Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals Return to College for Anniversary

Gary Graff/Billboard

Joseph Llanes
It may not quite be 50 years like the Rolling Stones or the Beach Boys, but Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are happy to be celebrating the end of their first decade as a band.

"It means I'm getting old!" Potter tells Billboard. But seriously, folks..."For a band that thought we were going to just play farmer's markets and nightclubs and be like a good-time party band, to get to the place we've gotten is exciting. It feels like a well-earned milestone in the career that we've put so much time and energy into. To still be doing it and be loving it more now than I think we did then, that's pretty rare. It's pretty exciting."

The group will celebrate with a special concert Feb. 10 at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., where Potter was studying at the time the Nocturnals played its first show there. The group's potential inspired her to drop out, but she won't say no to an honorary degree while she's back in town.

"It's been discussed and joked bout," she notes. "They laugh, and I'm like, 'No, seriously. I'm not kidding. Can I have (the degree)? At this point it's just another thing to hang on our walls. I've got a lot of stuff on my wall now, but this would be a good one so I'm hoping they give it to me."

Potter and company are currently on the latest leg of the Roar Tour supporting last year's "The Lion The Beast The Beat." The twist this time is that the group has asked fans to submit requests online, a no-holds-barred exercise that Potter says has led to some "really bizarre" suggestions.

"I love that," she says. "It gives us so much material, and it's exciting to dredge up these old songs the fans pull out of the woodwork. Every night when I'm making the set list, I'm like, 'Thank you! I wouldn't have thought of that one.' There's a lot of creative requests -- and, of course, someone always asks for 'Free Bird.' Then someone wanted us to cover the entire 'Jesus Christ Superstar' musical, in costume, and offered to pay for the whole thing and send us the sheet music and sew the costumes. That was a big one. But I'm not really a Broadway fan, so we didn't take her up on that."

Potter & the Nocturnals wrap up the tour on Feb. 23 in Port Chester, N.Y., then play some U.K. dates with the Avett Brothers in March. Potter will also play solo with the Avetts in Europe before the Nocturnals head to Australia later in the month, and she expects to be touring throughout the summer.

"I'd like to get back to a few of those smaller festivals that we started out doing," Potter says. "I miss that element of complete debauchery and the camping and going out and hanging out. I miss my friends in the jam world, so maybe we'll do some of that." A live DVD from the Roar Tour is also being considered, she adds.

As for the group's next album, Potter says that she's been "thinking about songs and not so much turning them into an album. It's more about individual pieces. I've got some ideas. It's easy for me to write songs but hard for me to write an album; that's been my experience. So I just let the songs creep up on me, usually when I least expect it, and then let the album form from them." She's also "stewing on a couple of projects," one of which involves a film soundtrack and the other "a producing gig," but she won't be specific about either.

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