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Anna Nalick 2

Anna Nalick Interview - part II

Bp: I know you're a big Bono and U2 Fan.

Anna: Oh, yeah!

Bp: Was there any U2 discussion at all?

Anna: Yeah, a little bit.

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Bp: Did you ever think, 'Wow, twenty-plus years ago this guy was producing those classic first three U2 albums and now he's working with me!'

Anna: Yeah, there was. Well, y'know what's really strange is that Steve is also very charming and very…he's English, that's what he is. [laughs] He's such a gentlemen, and very charming. And it was weird for me to think that when I was just born, he was producing albums that I listen to now for inspiration and now he's producing something for me and he's liking it. 'He's having fun,' I kept thinking, 'Oh my Gosh! This is Steve Lillywhite! And he likes me! He likes my song! That's pretty badass!' It was really fun and he's just so talented. He made me so comfortable and he knows how to be artist friendly. He's not the kind of producer that would say, 'This is how it has to be done.' He's all about where the music should be, where the song needs to go. And that's great for musicians because that's all we're thinking about too. Or at least in my group, nobody needs to be the 'chief.' Nobody needs to have their solo or anything. It was a lot of fun.

Bp: I was first introduced to you by a 5-track sampler that came out in the fall of 2004.

Anna: With the black and white picture on the front?

Bp: Yes!

Anna: With me looking up? I hated that picture! I hated that picture so much! Y'know what happened for that picture? I was doing this photo shoot and I was really hungry and the photographer asked me, 'What are you hungry for?' And I said, 'Steak with A-1 sauce' and I made this face like, 'Awww, yeah!' and she took my picture! Then Donnie Ienner, who's the president of Sony, picked that picture for the cover and was going to send it out to radio. And what was even worse was that I'd been singing onstage since I was 15. I was in a hard rock band in high school and I had chipped my teeth on the microphone so many times that they were uneven and one was shorter than the other. And my teeth were like that in the picture, so I went and got them fixed right after and that was the picture that they chose. It was the only picture that you could really see my chipped, crooked teeth. And I was so upset the whole time. I was like 'You have to fix this!' It was too late of course and now I just hate that picture! It is so stupid! [laughs]

Bp: That's a great story!

Anna: Yea. But I guess you can't argue with the president.

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Bp: Of course not. So months later in early 2005, after some ramp-up from inclusion in some TV shows, the album comes out in April 2005. As I regularly do for upcoming artists, I let some friends and co-workers know about the appearance on the Tonight Show. Now, I've seen a ton of late night performances before, but very few that elicited such a reaction. The highlight was when you put your hand up, and stunned the audience with the a cappella "And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd..." section. I got chills, and I heard from a number of people who were blown away by it. It was a really positive and energetic reaction!

Anna: I didn't expect that reaction. I actually didn't know I was going to do that until the last minute. The way that started was because in the very beginning, touring at radio stations and things like that, there were a lot of shows that I played that were so unfair. There'd be some cocktail party and we'd be right next to the shrimp bowl and I'd be there with my guitarist singing "Breathe" and not a soul would be listening to me. There was one show where the audience was so loud, over my microphone, I was singing through speakers and they were so loud that I still couldn't hear myself. And I was standing there on the floor and somebody bumped my guitar player because they wanted some shrimp, so when I got to the part about being "naked in front of the crowd," it just seemed the most appropriate, and I just guess out of a reaction I put my hand over the strings and sang that part a cappella. And everybody quieted down and I thought, 'Wow, that's really cool.' And so appropriate for that line too, because it's the most telling line of the song for me. Emotionally that's how I feel about performing and about singing. I tell people very personal things, but it almost doesn't matter because they're gonna use it to apply to their own lives if they're listening. So I'd done it a few times like that with my band and we thought, 'Man that's really cool.' But live television, I didn't know if I wanted to do that on live television. And I was nervous. For some reason I was more nervous for Leno than any other show that I've done. And I think it's because he's my favorite, to tell the truth. There was so much leading up to that because my third grade teacher used to tell me that someday I was gonna be on that show and she wanted to be in the audience. And this was in third grade! It was like his first year on the Tonight Show and here all these years later I finally got to call her and say, 'You're coming in the audience!' So there were so many things that I was thinking about and right before we went onstage I told my band, 'If I decide that I'm brave enough to do that part, I'll raise my hand.' I don't even remember thinking about it. I guess it was…as soon as we got to that part I was like 'Ok, I'm gonna do it.' And I raised my hand I sang it a cappella. I could hear a pin drop in the audience, it was so quiet. And I just realized at that point that I was shocking myself. I couldn't believe that I did that. So I was surprised, but I'm glad I did it. It was fun to get that reaction from people. And it sort of gave me a new level of confidence, thinking 'Ok, even when I'm that nervous, I can still do it.' It was fun. And now it's made its way into all of our shows. I do that every night. I don't raise my hand anymore, the band just stops at that part. I'm glad that it makes that part more powerful, because that line means the most to me.

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Bp: I remember one comment in particular from a man in his 60's who mentioned he was never interested in late night performances and he didn't visit message boards but he felt compelled to write in because it moved him that much and he was picking up the album because of the performance.

Anna: That was great. I liked that people wrote in. That was cool. My parents loved it. My third grade teacher loved it. Jay put her on the camera and she got to wave to her class. It was really fun.

Bp: Looking forward, I know you're focusing on 1.5 right now, but what is the direction of the material for #2. What can we look forward to?

Anna: Well, you can definitely tell that it's me. My writing hasn't changed so much that it sounds like a different person, but it has developed a little bit dynamically. I've learned a lot from my band and from the bands I've toured with. I can tell, maybe nobody else could, but I can tell which tour it was by listening, because I took pieces from the Wallflowers and from Rob, and everybody. I think having my band with me on the next album is gonna make a lot of the difference, because it's gonna feel a lot more comfortable. It's gonna feel more organic and natural. Not to say that the first one wasn't, but it's gonna feel perfect to me. I'm still singing about the same human emotions and the same kind of stuff that I've always sung about, it's just maybe from a more mature standpoint since I'm a few years older.

Bp: I look forward to hearing it.

Anna: Thank you! I'm looking forward to releasing it!

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