Q&A with Rachael Pollard
Rachael Pollard likes roller skates. A lot. She got married with her skates on, played a few gigs with them on and even skated in the pivot position for the Red Riding Hoods roller derby team for about nine months. It might be something to keep in mind when listening to her sing, as there’s something a bit childlike in her vocal delivery, which is downright endearing at the same time can make your heart ache a little bit.
Pollard's been playing around Denver since moving here from Arkansas eight years ago. Since then, she’s made demos with her own artwork, but hasn’t released a full-length album until A Good Thing, half of which highlights Pollard, her guitar and her sweet vocal goodness. On the other half of the cut, she also enlisted the help of her drummer husband Nate Marcy, cellist Shana Vorhauer, banjo player Bonnie Weimer and the backing vocals of comedian Ben Kronberg. Eldon Jones lends his sonorous vocals to the title track, which alone is worth is worth the price of admission on A Good Thing, which she’ll celebrate the release of tonight (Wednesday, May 21) at the Meadowlark. We spoke with Pollard about her wonderful new album and her struggles of playing live.
Westword: Tell me about some of the songs on A Good Thing?
Rachael Pollard: “The Desert” is political. I’m singing directly to the Bush administration, and how I’m very upset about it. They just keep taking and taking and pretty soon, all we’re going to be left with – they’re just going to raise as much as they can, and all that’s going to be left is just the desert. And at the end of the song, I’m like, “the sand, the wind and the sky,” and that’s pretty beautiful. We’ll be fine after you’re gone. “Oops, I Did It Again” is about being frustrated and having the same conversation over and over again and not getting through. “Alexandria” is from an assignment. Like it was, “Write part two of this Anton Chekhov short story.” It was just like a really dorky story. [The teacher] wanted maybe two pages and I made it ten pages. It had mystery, and love and romance and danger and excitement and adventure. So I was like, “I’ll make a song out of too, and just let it keep going.”
WW: How do you like playing live?
RP: It’s really hard. It’s a struggle for me, still.
WW:Has it gotten any easier?
RP: If I could have my way – I know it sounds pathetic -- I’d be in the studio all the time with my songs. When I started out, I had stage fright and stuff, but I wanted to do it. When you’re a musician or with any artist, you crave that approval. It’s just a fact of life. You need some validation from someone else when you share that. But like with being a musician, it’s just not important or something. I don’t know, there’s always this anticlimactic moment where your heart’s beating. It’s like drinking red wine. I think that’s just part of the whole thing. I think everyone goes through that. I wanted to start a support group for solo musicians because it’s just so like out there. It’s like, “Why am I compelled to do this?” It’s just slightly miserable the whole time and afterwards really bad. But like at the same time I would do it at home in my room on my bed. I just have to it. It’s just really fun because I love music very much, especially the Cure.
WW:When did you start playing?
RP: When I was sixteen, my mom gave me a guitar. I kind of played around on it, not knowing what I was doing. And every time a string broke, I would just work with what I had. And before long I had a song I wrote with only two strings. I was just really kind of careless about it. My brother borrowed that guitar, so he has it now. I was doing so many other things. I didn’t think I could be a musician. But when I moved to Arkansas, this neighbor of mine, Floyd Pierce, gave me a guitar and said something like, “I see something in you.” He was in his mid-thirties or something and me, my sister and her friends were all eighteen and a half. It was so cool that he did that. I really started trying to figure it out.
RP: What kind of music were you listening when you grew up?
WW:My mom had Joni Mitchell, David Bowie and “We Are the World.” We listened to those three records constantly. We also had the soundtrack to Footloose. That was very important. I’m 32, so it means something to say that. But I think maybe at 31 it doesn’t. But I think I just caught on that cool cusp. We were the youngest of all our cousins, and our older brother was all into Led Zeppelin. One day, my sister and I realized that our brother stole her mix tape that had a bunch of Operation Ivy songs on it. And we realized we all like the same things again. My brother was a big influence with the Southern rock, layered with the really exciting independent whatever-it-was called. It wasn’t called Emo. He was in a bunch of rock and roll bands that were pretty big. The Main Street Saints. He lives in out Kansas City, Missouri. They retired, but they got to go on tour with their very favorite band, the Dropkick Murphys. They played here on April 20, 1999, the day Columbine happened, and it was the first time we’d seen them ever. And we were like, “Oh, Gabor’s is so good and me and my sister were trying to tell him how cool Denver was. He’s like, “Shut up, something important is on the radio.” They played that night.
- Jon Solomon
Rachael Pollard plays tonight at the Meadowlark (2701 Larimer) with Rotaree, Doo Crowder, Joshua Novak and Charly “The City Mouse” Fasano, at 9 p.m.