Indigo Girls' Amy Ray bringing her solo show to the Blind Pig
“It’s like having a fight with yourself in a way,” said Ray, who’s on the road to promote her newest (and fourth) solo album, “Lung of Love.” “It’s kind of funny. You don’t want to be bitter. (Indigo Girls) is my band. I love them. And you have to appreciate what kind of resources that gives you access to. But you’re also always trying so hard to distance yourself, in a way. And women in rock are already in a weird place—already doing something that’s not easy to do.”
Long considered the hard-edged, punk-influenced half of Indigo Girls, Ray cites ‘90s alternative radio acts—like The Replacements and Husker Du—and country-tinged rock as points of musical inspiration.
“My solo stuff is rawer and louder than what I do with Indigo Girls,” Ray said. “ I definitely know there’s a contingency of Indigo fans that like my solo stuff, too, and a contingency of fans that have tried it and didn’t love it. So I’ve had to just try and find an audience that will take it on its own terms.”
Of course, Ray’s solo shows play in venues much smaller than those she plays while on tour with IG; but according to Ray, this isn’t a bad thing.“I really love the solo tour landscape, because everything’s different,” said Ray. “I’m in a van with a trailer that’s mine; everybody’s splits the driving; there’s no crew—maybe just a friend that helps us do everything; and we play in these small clubs. It’s really electric—very DIY in some ways—and I love the intimacy of spaces, and being so involved in the process of loading and unloading. It’s all us, and it’s refreshing. A good reminder of how it’s all done.”
Still, you might think that this would be a grueling way to “take a break” from touring with Indigo Girls.
“Doing the solo stuff is re-energizing,” Ray said. “It’s tiring, definitely, especially now that I’m older. The pace is daunting sometimes, but I love it so much that I just suck it up.”
When not touring, Ray is writing songs—a process that’s still somewhat organic: words may lead her to a melody, or vice versa.
While in the thick of this creative process, how does Ray discern what material would be right for a solo album, versus being a good fit for Indigo Girls?
“I usually just hear it pretty immediately in my head,” said Ray. “I’ve been doing solo stuff for 12 years, and I have drummer that plays with me, and other collaborators - I tend to hear them in my head, too. And mostly - if it’s an Indigo Girls song, I can tell right away what Emily (Saliers) would do, or I’ll feel like I want that other strong voice in there, or space for some other guitar stuff.”
“Lung of Love” has been about a year and a half in the making, but Ray said that that’s “about normal for me.” She and “Lung” producer Greg Griffith co-wrote songs until “we hit a wall, and worked together to figure out how to finish them. If you add it all together, it was probably just 25 days or something. But in the mix of everything else happening, it just took a while.”