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Meet Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

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Grace Potter and The Nocturnals (Clockwise From Top Left) : Catherine Popper (bass), Matt Burr (drums/vocals), Benny Yurco (rhythm guitar), Grace Potter (vocals/piano/rhythm guitar), Scott Tournet (lead guitar) I Photo courtesy of Hollywood Records.


Grace Potter and The Nocturnals (Clockwise From Top Left) : Catherine Popper (bass), Matt Burr (drums/vocals), Benny Yurco (rhythm guitar), Grace Potter (vocals/piano/rhythm guitar), Scott Tournet (lead guitar) I Photo courtesy of Hollywood Records.
Don't let Grace Potter's good looks or age fool you. This woman has a pair of pipes that would knock over a steam engine and a soul of a woman three times her age. I saw her on a whim at the Roxy last year, and the show was carved onto the stone walls of my memory as one of the best shows of 2008. (The only other competition being Sigur Ros. Yes, I'm serious.) And hands down the best show that I have ever seen grace the Roxy's stage.

At the ripe old age of 26, Potter is about to put out her fourth album with her Nocturnals this spring. I chatted with her while she was getting her hair done for the cover art photo shoot. We talked about her upcoming album, the importance of cover art, promoters with mafioso ties, and man boobs. Here is some of what was said.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Big White Gate (Live)


So what are you guys going to do for the cover?
It's going to be really exciting. We really wanted to do something really brings back the idea of the cover being really important.

Can you tell me what it's going to be?

No! It's gotta be a surprise. Although I will tell you that it's going to be really...um...bold.

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Have you come up with a title for the new album yet?
It's funny that you should ask that. I just came from a meeting literally five minutes ago where we were talking about it.

Have you decided?
No, we're still mulling it over it. I can't say what it's going to be, but I can tell you that we're narrowing it down.

Very secretive. Can you at least tell me where you got the name The Nocturnals?
Sure! We started the band in college and the place we used to rehearse only had a spot for us at 2am. So we would practice from two to four. It was crazy.

That is dedication. Is your band a democracy or a dictatorship?
(laughs) It's been a dictatorship, lately. Ask the Eagles, having a democratic society as a band is a bad idea. Most bands are dictatorships. It was a democracy for around five years and I think it's not the right way to do it. Too many cooks in the kitchen, you know? It's like any job in the world. You need to have someone to look to for the answers. That's me. Okay and our manager. Our manager has a lot of the answers. It's important that some is there to make the final calls.

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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals I Photo courtesy of Hollywood Records

Who is "Big White Gate" written for?
It's written for my grandma. The day I found out that she was sick and was gonna die, I sat down and wrote that song. It's not her story. I mean, she's not a drunk who wandered the streets, but it's reflective of her life. I wound up really capturing her essence. One of the best moments of my life was that I got to sing it for her before she died. It was in Santa Fe. They wheeled her down to the front of the stage. It was great. She loved it, which meant a lot to me. I needed her to know that her legacy stuck with me.What song are you most proud of on the new album?
Oh that's a hard one. I think the song that I like playing the most live is this song called "Paris." I love to play that song live more than any other song in the whole world. Ever. It's got lots of "Ooh la la." It's very sexy, but at the same time it's an out of control train wreck.

That sounds awesome. I can't wait to see it. Your live show has this very competitive vibe between you and your lead guitarist. Is that on purpose?
Oh yeah! We're always trying to out do each other. We're like two animals trying to conquer each other, like monkeys at the zoo. You know when you see one of them climb really really high and the other one climbs on top of him and sits on his head. Yeah, that's us. I think that's definitely why people like our live show. We're there to live our music and to bring everyone into our world.

I heard you guys recorded this album in LA. What is your favorite thing to do while you were here?
Personally, I'm a big, big foodie. I loved to dig around and find really great restaurants. I mean I even drove all the way to Malibu to go to this clam shack, which was closed!

Oh man.

Yeah, I was really pissed. But I love the food in LA. There are crazy restaurants and you can't get fresher produce anywhere.

What was the worst show you ever played?
This is so sad. It was in Roxbury. I hear it was a great show, but I got electrocuted half way through, so I wasn't a huge fan of it.

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Oh my God! Did anyone notice?
No, no one did! I almost died and no one would have known it. It worst show of my life. The stage wasn't grounded and the charge went through the microphone and into my mouth. I was wearing a lot of big metal jewelry so that didn't help either. My whole body going away and coming back. I started hyperventilating. It was horrible.

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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals I Photo courtesy of Hollywood Records.

How did no one notice?
Well, I kept playing whie I was being shocked. It must have been muscle memory or something. I think you could see my face in a grimace, but it just looked like I was trying to get the words out because I was so overcome with emotion. The band rocked, though, so that's good. I'm like James Brown. If my band sucks, I charge them each a hundred bucks.

Really?

(laughs) Not really.

What is the weirdest thing you ever saw in the audience?

There was this man in middle America, I won't say where, who ripped of his shirt and had drawn really big boobs on his chest. He had even done some shading so that they looked 3D. Okay, well he tried to draw in the shading. Mostly it just looked like he had tried to draw on chest hair. That was weird. There may have been other weird things going on in the audience, but I'm legally blind, so I have no idea. I just see a blur. However, I did not miss those boobs. Boobs, huh? I wonder if that was a political message. If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
I think that the cover of albums should matter more. I want a world where artwork matters again. Years ago music and art meshed perfectly, but now when you Google a band a million pictures come up and you don't know what the true record cover is anymore. I think musicians should start respecting art. They feed each other. There used to be a whole culture built around it.

Do you have any strange promoter stories?
Oh man, yes! One time, I won't say in what state, because he'll know I'm talking about him, but one time in a small state in northeast a promoter took us out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. We all sat down and these mafioso people come through the door. The promoter panics and bolts. We thought he's come back, so we hung out for a bit but he just left us sitting there. He just disappeared. So we paid for our dinner, played the show, and when we were packing up he showed up again. He had a bloody nose and a bag of coke. He offered us some, but we were like "No, we don't do that!"

Did you get paid?

Yeah, we got paid...not in coke. Oh man, I shouldn't have told you this story. We don't do coke! We got paid for the gig which was about a hundred dollars between seven people. But it was out of control.

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That sounds nuts. I'm going to guess that state was Connecticut.
Ha! You may be right.

Okay final question: What album was your favorite this year?

Oh man, that's such a hard question! Um, I'll say Kings of Leon. That was a damn fine album.

Thank you so much for talking with us.

Thank you!

Be sure to check out Grace Potter and her Nocturnals at the Wiltern tonight with Brett Dennen and Robert Francis. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $25.