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Kathy Mattea

A Conversation with Kathy Mattea (continued)

PM: You are as song and songwriter-driven an artist as can be found. Are there any new discoveries in this realm that you care to mention?

KM: Well, there's Bob Halligan. That's been a few years ago. He approached me one time, at a gig of one of my backup singers. Have you ever heard of Ceili Rain?

PM: Oh, yeah, I do actually know of Ceili Rain. [www.ceilirain.com]Is Halligan a Nashville guy?

KM: He lived in Nashville for years. I called him up, I said, "This is Kathy Mattea. Who are you?" And he said, "Well, I've been a songwriter for years, and I've had artists deals. You probably wouldn't know my stuff. I've had success. Most of my stuff was like Judas Priest and Kiss--

PM: Oh, my.

KM: He was this heavy metal songwriter. And a radical Catholic Christian guy.

PM: [laughs]

KM: He loves rock 'n' roll, and he loves Celtic music. His wife asked him one day why didn't he put the two together? And that's how that band was born. He's a wonderful person.

I'm so in awe of those songwriter types, like Marcus Hummon, he's another one. He'll have twenty sets of ideas all laid out on a table in front of him, it just flows out of him like a spring. My husband is like that, but the songs tend to gestate inside of him, and they come out fully formed. But there are these people who get beautiful idea after beautiful idea, and they just can't get them all down. I'm fascinated by that life, because I really see myself as more of an interpretive artist. I can write, but my husband, if he does not write, feels ill.

And that's a songwriter, to me. When he was working in a machine shop, he would go home and write songs. He'd write songs all day while he was doing a job. That's a songwriter.

PM: You're married to a great songwriter, Jon Vezner. Tell us something about him.

KM: He is an artist. He's very conceptual, and has the right and left sides of his brain very integrated. He's really into computers and mechanical things, and recording gadgetry, all that stuff. He's pushed me into all kinds of thinking that's outside my usual box--he keeps me from getting really myopic.

PM: There are so many strong songs on this latest disc, Right Out of Nowhere. The two that that are really blowing my mind at the moment are "I Hope You're Happy Now" [written by Skip Ewing and Angela Kaset] and [Darrell Scott's] "Love's Not Through With Me Yet." Do you have favorites on this record, or do they just change over time?

KM: I think it's really hard to choose a favorite. Usually what happens to me is that I'll put out a record, and over time, a few songs sort of fade into the background, maybe one or two, and they're less prominent. And then the volume kind of stays up on the others--like a patchwork quilt, you know, they're good together.

PM: Yeah.

KM: "I Hope You're Happy Now" is, well...

PM: It's a monster song. [laughs]

KM: It's so amazing. And "Love's Not Through With Me Yet," I mean, Darrell came over to sing on that one. You've got to live through some stuff to write something like that. I'm in awe of so many people who do stuff that I can't do. I feel like I have this ticket into some club, because I was given and developed a voice. I can hang out with amazing people and do this precious thing. When Jim Brock plays the drums, I see God, you know? It's not fancy, he's not about flash. It's just deep.

PM: He's more like a shaman.

KM: He is very much like that, more like a mystic, and he's channeled all that into drumming. He has this wonderful DVD that he did called The Nature of Drumming.

PM: I've seen it. It's amazing.

KM: I really think that's what music and art is about. It's another way to connect to the divine. It's a real pure way of touching that deeper reality beneath our life.   continue

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