Hymn For Her is one of the more unusual acts gracing the Americana Music Festival Showcase stage this weekend. Real life couple Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing have been crossing the country for years via car, van, and Bambi Airstream trailer to play their unique blend of psychedelic desert rock for fans nationwide. Hymn For Her is a true two-piece outfit, with Tight playing and old fashioned cigar box guitar while Waxing provides drum and banjo support. Now they bring their eclectic live show to the Americana Music Festival, performing an Americana Showcase on Saturday, Sept. 21 at The Basement. We caught up with Lucy and Wayne at the Conference hotel in the afternoon prior of their performance to talk about their live act, their unusually organic connection with fans, and their innovative marketing techniques.
You guys are touring behind your new album “Lucy and Wayne's Smokin' Flames” and smoking is a great way to describe it. What were you guys going for when you recorded this one?
Live. Pure fire and heat. We wanted as close to the show as possible. A crowd at the bar cheers a football touchdown at this point. Screaming! Sorry, it's our fans. When we talk about the album the go wild. The touchdown had nothing to do with it! A lot of the songs had to with the desert and heat. And smoking because we have a hot sauce we're marketing with the album.
You also helped raise funds to record the album in a pretty unique way, by selling a hot sauce of the same name. How does a touring band get into the hot sauce business?
Well, we had some down time up in Maine and there was a house party people asked us to play and we brought some homemade hot sauce. We brought 24 mason jars of an original recipe using bananas, jalapenos, smoked paprika. And they all sold out that night and people just raved about it. We figured we were on to something. And it all coincided with the album “Smokin' Flames.” We sell them at shows. And interviews! -laugh-
Lucy, you are one of the vanguard in bringing the cigar box guitar back to prominence in the music scene. What drew you to that instrument?
Well, I guess Johnny Lowe who makes them gave us one as a gift a long time ago. And we decided to pull it out one night on tour and people started hooting and hollering and foot stomping. We realized that it gets people excited. I think it's the simplicity of the instrument. It looks so easy and then you start to play it and you find you need to take the time to learn it and how to play it. It kind of drew us into a different style of writing our songs just the way you have to play it. How to tame the beast. It's like a wild horse, you're playing in the moment and you have to write for it in the moment. It's very immediate. Sometimes you get caught in a writing style and then you introduce a new instrument and it changes everything.
In addition to being this wonderful, raw instrument it's almost like playing an art piece.
Through our travels, people will bring their own cigar box guitars and want us to play it and endorse it. We'll plug them in and check them out, but we love Johnny Lowe's guitars. We have a lot of beautiful ones hanging on our wall, but nothing sounds like his. It's almost more like a cigar box washtub bass in the way you have to play it.
Your concerts have been described by some in the press as “Hell's Angels meets the Amish”. What bands influenced you?
Well, a lot of times we don't even listen to music driving down the road. We listen to so much music that we want to have our heads clear when we record. A lot of inspiration for us has come through our travel, being on the road, and hearing people no one has heard of before. Of course, we love bands like Led Zeppelin, The Pixies, Ray Charles. Everything we listen to is inside of us. A lot of people in the city get caught up in trends. We have friends who are like “Oh, man I want to sound like that new band that's popular, who are they? Daft Punk. They want to sound like Daft Punk because that's what's popular. We go to the country and unplug. Go out to the country and eat a lot of peaches! -laugh- We don't want to follow the trends because the trends change so often. We want to find what's coming out of us. You just have to follow your own heart. Sometimes it's something as simple as our daughter saying something classic, as kids will, and we'll run with that or even let her write a couple of lines. She wrote a few lines on the new album, “Trash the Sun.”
You are a band known for having a really strong connection with your fanbase across the country, leading yoga classes with them and meeting up before shows. How did that close connection with your fans come about?
Survival! -laugh- We've been traveling musicians for a long time in different aspects and fans become friends and friends become family. Our road family is what keeps us inspired. And we hope to inspire them to chase their art, to find what's in their heart. Heart art. Plus we have a family and it's good to plug into communities and families and organic families and get nourished and share and barter.
Before we had our daughter, we had a dog that we took out on the road with us so we'd always try to find trails to walk with him on and fans who also have dogs because we wanted our dog to have friends on the road. It's the same now with our daughter. We wanted her to have a community and friends to hang out with on the road. It makes touring meaningful. It makes her life meaningful... and ours.
You've got a Showcase performance tonight at The Basement with a pretty stacked lineup around you. What should fans not familiar with your music expect from your show?
These days I think a bit of a roller coaster ride. Maybe a year ago it was a bit of non-stop frenzy. But we're kicking back some to the first album which was folksy. When we rock we try to rock hard and when we folk we try to keep it pretty. Hills and valleys and hollows and mountains and high crescendo madness and intimate minimalism.
What do you guys have going the rest of the year once you leave Americanafest?
We have a full tour through the end of November. We're hoping to get back overseas once this tour is over. We also have vinyl now. We released vinyl.
If you'd like to catch Hymn for Her live, you can see them tonight at The Basement at 9:00 p.m. Also at The Basement will be Parker Millsap, Tim Easton, Amanda Shires, and The Del-Lords.