Wendy Allen

A Conversation with Wendy Allen (continued)

PM: So you then found yourself in the actual bands you were hired to record with.

WA: Yeah. I wound up touring with them a little bit. But I was never able to sing lead, because it really was their band. And that was fine, because I really like singing harmony. Still, I felt a little bit limited by that role.

PM: You wanted to sing lead.

WA: [laughing] Sure. I like to sing lead. I do. I like to have somebody harmonize with me sometimes. So my husband and I are working on an album of folk tunes and spirituals from North and South Carolina.

PM: Is he a player as well?

WA: He plays bass, and he plays some percussion. He's always the first person to tell you he's not a musician, but--

PM: Yeah, those are some of my favorite musicians, people who say they aren't.

WA: He's so musical. He certainly doesn't pursue it as his craft or anything, but he's been hired by a couple of bands to play bass on tour. And I think he's pretty good, myself.

PM: Apparently he is a musician after all.

WA: Yeah. I think anybody who can go out on tour and hold their own is allowed to call themselves a musician.

PM: Likewise.

WA: Mostly he's extremely creative. He likes to play around with finding different sounds, and sort of...mucking things up. [laughs] Or stirring it up. That's the part that he really and truly loves: taking a band and helping them find ways to be a little more creative than they would've been to begin with.

PM: And it's a nice deal, as a fine vocalist, to have a crack engineer for a husband.

WA: Oh yeah! I'm so lucky. Definitely. [laughs] It's amazing. I just got done putting together my professional singing reel, because I want to get more paid work doing backup singing. And it was so much easier for me to do that than it would be for somebody else. I could just say, "Hey, honey, I have an idea!" [laughs] You know, we could just record things real quick. Otherwise it would've taken me so long to do and been so expensive. He really made it easy. Yeah, really lucky in every way.

PM: And he's always got free time at the studio, or probably has a studio at the house.

WA: We do. We have this very small but good, professional studio here--

PM: He's a Protools guy probably.

WA: Nope. Not at all. He is one hundred percent analog. [laughs] He hates Protools.

PM: Ahh.

WA: I mean, he has dabbled with it enough to find out all of the possibilities of it, and to see why people are attracted to it. But when he started to learn it he got very excited for about two days and then he was like, "Well..."

PM: "This sucks." [laughs]

WA: Yeah. It makes people lazy. It really does make people lazy. And he gets frustrated by how lazy the indie musician scene is anyway. [laughing] He doesn't want to make it any easier on them.

PM: Sure. I live in Nashville, the land of pitch correction, where everybody's correcting everybody. It's sick.

WA: It was weird for me when I first started working at other studios, being hired, places that only had Protools. And I'd do a take that I was not satisfied with--I'm very, very picky--and they'd just say, "Oh, we'll just fix it. We'll just double it up and drop you in to all the other choruses." And I'd be like, "That's so uninteresting."

PM: "How about we take it from the top, knucklehead?" [laughs]

WA: Or just "You know what? Trust me on this: it's going to really take you less time to just let me sing through this song twice than it'll take you to slice it up and paste it in."

PM: It's a three-minute song and they'll still be cutting and pasting 15 minutes later. "Come on, let's be musicians."

WA: [laughing] You want to say, "Why'd you hire me? Couldn't I have just mailed part of this in?"

PM: So were you a part of the band Tarnation?

WA: No. Paula Frazer had broken up Tarnation before I moved to San Francisco. Paula is a great gal and I really enjoy singing with her. Do you know her work?

PM: Not yet.

WA: She's got a really, really great voice. We did a short tour in France and Switzerland this past May, and it was just the two of us. She played guitar and I played some keyboards. And the harmonies were just...so divine. [laughs] To be able to harmonize with just one other woman, or one other person male or female who's got good pitch and has a really beautiful voice, ohhh...

PM: Yeah. I played and sang with my brother most of my life--

WA: Ahh, that's lucky.

PM: --and I love the duo sound. The DNA thing is really a voodoo thing as well.

WA: Definitely. I really like singing with my mom.

PM: So how did you hook up with our man Conrad Praetzel and get involved in the Clothesline Revival project?  continue

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