CL: No. Cynthia Gries, who runs Entertainment Revue, had started a girl group called PYT and they were signed to Epic. She then started forming other girl groups and I was in the second one called Splash. We came up to New York and showcased but we never were signed. From there some independent producers and songwriters took a liking to me and they had me do some demos and solo showcases for the heads of some major labels, and I got a deal from that. I was a priority artist in a really great situation, I was about 3/4th done with my record, and then September 11th happened and about 600 people were fired from [RCA’s parent company] BMG including every person that was in charge of my project.
DR: What an awesome opportunity!
CL: It was difficult in a sense. Of course, I’m not Janis and not pretending or claiming to be. I would put my take on it, and still try to keep the Janis feel - sing the songs the way people know them out of respect to the music. It was great – we played to awesome audiences, I got great responses, I had a great experience.
CL: [laughs] I was just out of high school and I was about to go to Carnegie-Mellon and study musical theater, but decided to defer. I wanted to give music one more shot and see if I can get somewhere. This was my first tour right out of high school and it was an interesting grind. Every day we were either in a plane or in a car. There were four of us going everywhere. Sometimes we had great venues and we had backstage, sometimes I was changing behind a towel [laughs]. You never knew what kind of venue you were going to get, but it was great. It was very dirty, very rock ‘n roll, I liked it.
CL: Yes, that was “Until the Last Moment”.
CL: Yes, with Ender (Thomas).
CL: Actually, it was the first time I had to sing in Spanish. It wasn’t difficult, I think maybe because I grew up singing a little bit of Italian, singing operas from voice lessons and the vowel diction is similar. Yanni was great as he put me in Berlitz and I started studying Spanish. For a period of time I was very very good, I was almost fluent [laughs], but I slowly lost a little bit of it and I need to get back into it.
DR: It's a stunning performance though.
CL: Thank you.
DR: But you are 'on' the piano on that song. [laughs]
CL: Oh yes I am [laughs]
CL: When we started rehearsals for the Acapulco show, we were working with a choreographer named Alex Magno. He is a phenomenal visionary and a great great guy. I’m a dancer and they wanted to utilize as much of everyone’s talent as they could. That song, it wasn’t meant to be anything sexual or weird, it was just an artistic, modern piece and that’s all it was. I know fans thought other things. [laughs]
DR: I thought it was interesting that there was so much reaction to it.
CL: I did too. But I get it, it was very sensual.
DR: Was there talk of a follow-up Voices album?
CL: Well, let me say this. Yanni’s Voices was a beautiful project and in my opinion, I feel it is a little under appreciated. There was so much effort that went into it. I do understand why some maybe were not so receptive to the project because so many knew Yanni from his instrumentals. I think Yanni was in his mentoring phase and he wanted to help others and that’s where he was at. I’m very proud of that project and am happy to have been a part of it. There were a lot of expectations that weren’t met unfortunately. It wasn’t received the way I think people wanted it to be received.
DR: How did you prepare for that role of Theresa?
CL: I read. They sent me booklets and pages of the story. I researched Beethoven to make sure I knew the background. I watched Immortal Beloved. [laughs] And I just practiced and practiced the songs. Singing “Dreams of Candlelight” and [sings Time, Only Time. . . ] you know.
DR: Did you use Patti Russo's vocals as a guide?
CL: Yes, that's how I learned it. She is an amazing singer. I tried to sing it as close to her as I could but still keeping myself in there.
DR: "After the Fall" seems like the kind of song that was made for you - it has the tender emotional moments and then the powerful closing section. It's really a tour de force for the singer. Do you feel the same way?
CL: I love, love, love that song. It goes from such an intimate moment to a big moment and it encompasses every emotion I felt. I loved it, it was great.
CL: I’m so sad. I loved that tour. It was great. I loved the people, I loved the show. It was a lot of fun. And every year it changed. I was happy on this last tour, for some of the shows, that we were able to include “Mephistopheles Return” and “I’ll Keep your Secrets” again.
CL: Not too long, especially once you connect with what you are singing about, what the story is about. Paul’s lyrics are pretty easy to remember, they’re a story.
CL: A lot of the girls do “8 Minute Abs”. Georgia [Napolitano] got us all started on it. It’s a quick abs program. [laughs] Depending on the show, during the Beethoven’s Last Night tour, I drink lots of water. During the winter tour, I really like Throat Coat tea. I always have a cup before I sing. We have a whole tea station backstage.
CL: I actually do. A lot of people don’t want to get called for radio because it’s 5:00 in the morning. It is rough. When you’re travelling all the time, and you are not getting much sleep it is hard to get up in the morning. But I really enjoy it, especially with Al because he just lets you be you in the song, and it’s an acoustic sit-down version, which people don’t get to hear from the stage so it’s something new and different. I like it and getting to talk about TSO is fun.
DR: What's the most challenging thing about being on tour, aside from being away from home and family?
CL: Yes. We all pretty much know everyone else’s parts in case somebody goes down. We have had incidents where, like on the Spring tour, April Berry went out - she hurt her foot. We were worried that she would have to go home, but luckily, she just needed a week break to rest. We had to cover her vocal parts, so things like that happen. They prepare us really well.
CL: Yes. [laughs] Not going to name names, but I was going through an issue at that time. But that’s where the rawest emotions come out of. It’s where you pull from.
CL: Personally, I have been called a chameleon my whole life because I have sung opera, rock, Broadway, pop, done a little bit of everything. When I formed this band with Andrew [Ross] and Rob [Allen], all three of us were so different and each of the songs was so different as well, and we as a band are ever changing.
CL: Andrew and I. A lot of it is a collaborative effort where Andrew and I work up the basis of a song, we give it to Rob, and he adds his take to it.
CL: That minimalistic organ you hear? That’s me. And Rob in some places as well. Andrew plays pretty much all the guitars. On “Anthem” the guitar solo is played by Angus [Clark]. Angus is amazing. Aurelien [Budynek] plays slide guitar on “How the West was Won” and he also helped us mix, produce and play “Something in the Water”. He is phenomenal. Rob contributes all the beats and any synths you hear. Asha Mevlana is on “Something in the Water” and Caitlin Moe is on “How the West was Won” and “I Didn’t Call”. Jane Mangini plays piano on “I Didn’t Call”.
CL: Yes. We are waiting for the right deal and we want to be with the right “family”. I have had deals where you don’t have the right people behind you, it just doesn’t work, and I think that’s important. We want to make sure we have the right group of people before we say Yes to a deal. Right now, we are building a brand new website and we will release some full-length songs for free, maybe even do a small EP.
CL: Yes! We definitely want to do that. When we get back from this upcoming TSO tour, we will try to hit L.A. for a couple dates, possibly Philly and Boston as well. If we can pick up a tour anywhere else, we will try and do it.
CL: I am fully devoted to it. I love collaborating with Andrew and Rob and all of these other musicians we get to work with. It’s like my playground. [laughs] It’s very freeing because we just write the music that we like. I sing lyrics that I want to say. We certainly want to see it go further. From there I think we all want to do our own solo projects along the way. I know Andrew has some things up his sleeve, I definitely have some ideas, Rob has a different direction he wants to go in, but all stemming from Chameleon.
CL: Oh yeah. With TSO, well obviously when you cry as I did in Battle Creek, Michigan, that was pretty memorable. [laughs] Performing in London and all over Germany with TSO was very cool. There was one show I did with Big Brother and the Holding Company that was in the middle of nowhere in Montana that was one of those huge hippie festivals. It was the biggest outdoor stage I had ever performed on at that time, and there were thousands and thousands of people there and little me - a nobody - singing Janis Joplin songs and people screaming, going crazy for the songs. That was pretty thrilling.
CL: I try to. My voice is pretty resilient, I can bounce back pretty quickly if I stay up late one night, and I’m okay the next day. Especially on tour, when I’m working a lot, I try to be really good.
CL: I like sleeping on a tour bus. I sleep really well; it’s really dark so I can sleep for hours. I like being in a different city every day, getting to see different parts of the country, the world. Especially with TSO – it is such a family – it’s just fun with all the girls, and the guys, it is like a party all of the time. [laughs] And I do love hotels and the hotel baths. [laughs] I think for touring, you’re either a touring person or you’re not and I’m lucky enough to be one. I like it.
DR: Anything you dislike about it?
CL: Well, like I said earlier, it’s every day when you wake up and worry about Oh my gosh, can I sing today?. It’s that expectation. I always have the worry that I will wake up one day, I won’t have a voice, and that panic comes over me sometimes.
CL: So many. I want to see Chameleon out there playing to bigger audiences and more people hearing and enjoying our music. From there I want to get my own record out.
CL: I think eventually one day. I do love Broadway, I don’t know if it is in the cards for me right now but it’s definitely a goal that I have always wanted.
CL: Pursue your love. Go to school if you need to learn more of how to sing and act. Otherwise just follow your heart, find out who you are, get in touch with your feelings and learn how to protect them on stage, and just keep singing. Never give up.
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