INTERVIEW: Lindsay Lawler

Lindsay Lawler won me over in the first few seconds of being in the room with her. There was a warm and embracing personality that immediately draws you to her and her excitement about her music fills the room.

Ms. Lawler began performing very young throughout the South, although not always in the country genre. Her career began in the church not so different than many young singers; but found herself front and center of a rock and roll band that recorded and toured the Southwest. After graduation, Lawler packed up and moved out West to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being on stage. Quickly she joined the band Ciattic as the lead singer and packed houses all along the Sunset Strip. Lawler never ceased to amaze audiences with her powerful vocals and stellar stage presence at the likes of the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go, Viper Room and The Roxy.

The young and charismatic singer / songwriter is currently living in Nashville, TN and writing with some of Nashville’s most prominent writers, recording, and performing full-time. She can be seen on stage at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway weekly. We enjoyed taking time to visit about what brought her to Nashville and what her dreams are.

Bev: Lindsey what a pleasure it is to meet with you and talk about your current project. What are you doing right now? Recording, promoting?

LL: I play downtown at Tootsies and I travel to out of town shows a lot; I’m starting to book the upcoming year. I want to stay busy on the road next year promoting the record. I recently did a show in Minnesota where stations are totally picking us up. Right as we are pulling into town my song came on the radio and that to me is just fun. The people who showed up to the shows were requesting music and knowing the words and that’s nice to see.

Bev: What’s your initial reaction when you hear your songs on the radio?

LL: I have to admit, it’s so cool! I worked in radio for a long time before I did music full-time, but I was also a singer. The stations I worked at would always put my music on. I think that was the first time I had been driving down the road and it randomly came on and my name came up on the little dial thing, right after “Beer in Mexico” by Kenny Chesney. That was a nice segue. It’s really cool. It’s so refreshing to go out and do your own stuff. It seemed like people were responding more to the original stuff, even though we did some covers as well.

Bev: Are you currently writing your own songs?

LL: I have co-written everything on the record that is coming out. I’ve recorded other people’s stuff in the past, but of course with your own music you want to cut it. When it starts out with just a guitar and vocal, to get in the studio and watch all the pieces come together is really an amazing process. I am starting to work with more writers around town and have some songs that are starting to being looked at. There are people putting songs on a hold which is also bittersweet. I have one song I just love that someone is looking at cutting; it’s bittersweet because it has potential to be huge, but at the same time it’s gut-wrenching because I love that song!

Bev: It doesn’t mean you can’t record it as well…

LL: Exactly!

Bev: Do you have preference? If you had to choose would you rather write or sing?

LL: Perform. It honestly is my biggest thing. I love writing. I love it all, it’s a catch 22, because writers can have the perks of the business, but can have their own lives as well. My strength is entertaining and putting on a show, running around on stage and that’s what I really thrive on. I love going out and meeting people on the road at shows and even down town. Being able to meet people and create a fan base in Nashville has been wonderful, because you can accomplish it without ever leaving lower Broadway. We get people from all over the world. As difficult as life is on the road, it’s what I want to do.

Bev: What’s the biggest venue or stage you have performed on?

LL: Considering I am just now back to doing it full-time and being 100% artist, but in a different music genre because I played all over L.A. and we played Whiskey, Roxy and Viper. In Dallas, where I am from, I played Billy Bob’s when I was younger, much younger.

Bev: Are you currently the opening act for established artists?

LL: Not yet. It is all on me right now which is a little more difficult, but its fun.

Bev: What are you doing promotion wise to get your name out there?

LL: I am currently doing radio promotions. I’ve gotten a great radio response out of Tennessee, New Jersey, Texas and Minnesota. I’ve been doing a lot of radio interviews, newspaper and such. I potentially have a corporate endorsement coming up which would be lovely. I’ve really been using Tootsies and the Broadway opportunities and really staying in touch with everyone I meet. I like having one main person per state; like this one woman back in Minnesota, she randomly heard me one night at Tootsie’s while she was in town. I started talking to her and she went back to Minnesota. Now she has gotten all this press around there for me and she’s the one who has potentially found this corporate sponsorship for me, and it’s just gone on fire. I looked at that and said that’s what I need to do. So I try to connect with different people around town and from different states. I pay them when they book shows they get free merchandise, can come to the shows for free and they are excited to get involved. It is great, because you go into these small towns and they are actually really excited and you can stand out. The whole town came out to my show the other night, probably because it was the only thing to do, but still whatever gets them there. The woman I know up there said the week before she was getting her teeth cleaned and the dental hygienist was like “did you hear about the girl coming to town from Nashville? I hear she’s like the next Kellie Pickler.” That made me realize those are the people who care, that’s how you build a fan base. They care and they appreciate it, they buy CD’s and merchandise.

Bev: Have you had any bizarre things happen while being an artist?

LL: No, Luckily I have really nice fans. Nice, normal fans so far. I have people I have met (I hate the word fans by the way it sounds bizarre), but people are great about spreading the word. I have had people show up with stuff they have found from bands when I was in college. I don’t even know where that is. People will show up with old music and old pictures, so that’s a little bizarre. If you saw the front of my CD it looks like I’m about to get run over by a semi; one of my investors in my record is the insurance carrier for the major trucking companies across the country. He is booking me for a lot of their big trucking conventions. Truckers and bikers have been my people so far and now farmers up in Minnesota.

Bev: In my opinion this is a good audience, because they listen to music all day while they work.

LL: Exactly, which is why we wrote a song called Truckers and Rodeo crowds. That’s actually the song they were playing up in Minnesota. I’m going to start doing that and hopefully they’ll start carrying it with some of their products. Like you said, thinking outside of the box.

Bev: Besides things from your past, what is the weirdest thing people have brought up for you to sign?

LL: Mainly just old music and old flyers from my band that people have shown up with. I was in a band in college and my drummer always made flyers for our shows; the most bizarre flyers. This one guy had come to one of my shows and he had had one of those flyers, we’re really not sure how he got it and he wouldn’t say. So that was weird. I did sign some chests in Minnesota and I always think it’s so weird why people ask for that. I’ve never understood autographs in general; pictures I understand but autographs? Maybe if it’s on your picture, but not on your body.
Ohhh I do have one weird thing; the “little fisherman’s friends”. I had this one guy come in the other night when I was singing in Nashville and I was eating on stage. I had to spit it out real quick because the song was starting and he’s like “do you mind if I take that?” I was like uhhh ok I guess? That was odd, it was a little weird.

Bev: With that, let’s move one. (chuckling) What has been the song so far that means the most to you or is the most personal to you?

LL: The song that I am most proud of so far is called “Spin The Bottle”, I wrote it with Chris Roberts. He is in the band One Flew South and is my main co-writer. It was the first song he and I wrote and it came so quick. It’s a lonely person’s song. I wrote it because of this one woman who stood out at the bar one night when I was playing. The lyrics are “am I going to go home alone tonight? its closing time, am I going to go home alone or am I going to go home with this person next to me; to not have to be alone.” It is a really sad song but it is the one a lot of people come up to me and say they can really relate to it. There was a man that came up to me and told me he was a recovering alcoholic, he said “I’m in AA and this song could really be our theme song”. I hadn’t thought about it that way but it’s true. He said he played it for everyone at his AA meeting and everyone was crying. It struck a chord and that made me feel like I can do this as a career. It was the first time I felt like a writer. Because when I lived in L.A, I did more pop/rock. I started out singing country and gospel and in L.A. and fell into rock and pop because that’s more of what goes on there. I never really felt fulfilled with it. It doesn’t have the story telling that country music has. I wrote another with Wade Paddle called “I Don’t Anymore”. It’s really depressing, but it’s a great song.

Bev: The comment you made about the alcoholic, or the guy who was recovering; how does it make you feel when you have written a song or recorded a song and now is perceived with a different intention by the listener, now all of a sudden it means something entirely different to somebody else.

LL: Initially, people say I like your music; that’s great and exciting. I never can relate to everyone’s personal experiences, so it broadens your thinking as you write.
It has helped me not rush songs too. Experiences like the man from AA help me think different. This is my job; this isn’t a hobby. This is something that is affecting other people and I really need to take it seriously. That experience was so satisfying, I’ll never forget what he looked like when he said that.

Bev: During your career, both in the country genre and before, who are some of the bigger names you have performed with?

LL: I’ve gotten to sing with Kid Rock a couple times, one night at Tootsie’s I opened (quote un-quote) for Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock and the Whalers. I got to share the stage with them and then Kid Rock once while out in L.A. as well. Those are some of the bigger names as far as country. I’ve played with. I would love love love, to do something with Sugarland. I love Jennifer Nettles. Everyone always asks me if I could do a duet with anyone who would it be and I would love to do something with her.

Bev: Whether you’ve performed with them or not, is there anyone that has passed down some words of wisdom that has really hit home, that you could relate to?

LL: Wade Battle said “when your picking songs for an album, get three songs, that if you put this CD on you could undeniably say this is me.” That’s my current struggle in life --- figuring out exactly who in the world am I?
I’ve learned to tune people out no matter what, because even on my level, everyone has their comments and wants to tell you how to do things a certain way. I’ve really had to refocus and do it my way. I’m trying to find a happy medium and take their advice while still keeping true to myself and that’s my inner struggle.

Bev: Do you have anything you do before you go on stage, any prayers? A routine?

LL: I always pray. I eat potato chips and have a shot of Jim Beam. That’s really healthy! That’s my thing. Jim Beam and potato chips and I think I have poker face on there. It’s God, prayer, whiskey and potato chips. Weird combination.

Bev: Are any members of your family here?

LL: My immediate family is all in Dallas. My parents, my sister and her husband are all in Dallas and my grandmother and great aunt who are the funniest, most amazing, 92 year-old identical twins. They’re so funny, still dress alike, same hair cut, same thing, their little jumpsuits monogrammed, They’re so supportive, so excited, love what I’m doing. They’re always listening to new artists so they can tell me what’s going on! They’re a hoot! All my extended family is in Oklahoma. There’s no way I could be doing what I’m doing today without my family. They’ve been so, so super supportive. Both emotionally, financially, everything; on every level.

Bev: Have any of your family members been involved in music at all?

LL: My father kind of dabbled a little bit in everything. He played saxophone in a band for a long time, he plays piano, guitar and a little bit of everything. He is an attorney and he did some work for Leann Rimes a little while ago and also Neal McCoy. My grandmother and great uncle both played piano and had a lot of musical talent and I grew up singing with them. My sister went to Vanderbilt in Nashville and worked for MCA; then did marketing for Pizza Hut for 12 years. She has been great at helping me on the marketing front. My mom has been helping me with merchandising.

Bev: I was going to ask if they get to travel a long and do those things with you, as many artists do tend to lean on family members in that way.

LL: They haven’t been traveling yet, but they’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff. I just had a showcase back in August and they all were here in town. They set up all the food and drink, and ran everything. My mom had a banner made; they’re amazing and all so super supportive. I’m really blessed in that capacity. I look at so many people here that I know that don’t have that support. I took it for granted for a long time, it really annoyed me how involved they were. I didn’t realize until recently how great I have it. I literally thank God for that. For whatever reason, all these people that are falling into my little camp, have all just started because they want to help and started doing it on their own out of their own generosity. I am so lucky to have these amazing people who want to see me succeed and believe in me.

Bev: Lindsay, I have all the confidence in the world you are well on your way to seeing all your dreams come true, you have such an amazing personality and positive outlook. Thank you so much for your time and sharing a part of who you are with me.

Lindsay: Oh the pleasure was mine, thank you for being interested in my music and helping me get the word out. I cannot wait to do it again.

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