INTERVIEW Q&A WITH SINGER  TRACY MCNEIL

After arriving on Australian shores back in 2007, Tracy McNeil has been praised by music critics and nominated for numerous awards. McNeil’s fourth studio album sees her team up with The GoodLife to create ‘Thieves’. The first single off of the album ‘Paradise’ was well-received by many critics and is described as world-class country rock.

We spoke to Tracy in anticipation of ‘Thieves’ release on July 1:

HHB: The first single off of the album, ‘Paradise’, was so well-received after it’s release, how did that feel?
 
TM: You never really know when you’re making music how it will be received, it’s only after it’s released that I even think about that aspect of it. It always feels good when people let you know that your songs have resonated with them in some way so I guess that’s the unselfish part of making music – the way others connect with it.
 
Are you excited for people to hear ‘Thieves’?
 
We worked so hard on the record and you can feel as though you’ve fallen down a worm- hole. It’s quiet an obsessive and pedantic process, you are always in a state of critical thinking so yes, it feels great to finally be able to let it go and hand it over to the public. We are super excited to have the record out of our hands so it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
 
You lost your father last year, how did that shape the new album?

I was lucky enough to spend a couple months with my father before he passed so the idea of losing him was always looming in the air and definitely cast a shadow on my writing process. The concept of time has been a running theme throughout the album and in this case it was time running out. Questioning what we hold on to when someone we love is gone? ‘Ashes’ was written only days before he passed which makes it a really special track for me personally. All we can do is try to soak up each moment we can with the people we love.
 
What was the writing process for ‘Thieves’?

The album was written throughout 2015 in Melbourne, Canada and in America. Location and where I was emotionally in each given place weighed in heavily on the writing of each song. I often feel most inspired when I’m out of my everyday environment so most of the record was created during my travels – I was on fire creatively and had family, landscape, people and interesting places to fuel the work. I also wrote a few of the songs on the piano, which is a first for me.
 
Where do you find inspiration for your music?

I’m inspired by real human experience. Situations that are personal to myself or the people around inspire the narrative structure of the songs. Musically the band and I are into the same music, which helps when making decisions around how a song should sound. I guess it’s inevitable that you can hear the influence of the bands we love in our music… everything from Fleetwood Mac and The Allman Brothers to contemporary bands like Houndmouth, Jenny Lewis or Shovels and Rope.
 
This will be your fourth studio album; does it get easier to create albums as time goes on?

I feel more confident in the studio for sure and I think the band would say the same. Trusting your instincts and going for what feels authentic and true comes more naturally the more you do it. This particular recording process was made easier by the fact that we knew what we were going for and trusted our co-producer Shane O’Mara to meet us in the middle to make it happen.
 
How do you think you’ve grown/changed as an artist after four albums?

Again I guess it’s really about listening to your heart, writing from there and not giving into the pressures of creating something that will be commercially successful. The songs on Thieves are the longest songs I’ve written but I with the exception of a radio edit for our first single ‘Paradise’ we made zero compromises. Our goal is to make music that we would be happy listening to – music that is honest, creative and emotive.
 
How would you describe your sound?

Americana
 
Do you prefer performing with The Good Life or solo?

I always prefer performing with The GoodLife. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the freedom of performing alone but I get such a thrill out of sharing the stage with Luke, Dan, Bree and Trent – the songs are fully realised and the energy between us on stage is something pretty special.
 
What is your favourite song on ‘Thieves’?

It’s hard to pick one song as my favourite on the record because they are all so personal and I feel like I’m choosing one friend over another. I do love Blueprint – it’s different to the others and takes me back to L.A. looking over the Hollywood Hills when I wrote it. I can remember the smell in the room and the light coming in through the window. Songs can transport you through time and place…I love that.
 
What is next for you and The Good Life?

We’ve just wrapped up shooting our first film clip for the album and now we are getting ready for our Melbourne launch on June 25 at the Bella Union followed by a national tour.
 
Any other comments?

Looking forward to plenty of Sailor Jerry’s on tour and there is talk of throwing around a few baseballs to pass the down time. See how we go… especially after a few SJ’s!

For more information on Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife go to tracymcneil.com

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