Friday, May 18, 2012

Alicia Witt balances music with acting, will perform in Chicago this month


For actress Alicia Witt, music is as much a part of her life as acting.

Witt, a familiar face through her roles on such TV shows as "Friday Night Lights," "Law And Order," and "Cybill" and through films like "88 Minutes," "Two Weeks Notice" and "Mr. Holland's Opus," will release a live CD, "Alicia Witt Live at Rockwood," on May 24, the same day she will perform at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago.

Jess Godwin and Lying Delilah also are on the bill. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $10, available at

I had the pleasure of interviewing Witt last year prior to her performance at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston, and recently talked to Witt,, again about her recent projects.

Q - Great to talk to you again. It's great that you're coming back to the area, and that you will be releasing your live CD the day of the Chicago show. What should people expect from the show?
Great to talk to you again too! I can’t wait to play Chicago again, this time right in Wicker Park and with the awesome Jess Godwin and Lying Delilah opening for me. It’s a full night of girl rock power!  

I’m planning on playing most of the tunes from the new album, "Live at Rockwood" at the show, but I will also play a few that are too new to be on the record, and maybe a couple from my last EP as well. My band and I are flying in from LA.

Q - In the span of 24 hours, your Kickstarter campaign not only fully funded your new CD, but also went toward funding your first studio album. Was the Kickstarter campaign more successful than you imagined? 

Yes, it blew me away. I'd never ever done a Kickstarter before, but many of my indie musician friends have, so I thought I’d go for it.

I wrote a special Kickstarter song and made what I believe to be an uber goofy video to go along with it,, and went for it. The morning after I’d launched it, I woke up to find that I’d met my goal, which meant that this album immediately went into hyper speed to be ready in time for the first show on my spring tour, which is Chicago. 

I’m then going to Denver, New York, Boston, Austin, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Nashville and finishing up at Hotel CafĂ© in L.A., on what is now my album release tour. 

As I write this I’m in the final days of the Kickstarter campaign and we are still raising money for the studio album.
I really have no words for how it feels to know that there are so many people out there who want to bring my music into the world. Putting out my own music has been a dream of mine for pretty much my whole life.

I’ve been doing it in earnest for the last 4 1/2 yrs, but this takes it to a whole new level and I can’t explain how grateful I am. This Kickstarter campaign has, if anything, made me even more inspired. 

I cannot wait to play this album release tour, and to start recording my new album as soon as possible.

Q - What was it that made the Rockwood Music Hall show so special?

It was just right. I had actually never played with the band I played with at that show in that configuration before, first off.. 

Martin Rvas, who is an incredible singer/songwriter in his own right that I’d become friends with, was playing bass/guitar with me for the first time, and Ray Rizzo is an amazing drummer who I played with at some of my earlier shows in New York, but it had been at least three years since we’d played together so the songs were pretty much all new to him.

We had one rehearsal before the show. and then from the moment it began, I just had that feeling in the pit of my stomach like "Yes!"  It was also a really terrific crowd that night, the room was packed, but they were really listening, plus the acoustics at Rockwood are pretty perfect and they just started offering recording in multi-track, which makes it easy to mix/master. 

So at the end of it, I thought there was a decent chance we might have a kickass live album on our hands.

Q - Do you have the songs picked out for the studio album? What goals do you have for the album?

I don’t quite have all the songs picked out yet. I’m still in the process of figuring out who will produce it and where we’ll record, etc. 

There are so many, many songs to choose from, many of which I’ve never played at a show, so it remains to be seen.
Q - Speaking of acting, you just finished shooting the independent film "Pasadena." What drew you to the project? Do you have any dream roles?

"Pasadena" might be one of my favorite films I’ve ever been a part of. We just finished shooting it two days ago and although it’s not edited and I haven’t seen it yet, it was really special. 

It’s a dark family dramedy by first time writer/director Will Slocombe that takes place over Thanksgiving, with the black sheep daughter (which would be me) coming home for the first time in 15 years. 

Peter Bogdanovich played my dad and he is truly an incredible actor. I don’t know if people realize that. 

I have a feeling they will be blown away by his performance in this. It was only a two week shoot, but the script is so, so good and the characters are so well drawn. Nina is completely unbridled and has no filter, so she offends people left right and center, but has a really good heart and is brutally honest, which I really responded to. 

I miss playing her already!

Q - You are also in "Cowgirls N' Angels," set for release on May 25. How was it like working with your "Friday Night Lights" costar Madison Burge again?

It’s crazy, I actually had been talking to Madi on the phone earlier in the day when I told her about this film I was doing; she told me that she was auditioning for it the next day so I was very excited at the thought of working with her again. 

Then, she called me later that night and said they had straight offered her the role!! We were screaming at the top of our lungs with excitement! We didn’t have too many scenes together, but just to get to spend so much time with her again was amazing, we became very close during FNL.

Also, my friend Frankie Faison, who I’d worked with on the film "Away From Here" just six months prior in New York, was in the movie too! We spent long nights drinking whiskey and playing backgammon.

"Cowgirls" was one of those films where the entire cast/crew stayed in the same Courtyard Marriott and we became like a real family over the five weeks it was filmed, so it was a very special experience all around.

Q - Other actresses like Zooey Deschanel also have successfully balanced music and acting. Is it hard to balance the two? Do you think you would ever prefer being a musician over being an actress? 

It’s not hard balancing the two, it’s just hard trying to find the time to do everything I want. As of now, I’m still pretty much organizing my music career on my own, booking my own shows, running my online world, etc., so it’s extraordinarily time consuming. 

But I don’t have a choice. This is my dream and it’s all so worth it when i sit down to play a show, or release an album.  

That being said, I started acting because it was also my dream and it made me feel alive and enthralled, and that is still 100 percent true, so I don’t see myself ever giving that up. 

If anything, my music has made me fuller as a person. It’s like this huge part of me that I denied for so long, or that wasn’t ready to come to the surface. So now when I’m acting, I’m going home and writing a song, or writing lyrics in my spare time on set.

And between jobs, I’m literally never sitting around waiting for the phone to ring any more. If I could ultimately do both in equal parts, I would be the happiest girl on earth.

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