Kelly, Erma, Bruce & George
Q&A with Kelly Willis
By Jim Caligiuri,
2:56PM, Thu. Jul. 14, 2011
Although she's been less active than her international fanbase would like, Kelly Willis remains one of Austin’s most revered singers. She’s taken the past few years off to raise a family with her husband Bruce Robison (Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, George Strait, Dixie Chicks), but the couple makes one of its periodic appearances Friday at the One World Theatre.
Geezerville: You released your last disc, Translated From Love, in 2007 and Bruce’s last record was 2008’s The New World. That's a long time, but y'all seem to be playing out more.
Kelly Willis: We are gigging more. I don’t tour a whole lot, but I gig plenty around Texas and get out of town about once a year. I’ve been busy with the kids. The youngest just turned five and I suddenly have a lot of energy and excitement to get back into making more music. The same is true for Bruce. I think that we, for many years, wanted to be going our own paths musically and establish ourselves individually. I think we finally got to a place where we've done that and don’t need to worry about being in the other one’s shadow. We’re just excited to work together.
G: I saw not long ago that you were back to writing songs with Chuck Prophet, who helped with Translated From Love. How did that go?
KW: We wrote three songs together that wonderful snow day we had here in Austin. One of them we’re doing live right now. The other two I think I’m going to save for an upcoming solo project. It’s called “Say Goodbye.” It’s actually inspired by my [late] friend Amy Farris. I never want to say that live because it’s way too sad. If you hear the song on its own, you’d probably like it. But if you know that it’s about Amy it would bum you out completely.
G: So there's a new album in the works?
KW: Right now, this week, we’re doing some guitar and vocal demos, and then we’re going to figure out who we’re going to have produce it. My plan is to record in the fall and put it out as soon as we can. I don’t really know how the music business works anymore.
G: I don’t think anyone knows how the music business works anymore.
KW: We’ll figure out what to do with it after we make it, right? I hope we’ll just go out and support it. For me, I just love singing Bruce’s songs. He just writes these amazing melodies and they’re country songs that people don’t really write anymore. They’re not about being a hillbilly, living in the backwoods, and drinking beer. I think George Strait is one of the only artists that records great country songs that you want to sing along with and I think Bruce is one of those guys that writes those kinds of songs. I feel so lucky that I get to sing those songs, that I have access to them.
G: Those following you on Twitter (@kellywrobison) know you can be very entertaining. I’m sure you read the piece someone wrote about you on nodepression.com comparing you to Erma Bombeck, the best-selling housewife/humorist. How did you feel about that?
KW: At first I thought, “Erma Brombeck, she’s just an old housewife. I don’t know if I want to be seen as one of those.” But it's my life. I’ve got all these crazy kids. I’m trying to have this other life and at times it gets pretty hectic. But it’s a great balance for me. I’m really grateful that I get to have the great family life and the love and that I get to go out and make music even though I don’t go out and make music as much as I wish I could.