Roadtracks Interview with
Alice Schneider
Alice Texas

Fargo Records


The Interview:

Frank: Alice, first of all, please introduce yourself as a person to our readers (where you come, where and how you live, hobbies, musical faves, positive and negative qualities of you). 

Alice: I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in the the city.  I live like a typical musician, broke and struggling.  I bartended for several years.  My hobbies are reading, cooking and watching Star Trek: Next Generation.  Musical favorites are Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, Joan Armatrading, Bukka White, Beck, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, The Doors. The list goes on. I consider myself to be a thoughtful and giving individual. This can be both positive and negative. 

Frank: and please introduce the band...

Alice: Peter has been playing guitar with me since nearly the beginning of  Alice Texas as a band (I performed solo for a while).  He is from New York as well, Long Island, but has lived here several years. He has been involved with countless projects, a quintessential New York musician.  His beautiful guitar playing, sensitivity and understanding of the songs is a big part of the sound of the band, live and in recordings.   He played a major role in the production of "Sad Days" as well as our previous CD, "Gold". David  is originally from St. Louis and has lived in New York  for 15 years.  He has been playing drums with us  3 1/2 years. He is technically the 9th drummer to be part of Alice Texas. I hope he is the last. He is incredibly talented, hard working and very intense.  He has an extensive musical background in traditional jazz and swing, as well as rock, so he has brought an interesting new flavor to our sound.  He makes a living as a drummer which is difficult to do. There have been many musicians that have gone  in an out of Alice Texas, but Peter and  David are the core band.

Frank: It?s hard to imagine, that your music is written by an artist living in New York, because it?s too much Country in that that because you are a texas born...

Alice: Since I am not from Texas (that was a misprint in our bio) I cannot say that that is where the country influence comes from.  I think it has more to do with the fact that my musical tastes  lie in the blues, traditional country and old folk.  This is a lot of what I grew up listening to, as well as rock music, of course.  I come from a large family with older siblings who played all kinds of  music so my tastes were deep seeded at an early age. There are plenty of musicians that play and write in a genre that has nothing to do with where they are from.  I just saw a story about a young bluegrass band from a tiny town in Russia.

Frank: Your songs are full of moody, bluesy and romantic impressions. People call this Country Noir! How do you call it, and what are your influences for writing your music.

Alice: I like to describe Alice Texas as moody rock with dark-country undertones. So , yes, I suppose I'd call it Country Noir. But we are not limited to this kind of music.  We just like to hang out there at times.  My influences generally come from what I am feeling at the time. I  tend to write the most  when  I am sad.  I also get inspired from literature.  When you read a good book, it can burn a picture in your head.  I like to write with visuals in mind.  My songs are like little stories, based on fact. When I was small, around 5 or 6, my eldest sister Maria would play guitar and teach my little sister Zoe and I songs like Silver Dagger and Lilly of the West and House Carpenter (along with lots of Joni Mitchell.)  These are some pretty dark tunes.  They definitely had an effect on me.

Frank: You said "if we hadn?t record the album at this point in our career, we never would have!" Why? was there a special atmosphere in your life at that time?

Alice: It is for the most part a dark and somber record, highly stylized, that we believed a mass audience might not necessarily take to.  And we really wanted to make it.  I felt  it would have been difficult for Sad Days  to stand on it's own if it was preceded by a  more "commercial" effort.  I can say that September 11th had nothing to do with our decision, but with what is happening now I think it was the way to go.  These are some truly sad days in America's history.  Yes, there was a "special atmosphere" in my life at that time. My mother died about a month before we went into the studio to start the record. It seemed that this was the appropriate choice.

Frank: ...and maybe the next album will be sound different?
Alice: It will be somewhat different only in that it will be a bit more diverse.  There will be more rock songs, love songs, songs that may have a wider appeal to a larger audience.   It will not be a major departure though, as there will be plenty of  that dark and beautiful moodiness we are so fond of.  I am really looking forward to making that one.  And the next...

Frank: Years ago, it was not usual for young people to play and listen to country tunes. Then came Bands like Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown and the Jayhawks, and made it possible and hip to listen to music which is based in American traditional music like country & folk. What do you think is the reason? a new outlook on life maybe?

Alice: Trends come and go, always have.  The big thing now, or at least five minutes ago, is Garage.  The fact is if the music is good  it will somehow, somewhere get heard. And if it's really good, it will last. I'd like to believe that everyone with any real talent will have their place in time.

Frank: For me, your songs are the perfect soundtrack to a road movie which brings me into and through the west, not to the shining lights of Las Vegas or L.A. but to the forgotten part of America, where the pionieer spirt is still alive. You know that book "Americana" by Don DeLillo where a journalist drove into the Great wide open, sick of the shallow world in New York, and gets lost in the mysterious, romantic and archaic west by seeking for maintain and true life. Your music reminds me to that book. Is this feeling wrong and what do you wanna say with your music?

Alice: I have not read Americana, though I am very interested to do so now.  I have only read White Noise by DeLillo and was not so crazy about it so I didn't continue on his train. However, yes, I would agree with your description.  And I have heard from several people now who have had the same sentiment, that the record would be a perfect sound track to a movie. Even that a movie could be shaped around the record.  That'd be real cool. I  feel drawn to the romantic notions of the "old west".   I am not sure why.  Escapism I suppose is part of it.  The rampant violence, lawlessness  and open spaces (it's sort of what America is like today, except that the frontier is the middle east. This I do not feel drawn to, to say the least.)
I spent a few years in Lawrence, Kansas and I had some pretty amazing experiences with some pretty interesting and amazing people.  They helped shape my growth as a human being. "Where I'd Become" is about that.  And I have taken some great road trips which of course makes you open up your eyes.  But having grown up in New York, I can say that the city is not just a  shallow world.  People really live and die here, have hard lives, are bums and heroine addicts and artists and cab drivers and secretaries and are cowboys in their own right. You don't have to look too terribly hard (though it's harder now than say 10 years ago) to see and smell the underbelly of what the city truly is.  You can walk around New York and you can drive across the plains. It's all about who and what you allow yourself to be open to.   I have been through some pretty rough times in my life. I have stories to tell,  we all do, regardless of the place or time.                       
What do we want to say with the music? With this record in particular, that it's sometimes good to feel sad. Ideally we want people to feel something when they listen to it.  The songs, and Peter and David's beautiful musicianship, as well as the other incredibly talented people who contributed to the record, come from an honest place.   

Frank: Cormac McCarthy?s work has been an enourmous inspiration to your music....

Alice: Yes, he has made me see light come off the page.

Frank: What is you motto of life?

Alice: I don't have one.  Life is too hard to have a motto to go by day to day.  Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. And just when it gets completely hopeless, something kind of OK, or maybe even good happens and it blows your plan of doing something drastic for the time being.  I guess Keep On Trucking would be good.

Frank: Thanks Alice, and sorry for my bad english! 

Alice: It's not bad at all. 

by Frank

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