BD: Thank you for taking time to talk to Bluesdoodles again, Sari. You were touring UK with your follow-up album Never Say Never that will be released on Friday 5th October once again on Manhaton Records.
SS: Great to talk to you again Liz. BD: How are your beautiful Pitbulls back in Brooklyn? SS: They are doing well. The eldest is doing well now she is taking CBD Hemp Oil thought let’s give it a try to see if it would help her and it has. We have to look after them they rely on us completely. BD: Much as I would love to talk all day about our dogs Othello says hi… we must talk about the music the life force you bring to our world.
BD: Before we talk about the forthcoming tour and anticipated new album Never Say Never, a lot has happened on the road Sari, a new band and a period of songwriting on the Road. Tell our readers about the new line up that forms Sari Schorr’s Engine Room.
SS: Now we are Sari Schorr Band and I am so incredibly lucky to have such amazing musicians, Ash Wilson on Guitar, keyboardist Bob Fridzema, Matt Beable on Bass and Roy Martin on drums. It is amazing when there is a rapport with a group of people, we clicked immediately. I had the biggest smile ever. On tour, musicians have to have a rapport and connect with each other. We recorded live capturing that special rapport and raw energy, you can hear the sweat on the record. We took more risks, we were not afraid to shy away from the risk. It was the most honest way to capture the feeling of the songs. We recorded analogue, in beautiful countryside, we were thousands of miles away from any distractions so we could do the best possible album. I had been working on the songs while on tour, we then rehearsed them and tore them apart in the studio where we could concentrate on the performance. Job done we had Never Say Never.
BD: Your second studio album, recorded predominately at The Grange Studios in Norfolk, you have described it as ‘An Album in a Suitcase – A note from Sari’. Tell us about the songwriting process. Your partnership with Henning Gehrke and the seven tracks that flowed from this co-writing partnership.
SS: For seven of the songs the songwriting had been done over many years. The producer role was important really inspirational, Henning is a multi-instrumentalist and has a great studio in Germany. The songwriting process varies, sometimes in the control room, I sit on the couch with a poetry book looking for inspiration. Sometimes with a mic in hand or sitting at the piano or playing my guitar to start the structure the body of the song then start digging in and finding the lyrics. Last year on the road everything was different. Places influenced me left a mark, infused the journey of the last year. As I wrote I felt grounded, felt at home in a quiet little flat I was inspired, writing beautifully in Germany I found my inspiration. I had enough for three albums, you hear the best on the album the rest is on the cutting floor.
BD: Tell me about the poetry that inspires you. SS: Emily Dickinson is my favourite and I always have Bob Dylan’s lyrics the book is heavy and gives me a sense of comfort.
BD: One song Freedom, you wrote with Steve Wright and the other The New Revolution co-written with your band. How did group writing go? What were the challenges?
SS: The New Revolution I had the melody and lyric but wanted to re-do the music. Bob came up with a new chord arrangement and the rest of the band jumped in it was lots of fun. We stayed in a holiday cottage with a large recreational area gigantic pool table giving us lots of space. Technically Bob and Sari wrote the song, but everyone had involvement so that is the deal a team song.
BD: The title seems to reflect your own purposeful attitude. You Never seem to give up but get on with the task at hand entertaining blues-rock lovers with your music. Is this how choosing the cover Never Say Never came about, by former Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan? The other cover is Mick Ralphs number Ready For Love, written for his then-new band Bad Company.
I always loved the song he wrote for his wife.It is a message about my journey all of us not giving up – having the courage to keep putting one foot in front of another and in the end all human experience. We are all facing challenges so easy to give up and throw in the towel. It is a miraculous thing that humans can overcome so much and do great things when you have the strength of your convictions. Whatever dreams never give up everything is possible. Bad Company’s Paul Rogers is one of my favourite singers. I thought about doing the song for quite a while. There was a place for it on this record. There is a wave of an emotional jammer with lots of textures and tones. It fitted well on the record it has a vulnerability.
BD: Once again your songs touch difficult subjects. You hit the lyrics straight on delivering with hard-hitting emotional sensitivity. The sound is a development from Force of Nature, still forceful but more nuanced considered. You seem to have more time to explore the vocal lyricisms on the words.
SS: That was the goal to make a second record stronger. Looking to develop, to be brave enough to be more exposed to be vulnerable. If I start to feel uncomfortable, feel like backing away it is now getting interesting. If we are totally comfortable, step back what does it need and go deeper closer where I need to be. I think the experience of the first album, (Force of Nature) gave me the confidence to expose yourself. I know people will not judge, understand and find comfort in your words. The audience could be me, with a great connection with the audience, they allow me this space. The audience every time have to take the credit for my performance to a point it is where can I get an honest conversation. Songwriting takes a lot out of me. I am just the vehicle, a channel for the creative energy. There are plenty of days when there is nothing, nothing – songs die because I can’t find my way out of it.
Then somehow the next day it is as if I am struck by lightning an idea sparks and I am rushing to keep up with them. I am so grateful for these moments it reminds me the dark will come but there will always be days when it will work. Songs and lyrics working it out, over the year finding those big heavy songs you have to get.
BD: You are back on the road in the UK this autumn. Opening at The Musician, Leicester on 13th September. A few more miles to be added to the Sari Schorr suitcase. For many, this will be the first opportunity to see your new band and new songs from Never Say Never. How do you keep your vocals in perfect working order?
SS: It is how I became a runner, I would run to clear my head, break the gridlock. I am the Queen of procrastination, running gives me a sense of accomplishment, to get back to the artistic challenge that defines me. So looking forward to touring my new album. Sing live gives me a high level of emotion makes the songs feel authentic. It will be great seeing people I have met on the road and meeting new fans I love the connection. My voice – I think I am just lucky, I don’t warm up like a professional. The training I had in the early days helps as I learnt to use my voice correctly. Every time I am on stage now I am the storyteller to the audience. The only job is to tell in the most honest way as possible to be the vehicle for the music I do seven days a week. I never run out of energy and is why I love doing what I am doing.
BD: When on tour away from your dogs and home in New York, what do you take on tour to keep you relaxed and sane?
SS: I have my poetry books. I have my favourite piece of memorabilia that I picked up on my travels it has sentimental value to me. I stay in contact with my family for a connection to my world back home. I have a great group of people around me they are like a second family. My tour manager is great and the band we have a real sense of friendship. I adore them never long before there are laughs we look out for each other I feel at home with these people. I have my art pad and pencils so I can draw. Which I enjoy, I love doing portraits.
BD: What would be the show/gig/festival you would travel back in time to see – and who would you take with you
SS: Definitely Woodstock; I would take you Liz and my Grandmother Bertha and Father Harry. He made his living as a truck driver he played the Sax he was a multi-instrumentalist. This would be a real good time a thank you for instilling in me my love of music.
BD: Once again thank you for your time, it is always wonderful talking to you hearing the passion you have for your music. As you say Never Say Never and we are looking forward to hearing the new numbers from the album live!
Catch Sari and her band on tour across the U.K. throughout September 2018
Tickets: Sari Schorr Tour
Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd – Friday 21 September
The Flowerpot, Derby – Saturday 22 September
The Bullingdon, Oxford – Thursday 27 September
Blue Funk Rhythm & Blues Club, Poynton – Friday 28 September
Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre, Godalming – Saturday 29 September