A Conversation with Maia Sharp
Puremusic: Am I your first interview of today?
Maia Sharp: You are.
PM: Catch the artist fresh.
MS: Yeah. [laughs] Or at least first.
PM: [laughs] Yeah, before you've been asked thirty dumb questions, I'll try to be first. Where are you this morning?
MS: We're in Akron, Ohio, going to Columbus in about an hour.
PM: That was a great show in Nashville the other night.
MS: Thanks, thanks. That was a lot of fun.
PM: You mentioned something briefly on the phone the other day about seeing a lot of friends in the audience.
MS: Yeah, I did. I know a lot of people there, and a lot them showed up for the show. I was very happy about that, to get their support.
PM: Well, one gets the impression from watching a Maia show that if you've written with her, she's probably become your friend.
MS: I hope you're right. Most of my friends there were people that I write with.
PM: I just went for a lark. I thought, I've heard a lot about Maia Sharp, I'm going to go check her out. As soon as I looked around the room, I saw so many good songwriters, I figured, hmm...this should be good.
MS: Oh, great.
MS: I'm glad you liked it.
PM: Oh, it was fantastic. I had a great time, and became a big Maia fan. It was fun sitting with my friend and who turned out to be your producer, Brad Jones.
MS: Yeah, you already knew Brad?
PM: Yeah. Well, when I came to Nashville first in '89, Brad was my next door neighbor.
MS: Oh, really?
PM: Yeah. We've covered him a myriad ways in Puremusic from his varied projects over the years. And yeah, we're friends.
MS: Brad makes great records. He's a fantastic producer.
PM: Yeah. And not everybody knows what a great musician he is, too.
PM: How do you know Brad?
MS: I picked up a Richard Julian record, Smash Palace.
PM: Great. We're big Richard fans here at the zine, yeah.
MS: Yeah. And I became a huge Richard Julian fan--actually, Buddy Mondlock turned me on to Richard Julian. That's what it was. I was working with Buddy. We used to be signed to the same publisher, Major Bob Music. And we did the trio project with Art Garfunkel. So I knew Buddy through that, and he and Richard go back years. He turned me on to the Richard Julian catalog, starting with Smash Palace, which I instantly fell for.
MS: And when it came time for me to make a new record, I had to go back to that album and see who was responsible for it. Then I found a way to track down Brad. And he was into it. I just played him the last record, and some new stuff. He was actually more interested in hearing the new stuff in a guitar/vocal form.
PM: Hmm, that sounds like him.
MS: Yeah. And I think that's what hooked him, because then he got to hear what he would be working on without any production influence on it yet. He got to start fresh.
PM: So you got to hear Richard's subsequent album that he did with Brad, too, that was basically cut even lower budget in Brad's kitchen or something.
MS: I think I've heard them all. I've heard the most recent one, for sure, the one that's not out yet.
PM: Oh, see, I haven't heard that yet. He and I have been emailing back and forth about that because I want to do a cover with him. He's an old buddy. People who listen to his records become huge Julian fans. He's just amazing.
PM: Unfortunately, the way it worked out, I only have a burned copy from our production team of Fine Upstanding Citizen, so I lack some credits with which I'm usually armed.
PM: Who is the core tracking team for this record?
MS: Well, it didn't really have a core. A few of the tracks I had already started on, and Brad agreed that we should use what's there and start with that. There's three chapters to the rhythm section on this. I had the guys that I've been playing with forever, Ronnie Manaog on the drums, and Joseph Zimmerman on the bass. They were on those pre-existing tracks. And then when we went out to Nashville, Brad turned me on to some fantastic Nashville musicians.
PM: No doubt. His illustrious stable.
MS: Yeah, I mean, he calls on these guys so often--
PM: So was it Mickey Grimm or was it that other--
MS: Well, yeah, Mickey Grimm played on a couple of them, and Greg Morrow played on a couple of them.
MS: And I flew out Ronnie and Joe from L.A. to play on another three of them, because I had just been playing with them for so long, and those three songs that I wanted to play, we had already been doing live. I told Brad that we had already kind of gotten a thing with the songs, and I didn't want to upset that.
MS: And I really wanted them to be at least half the record, because they just stuck with me so long, and they'd been on the road with me. And we'd seem some pretty hard times. So when I had a little bit of a budget, I definitely wanted them to be on it.
PM: Right. Who was tracking guitars for Fine Upstanding Citizen?
MS: A lot of it is Will Kimbrough.
MS: The guitar tracks I brought are Andy Georges, and my dad played a few of the guitars.
PM: All right.
MS: Janet Robin, my co-writer on "Flood"--
PM: Oh, yeah. I want to talk about her for sure.
MS: Yeah. She played on "Flood." I did have a couple guitar co-writers, like David Batteau.
MS: David Batteau and I wrote "Come Back to Me," and he played guitar on that.
PM: Oh, that's a good song, yeah.
MS: He's a very innovative writer. I mean, every time we write together it's something like I write with no other co-writer.
MS: He also is more inclined to the jazz element. We've got a couple other songs--actually, two other songs that we've written together are going to be coming out on the Bonnie Raitt record in September. continue