Most days you get to listen to your heroes, but on a rare occasion, you might get the opportunity to speak with them. When the confirmation email came through that I was going to speak with one of my heroes, the witty and talented Juliana Hatfield, you can sure bet that my excitement was soaring. For the first time in over two decades, Juliana Hatfield Three have released a new record called Whatever, My Love and A Music Blog, Yea? gave Hatfield a call to talk all about it. Dive into our exclusive interview below as we discuss chemistry, enjoying good humour, her love for dogs, her autobiography, and tips for new bands.
AMBY: Hey Juliana, welcome to AMBY.
Juliana Hatfield: Hello.
AMBY: I’ve been listening to your music since I was four and it’s one of the reasons I chose a career path in music. So thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.
Juliana Hatfield: Very cool. Thank you.
AMBY: It’s such an exciting time for you as you’ve created a new Juliana Hatfield Three record called Whatever, My Love. This is the first release the band, as a collective, has put out since Become What You Are in 1993. Tell me a bit about how you joined forces once again and decided to create a new record.
Juliana Hatfield: It was really just a whim; it was like, “we should try recording together” and “wouldn’t that be weird”. That was all there was to it. I was curious, I had a bunch of songs that I wanted to record, and I asked Todd if he wanted to play drums and he suggested that we should ask Dean to play bass. That was how it all happened. We then got together, not knowing if it would still work. Fortunately, it did still work and it was great.
AMBY: This album was based around reworking a catchy demo from the past which was titled If I Could. Was this a demo you’ve always loved and wanted to use on an album, or was this something you came across and suddenly remembered?
Juliana Hatfield: That song’s been kicking around for a long time and I’ve recorded multiple versions of it. It was definitely a song that was always in the back of my mind; I always wanted to put it on an album, but the timing was never right until now. I demoed it at least three times, with different people playing on it, but it just never quite hitting the mark. I didn’t want to give up on it because I really liked the song and I wanted people to hear it eventually. When we went to record the album, I didn’t know if it was going to work. It was a big experiment since we didn’t know if it would sound good or what. Fortunately, it worked out and I think the version of the song we got is finally the version I want people to hear. I feel really relieved that this song is out there.
AMBY: The band hasn’t played together in a very long time. What was the chemistry like when getting back into the studio together after so long?
Juliana Hatfield: I was a little bit nervous because we had chemistry back then in the nineties, but chemistry is something that you can’t control since it’s either there or it’s not. We didn’t know if it would still be there. It really was a big risk that we took when we booked all of this studio time and jumping in without having played in twenty years [laughs]. The chemistry was still there. When we started playing together, it was like riding a bike. It was like something that just came back instantly and there was an ease that the three of us have when we’re playing together.
AMBY: I read that you had more fun recording Whatever, My Love because you felt more confident. If you were to take our readers into the studio with Todd, Dean, and yourself, what were some of the fun moments you had?
Juliana Hatfield: I have to say, we had a lot of fun making that first record. I was just kind of a miserable person back then – I wasn’t really all that happy and I didn’t have any confidence – and I just wanted to clarify. I think that now I have more confidence and I don’t worry about things so much, and that made it more fun. I think that when we get together, we have this musical chemistry but we also have this personal chemistry. We all like to laugh a lot and we do laugh a lot together [laughs]. We have a good appreciation for humour. Dean is a hilarious guy because he has this really dry, subtle sense of humour and I really missed that. It’s great to be laughing with them again.
AMBY: I’ve listened to the record a lot lately and the songs still have that distinctive lyrical humour and charm. I noticed that a couple of the tracks make reference to dogs, especially If Only We Were Dogs where you sing about life being simpler as a canine. Where did this idea of bringing dogs onto the album come from?
Juliana Hatfield: I just feel connected to dogs. I think I was maybe a dog in a past life.
AMBY and Juliana Hatfield: [laughs]
Juliana Hatfield: I feel like I’m kind of dog-like, myself. I find communicating with other humans to often be very difficult and complicated, but with my dogs, it’s so much easier to understand each other [laughs].
AMBY: I completely agree.
Juliana Hatfield: It’s simple to communicate. I think part of me is wishing and yearning that communication could be less complicated and easier. Dogs don’t get offended by anything that you say or do. Everything just rolls right off their backs. People aren’t like that; people hold grudges and you can say the wrong thing. I yearn for a simpler relationship and communication, and I get that with dogs.
AMBY: In support of the album, you’re embarking on a new North American Tour, and you’re no stranger to being on the road. When it comes to packing for a tour, what are some essential items you must bring with you?
Juliana Hatfield: Nothing special, really. A notebook to write in, a sketchbook to draw in, and I have to bring earplugs for hotel rooms because certain hotel rooms are not very soundproofed. Things like that, you know? I’m kind of simple.
AMBY: I read your autobiography When I Grow Up and that beginning Prologue, where you discuss playing bars and small venues, really summed up a big part of the tour life of an artist. You discussed little experiences like issues with drinking tickets and then some of the actual bigger issues and nonsense you have to put up with. With that said, many of our readers are in up and coming bands – what advice would you give to new artists who want to start touring?
Juliana Hatfield: I feel like it’s such a different world out there now. I don’t know what it’s like for bands anymore who are starting out. I don’t know what kind of money people are getting or anything. I would say to get a guarantee so that you can make sure you get paid. People like cool t-shirts. Even if you make them yourself and they’re something kind of cool that has an individual touch… it’s good. Something special, in terms of merchandise, imperfection in artwork is something people might want to buy.
AMBY: Absolutely. Well, that’s time for us today. I really want to say thank you once again for the great music over the years and for your time today, Juliana.
Juliana Hatfield: You’re welcome! Thanks a lot.
Thank you Juliana Hatfield, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout