us, which is great that we were able to. But anyway, yeah, it's been a long time. But "Safety Line" is one of my favorites, and "Sooner Than Later."
Leigh: It's about love. It's a simple love song. It's about wanting your partner to keep you grounded, or just saying that's what you need, y'know, your partner to be a safety line. I think the words are in typical Matt [Slocum] fashion to write a song. It just blows my mind how he can write something so simply but have it say something so beautiful.
Leigh: Well, he went on his honeymoon to Europe for a long time, and during that time, a lot had been happening with me. And he came home and we got together--because I think he'd been gone almost a year!--and we got together and sat down for coffee...
Leigh: Yeah, it might have been 6 months, I don't remember.
Leigh: It was. They did it like the old-fashioned style--I don't even know if it's old-fashioned. It's just nice. *laughs* So they were gone that long and then we just had both been feeling the same way and just thinking that we threw away a good thing too soon, just because we were frustrated with the business. We thought, "Well, that's no reason to break up [the band]" and we wanted to keep doing it, not be real dramatic about it, but let's keep making records, and then this happened, so... But that's alright! I mean, my voice is no less vital than it's ever been. I think it's better than it's ever been, and his writing-- we've just matured! And I don't think we're looking for big success at all; we just want to put our records out again. So maybe it'll end up coming out at just the right time, who knows.
Leigh: I know...
Leigh: It's at least the third, yeah.
Leigh: It was nothing ugly that happened. EMI was not the same company; by the time we finished making the record, things looked drastically different there than they did when they signed us. They could no longer do what they said they were going to do. It was just not even their fault. But, the whole A&R process, we were definitely led along. They didn't even have staff in one of the bigger cities, where they were planning on doing stuff, anymore. And like I said, it was not in their control... So we've just been in a waiting pattern, waiting for the lawyers to write up the paperwork to let us have the record back, and all that. But we did that Christmas record (The Dawn of Grace), so we haven't fallen completely off the map. *laughs*
Leigh: Yeah! Right, it was something. And that was supposed to be the precursor to this record. And here it comes! ...four years later [after the EP].
Leigh: I think it probably does. I think some of that must be inevitable, but we stopped listening to it pretty shortly after we found out it wasn't going to come out. We kind of just put it away, because it was really heartbreaking. But it is such a great record that we're still proud of it. It might make us a little more insecure about people hearing it because there's been this build up now. Now it's not just a record that we've just made; it's a record that people have been waiting for. And if it's disappointing now, that's really going to be a kick in the pants. But I think it stands up still after two years. It sounds just as relevant as it did then, as far as the sound goes. And we haven't been out playing the songs and touring a bunch, so we're not tired of playing them live, because we haven't even got started. But we played a show in Indianapolis last month and that was for a couple thousand people and that was wonderful. It was so good to be up there with those guys again. And, I mean, it sounded fantastic.
Leigh: Sam Ashworth is playing guitar and Justin Cary is still playing bass with us, but he couldn't be there so we had someone filling in for him, and then Rob Mitchell played drums, who played on Divine Discontent. And Matt Slocum on guitar.
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