Alt-country songbird and ex-member of The New Pornographers, Neko Case is arguably one of modern America’s most truthful and captivating songwriters.
With eight solo albums under her belt, multiple Grammy nominations and an extremely loyal fan base, Case’s talent for spinning a good yarn is only matched by her raw and beautiful live shows.
Her new album, the goosebump-inducing The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, is a tender collection of songs written during some of her darkest days under a heavy cloak of depression, and one that, when performed live, promises to be a divine experience (especially when supported by the acoustics of the Sydney Opera House). On the eve of her Australian tour, we had some fast words with the travelling chanteuse.
Noelle Faulkner: Can you share a little about The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You and the journey it has taken you on? Neko Case: “I had to throw a lot out. That's the only way to describe it without writing a thesis and boring the crap out of everyone.”
NF: How did it feel to get the words out there in the open? NC: “I didn’t have a solid memory of writing all of them, so a little odd actually. It wasn't hard to say the things later, just to feel them on their way through the sieve.”
NF: And what about performing an album written from such a raw, emotional place, does it get emotionally exhausting? NC: “No, it's fun. The record wasn't made about depression, more despite it. I wasn't trying to get "through" something when it came to making a record, I had to get the record done as my job. It's hard to describe the separation … ”
NF: What can we expect from your live shows in Australia? NC: “Lots of singing! We have two new band mates, Eric Bachmann and Dan Hunt, who sing like birds and pitch in.”
NF: In your opinion, what makes a good story and thus, a good storyteller? NC: “The unexpected. Odd details. A storyteller who can remain genderless and clearly wants to become every character in the story.”
NF: As someone who has toured extensively and moved around a lot, what have you learnt over the years about travelling and touring? NC: “How to organise my time and to always to eat breakfast. I still haven't mastered the art of not over-packing though ... ”
NF: How do you find pleasure in new places? NC: “Going to local restaurants recommended by people who live there, not travel guides. I love museums too, but I rarely have time.“
NF: What do you consider to be your proudest achievement? NC: “It's funny, but I'm most proud when people love the vegetables I grow. Serious.”
NF: Compared to how you were when you wrote The Worse Things Get, how are you now? NC: “Back to normal but sleeping with one eye open should it return.”
Neko Case performs at the Sydney Opera House on March 3, tickets available from sydneyoperahouse.com