At the heart of The Good Graces is songwriter, singer, and guitarist Kim Ware, with core band member Jonny Daly contributing guitar, and a cast of interchanging band members on banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, and piano. They combine to create ’90s resurgence-style indie-folk music. With a new album, Prose and Consciousness, to be released Oct. 11, Ware has penned songs that showcase her open lyrical style. DittyTV Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson connected with Ware for another in our 5 Questions series.
1) You’re based in Atlanta, but what can you tell us about where you grew up and also your first forays into music?
I’m not sure I’ve grown up yet! But I spent my childhood in a small town near Charlotte, N.C., called Kings Mountain. I was a big tomboy, and when I was 12 I started playing drums in the school band. I think I chose the drums because I thought of it as a “boy” instrument. But I quickly fell in love with it. I stuck with it through college, playing the drum kit in the pep band for UNC-Wilmington and then joined my first band shortly after. It was a noisy, arty, punky, but catchy band called Tex Svengali. I think we were kind of a mix of stuff like Nirvana and Sonic Youth, but with some Southern swampiness. It exposed me to all sorts of new music (I guess what was called “alternative” at the time), and although it was short-lived, it was such a defining experience for me.
2) The Good Graces is a bit unusual in that you essentially work with a collective of musicians rather than a full-time band. Can you offer some insights about how the logistics work for The Good Graces?
I just never really aspired for it to be a “band,” and I’ve always treated every album and even every single show as a new project. Most everyone I play with is involved in their own or other musical endeavors, has families, jobs, etc. So to expect them to always be available is a little unrealistic. Plus it makes it a little more interesting to me to mix it up. Try different instrumentation and people depending on whether it’s like at a rock club or a house show or whatever. So that’s how I approach it, I just think, “where is the show, what kind of instrumentation do I want,” and build it from there. And more and more I enjoy playing solo, or as a duo, because it can be a little more flexible and a lot easier to schedule practices—not to mention cheaper. Don’t get me wrong, though, playing with a full band is so fun for me, but I can really only swing that about once or twice a year. Kinda makes it feel more special, though.
3) Let’s talk about your new album, Prose and Consciousness, which releases in October. It offers 11 songs and was recorded in Marietta, Ga. Can you give us some insights on the recording of the album and do you feel like the end result is what you imagined when you went in for the initial tracking?
My main objectives for this one was to do it faster and more efficiently than the last one, and strip it down a bit. I was imagining something a little more sparse, but at the same time I love atmospheric folk stuff so much that it’s hard for me to get away from that.
I loved working with Aaron and Nancy (Hill); their studio is in their home and it’s super cozy, relaxed, and comfy, which is also something I really wanted. And it was important to me also to mix it in the same place we recorded it, and with the same engineers, again just for simplicity’s sake. This past year was really challenging for me to balance day job and family demands, hence the need to keep the recording process as simple and efficient as possible. But I also found the whole process very therapeutic. I think any time life is handing me challenges I lean on my creative outlet even more. I really threw myself into it and tried to stay super focused and keep things really honest. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
Well as I mentioned I don’t get to play live with a full band all that much, but I do feel like the album is a pretty good representation of that version of tGG. We’re doing a full band for our release show in November, but it will probably be a little different from the record because some of the players are different. It’ll probably come off as slightly more laid-back and country, because we’ll have pedal steel on most every song, and some mandolin and fiddle, too. I’m also doing a solo tour through North Carolina at the beginning of November. That’s all the touring I can swing this year, but I plan to do a good bit next year, at the very least covering the East Coast.
That’s tough to name just one because I’m such a big music fan! But I’ll go with Jaimee Harris, because I love her style and I’ve listened to her album (Red Rescue) more than any other album this year.