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Lisa Loeb turns to pop-punk format, hits the road with Nine Stories band

Thursday, March 21, 2013
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Lisa Loeb
Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb was initially skeptical when her producer, Chad Gilbert — founding guitarist for modern pop-punkers New Found Glory — suggested that the two write a song about the 1990s for her new album “No Fairy Tale.”

“At first I didn’t understand how I would write a song about the ’90s — it sounded like it was going to be too personal and kind of kitschy or something, kind of like a novelty song or something, and I didn’t really want to write a novelty song,” Loeb said recently from her home in Los Angeles, on a break from touring to support “No Fairy Tale.”

“But together we ended up writing a song that was totally inspired by and written about my making my ‘Stay’ video, and about the music industry in the ’90s, and then also just about my feelings about the ’90s, which are — they were great, but we don’t need to go backwards; let’s keep moving forwards.”

The resulting song, appropriately titled “The ’90s,” is in the same vein as the rest of the driving pop-punk found on the album — a departure from Loeb’s usual folk/pop/rock hybrid popularized on such albums as her 1995 debut, “Tails.”

Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories

with Satellite

Where: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 30 2nd St., Troy

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

How Much: $27

More Info: 273-0038, www.troymusichall.org

While lyrics such as “Betsy cut my dress a little shorter, get me ready for my video,” and “You say you love me then, but I don’t wanna go back,” seem like scathing indictments at times, the song is as much about celebrating that point in Loeb’s career as it is about looking forward.

“I mean, I think I’m definitely nostalgic, and so is Chad — I love talking about the past; it’s really exciting and fun,” she said. “It’s fun when fans come up to me and tell me that they listened to me in high school and stuff like that; I think that’s awesome, because I think about all the bands I listened to when I was in high school, or younger. But it’s also fun to move forward, and I think the song embodies that. It has some ’90s references, but it’s also very modern, and it’s really fun to play live.”

“No Fairy Tale” is Loeb’s first “adult” studio album since 2004’s “The Way It Really Was” — in the interim period, she has focused on children’s music and projects, including the book and album tie-in “Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs” in 2011 and 2008’s “Camp Lisa.”

Stepping up the touring

Although she continued to play shows during that period, this year she’s stepping up the touring with her longtime band Nine Stories, featuring drummer Ronny Crawford, bassist Joe Quigley, guitarist Jonny Polonsky and keyboardist Juliette Commagere. Loeb and the band will perform at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturday night.

“I’m not doing like a six-week tour or that kind of thing, because I have little kids, so I’m doing bursts of touring,” Loeb said. “I’ve already been to a bunch of places, and I’ll continue — I’ll just keep continuing to tour throughout the next few months.”

So far, audiences have been excited about the harder rocking sound and high-energy performances.

“It’s been awesome — actually, it’s funny, with the Internet and social media, I see so many reviews people send to me, and they’ve all been really positive, which is very exciting,” Loeb said.

Gilbert initially approached Loeb about collaborating on an album, emailing her about his idea to create a “poppy-punky-rock album,” in Loeb’s words. The two had worked together before — in 2007 Loeb recorded vocals for New Found Glory’s cover of “Stay” found on “From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II,” and joined the band onstage at the Nokia Theatre (now the Best Buy Center) in Times Square to play the song in 2009.

“I had had elements of that on some of my records, but we really wanted to push the whole album in a more exaggerated direction,” she said.

She already had a pile of songs she had been working on for an eventual album release. With Gilbert, she combed through the material and identified which songs would work for the project; the two then set about writing new material together.

Different feel

“A lot of poppy-punky rock records can just be super energetic the entire time,” Loeb said. “I wanted to make sure we had different feels for different songs, and some variety on there. So we decided to write a few songs together.”

In another break from her past, she included two Tegan and Sara covers on the album, “A Hot Minute” and album closer “The Worst.” Gilbert also brought Tegan Quin on board to record vocals on the album.

“I’m a huge fan of theirs, and actually was very influenced by their music when I was writing songs, not even knowing I’d get to work with them or make this record,” Loeb said. “So it was awesome.”

In order to capture the raw sound Gilbert and Loeb were looking for, they recorded the album mostly live in-studio, utilizing musicians such as Polonsky, and Joe Marro and Forrest Kline from pop-punk band Hello Goodbye.

“I’d done some recording almost live, but this — we recorded this record much more quickly than I normally do, which was great because it kept an intimacy and an energy in the recordings,” Loeb said.

Taking direction

“And [Gilbert] even directed me when I was singing, which, I don’t usually love when people direct me when I’m singing, but he really knew what he was talking about. He had great parts worked out when we were putting together the arrangements.”

Loeb is used to keeping busy. In addition to more touring throughout the year behind the album, she is also releasing a new children’s book and album in April, the second in a series that began with “The Disappointing Pancake . . .,” and is working on developing a kids’ musical. She also continues to work on new releases in her line, Lisa Loeb Eyewear.

“I’ve always been able to compartmentalize different jobs,” she said. “I’ve always done a lot of different things ever since I was a kid. Even in high school I was in band and a DJ and president of the student council and doing my homework and, you know, just doing a lot of things. And luckily the way my life is set up right now, I’m able to continue to do a lot of different things that I like.”

 
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