by Dan Harr
Award-winning Blues bassist-vocalist Anni Piper, recently released her long-awaited new album, More Guitars Than Friends. The ten-song disc is the first on Piper’s own Sugar Daddy Records imprint, and is a lively potpourri of sounds. “All the original songs on the album were written since I moved to the US about a year ago”, states the Australian expatriate now residing in Cocoa, Florida. More Guitars Than Friends was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Solar Studio (using exclusively solar power) in Orlando, FL.
So, do you really have “More Guitars Than Friends,” as the title of your new album says?
No, not really (laughs). I have three guitars in my collection at the moment so I don’t think I qualify. The title is a reference to feeling lonely due to the gypsy lifestyle of the music business.
Some musicians have said that performing live is similar to the feeling one gets from making love. Care to weigh in on this?
Do I have to? Umm, I suppose that you do experience a high from making love and you also experience that from music. But those highs are kind of different in nature! Both those feelings do originate from making a very powerful connection with another person so there is similarity in that sense.
Being originally from, and having long performed, in Australia, what do you see as both similarities and differences, in the live music scene, there, and here in the U.S.?
Australia has a land area approximately the same size as the US with a population about one tenth the size. So making a living as a musician in Australia is more difficult to begin with, because you don’t have access to a really large market like you do in America. Audiences here are definitely more lively and responsive than audiences in Australia, and I love that.
How did you pick and choose the musicians who played on More Guitars Than Friends?
The core band on the album, Dave Kury on guitar and Frank Hetzler on drums, are my touring band, both from Cocoa Beach, Florida. We had a few special guest stars come in – most notably, Charlie de Chant from Hall and Oates, on saxophone. He is a brilliant musician and arranged the horns on the track ‘Paper Bag’. Charlie is a longtime friend of my guitarist Dave, so he was an obvious choice. The other notable special guest, Mike Franklin on keys, is the owner of Solar Studio in Orlando where we recorded the album. So again, his close proximity to the studio made him the man of the hour!
In the past I have worked as a school teacher and a personal trainer. Since moving to the USA my modelling career is starting to take off, so if I weren’t playing music I might be gracing the pages of a magazine.
It’s a political year, and the U.S. is electing a new president (God help us all!). Have you ever written a politically-themed song?
No, I suppose it’s a topic I have shied away from because I think songs like that can sound cheesy or contrived. The best songs are always written from the heart.
Some of your most recent publicity photos depict you in a ‘pin-up girl’ look, how did you come up with that concept?
I have loved the pin-up look for a long time. Probably what I enjoy is that pin-ups are so sexy without showing absolutely everything, they are always classy. My house is filled with pin-up girl coasters, calendars, etc., and I have found that it is much easier to access vintage or vintage-look clothing and props in America. I am now a volunteer at Heels For Combat Boots, a charity that raises money for veterans with PTSD. It’s nice to be able to use my love of all things retro for a worthy cause.
Okay, truth be completely told, how do you truly feel about touring, and being on the road months at a time?
Touring can be fantastic and touring can be the pits. The biggest factor is who you’re travelling with. I’m probably skating on thin ice here! I actually do love the travel, meeting new people, and of course, getting my original music out there to a new audience. It is always hard work and I don’t think you could possibly know what it’s like until you’ve done it. Most people think it’s like a holiday. It definitely is not, and if you treat it like a holiday, you are not going to last a week out there on the road.
The best gig you ever played? Worst gig?
I always loved to play the Blues Train in Australia, it’s a restored steam train with four carriages and a different blues performer in each carriage. The caboose is the bar, it’s just so unique that it has always been a stand out. There are several contenders for worst gig but probably the worst was the gig that didn’t happen because we had to take a band member to hospital for an overdose. That was a long time ago but it’s probably the single worst moment.
If you could perfectly design the rest of how your music career plays out, what would it be?
There’s another tier of blues performers out there that play larger festivals and command a higher salary than I do. I would love to continue making albums and travelling for a long long time. However it would be nice to upgrade from the rusty old tour bus and fleabag motels at some point.
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