An Interview with Christie Lamb

Let me give you a bit of a rundown on Country Music multi-instrumental, award-winning, singer-songwriter, Christie Lamb. She has been hailed as ‘one to watch’ by Country music legend, Lee Kernaghan. She’s toured with Jon English, Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds, The Wolfe Brothers, and performed a duet with Keith Urban at last year’s Deni Ute Muster. She took out the fan voted ‘CMC New Oz Artist of the Year’ in 2015 and the Golden Guitar for ‘CMAA New Talent of the Year 2016.’ Earlier this year she released her second album, Loaded, placing #2 on the ARIA Country Album Charts, and single Bad Habit following the success of first single, Flamethrower.

Congratulations on the release of your new album, Loaded. Were there any elements from your debut, All She Wrote that you wanted to carry over into this release?

The first album established what sound and direction I was going and I didn’t want to stray too far from that and confuse fans. It’s still contemporary, country-rock/country-pop, but we tried to give a bit more variation on this album so there are seeds that are even bigger and even more stripped back and raw as well.

This is also your first release with ABC Music.  Did they have any influence in how the album ultimately turned out?

I’d already started recording the album when we started deciding if we were going to be the right match for each other. I gave them four songs originally – Flamethrower was one of them, ‘Bad Habit’ was another and a couple of ballads – to try and show every side. That caught their attention and they got where I was going, my brand and all those kinds of things. They’ve been very helpful since the signing. I’d already recorded the songs, but they’ve helped with artwork, choosing singles and those other things that go into the project as a whole.

Were there any songs on the album completely different to anything you’ve done and you weren’t quite sure how people were going to react to it?

Yeah, definitely. Track 6 on the album, Ghost Gums Sway, that’s very different and out of the typical Christie box. It’s a bit of a ghost story, a bit more rootsy, an atmospheric song, rather than a commercial country pop song. It’s quite an Australian song about the Australian landscape; I normally write more contemporary, relationship songs, so it was very different and I was hoping that Australian country fans would embrace that, which they seem to have. Seems to be that little surprise package that everyone’s clicked onto, which is really nice that they’re happy to embrace other things as well.

Do you have a favourite track?

You could ask me that tomorrow and I’d probably tell you a different answer (laughs). It depends what my mood is on the day. Signature-wise ‘Flamethrower’ was the favourite, that’s why it was the first single; it really does sum me up in one song. I love a lot of songs with energy, whether it’s emotional energy in a ballad or a powerhouse, country-rock tune. ‘Flamethrower’s got those hooky riffs that get you from the start, sassy lyrics and that energy. It’s a big sing as well.

If I’m in a light-hearted mood then I would probably go Bad Habit. If I was in more of an emotional place, I could go with I Get Back Up, Judgement Day or Ghost Gums Sway.

Speaking of Flamethrower, talk about a powerful and dramatic music video to kick of the album release. Were you the brains behind the idea for the video? 

Thank you. It was quite a while between singles so I did want to make an impact and get everyone’s attention and excitement for the new album from the video clip. I also didn’t want it to be corny either. I thought if I was acting it out, literally flamethrowers in the clip, it could get a bit naff and we wanted to stay away from that.  It is such a strong, impactful song so it was more about the energy and the performance. It turned out really well; I was really happy with the result. Duncan (Toombs, who directed the video with his company, The Filmery) did a great job on the effects. There were a few worried people who thought I was actually in a burning building, but I wasn’t (laughs). It was all safe.

You just released the second single, Bad Habit. Do you have the next single picked out?

We’ll probably go with a ballad for the third single. That’s the current plan – that’s as far as it’s got (laughs).

You launched the album at Rooty Hill RSL in New South Wales last month. How did that go?

I did launch my first album [for All She Wrote] at Rooty Hill RSL in the Waratah Room and I think that has a max of 300 and we sold that one out. So this time around they put me in the big room. That was quite scary and daunting because the only people I know who go in that big room are Lee Kernaghan, your Adam Brand’s, and the biggest names in our business. It’s a massive room to fill, but it turned out really well.

The first half was all about playing [Loaded] as a whole, and then the second half I played the previous singles from All She Wrote and then had a few duets and trios. I wanted to do something different than what everyone else was doing for their album launches. That’s the kick start – I’ve got CMC Rocks, touring with Lee Kernaghan, and, then after that, I’m trying to plan a tour for myself for the end of the year, so it’s going to keep me busy (laughs).

You previously toured with Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds on the 2015 The Girls Of Country Tour, whom both made an special appearance on the night, as well as fellow Australian country artist, Jasmine Rae. How did you incorporate them into the show?

I had a few options for them. Aleyce and I did a duet of I Wish You Were A Cowboy – which was one of my songs off my last album but also a song we did together in the Girls of Country show, so it was a little tip of the hat to that. Amber and I, we’re all about fun with our music so we sung My Church by Maren Morris together. The three of us did a Pistol Annies song, it seemed quite fitting.

I’ve always been a big fan of Jasmine Rae’s and she had a strong idea. She’s like “I’ve always wanted to do this particular duet, are you happy to do that?” and it went over really well. That was the moment where, at the end of the night, everyone went, “Wow, that was a real surprise package! That was really good! You should record that together” I don’t know if that will happen but I’m always open to working with Jazzy and recording a duet if she ever wants to. We’ll keep that up our sleeve and maybe think about that later on (laughs).

You essentially tour with mostly males, but this was entirely a girl’s night.

(laughs) I guess that was kind of the thing with the album launch – is a lot of fun when the girl’s get together. We had Melanie Dyer open the show that night too, so it was really was like a girl’s night because it doesn’t happen that often. You can do more similar songs together, because if you’re covering a female artist, you’re going to be able to sing it in the same key as another female, whereas guys it’s a bit more restricting what songs you can choose together.

I’ve been one of those artists who’ve been given one of the later night spots or working with guys because I am a bit more of that country rock side. There’s not many girls doing that kind of thing, so I guess that’s why I’ve worked with a lot of guys too and including The Viper Creek Band, The Wolfe Brothers, Lee. It’s kind of been just the way it’s worked out, but they’re all a lot of fun in their own ways.

You’re currently on Lee Kernaghan’s Boys From The Bush 25th Anniversary Tour alongside the Wolfe Brothers, James Blundell, Tanya Kernaghan and special guests along the way. What is like to work with Lee?

It’s great working with Lee. He has to be one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, and so supportive of up-and-coming talent and the future of country music. I started touring with him in 2015, so it’s been a couple of years now, and I’m grateful that that’s continued on. Lee can be a bit of a surprise on the night. You’ll think you’ve got a set list but then he’ll throw things in that you might not have played with him before. And you’re looking around at the Wolfe Brothers going, “What key’s this one in?” That’s happened a couple of times.

In Tamworth [at the Country Music Festival, where Lee kicked off the tour] there was a song that he was going to do with Troy Cassar-Daley [Walk A Country Mile off Lee’s 25th Anniversary Album, which is sung in a trio with Kasey Chambers] I couldn’t make it to the rehearsal, but he passed on the message: “Don’t stress about learning that part, I’ll just cover Kasey’s lines.” I was like, “Yep, sure,” didn’t think anything else of it, got on stage, we started playing the intro, and Lee’s looked at me and gone, “Hang on, stop the music. Christie, come up here!” I was like, “Oh my goodness! I’ve just been thrown under the bus – you just told me not to worry about it” But he does that. He goes, “This’ll be a very cool moment” and it was, not only singing with one legend Lee but Troy as well. That was a really cool moment that I wasn’t expecting to happen.

On the weekend, he sent me a text saying: “Congrats on the album! I was wondering if you’d like to do a duet of High Country with me?” (Which is on his new album with his wife, Robby X) Any time singing with Lee’s a fun thing to do. He’s always very supportive, encouraging and trying to include you in new things – sometimes on the spot and sometimes you get a bit of preparation, which is always nice too (laughs).

Who do you most hang out with on tour?

Lee’s the busiest artist, so we only really see him backstage at the gig but there has been times when he’s taken us out to the wineries in Adelaide. We got lunch and wine, and it was great! That was one of those special memories that you hang on to. But I guess, in terms of hanging out, the Wolfe brothers in particular. Tom [Wolfe] is always a really great laugh! He’s always fun to be around. We have become genuine friends, not just someone I work with.

I’ve noticed Fireball Cinnamon Whisky being passed around before and after a lot of country music gigs. Lee himself told me that he likes to have a drink of it. Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Oh, I definitely join in the Fireball. When it was my birthday last year, we had a show the next day, Lee did a shout out and called me Fireball girl because I am the only girl on the tour and I will join in in those things. They’ve got their own set little ways and I’m happy to join in. It’s a little group huddle at the same time and a little toast and cheer for the show. The energy in that huddle between us all to boast each other up before a show is a nice thing to do.

In terms of my own kind of thing, I sing through the hardest song I might be singing on that night to make sure I’m properly warmed up. Then join the boys, have a huddle and Fireball, and that’s it. Everyone’s different. I know Lee has his own quiet moment to himself beforehand. You don’t see the Wolfes having a quite moment – there’s never a dull moment with them backstage (laughs).

You’ve come so far in such a short amount of time. Does it surprise you how fast it’s all happening?

You’re kind of doing what you’re doing – that keeps you well and truly busy enough. I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of if it’s been done before, but when you say that – that’s really exciting, encouraging and it makes me excited for what is to come. It’s been a great ride, I must say. I’ve had a lot of opportunities come my way. It’s definitely given me a lot of experience, and that’s helped me as an artist feel comfortable on those bigger stages, because I haven’t gone straight to it by myself. I’ve had friends around me on that stage and we’ve done it together, so when I’m up on my own it’s not as daunting anymore. Hopefully that’ll keep continuing (laughs).


For more on Christie, visit: www.christielamb.com
[Originally posted at the AU Review]

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