Patty Griffin on her new album, “new Austin” and more

Patty Griffin performs at the Austin Music Awards on March 18, 2015.  Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman
Patty Griffin performs at the Austin Music Awards on March 18, 2015. Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman

Patty Griffin’s 10th album, “Servant of Love,” comes out Friday on her own new PGM imprint, and it’s now streaming on Pandora. On Wednesday, she plays the Paramount Theatre; floor and mezzanine seats are sold out, but some additional balcony tickets recently were released and may still be available.

We sat down with Griffin recently to talk about the new album, her perspective of Austin’s changes as a resident for nearly two decades now, and more. Get the full story on mystatesman.com and in Tuesday’s paper. In the meantime, here are a few outtakes from our interview:

On recording “Servant of Love” in Austin rather than Nashville, where she’s done most of her albums: “I don’t want to criticize Nashville, because Nashville has been so amazing to be a part of, and there are so many great players there. But it did kind of get me entrenched in the three-chord song thing, and it feels a little confining when there’s so much music outside of that world. It’s good to get away from Nashville for this record, and really just let my mind go. … When everybody’s this amazing player all around you, and pristine singers (whose) voices are flawless, you start thinking, ‘I have to do this right.’ And in music, wrong can be the best place to be. So that was the spirit I started working on things with for this record, when I was writing. If I didn’t know what I was doing, I just kept going.”

On “new Austin” vs. the city she moved to in the late 1990s: “I do think it will get settled down, and the shininess of everything will get more worn. I think right now, so many of us were here because it wasn’t shiny. And it’s very shiny, and I think it’s a big adjustment. There’s lots of growing pains for a lot of us. But I think that will wear off. It will grow up and get wizened and it’ll be fine. It’ll be bigger, but it could be better that way. There’s a lot more input from a lot of different cultures now that weren’t here before. That could be a good thing for Texas in general.”

On the changes in Austin’s music community: “When I first moved here, there were a lot of people sitting around going, ‘I don’t have a record deal, man, the music business sucks.’ And now, nobody has record deals. (Laughs) And it’s so much more inventive and fun, I think. You go to see a show by a younger person, and they can play, and sing the s— out of stuff. And I think that there is more of that. There’s more competition live than there used to be, in a way, from just kids, because it’s so much harder to get a foot in with recording anywhere. So if you want to be a musician, you better be good onstage. I love that part, the way that has kind of grown.”

On touring with one of her heroes: “I was just out with Mavis Staples, who’s been walking the walk her whole life musically, and it’s like being out with the Dalai Lama. You feel so good about yourself when you’re with her. She just has this way, without really paying much attention to you; you just feel like you’re OK when you’re around her. And if you pay attention to people who have that in them — it’s nothing specific or definitive or anything they say, it’s just a presence. It’s the way they are, it’s how they are. And it’s something to strive for as a human.”

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and austin360.com. Twitter: @Blackstock360

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