Interview: Becky Warren

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Alt-country rocker Becky Warren credits her late father for instilling in her a love of music, and Lucinda Williams for inspiring her style. “After he died, I heard Lucinda Williams for the first time, and it reminded me of the music he loved while growing up in rural Virginia,” recalls Warren. “I felt like her music connected me to my father in some way. In the past, I’d used a lot of words to say something, and that seemed poetic to me, but after I heard her music, I thought, ‘if your heart is broken, why can’t you just say that your heart is broken?’… it felt powerful, and it changed the way I wrote.”

For the last four years Warren has been crafting War Surplus, her triumphant solo debut out October 14th, a veteran-themed concept album inspired by her time with musical theater creators at a writing workshop; “I’d never been around anyone writing a musical before. I’d written one song, ‘She’s Always There’, which, in my head, was about a veteran; I wrote ‘Anything That Lasts’ while I was at the program, which is about the same guy,” she explains. “I was inspired to write a whole series about him–I had so much to say about him, and I was really interested in his story.”

Drawn from Warren’s personal experiences during her former marriage to a veteran, along with  lessons learned conducting copious amounts of research, War Surplus features the story of two intertwined characters, June and Scott. “June doesn’t think she’ll ever fall in love, she lives in San Antonio, and she’s way over dating military guys,” laughs Warren of the story’s heroine. “Then she meets the extremely self-deprecating and funny Scott, they fall in love, and he deploys to Iraq.”  Scott returns from war with PTSD and the story illustrates the pair’s struggle, as they ultimately part ways. “The challenge for me as a writer was covering their story in a way that would stay true to each of their voices track to track. I know it sounds like it could be a really depressing subject, but it’s a fun album,” Warren says with a laugh. “It’s not a political album, it’s about humanity, about the struggles of these two people.”

After the album’s release, Warren will hit the road with Indigo Girls; “It’s come full circle for me,” she says. “Someone gave the first album my old band put out to Amy Ray–she loved it, called us, and offered to release it on her own label in 2004. We got amazing press, went on tour with them, and were really on the edge of something, it was incredible. While we were on tour, my then-husband was deployed to Iraq; when he returned with PTSD, he became the focus of most of my energy, and I had to put music to the side. I didn’t do anything with it for four years, and we lost all of that momentum,” she continues. “Now, 11 years later, I get to go out on the road with the Indigo Girls again, and get that momentum going, I’m so grateful.”

Purchase War Surplushttp://www.smarturl.it/warsurplus

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Susan Hubbard

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