Singer/ songwriter/guitarist, Lisa Loeb, who was nominated for a Grammy in 1994 for the song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film “Reality Bites,” has had a long and interesting career. Lisa Loeb is also the only artist to ever have a number one Billboard pop song while not being signed to a recording contract. “Stay (I Missed You)” helped in propelling her into a long, successful career in music, singer/songwriting, film, television, voice-over work, children’s recordings and eyeglass designer with her own line of glasses at Lisa Loeb Eyewear. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the talented musician and learning more about her musical influences, present day guitarists, her guitars of choice, and the making of her latest album No Fairy Tale.
GGM: When did you begin playing guitar and who were some of your musical influences?
LL: I started playing guitar when I was probably about 14 years old. I played briefly at school, but I really got into it at summer camp. My friend Alan Doff showed me how to play “Stairway to Heaven” and a couple of other songs. I started playing acoustic guitar there and soon after I got a Fender Stratocaster Guitar – it was a 1972 reissue – with a Carvin DCM150 amp, which was influenced by one of my favorite guitar heroes Andy Summers from the band The Police. I was really influenced, or in my mind at least, by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. Even bands like The Cure that had very interesting guitar parts. Their guitar player would play these interesting textures and melodies. Johnny Mars from The Smiths also had these intriguing textures and melodies, as well. There was also some new wave music like the guitar part in Thomas Dolby’s The Flat Earth, it was more textured, and very influential.
GGM: When hearing the guitar players in the present time, is there anyone who sticks out to you?
LL: There are so many good guitar players now, too! The Artic Monkeys with the way their guitar sounds in their music is really strong and bold. Dave Grohl with the guitar playing that he puts into his music. The really extreme sounds that Nine Inch Nails uses; I don’t listen to them a whole lot, but what I have heard the guitar playing is really there. There are a ton of people I’m forgetting. There’s a lot of guitar playing going on! There might be less of soloing with some of the music going on today, but different people are providing interesting textures that support the songs in a lot of the bands.
GGM: Are there any guitars that you prefer to play?
LL: The one that I play the most is my Taylor 512 C; it’s a little smaller, not a tiny, but a smaller acoustic guitar with a cutaway that I bought in the early ‘90s at Matt Umanov Guitars. It’s a custom guitar that he had put together. I really like that it’s small; it fits my body, it stays in tune really well, the tone is great, and it’s great to work with in the studio because you can add a lot more bass or whatever you want in the studio depending on the mic placement and the way it’s played. I also do love the older guitars. I have an old, old Martin, and I’m always looking for an older Gibson. Electric-wise, I play a lot of different electric guitars. I do have a really great Gretsch – it’s one of the pea green Gretschs that is on a little bit smaller scale. Also, my husband just gave me a shell pink Fender Strat, a reissue Strat, which is really cool. I do end up playing acoustic more than electric just because that’s usually what I take on the road with me, but I also have a Gibson SG, an old one from 1958 that I really love. It’s just really a plug-in-and-play kind of guitar and it has a great tone.
GGM: What was it like collaborating with Chad Gilbert, from New Found Glory, on the new album No Fairy Tale?
LL: It was amazing! They had covered my song “Stay” on a New Found Glory record, and years later, he came to me to see if he could produce a record for me. More of a poppy-punk-rock record; something a little more extreme than what I had done in the past. I actually thought it was a great idea! I like the idea of doing something different and I loved his enthusiasm.
We worked together to make this record, which was really interesting to me because he brought in Tegan & Sara, which was a band that I was specifically influenced by while writing these songs not knowing I was going to be making this record. They are actually a band I listen to, to get in the writing mood, because I really like the way they write. I ended up having two Tegan & Sara songs on my record, and had Tegan & Sara sing on it, too.
It was great working with Chad because he is a great producer and he knew exactly what he wanted. I appreciated the fact that he went with a really edgy guitar sound which I really like. Some people shy away from those when working with me because they think it is too intense, but it’s something I actually really like! He was also very helpful in my vocal direction, which I’m not always super open to vocal direction. He helped me get more of a stronger sound and more rhythmic.
GGM: Are there any future plans of touring?
LL: I don’t do the kind of tours that I used to, where you put an album out and then go out on tour for two months and then come home and start on a new record. Instead, I’m always going out on the road, like last weekend I was doing an event up in Palo Alto. I have a week of touring coming up in different areas and then another week of shows in other areas.
I try to balance how much I go out with how much I really want to stay home and be with my kids. I’m just trying to feel out that balance. I know last year I did a line-up of shows that ended up being a week and a half and that was just too long for me. The kids were fine when I came home but I wasn’t comfortable with that.
Luckily, I have a lot of work here in Los Angeles to do, so it all ends up working out. But it’s definitely a process! I’m sure other parents can understand, especially with really young kids. Hopefully when my kids get a little bit older we can do the kind of traveling I did when I was a kid, where we can take a really great drive and do a bunch of different cities and look up different monuments and natural things like caverns in New Mexico, or something. Hopefully when the kids’ bedtime gets a little bit later and they’re not napping, it’ll be a little bit easier to travel with them. I would love to be able to do something like that with them because I do have a certain amount of control over my schedule and we can take advantage of the days and do different things during the day. Then I can do a show at night, so hopefully we can take advantage of that when they are older and take summer vacations.
Lisa Loeb is a devoted mother, talented guitarist, musician and singer/songwriter. Her newest album is titled No Fairy Tale. She has had a long and successful career and continues to do so. So… if the opportunity arises, definitely take advantage and see her perform live – it would be a true treat!
Lisa Loeb Official Music Video for “Stay (I Missed You)”