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Published: 2013/11/25
by Brian Robbins

Shonna Tucker: Eye Candy, A Tell All & Life On The Farm

Let’s pause for a second – how did you put the band together? Now, that Neff fella you kinda knew about … (laughter)

Yeah, we are a couple, of course. That was a natural. And then the others guys just kind of came along. They were all dear friends and incredible musicians and writers – with their own bands and their own records – who would just come over to hang out and play music.

Bo, for instance, just came over one night and I had cooked some dinner. We were sitting around and had some acoustic guitars out, having a good time and singing … and I said, “Hey, you want to hear a song I just wrote?” I think it was “Jealousy”.

After I played it, Bo was like, “That’s great! Let’s get together next week …” (laughs)

We started calling Wednesday night “Practice Night” – I’d cook up a big pot of beans and whoever wanted to show up, showed up. Before long, the same four were showing up every time, you know? We all agreed it was something we wanted to keep doing.

We ended up calling Kyle Spence, a good friend who has a studio over here in East Athens. We scheduled studio time; went in; and started recording. I suppose I had a little over half the record written when we went in and was still writing.

Bo and John are a good guitar team.

Oh, Bo and Johnny have had such a fantastic time. It’s been great to watch: besides our practices, Bo would just come over and the two of them would spend hours together, working out parts and becoming that team you speak of.

It’s hard to focus sometimes when we’re playing live because what they’re doing is so beautiful. (laughs)

How would you describe the role of Neil’s keyboards in the band?

Neil brings a whole new twist to things – I think he saves us from a stereotypical alt-country-sounding thing. He uses some wacky fingers over there on those keys and I love it. (laughs) I just love what he brings to the table.

To me, Clay’s drumming is like that: I’m hearing things that fit the song perfectly, but they’re not what a lot of people would’ve come up with for drum parts.

I think that explains Clay in a nutshell. He just lives up the road and has been friends with Johnny for 15 years. They’ve played in all sorts of bands together; all sorts of crazy road trips. (laughter) Plus Clay’s singing – he sings his ass off. He’s back there singing those high parts and nailing them without missing a beat.

I’m a sucker for a singing drummer, anyway.

Oh, Shonna … Levon.

I know. I’ll go to my grave remembering the experience of playing at his Barn with the Truckers. Singing with him on “The Weight” … I’m tearing up just talking about it.

I hear you. My wife and I made the trip to two of the Rambles over the years. We sat alongside his drum kit both times … oh, what memories. He’d smile and it would light the Barn right up.

Wouldn’t it? I think that was the greatest smile in the world.

Well … I’m going to have us both bawling here. (laughter) Look – if we’re going to talk about sweet things, the song “Old Fashioned” is a sweet little love note, right there.

You know, we wondered about that. I tried and tried to write more on that song and I just couldn’t do it. Finally, one day I said, “Look, it’s done – that’s all I have to say.” And the guys said, “Let’s do it.”

We’ve done a full band version of that song since then that’s quite a bit longer – it has this beautiful instrumental at the end.

Listening to the album version is like you’re letting us look over your shoulder as you’re writing a love note.

Why, thank you. (laughs)

“Austin Side” is filled with tension … I’m betting that was one of those songs that the whole band built the scenery for.

Yeah, you’re right about that. This band definitely made the record a thousand times better than it would’ve been without them.

I wrote “Austin Side” on guitar and it was totally different, a completely different vibe to it. When I went to the studio and tried playing along with Clay, it just wasn’t working. That’s when I said, “Let me grab my bass; let’s play this all together. And then we did it, right there, first time through. That’s one of my favorites to play live, I think.

“I Brought A Pie” is the album’s raunchy guitar song.

Yeah, I think that’s the most rock ‘n’ roll song we have on there – that and the twin guitars on “Jimmy” kind of bring the rock side out. I didn’t want that song to be too sweet. (laughs) We needed some loud guitar.

And then the flip side of that is John’s pedal steel on the final two songs, “Lonely People” and “You Went All The Way” – it’s just lovely.

Isn’t it? We got Spooner Oldham to play Fender Rhodes on “Lonely People”, too. You know it’s funny: you’ll recognize Spooner’s playing anywhere, but at the same time, I hear Spoonerisms in Neil’s playing every once in awhile.

There’s more live Eye Candy to come?

That’s right. So far, we’ve been doing a lot of 3-day weekend runs just to get out and play, but we’re getting together a tour for next year. We’ve had some really great shows this year and have a number of 3-day weekend runs coming up between now and New Year’s.

I’ve been home and off the road for a little while now, which has been wonderful and special and productive … but I do look forward to getting out and seeing a lot of friends I’ve made over the years and haven’t seen for awhile.

Wait a minute – who’s going to take care of the farm?

(laughs) We have a good buddy, Frank, who moves in when we’re gone. Frank’s an older gentleman who’s pretty much retired; he loves these animals and they love him back. So, we feel pretty good about that situation.

Well, I’d better mention Frank then – ‘cause if it wasn’t for Frank, Eye Candy couldn’t leave home.

That’s right!

And then one final question, Shonna – I know you’re quite a cook: what’s for dinner?

I was just asking John earlier before you called. I’m thinking it’s going to be a fish night; we might grill some salmon. You have some good fish up there in Maine, don’t you?

That’s right. Tonight’s shrimp chowder – when you make a chowder, you have to let it set a day before you dip into it. Tonight’s the night.

Oh, boy – that sounds good! (laughs) Send me any recipes you have!

I will. (laughter)

*****

If Brian Robbins had a donkey, he’d keep it over at www.brian-robbins.com

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