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| 13 August 2016 | Reply

Some publicists just don’t give up – and in a specific case , I am quite happy, as finally a project tossed my way really struck me and stuck with me.  Aussie blues artist Anni Piper’s latest release, More Guitars Than Friends is a rollicking good time that embraces a tongue-in-cheek attitude while swirling some great blues into the mix for good measure.  We were recently given some of Anni’s time after her return home from tour…


Toddstar: Anni, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule. I really appreciate it. I know you’re busy.

Anni: Oh, sure. Not a problem. Real pleasure to get to finally speak with you.

Toddstar: Yes, certainly. Let’s start with More Guitars Than Friends. The album’s been out for a while. We love it here. It seems to be getting rave reviews everywhere, but the important part is how do you feel it’s being received by the fans, like you being out on the road playing this new material?

Anni: Oh, really, really well. We had a spectacular response. I’ve just come back a couple of days ago from tour in the Midwest for two weeks. It was fantastic. The audience just absolutely loved it. The new songs that we were playing from the album were really well-received by the crowd. Yeah, we managed to sell a bunch of CDs while I was out there, so great response.

Toddstar: Selling CDs is always a good thing, especially in this day and age.

Anni: Well, yes, it is. You know, when you go on and drop ten grand on an album then you want to sell a bunch of CDs.

Toddstar: You’re actually luckier than most artists in that you’re actually releasing new material on your own label, Sugar Daddy Records. Where was the push for that on your end to be able to do this yourself?

Anni: I guess it was… how do I put this? My financial dealings with the record companies have not pleased me greatly.

Toddstar: Okay. You and everyone else, I think.

Anni: Yeah. Actually to the point of being quite blatantly ripped off. I’m actually in the middle of some legal correspondence with one of them for actually basically stealing, putting unauthorized copies of my album on the internet. Yeah, and then just having no right, no authorization to do that, and just stealing money, right?

Toddstar: Luckily you were able to do this because the new album’s so good. I hate to see anything that wasn’t what you thought up to par out there for public consumption.

Anni: Well, absolutely. I’m so pleased with the new album. I really like the sound. It was just a great pleasure to me, I suppose, to particularly to include a horn section for the first time. I’ve never really had the capacity to do that in any of my previous recordings. That was just such a wonderful experience to me, to be working with Charlie DeChant, the saxophone player from Hall & Oates. What they added to the album, yeah, I think made it a very special experience for me. I think it was good for me to put this out on my own label just so that I would, again, really have creative control over how it was packaged particularly. Record companies, all the record labels I’ve been with in the past, have been kind of opinionated about, “Well, we can’t… You can’t be too sexy on these.” There’s been some, I guess, fairly heated discussion about there’s too much boobs there. You know, “Oh, no. No one’s going to take you seriously if you’re looking like that.” The music that I come out with it is very sensual. I’ve had reviewers say, “Anni’s voice, it lulled men to their doom before.” I mean, that is the experience that you’re going to get from the record. Yeah, everybody’s like, “Wow, your voice is so sexy,” so why not have that as part of the packaging? I’m really happy with the look of More Guitars Than Friends. Yeah, the photography was just fantastic. I love the chance to be a pinup girl.


Toddstar: And you do it well, I might add.

Anni: Oh, thank you.

Toddstar: For me, and when I went through to review this, I found the lyrics to be sexy and playful. I found a lot of your vocals to be sultry, especially when you were hitting the lower register. That for me really hit the mark. Going through and playing new songs as you do now, whether it be live or whether you still throw the CD in or listen to the masters or whatever you might do, are there any songs looking back you think, “I wish I’d have done that differently?”

Anni: No. Not on this album. Certainly in the past, yes. I mean, I listen back to my Jailbait CD, for example, that was released in 2004. That’s 12 years ago now. Listening to that, I mean, sure. It’s great for a debut, but that album particularly I listen to Jailbait, my first release, and listen to More Guitars Than Friends. Just the way I have developed, well, as a musician in all ways, but particularly my vocal. That’s the biggest thing that stands out to me, is just how I have grown as a singer over that time. Just from experience. I mean, I suppose people aren’t really aware that that first album it was… Most of the songs had never been even played to a live audience. It really was a band that quite literally did practice in the garage and just decided to record. I’d given birth to my son about 2 years ago. Of course I’d had to take some time off. I played bass until I was like, 8 months pregnant and actually couldn’t hold the instrument in front of me anymore. Then, of course, had to take a bit of time off after he was born. I found it very difficult to get back into the industry, so Jailbait was a… it was a garage band project. We went into the studio that way and luckily had a great producer in Jeff Cripps who really pulled us together and made us sound like a far more polished band. That disc went onto win best new talent at the Australian Blues Music Awards in 2005, so that really got the ball rolling for me career-wise.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. You mentioned Jailbait came out in 2004, and then you followed it up three years later with Texas Hold ‘Em. Then, Chasing Tail, which I thought was a great album in 2010. Then, six years later More Guitars Than Friends. The six years, was that by design? You mentioned your son and the birth and all that. Was there more to it?

Anni: Chasing Tail came out in 2010, and then I actually released the album Split Second in 2013. That’s on the Blues Leaf record label. That’s an album… it’s Nicole Hart and Anni Piper. Nicole I actually believe she’s retired now. I don’t think she’s doing much musically, but yeah. It was her and I on the Blues Leaf record label, so it wasn’t actually a 6 year gap. It was a 3 year gap. I don’t sell that particular CD on my website or anything because I don’t actually have the rights to that one. Yeah, I own all the rights to all my other releases, but the Split Second CD, yeah; a record company did actually sort of foot the bill for that one so I don’t own the masters.

Toddstar: Gotcha. Okay. Well, then there’s one I need to go out and hunt down.

Anni: Sure.

Toddstar: Anni, looking back at some of this older material, again, I love Chasing Tail, are there any songs that when you play them you still get very excited to play, even though they may be older or not quite as fresh with you?


Anni: Yeah, absolutely. “Dreamcatcher” is always a blast. That’s a lot of fun. Usually the last 2 songs of the night are going to be “Dreamcatcher” from the Chasing Tail album and it is kind of blues-based, but it’s definitely not a blues song. You know? It’s blues rock to the max. I’ve got all the slap bass in it and so on. That one’s a lot of fun, just because I’m making it by the skin of my teeth. You know? It is actually for everybody who’s performing it; it is quite a technically difficult piece to perform. You’re always on edge because there is the possibility that it could be a train wreck, so it’s always kind of exciting. “Clap Your Hands” is actually the number I tend to finish with. That is one of the songs on the Split Second CD. I’m not doing the vocals on that. Nicole Hart’s actually singing it, but I’m kind of. You know, because she and I were both, yeah, sort of singing on that double bill Split Second album. I’ve taken “Clap Your Hands” and made it my own. It really is a high point of the night. It’s got me and the guitar player playing our guitars behind our heads, me doing the splits on stage, and so on. It’s quite high energy.

Toddstar: That sounds great, but now my question is when do we get to see Anni Piper doing this in Detroit?

Anni: You’ve got to find some of those Detroit venues wanting to have us. I don’t know. My agent’s sending out email blasts all the time, going, “Hey, I’m looking for dates for these artists in this area.” You just got to go talk to some of the venues and get them on board. I am happy to come to Detroit. I would love to, but, you know, call your local blues society. Say, “Hey, come on. Don’t you have a thing that you can get these artists through?” It’s all you got to do.

Toddstar: Anni, you moved to Cocoa Beach, FL from Australia. I don’t know if it was a direct from Australia straight to Cocoa, but how do you find the music scene differs locally where you are now as opposed to back in Australia?

Anni: There’s just a great deal more blues around. In Australia it’s just not a music that is, I guess, appreciated as much there. It’s not … Is such a part of Australian culture. I mean, obviously this is home of the blues here in the United States. It really has a place in a lot of aspects of American life. I mean, I can walk through Walmart here and there will be Stevie Ray Vaughan kind of playing through the in-house speakers. You just wouldn’t get that in Australia. The understanding and appreciation of the music is really not there. I mean, that’s not say that there’s not some really dedicated blues fans in Australia, but I guess the population is so much smaller than just the number of those people that you can reach is obviously proportionally smaller as well. There’s just a much bigger market for this type of music here in the United States and its great.

Toddstar: That’s good for us. I’m glad you made the jump because I love having easier access to your music as well. Anni, looking back over your career, and like you said there’s the four solo releases and then you’ve got the mixed release, but you’ve done a lot. You’ve mentioned arguments with record labels about packaging and being able to do your own music. Looking back, are there anything or any moves that you made that you regret or that you think were missteps that you would change looking back?

Anni: Maybe I could’ve done more ass kissing.

Toddstar: I think you just described anybody with a job.

Anni: Pretty much. I don’t know. Maybe I could’ve sucked up a little bit more to people, but I just absolutely refuse to.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. It’s good. It speaks to the value you have in your music in that you weren’t willing to compromise.


Anni: Well, that’s right. I’m really not. I hear reports back about, well, “she’s got high standards,” as though that’s a bad thing. I really do not see it that way. I mean, yes, I do have high standards… I expect a lot from my band and from those people who are working for me.  I guess one of the things that is kind of frustrating for me still is really operating on a shoestring budget. I’m still the person who’s doing all the work. Without me there wouldn’t be a show. A lot of the time it seems like the money is going into everybody else’s hands and not mine. Yeah, it still kind of leaves the sour taste sometime. You know? Maybe if I’d sucked up more than I’d be in a better position financially now. Yeah, that’d been my only regret.

Toddstar: I love the honesty. Well, listen, Anni, I know you’re busy. I know you just got off the road so you’re just trying to acclimate yourself back to real life. I thank you so much for the time. I’ll start shaking some trees around Detroit and see if we can get you up here soon. Until then we hope everybody will run out, visit the website, jump on there, look in the merch section, find that CD, and pick up their own copy of More Guitars Than Friends and enjoy songs like “Wonder Woman” and “Paper Bag,” which are a couple of my favorites.

Anni: Indeed. Did you know there’s a music video for “Paper Bag”?

Toddstar: I did, and it’s hilarious.

Anni: Yeah, I really think that maybe listening to it, you know, that some people kind of go, “Oh, that’s not very nice,” but they’re not taking it in the spirit in which it’s intended. It’s meant to be like, if you see the video, you get the whole picture. Oh, okay. We really are a band that kind of likes to have a bit of fun. I mean, you’ll notice in Shotgun Wedding there are a few yee haws in it. There’s a lot of kind of tongue-in-cheek humor goes on in the band. I mean, even on the … Just a little bit how I end it with “Yes, I’m talking just the tip of your love.” There are a lot of little subtle jokes in a lot of my music.

Toddstar: That there is, and you definitely need to pay attention to the lyrics. Not just the bass and the vocals. The alum is completely a whole package.

Anni: Well, thank you.

Toddstar: Again, Anni, we thank you so much for the time and wish you well in everything until we can get you up here in Detroit.

Anni: Sounds great, Todd. Thanks very much.

Toddstar: Thanks, Anni. We’ll talk to you soon.

Anni: All right. Will do. Have a great day. Thanks. Bye.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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