Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but it was another big night for Brandi Carlile at the Grammys. Performing once again on “music’s biggest night,” Carlile and the gang dropped the hammer on millions of couch-bound viewers and a bunch of well-dressed celebs in Los Angeles with her unbridled rocker “Broken Horses.”
Twisted up with Southern-fried riffage, the song earned the hometown hero her first two rock awards (best rock song and performance). And Carlile’s bar-raising “In These Silent Days” album has now yielded nominations in rock, pop and Americana/roots categories. Accepting her first of three awards on Sunday, Carlile thanked “everybody in Seattle that made us want to strive for this incredible accolade.”
After the ceremony wrapped, the Americana star and her longtime collaborator buds Phil and Tim Hanseroth were the last artists to take the winners walk to face the press corp, both virtual and IRL backstage at Crypto.com Arena. And they weren’t done talking Seattle while enjoying their big moment, at least when prompted by a certain Zoomed-in reporter with provincial interests, who was minutes away from sweatpants.
Here’s what Carlile and the twins had to say during their post-Grammys news conference.
On the origins of some of their harder rock sounds …
Tim Hanseroth: I’ll tell you what, we know Brandi can heal pain with her voice, that’s always been there. But I think our roots, me and Phil, are in grunge, hard rock, punk, all that stuff. I think that’s where Brandi’s heart is all the time. Whether she’s singing soft or loud or whatever, she’s always got this real edge and connection to it and I think it’s just a natural place to go. Brandi’s kinda pushing us that way, we’re kinda softies now that we’re old, but Brandi wants to go there.
Carlile: I have a hard time really tying rock down to a genre. I remember when I made “The Story,” T Bone Burnett said to me, “Always tell people that you play rock ‘n’ roll when they ask you what genre you’re in, because rock ‘n’ roll, it covers everything. It’s a risk that you take.” And I think now that I’ve spent all these years on the road, I understand that rock ‘n’ roll is a feeling that you get, that the listener gets when the band is really taking a risk — with their instruments, with their bodies, with their voices. It’s on the edge of catastrophe at all times and so when it works out, it’s just a miracle. So, I think rock ‘n’ roll can be a ballad or it can be a hard rock song, it can be up-tempo, I could be screaming or I could be whispering. But rock ‘n’ roll is a risk and I take a lot of risks musically and I’m gonna keep doing that. I feel like Americana is who we are, but that rock ‘n’ roll is what we do.
On being “the go-to person for a legend tribute” and how that connection inspires her music …
Carlile: I think it’s clear to everybody that I feel a strong passion for honoring our icons and our way-pavers in the music industry, because I think it’s important for us to remember the language and remember the dance that was laid out before us. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t change things or take risks. It just means that credit where credit’s due. So, I love tributes. I love watching people get their flowers while they’re still here, while they’re livin’. And I also like rising to the challenge of honoring these folks vocally and musically. I think that it just gives me a real charge. I love doing it and some of it is also, I think, from being a queer kid, understanding that I just wouldn’t be here without my heroes, that I’m standing on some really powerful shoulders. So, I just feel a real penchant for giving back to the people who have paved the way for us to be here.
On representing the LGBTQ+ community and inspiring others …
Carlile: I just get it. I really get it and I don’t take it lightly. I think it’s the profound honor of my life. My kids got to witness that tonight in that fan that was describing my music and the way that it’s helped her in her life and cope with her religious trauma. I understand it deep within my soul and I’m proud to be that for other people because other people were that for me — and still are. I’m a very, very lucky queer.
On her Seattle comments earlier in the day …
Carlile: I was thinking about all those great venues, the Sit & Spin and the RCKNDY. I was thinking about Pike Place Market. I was thinking about Matt [Vaughan] over at Easy Street Records. I was thinking about our first van. I was thinking about when all we wanted was to be rock stars. What were you guys thinking about?
Phil Hanseroth: First show I ever went to when we were kids was Nirvana. That’s the first concert I ever went to in Seattle. Then I got my license, took my girlfriend down to the OK Hotel and see a punk show. It would take me all night to just talk about Seattle and what it means to me.
Tim Hanseroth: And we’re lucky enough to live in a city that had this big grunge thing going on so when we started a band, there was a ton of venues that would let small bands come in and just play for two people, three people, for beer, for steaks or whatever. So yeah, proud to be from there.
Carlile: And the way-pavers, our rock ‘n’ roll way-pavers from our city are generous. They were opening up for smaller bands, they were letting artists get up and sing with them. They were paying for their studio sessions. I mean, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam have been such champions and heroes of ours from the beginning, so I was really thinking about them when we got this award. And it really felt like a realization of some big, big dreams. We’re bringing it home. Bringin’ it home to the 206.
How big’s that [celebratory] bonfire gonna be when you get back up here?
Carlile: That bonfire? [Laughs.] Well, don’t tell the neighbors, but about 25 feet high.
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