Grace Potter’s Golden Compass
RR: It also must be deeply satisfying to have that impact on other artists. How did you get involved with working with Kenny Chesney?
GP: Oh, yeah, Kenny just called me. It’s funny. He heard my voice. He had his iPod on shuffle. Someone had given him the CD, and he just popped it into his iTunes, but never actually bothered listening to it. So he put his iPod on shuffle, and it popped on. I guess this was a couple of years ago, and before he was starting to make his new record. He had the song “You & Tequila” for a while, and he had just been letting it sit, trying to figure out what to do with it. When he heard me sing the song “Apologies,” he said, “Well, that’s the voice I want on this song.” Not caring at all as to the fact that I’m not a country artist, not from Nashville, may not ever even, he didn’t even know if I lived in the country, or where I was. He just tracked me down, sent me the demo for the song, and within two days I was flying down to Nashville to record it with him. Now, we’re lifelong friends. He’s an unbelievable dude. He’s really fucking awesome. I was with him
last night in St. Louis, actually. I went and sat in on one of his shows. It’s just been a great experience all around.
RR: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals also opened for Chesney at the Red Rocks.
GP: Yeah. Yeah. Kenny loves the band, and the band loves Kenny. The first thing we realized we had in common, within about five minutes of knowing each other, was the show Eastbound & Down. We were both referencing quotes from it. It’s an unbelievable show, and within five minutes of knowing each other, we were already screaming at each other “April!”—all the lines from the show. So, yeah—there’s a common denominator there that we can all agree upon, even if he plays country music and we play rock ‘n’ roll.
RR: You have a confidence about you that is both very attractive and it appears to allow you to enter diverse situations and pull them off. Obviously, your acting career comes to mind. Do you see yourself doing more of that in the future, or is it all tied in with your music right now, and you have to fit that into your schedule?
GP: I think if I was to do any acting it would definitely be down the line of the Lyle Lovett/Jack White type of appearances. Jack White is in a fuck ton of movies. He’s all over the place. I would love to find a way to spin that web into my career in some way. I love it when Tom Petty shows up in that fucking Kevin Costner movie [ The Postman ]. Those are moments where you’re like “Wow, that is so awesome,” and Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean —those are, to me, really cool references and cool things where you’re like “Wow, that’s such a cool spot to see someone.” I’d like to arrive unexpectedly in a motion picture at some point. But, it’s certainly not a priority.
Right now, if anything, my favorite thing to do, aside from the Nocturnals, is to write songs for movies, which I’ve been doing. I wrote a song for Tangled, which played in the credits, I have another song coming out for a Christmas special with Disney, and also, we did Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. It’s been cool to have that happen simultaneously and in a completely parallel way, so that the Nocturnals sometimes jump in and do something with it, and sometimes, it’s my own solo thing, and it’s a really comfortable relationship, and something that I was really trying to develop with Disney from the day we signed with Hollywood Records. I knew I had the death wish to be the new Randy Newman. (laughter)
RR: God, please replace Randy Newman. I’m begging you.
GP: Exactly. My thing is to be the new Randy Newman. (laughs)
RR: Speaking of solo gigs…you just did something with Stevie Wonder at the Hollywood Bowl. That had to have been huge, and another example of how you fit into so many different circumstances and settings.
GP: Talk about diversifying. That’s what I love about what’s happening. I can spread myself, what appears to be very thin, across a lot of different genres, but I can find a way to be comfortable. The reason that’s the case is that I’m always looking for that common denominator between everybody—musically and personally. I had this conversation with Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley backstage before we went on for the finale. Stevie’s out on stage playing fucking “Superstition,” and we’re all standing there and I am the whitest white person in this whole place, and we were all trying to sing our parts, making sure we knew all of our lines, and we all closed our eyes, and there was this moment where everything melted away—color, genre, expectations, and everything, and I felt like these are my people. I’m here, we’re all together, and this is such an incredible moment. And music was guiding the entire thing. I just felt this incredible connection.
If there is any spirituality in me, it’s a musical spirituality where I can find faith in whatever I’m doing, and put my whole heart into it, and just jump in with both feet.