Article by Linda Ramsay Moakler
For my first article for JBO, I was given the incredible opportunity to interview one of my favorite live performers, Dana Fuchs. I have had the pleasure of seeing Dana live on a few occasions & she always makes my soul smile and gets me dancing like nobody’s watching. Seeing Dana live reminds me of the end of a fireworks display when you feel the big booms echo in your chest over and over again.
Critics have described Dana’s music as a more soultry, more emotive Janis Joplin backed by a higher energy version of the 60’s Rolling Stones. Regarding her CD “Love to Beg” Dana says “I’m really excited about the new material and the energy we captured in the studio, Jon and I wrote most of the tunes while touring for pretty much the past year and we feel this new album really captures all of our influences in a sincere and powerful way.”
Excited and nervous, I picked up the phone and called Dana and immediately felt comfortable due to her honesty, sense of humor, vulnerability and especially her courage to “live out loud” in her life and through her lyrics. She made me feel as if I was just shootin’ the shit with a close friend and I am grateful. Dana, who has lost her older sister and brother to this world, is a strong survivor and an inspiration to all who have been touched by her story and her music.
JBO: You got into music at the very early age at 7, was that because of your older siblings?
Dana: Yeah, my older brother and sister started this band when I was really young. I became the lyric transcriber for the cover songs – and was writing down a Queen song wondering “What does this all mean?” I learned about all kinds of classic rock including Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and of course The Grateful Dead as my brother Don was a huge fan.
JBO: What bands really moved you in the very beginning when you were first discovering music?
Dana: The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Led Zepplin, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and growing up down south you couldn’t escape southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd – I love that stuff.
JBO: I have those perfect albums that are my personal go to’s when I need them and I’m old school – I like to listen to the whole album not just one song – for instance one of mine is Fleetwood Mac – Rumors. Do you have any of those perfect albums that you go to?
Dana: They change, but lately it’s been the new Tom Waits CD that I just got – “Bad As Me”. I’m also a big Lucinda Williams fan & Rumors is also one of my favorites. Al Green’s Greatest Hits is definitely a favorite and really anything by Otis Redding.
JBO: You lost both your older sister and older brother – the two people who actually introduced you to music. Are any of the Songs on the “Love to Beg” CD dedicated to your brother or sister?
Dana: My brother passed away after “Love to Beg” came out – but “Keep on Rolling” on that CD has sort of become his song and I dedicate it to him. There is a song about him on CD coming out this year – it’s called “Climb Over.” My sister’s song is called “Fly Me to Sleep” which is on a prior CD called Songbird. I have been dedicating all my shows to my sister since she took her own life.
JBO: You had the opportunity to play Janis Joplin in an off-Broadway play back in 2004/2005. What did you learn about Janis Joplin that the average Janis fans may not know or understand about her?
Dana: I have always been compared to Janis Joplin and never really listened to her carefully & didn’t realize how much we had in common until I did that show. One of my favorite lines in the show is “I have to be up here jumping around stage for all you people while I’m fucking falling apart” She was obviously a very intelligent and very insecure girl, but it wasn’t common knowledge during her time how hard touring really was. Everyone wants a piece of you – every minute of every day. Musicians are perceived as people who just want to party and it’s not always understood how exhausting touring truly is.
JBO: Tell me about the CD and the title track– “Love to Beg” which came out in Feb 2011. What do you want your fans to know about the CD?
Dana: The Title track is sort of the theme for the whole CD and “Love to Beg” is a strange title I know. It’s about the songs that we wrote on the road. It’s about home and how home is where the heart is – and when you are on tour, you have to find that family on the road. The songs are a mix of experiences that I have had personally, but also about talking to fans and listening to their stories. We are all looking for a little love, a little happiness. It’s so interesting to go from country to country and culture to culture and realize that people are truly the same and looking for the same thing – they are all just begging for a little love.
JBO: You talk about the CD being about love: Angry Love, Jealous Love, Tortured Love, Brotherly Love, Sisterly Love and Self Love. Do you think you are there with self-love?
Dana: I think it’s an eternal search. I think I can say that I love myself now, but it was a long journey for me to get comfortable in my own skin.
JBO : Tell me about the Otis Redding Cover on the CD?
Dana: We wanted to pay homage to one of the greats when we were making “Love to Beg” and I was on a subway when I realized that we should do an Otis Redding tune. Otis is one of my favorites if not my favorite male soul artists. Earlier in my career, I wanted to be as possessed by music as he was someday, and now we are finally ready to tell Otis thank you. It was a One take track for me, I was in the studio singing and crying and knew that this take was going to be on the CD.
JBO: So you have a new acoustic CD coming out this year. When do you think it will be released? There is a video on your site called “Drive” – is that going to be on the new CD? I love the video with just the guitar and the harmonica – brings me back to my post college years hanging out by the bonfire with my friends.
Dana: Hopefully late spring or early summer and yes, that one’s on there. John, my collaborator, is playing both the guitar and harmonica on that.
I want to thank Dana for her time and willingness to be so open and honest. I was already a huge fan, and now I feel like I’ve made a new friend – kindred spirits. All of the folks here at JBO are big fans of Dana’s music. Make sure you get out and see her live – it’s an experience like no other.
Come join Dana and the Band May 18th for the exclusive filming and taping of their new Live DVD and CD at their first 2012 Full Band NYC show at THE HIGHLINE BALLROOM ! Get tickets now before the show sells out! Click here for tickets.