We were lucky enough to catch up with Angaleena Presley at the Long Road Festival this past weekend. Prior to playing two fantatsicaly personal and painstakingly honest sets, we chatted about songwriting, her latest record ‘Wrangled’ and of course, Pistol Annies. – Shannon Hynes
Thank you so much for chatting with us today. I was at your Nell’s gig the other night it was fantastic, how did you feel?
Thank you, I felt pregnant (laughs), it was rough, that was the first show I’ve ever played pregnant, it was just, I can’t breath very well, my back was hurting, but I got through it.
You couldn’t tell, you were making good of it, making jokes.
Well, you know, I think if you’re honest with people, you know, we’re all human, we all have a bad day. I think today’s show may be a little better, because I got through one, I know I can get through it.
Exactly, that’s what I love about you, you’re so honest, you are yourself on stage and you’re like that in your songwriting as well. How can you be so honest in your songwriting all the time?
I don’t really know how not to be, I’ve tried and i’m not really good at it, so I just do what i’m good at and let it fall where it falls.
I know you had a record out last year, ‘Wrangled.’ You produced it, can you tell us a little about the process of that?
Yeah, I co-produced it with a guy called Oran Thornton, he and I had written a few songs together and he put together this track for a song called ‘Motel Bible’ and I loved the track that he did. So I was like, okay, I want you to produce this with me, so he did. We went in and it was just a magical week-
A week, is that it?
Yeah, that’s just how it works in Nashville, they do it quick, it ain’t rock n roll, we can’t afford to be doing it for months. We went in and there was literally never a minute were it felt like this is a pain or we’re having to try too hard, it just y’know, rolled along and it was really neat having YelaWolf come in, like this rapstar and he brought his entourage and wrote a rap for a song. We had Shaun Camp come in and play mandolin on the song I wrote with Guy Clarke, that was this magical moment, everyone was crying. The track that’s on the record is the live one, we didn’t have to do anything to it, it was just a great time.
That’s amazing! It’s the same with songwriters sessions, you get say, 3 sessions a day, 3 hours to write. Can you tell us a little about that and what happens if say, you have writers block?
Well, I kinda never really got into that whole grind thing, just because I knew that I’m not like a machine writer, I’m more of an artist writer, who has to kinda have space and breath and live and have experiences. So I would do more like, 3 sessions a week (laughs) instead of 3 a day. But even then, there are times where there’s just no chemistry, you’re with someone and it’s like I’d rather be having a tooth pulled than be in this room right now. But then you do find the people who you do click with, like for me it’s people like Lori McKenna, Miranda and Ashley and Sunny Sweeney… and it’s just magic and it’s just like breathing.
And you can tell by the songs you all create together. Another silly songwriter’s question. Can you tell us one of the funniest co-writes you’ve had? As your songs are hilarious!
Yeah, I know the exact one. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jim Lauderdale? I had a co-write with him once, I love Jim, he’s like one of my heroes and I think he’s one of the most underrated songwriter/ artists in the business. Anyways, so he comes in and he’s a very like zen person, he does tae-kwon do and all that stuff and he comes and he’s like, just shakes his head at me and doesn’t say anything, he has this notepad and he writes down and holds up ‘i’m on vocal rest.’ I was like, ‘what are we gonna do? We can’t write a song.’ So he literally didn’t speak one word the whole time, I would play and hum stuff and he’d do these hand motions and shake his head and we wrote an awesome song.
That’s actually insane!
It was hilarious, it was the funniest co write I’ve ever had.
I’ve never heard of that before.
Neither have I, nor have I had one since.
So I’ve got to get one last quick question in, something you’re bound to hear a lot now, I’ve got to ask about the Pistol Annies?
Oh yeah, well, we have a record coming out in the fall and I think it’s really good, I mean it’s kinda like, we’ve evolved, we’ve lived a lot, we’re older and the songs reflect that, we’re more mature yet it’s still really fun too, so we’re all really excited about.
I do think, you’re 3 of the best female songwriters in the country music business.
Do you think there’ll be an appearance in the UK from yourself or the Pistol Annies anytime soon?
Mmmm, my lips are sealed.
Thank you so much for chatting with us Angaleena.
Interview conducted by Shannon Hynes (twitter.com/s_hynesmusic)