Portland-based Rockabilly Band, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Return to Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.
Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside is a force to be reckoned with. One of the most powerful female voices in indie rock, Ford gives off a quintessential bad ass rock ‘n’ roll attitude while her band compliments the soulful vocals with bluesy, sweaty riffs.
Ford counts Cat Power, Coco Rosie, Etta James, Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, among others, as her biggest influences — especially when she first began to sing and write. And the influence of this diverse collection of headstrong vocalists is evident in her deeply stirring sound and rebellious lyrics.
The writing process of the band’s latest album, Untamed Beast (Partisan Records, February 2013) was spontaneous, with Ford focusing on the theme of being a liberated woman who speaks her mind. “I wanted [the lyrics] to feel free, wild and energetic,” says Ford. “I didn’t want to over-think them.”
Although the album is a powerful statement about female power and self-discovery, Ford says it’s an album for all of her peers, both male and female. “It’s what I think the voice of my generation sounds like, at least in my head,” she says.
Ford is most excited to play some of the band’s new songs that will be released on an upcoming EP debuting in December. The band normally opens their shows with an instrumental tune like the sleepy, playful surf-pop jam, “The Eagle Has Landed.” After starting off gently, they usually transition to the more upbeat, rockabilly/doo-wop blend that has had music critics comparing Ford to vocal goddesses like Karen O and Regina Spector.
As for being a female rock ‘n’ roll vocalist, Ford wouldn’t say her gender has made her career a challenge, but she admits that there aren’t many current female singers she can relate to.
“I can’t really think of any ‘big challenges’ in my career,” says Ford. “Sometimes I get guff for cussing too much or having boobies on my record, but it feels good to fight for the things I believe in. That’s what my last record [Untamed Beast] was really about.”
Ford confesses that the sexy, sultry, rock ‘n’ roll tune, “They Told Me,” has been her favorite song to perform as of late. “That song has a slower groove, yet a lot of energy,” she says.
No stranger to the Lower East Side, this is Ford’s third or fourth appearance at Mercury Lounge – though she can’t quite recall. And the outspoken singer counts Bowery Ballroom as one of her most beloved venues.
When she’s not rocking out in dimly lit back-rooms and grungy downtown bars, Ford appreciates a good view. Her favorite show recently was when her band performed at this year’s 2013 River Rocks Festival at Hudson River Park, where they played their set while looking out at the New York skyline at sunset.
But through all of the touring, critical acclaim, and even appearances on national TV, at the end of the day, Ford just wants to create great music and connect with her fans on a personal level.
“It’s hard sometimes when fans don’t see that I’m just a normal person. I’ve done some amazing things, like playing on Letterman, but I’m not ‘famous’ by any means,” says Ford. “I’d like people to feel that I’m real and kind when I’m on stage and when they talk to me. That’s what I like to experience when I talk to musicians that I’m a huge fan of.”
After Saturday’s show, the band will continue their east coast tour and will head to Europe, then eventually land back in Portland for more writing and recording. “That’s my favorite part of my job!” says Ford.
The Portland-based rockabilly group will perform this Saturday, November 2 at Mercury Lounge at 10:30 p.m.
Flora Theden is a writer and publicist from Atlanta, Georgia who resides on the Lower East Side. She loves to travel and enjoys all things indulgent: music, food, wine and shopping. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.