Sydney-based country rock, Americana artist Lucie Tiger has enjoyed her most productive period despite COVID leaving her on the other side of the world from her band.Prior to the globe shutting down, Lucie had completed two tours of the USA and released two EPs backed by a band of seasoned pros from the famed Muscle Schoals in Alabama.
After winning the Best Country Blues Song at the 2021 Tamworth Songwriting Association Awards in January for her song 'Gasoline', Lucie has released a couple of singles in 2021 led by 'Found My Home', which spent 13 weeks in the Nashville Music Row Breakout Top 80 Chart (quite an achievement for an indie artist from Australia).
Last week, Lucie returned with her newest single; the pure fun, rollicking 'Do Me Right' featuring session musicians Bob Wray on bass guitar (Ray Charles), Will McFarlane on guitar (Bonnie Raitt) and Justin Holder on drums (Jason Isbell, ShoalsFest).
Ahead of a run of Sydney shows, her debut appearance at Tamworth Country Music Festival in January as well as her return to American in April to finish off her debut album ('Greetings From Muscle Shoals'), Lucie sits down for a quick chat.
Going back to your earlier days, what drew you into the world of country music, Americana?
I actually came to country via the blues if you'll believe it. I always loved the blues and music from the Deep South of the USA.
Through that, I got into southern rock, The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and from there I started getting more into country and Americana. I also listened to a lot of classic 1970s country rock growing up – Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, The Band. I love the fact that with country you get a great story in the lyrics, but the music is still rocking.
Your latest single is the upbeat, fun-sounding 'Do Me Right'; how did the song come together and did you have a firm idea of the type of track you wanted to create/ record?
That song was one I wrote during the first Sydney lockdown in 2020.
I think the first two lines ('I don't know about you, but I could sure use a beer or two / It's been a long day, been a long week, been a long year') really sums up how everybody was feeling towards the end of both last year and this year.
I wanted to write a really fun, upbeat song – kind of distract me from what was going on at the time with the entire world shutting down. I think it's getting released at the perfect time now since we can actually go out for a beer instead of being in lockdown.
The song – which has a real '60s energy to it, but still sounds super modern – came together across two continents with your band recording in the famed Muscle Shoals in Alabama. It's an all-star crew you have backing you; is it like being part of a gang knowing you have such luminaries in your corner?
It honestly is just so easy with the guys in Muscle Shoals.
They're the most professional people I think I've ever worked with, and on top of that they're just so nice and friendly too. We have so much fun making music and they really do make me feel like I'm part of the family for sure.
Further to the last question, what did each member add that elevated the song to the final product particularly given that you were on opposite sides of the world?
I love the way they somehow read my mind in terms of what I'm looking for when recording my songs. But I also love how they add their own little touches – like Justin Holder (on drums) counting out at the very top of the song, Will McFarlane (on guitar) playing that awesome lead guitar that reminds me so much of Keith Richards, and Bob Wray's rock & roll bass playing is just perfection.
When it comes to soul, country and R&B, Muscle Shoals is a destination major music players have headed since the 1950s... What gives the city its reputation and prestige?
I think Muscle Shoals is one of those under the radar music industry towns.
Everyone's heard of Nashville but I like what Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios, said about the town that "them that don't know, don't know that they don't know".
I honestly think there's something in the water there, something in the Tennessee River that gives the town such magic when it comes to making music. The most amazing people keep going there to make music and the reputation of Muscle Shoals just keeps getting better.
On producer duties was another legend, John Gifford III (of FAME Studios); what was it like working with him; and what did he bring to the project?
John is fantastic; he's probably one of the most Southern people I know – so polite and welcoming.
He's so professional and knows his stuff so well. I remember when we were in town in 2019, we had a day off and so did he and we ended up going out for burgers at the Rattlesnake Saloon just outside of town. I feel very lucky to call John, and the rest of the guys I record with, my friends.
'Do Me Right' follows previous singles 'Midnight Goodbye' and 'Found My Home'; are you working towards an album release in the near future (if so, what can we expect)?
Yes! I was planning on releasing it towards the end of this year, but I had a few more songs to record.
I was hoping to return to Muscle Shoals and record them in person this year but the lockdown put a spanner in the works there. So we're heading back to Alabama next April to finish off the last few songs and the album will be available towards the end of next year.
I'll actually be making the physical copy available for purchase on my website ahead of its digital release, so fans can get their hands on it even sooner. I can reveal the name though – it will be titled 'Greetings From Muscle Shoals'.
The return to live music and performing IRL to an audience; you must be thrilled to have shows lined up and crowds to entertain?
I'm honestly beside myself to be back on stages again.
I absolutely love sharing my music with audiences; seeing couples get closer when I play a love song, seeing people start dancing when I play a real toe-tapper. It's the best feeling seeing an audience having a good time because of your music.
You'll be playing a number of showcases at Tamworth Country Music Festival; how important as a country artist is it to be on that stage, bringing your music to the heartland of country?
It's going to be so exciting, I can't wait. It'll actually be my first time at Tamworth in January and I'm so thrilled to be there. It's kind of like a pilgrimage really, heading to Tamworth for the festival so it's about time I get there.
You also won Best Country Blues Song at this year’s Tamworth Songwriting Association Awards; has that opened any extra doors to further your career?
For sure. It was such an honour receiving that award – it was the first award I'd ever won for my music so it meant so much to me. I definitely think it helped me this year – my two singles I've released so far made it to the CountryTown charts which was another first for me.
Before COVID, you were a regular in the United States completing two tours; and you're headed back in April – American audiences compared to us Aussies... how do the two compare?
It's completely different. In the US, the music industry is very much a business – even for smaller gigs and open mics. You don't realise it until you're there but it really does change things.
The audiences are more attentive to music, even just in bars – it's really valued so much more. You honestly don't see a DJ playing music in bars anywhere unless it's a proper nightclub. So live music is much more prevalent in the US which is great.
You can actually make a living off of playing music even if you're nowhere near being a big star. It's a whole different world.
Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
Couple things. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone playing and streaming my songs. It means everything for an independent artist like me.
Also, for anyone playing at home and placing bets – Tiger is my real middle name. I don't use a stage name, it's my real name! My US publicists had a bet going at one point on that.
Lucie Tiger 2021-2022 Tour DatesWed 10 Nov - Low 302 (Sydney)
Thu 11 Nov - Top Songwriter Sessions at Sappho Books Bar (Sydney)
Fri 19 Nov - Glebe Hotel (Sydney)
Thu 25 Nov - ArtHouse Hotel (Sydney)
Thu 9 Dec - Top Songwriter Sessions at Sappho Books Bar (Sydney)
Fri 10 Dec - Native Rose Hotel (Sydney)
Sun 16 Jan - Tamworth Square (Tamworth)
Mon 17 Jan - Oasis Hotel (Tamworth)
Tue 18 Jan - The Atrium (Tamworth)
Wed 19 Jan - Post Office Hotel (Tamworth)
Fri 21 Jan - Tamworth City Bowling Club
Sat 22 Jan - Tamworth Square (Tamworth)