Beth Hart Opens up to NZGirl

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Since her visit last December, singer Beth Hart has been telling reporters around the world just how much she loves New Zealand. Beth was back again recently to play support for David Gray, and to promote her new album…

nzgirl editor Kate and Beth settled down into one of the Stamford Hotel’s comfy sofa’s for what she expected to be a fairly normal interview. After 5 minutes Beth started to really open up about her life, and the prepared questions were ditched.

You were here a few months ago for Christmas in the Park…
“Yes…amazing! We had a full gospel choir and orchestra…it was really a treat. Lollapalooza was my first time really touring out, and that was in front of 50,000 people, but I was still working my first record so they weren’t my audience. Whereas with coming here, it feels like they’re my people.”

Have you done any writing while you’ve been here?
“I have been writing…actually a really dark piece and I have no idea what I’m going to call it…but I really like it. I was writing a bit in Wellington.”

Is there anything in particular that starts you writing?
“Yeah, usually when I’m really upset – that’s really the best writing for me. If I’m really happy-go-lucky and everything is right on, I’m not going to write. There’s no reason for me to, so I’m going to go out and live while things are good. When I go in to a funky place – and life is going to give us some funky times – that’s a good time for me to write because it’s good healing.”

Do you have a favourite track on your new album?
“I really like “If God Only Knew” because I wrote it for my father. I’ve never written a song for my father so that one has a lot of meaning to me, and I hope he gets it. “Light On” is especially dear to me right now because it’s a confessional, and I needed one. I needed something I could write up front about all the things that I’d done. When I go back to the States, I’m adding 3 or 4 songs to this record and we’ll reissue the record, so there are a couple of things going on that I’m really excited about.”

Where do you live at the moment?
“I’m living in L.A, so it’s a big city to be in, but Scotty (Beth’s husband) and I have live in an area called Silver Lake that’s 3 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, but you would never think it. It’s very tiny, and built around a reservoir that they call Silver Lake, and it’s the oldest area in Los Angeles – it’s totally bitchin’. We know all our neighbours, it’s great.”

What type of girl are you?
“I’m really not a girlie girl at all. Now I’m married to such a sexy guy, I like to keep myself looking kind of sexy for him…. (whispers) but I’m really not a girlie girl. I like the boys side of thing – I always said that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, I wish I could come back as a male rock singer. They’re just so the shit. Chris Cornell is just the most amazing singer.”

Have you met him at all?
“Yeah I met him at Lollapalooza. I was 24 (she’s 31 now) and I got to go into his dressing room and meet him and the other guys in his band. Ohhh, I was so nervous that I sat there and just stared at him…I just sat there staring and didn’t say a word. He’s so gorgeous and so talented.”

At this point I noticed Beth’s tattoo – a colourful cobweb right on her elbow…

Did that hurt?
“This one did actually…I’ve got quite a few. This one I didn’t have finished, but I’d like to finish it. It was supposed to be much bigger, but the boyfriend I had at the time, we were breaking up and he was my tattoo artist and he wouldn’t finish it that day, and when I got married, my husband said no more tattoos.”

Did you get it done for any particular reason?
“Yes, I got it done the day before I went into my last rehab and I was so angry and pissed off that I couldn’t get my pills. No doctor would give them to me and I was like, “I am going jailhouse man”, and I called up John and told him to come and give me this tattoo on my elbow. I was just crazy, and I never would have had any of those tattoos done if I hadn’t been so messed up. I got everything done in 9 months, and that’s 7 or 8 tattoos.”

Do you think that was because your boyfriend was a tattooist?
“You know its funny you say that because I remember the first time that my mother met him, he was facially tattooed – actually, he’s in the “LA Song” video – my mother said, “Whatever you do, please don’t get a tattoo”. And I said “I won’t, I won’t”. Next thing you know I was doing David Letterman and David asked me to turn around and show the cameras my tattoo, and my Mom saw the dragonfly on my back. She’s very forgiving, but at first she was very sad. I do enjoy them though.”

What was happening when you wrote “Lifts You Up?”
“I actually wrote it a long time ago…before “LA Song”. Basically that was another day of being bummed, but I think it was around the time in my life that I started realising that even if today sucks, it does get better, always. That’s just how it goes, and I just wanted to write something about that.”

Do you put your music on when you feel down?
“Oh no, never mine! Usually I listen to my stuff when I’ve just recorded it, and I listen to it madly for a little while. When I put it away, I put it away for good. If you listen too much you think, “Oh, that wasn’t too good that part”, and then you start critiquing your music, and you shouldn’t do that – let it lie.”

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t singing?
“f I wasn’t into music, I think that I would be dead or in jail. I’m not saying that to be dramatic, but my personality is so much of this running, and I’m always thinking I’m insecure, yet really outgoing at the same time. To have an outlet like being able to go on stage and act out my aggression or being able to write and get out the stuff I’m feeling, it really helps me to just chill a little bit.

Ironically, it almost killed me. The height of what I’ve experienced in my life as far as success was LA Song, and that’s when in my life, I got really messed up on drinking and drugs. So that’s the ironic part – my life was really good, but it terrified me too. I was 27, 28 when LA Song started happening, and by 29 I was in the hospital and I had a really hard time getting better – it took like a year and a half, two years before my brain was functioning normally, because it was just gone.”

How did you meet your husband?
“I met Scotty at the beginning of my “Screaming for my Supper” tour, but we in no way were intimate…we didn’t even like each other! He thought I was a total asshole, I thought he was a total asshole, and we just did not get along. About 11 months later, we did hooked up, and then we kept fooling around and being crazy.

When I had to get clean I was really dramatic and I was freaking out and then I had to go into rehab and he took me to his house for a week then took me to rehab. He came to see me every day, and its like a 2 ½ hour drive, just so there was someone with me for a few hours each day. He asked me to marry him in rehab, but then he didn’t ask me again for almost a year, and I was so pissed! Right when things got to be the worst but also the best (whispers) I’d gone to jail, but then the day I got out he asked me to marry him again, and we went straight to Vegas and got married! I haven’t been in trouble since!”

Looks over and sees Scotty staring…

“He’s so cute, he’s getting all excited and he’s all embarrassed!”

Beth Hart’s new album, “Leave the Light On” is out now.

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