Photo: Courtesy of ANTI- Records
Neko Case is a magician on stage, possessed of the power to completely transform each venue she plays. Case in point (sorry, had to): Back in May, Case played a twilight set at the Sasquatch! Festival, and turned the massive outdoor amphitheater into a space as intimate and closely drawn as a living room. She commanded its main stage, mounted in the middle of a sprawling, sun-streaked canyon, and every lyric coaxed the crowd closer. "Man," "Bracing For Sunday," and the majority of The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, September’s triumphant release, had people pushing to the front in a steady tide. Case is a poet and her deliberate delivery makes her a dependable tour de force. (She’s also a celeb #ELLEFOLLOWS, and her awesome snaps and filter-free tweets keep us on our toes.) It’s not that big stages are her thing, though: All stages are her thing, and with 20 years of hard rocking experience behind the mic under her belt, it’s easy to see why.
The singer is multi-tasking at the moment: She’s prepping for the final leg of the tour for The Worse Things Get … while getting ready to head out on the road and release a new record with The New Pornographers, the Vancouver indie gods and the band that brought Case to the forefront in 2000. She took a minute in between long drives and sound checks to check in with ELLE.com to chat about Alabama Shakes, Instagram, which song the festival crowds are singing along with, and more.
First things first: Where are you? I sincerely hope you’re not melting the way we are here in New York!
In Burlington, Vermont gearing up for the last US show[s] on this tour. It IS also melty here, but we should be getting thundershowers any minute! My favorite!
What is it about The Worse Things Get … that’s really working for you at the moment? How have the new songs invigorated your live show in a different way than other selections of your work?
The fact that I have a job is MANY thumbs-up! The songs feel oddly joyful. It’s just a huge relief that the record is DONE! Even 11 months later!
There’s something about "Man" (on The Worse Things Get …) that just makes me want to shout the chorus from the rooftop (or, specifically, I kind of just want to shout "F—K YEAH!" throughout the whole thing). How have your fans interacted with that song, in particular?
Well, that song was written for everybody, and if you listen, it leaves no one out, and it blames no one. I think people dig that. I know I like feeling invited! That’s how I want all human peoples to feel. It’s a thrill to see people singing along.
Your Sasquatch! set was one my highlights of 2014’s festival season. What’s been the most transformative experience you’ve encountered on the road recently?
Athens, Georgia at the Georgia Theatre. That’s where we started to rehearse the songs to record the album. On this trip, we had all just gone through a majorly shitty time and it felt like we landed on soft ground. Many of the band’s family members and close friends were there. I remember feeling really down a couple of years ago when we started working on the record in Athens, but one night we went to see the Alabama Shakes at the Georgia Theatre. The first note Brittany Howard hit crushed the barnacles off my soul. She was MIGHTY! I started to bawl and remembered, "Yes! Music is this good! It is joy." Totally changed my outlook. On stage there a week ago, I had that memory flood over me and I was relieved all over again. It was beautiful.
If there’s one line from The Worse Things Get … that sets itself apart in the way it resonates with you nearly a year after the record’s release, what would it be?
I suppose it’s "I’m a man." That’s kinda my life.
You’re one of ELLE’s Women to Follow on Twitter! In what ways has social media enhanced your relationship with your fans? Would you say it’s affected your creative process at all?
I’m never "inspired" by the Internet; it’s just good or bad TV depending on how you use it, but I like conversing with people about regular stuff in a casual way. You can’t do that at a show. I’m always thrilled to be reminded how kind people can be.
A "NO CAMERAS" policy isn’t an uncommon thing to face at your concerts. This is becoming more of a regular thing, with artists asking fans to leave their smartphones in their pockets throughout the set and to refrain from taking pictures at shows. Tell me about why you go this route.
I personally don’t like getting my photo taken on a good day, but people filming me makes me so distracted I mess up the show. Not fun. No one should be filmed if they don’t want to be. But most importantly, the people trying to watch the show are looking over a sea of bright-lit screens. It’s not cool to pay to see a live show and people interfere with your experience that way. It’s not allowed at the movies or in a classroom, or at a play, so a show should be no different unless that’s what you expect and actually paid to see. Also, it’s copyright infringement, meaning, you should ask first. I can see how it could be part of a show, but it’s not something I’d be comfortable with personally. I’m just hoping people want to be there with me.
So thrilled about The New Pornographers heading out on the road this fall, and doubly thrilled for the new record you’ll be touring behind! Just looking at your tour schedule, it seems like you’re pretty evenly split between wrapping up the summer dates of your solo tour and kicking off things off behind Brill Bruisers. Does your full schedule with both efforts change the way you frame or experience your music? Does picking things up with The New Pornographers affect how you’ll approach this final leg of The Worse Things Get … tour?
It just means I’m a workaholic and need professional help. I’m only half-kidding!concert, dates, director, film, movie, music, release, singer, tour, tv