Rock 'n' soul quartet Alabama Shakes have been on quite the wild ride since the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album, Boys & Girls ,>"/>
Rock 'n' soul quartet Alabama Shakes have been on quite the wild ride since the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album, Boys & Girls, last year, most recently earning themselves three Grammy nominations and a musical guest spot on Saturday Night Live.
Lead singer Brittany Howard was nice enough to answer a few questions about what the band has been up to lately through email before Alabama Shakes takes over the Paramount Theatre for a sold-out show on Sunday.
SW: Where was the video for "Hold On" shot?
The video was shot as part of a HearYa session in Chicago. We were doing a session for them and when they sent us the version of "Hold On," we were like, "That's our video." It's one of our favorite versions of the song. We were meeting with video directors and looking over all of these treatments but just ... thought it represented the song really well.
How did you all decide to shoot a performance video as opposed to a video with a storyline?
At the end of the day, we just thought a live performance video was the way to go. We aren't much of a bells and whistles type of band, and we wanted our first video to be pretty bare bones and represent what we do live.
In your opinion, what makes a good music video?
I guess that something that can keep people interested for 3-4 minutes. For non-performance videos, I like people who really push the boundaries and are super weird and different. There are too many videos that just all feel the same.
What was your first thought after finding out the band had been nominated for three Grammy awards? Did the nominations take a while to set in?
We were actually at the nomination ceremony in Nashville. It was cool because a lot of our family members were there. We were really surprised. It took a while to sink in. It was never something we even thought could be possible. We were blessed to share it all with our families.
Were you at all concerned with the supposed "curse" attached to the Best New Artist award?
We didn't really think about that. We were just honored to be nominated and weren't too concerned with winning or losing. We had an incredible time out there with our families.
I read that you all have covered The Black Keys' "Countdown" and "Have Love, Will Travel" in the past. What was it like to be nominated alongside them in the Best Rock Performance category?
The entire category was filled with incredible artists. It was all a bit surreal.
After the Grammys, I read a lot of recaps that called the tribute to Levon Helm you participated in the best performance of the night. What performance do you think stole the show?
There were so many great performances. It is hard to say any one stole the show. If I had to pick, I would say Mavis Staples. She was phenomenal. It made me feel at home seeing her across the stage.
Can you share any fun Grammy mingling stories?
I did get to meet Adele, which was really cool. She came into my dressing room and we chatted for a while and she took pictures with my Nana. That was a real highlight of the Grammys.
What do you remember most about Grammy night?
I think just sitting near all of those incredible artists. I also think performing with Mavis, Elton [John], Mumford [& Sons] and Zac Brown is something I won't forget. All for Levon.
What does being a Grammy-nominated musician mean to you?
It is something really special because your peers nominate you. That means a lot to me. The fact that people recognized us is real special.
You ended Grammy week with two performances on the SNL stage. What was that like?
It was so much fun. The Grammys were amazing, but also a bit stressful. We were able to do what we love best on SNL and just perform. The cast and crew were all so nice to us, and it was so cool to see everything happening right in front of your eyes.
Is the end of the episode, when everyone starts hugging each other as the end credits roll, as awkward as it looks on TV?
You sort of become family after you spend several days together rehearsing. And you all feel like you just accomplished something major. Live TV can be scary.
Are you all fans of SNL? Do you have a favorite recurring character or skit?
We were all huge fans of the show. There is so much musical history there and a lot of our favorite bands performed on the show. Tom Petty, My Morning Jacket, David Bowie and so many others
You all are about to kick off a headlining tour. How did you get connected with your opening act, Michael Kiwanuka?
We had been listening to Michael's record, which we really dug. I met him at South by Southwest last year. We also got to see him perform at Montreux Jazz Festival. I sang with him at a late night jazz club at 2 in the morning in the middle of Switzerland. That was cool.
What would you like an audience member to take away from an Alabama Shakes show?
We want people to leave their troubles at the door and have a good time with us. Don't be afraid to dance.
What moment in the band's career thus far are you most proud of?
It's pretty simple. Just getting our record out. That was always our goal and we are most proud of that. We did it.
What does the rest of 2013 look like for Alabama Shakes?
We have this tour and then we head to Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. We are most excited after that to continue working on our new record. We can't wait to get that out.