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Progressive Rock Interviews

Laura Meade

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Laura Meade from 2021
MSJ:

It's been about three years since we last did an interview with you. I know the last year has been insane for everyone. Excluding your new album, which we'll get to in more depth in a moment, what's been new in the world of Laura Meade?

Yes, it’s been an unusual and challenging 18 months for sure! After IZZ released Don’t Panic in May 2019, we played some shows in support of that album and were preparing to go on tour to support Big Big Train in May 2020 and then play Night of the Prog in Germany and do a little mini tour in Europe. But once those big things were canceled, of course all of a sudden we had a lot of time on our hands! John and I were lucky that our family and friends stayed healthy and we were able to write and record the music for my new album.

MSJ: The title of your new album is "The Most Dangerous Woman in America." Is that a real person? If so, who is it?
Yes, the inspiration for the title does refer to a specific, real person. I like the idea of keeping some mystery to the title of the album, but I will say that it is a real person who was an American actress but had lots of connections in France. There are lots of clues including the album cover and many lyrics. You even hear her voice at the beginning of the title track. She actually was probably the most famous woman in America for a year or two before she was labeled the most dangerous woman in America. John and I really became enamored with her story, which certainly included its share of trauma and tragedy, but also included a lot of love and strength. She’s not famous anymore, but I do believe if she had lived, she would have been appreciated far more than she has been. Mysteries are fun, so I like the idea of keeping this a little bit of a mystery and having the listener come to their own conclusions. 
MSJ: How does this album differ from your previous solo album, and how is it similar?
Probably the main difference is that for this new album, it was co-written completely with John Galgano (who is, of course, my husband and bass player for IZZ). For my first album, Remedium, I wrote most of those songs on my own over the course of several years, and John helped arrange some of them. But for this album, we wrote it totally collaboratively, which was a completely new experience for me. John would come up with a piano melody, and I’d come up with a vocal melody. We’d trade lyrics, sometimes line for line. The title track is a great example of that – we wrote that song almost line by line together going back and forth. It was an awesome experience. So in that way, the album was just going to sound different just because of the way we wrote it. We also used all electronic and virtual drums for this album. A lot of the reason for that was due to the lockdowns and necessity being the mother of invention. We did have Brian Coralian (IZZ drummer) actually play the V-drums, but we used midi and were able to get some really different sounds for the drums. I think this new album is a bit heavier, a bit bigger than my last album, which was a lot more intimate. I love both and I love that I am able to do different things when I’m inspired in different ways.
MSJ: How do your solo albums vary from the work you do with Izz?
The most obvious difference is with my solo albums all of the decisions fall to me, but with IZZ, we have seven members, so it is a real democracy, which is really amazing to be a part of. Tom (Galgano) and John are the primary songwriters in the band, but Paul (Bremner) writes songs as well, and all of us give our input to the songs, the arrangements, harmonies, etcetera. So even though Tom and John bring a lot to the table, it really is a full band conversation about how to present the music. And with IZZ, the songs do tend to be more traditionally progressive, if that makes sense. My music tends to be more in the art rock genre and very focused on vocals and lyrics. There aren’t many long instrumental passages on my solo albums, but you’ll certainly find those with IZZ. It’s great to be able to do both.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
What a great and unusual question! I think that when I hear that my music has touched someone in an emotional way, that really hits me deeply. I’ve heard that from different people – that my music has helped them get through some tough times, and that’s really rewarding. I’ve been really fortunate, too, that I’ve received a lot of great compliments from reviewers from lots of different publications, so that’s always lovely to hear too.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
In the near future, I’m actually booked to perform in a musical for the next few months, then in the fall, we hope to play some shows in support of my new album. Hopefully by that time, there will be some venues that have been opened for a little while, and we can book some shows. We would really love to play this album live. And while that’s happening, we’ll be recording the new IZZ album as well, so lots happening!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I haven’t bought a CD specifically, but I bought the latest Vanessa Carlton album called “Love is an Art” on vinyl, and I’ve been going back to it a lot. I really think it’s a masterpiece of art pop music and I’m connecting with it in a big way - highly recommended.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Yes, over the last several months, I’ve read a great and sprawling book called Overstory, as well as The Secret Life of Bees and currently re-reading my favorite set of books from my childhood, The Chronicles of Narnia.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Wow, I can hardly remember! I saw Lobate Scarp play in Los Angeles in early 2020 before the lockdown, but we played that night as well with IZZ, so I don’t know if that counts! Actually, I did see Steven Page (from the Barenaked Ladies) at a really cool, intimate venue on Long Island. He’s my favorite male vocalist of all time, so I loved that show.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I’m not really a “gearhead” being primarily a singer, but I am in the market for a new in-ear monitoring system for live shows, and I love my microphone that I use to record which is the Lawson vacuum tube microphone. It’s got such warmth, and I am really comfortable recording with it.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Thank you for your support of my new album! I’m really proud of this album and I’m grateful for the amazing feedback I’ve received so far. Thanks to everyone who’s listened! I really appreciate it!
MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.
 
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