Give Lissie a Google and you’ll likely come across images of the freckle-faced, plaid-clad Illinois-born singer-songwriter chilling prettily in a field. But she’s no Michelle Branch circa 2001 (Although, no shade involved, Branch’s “Goodbye To You” is a TIMELESS gem). Go to one of Lissie’s gigs and she’ll be wiping the sweat away from those freckles with a towel. Her dirty blonde disheveled locks will be flying as she goes at it on the guitar, the rafters will be shaking as a result of those rafter-reaching raspy rock wails. (Proof: find the YouTube of her now super popular cover of Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ complete with a tequila shot and the aforementioned schvitzing/hair-whipping combo, below.) Though she’s often aptly compared to Stevie Nicks (her ‘Go Your Own Way’ Fleetwood Mac cover is indeed stellar), but with her sophomore album, ‘Back To Forever,’ it’s clear Lissie’s 100% gone her own way (sorry, had to!). Bluesy and bitchy, somber and empowering, haunting choir girl “oohs,” guttural growls, frenetic guitar solos — it’s all there, and it’s fucking awesome. Sing along, pour a glass, grab both your tissues and your dancing shoes. Let Lissie heal you. I insist.
Your 31st birthday is coming up… And you’re a Scorpio. There’s some Scorpio-friendly aggressive moments on ‘Back To Forever,’ but also lots of heartbreakers…
I’m like the last day of Scorpio, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’m becoming more of a Sagittarian. I’ve got the cuspy thing happening. I still have a little Scorp in me — people have said that the album’s a bit more aggressive. Hopefully there’s also hope in the songs because it’s really just me breaking down and processing how I feel about things I’ve been through. There is a side of me where I hold people accountable but I can also be really hard on myself and hold myself accountable so maybe that’s the Scorpio in me that has to call someone out and say this is what happened and you need to own up to it. I can be very blunt. On a daily basis, I’m a pretty pleasant, positive person. But when I am feeling lost or frustrated or angry or sad, songwriting is my outlet for analyzing the situation and making myself feel better by talking through it, by writing a song.
Did you check out any of the reviews for the album?
I don’t because I’m really sensitive. I’ve gotta get a thicker skin. It’s so important for me that I’m understood and that people get that I’m coming from a good and authentic place. If someone says something really negative about me, it really pisses me off and makes me feel bad. So I don’t actively seek anything out — if there’s something good, someone in my band or my manager will usually send it on to me. But even on Twitter, I’ve gotten so much overwhelmingly positive feedback. I mean, there’s been like two people who have said sort of negative things, but if it’s two out of hundreds that are negatives, then I’ve gotta put it in perspective.
Could you pick a favorite tune on the album?
Of course I love them all, but I really like ‘They All Want You’ a lot.
ME TOO! The thing with your lyrics is that they’re so specific, so vivid yet totally relatable.
I do think some of the stuff I’m saying is universal. There’s not really a lot of metaphor or mystery in my lyrics and it’s not so vague either. We all kind of go through the same kinds of fears and rejections and certain traps in relationships. You probably have been in that situation in ‘They All Want You’ — we’ve all kind of liked that person that we have to share with everyone and that we feel neglected by.
The lyrics talk about “the one guy who never says no,” and I get alcoholic vibes personally.
There was a guy I was with for a long time on-and-off and he was such a drunk. Everyone would always egg him on and encourage him, and he was always the fun guy and the nice guy and he would do anything for anyone. But at the end of the night, he was a mess and his life was falling apart. He’d wake up in the morning and he’d be grumpy and take it out on me. He’d definitely come home at five in the morning shit-faced… I dunno…I think we might have the same taste in men!
Absolutely. Okay, so let’s discuss this Kid Cudi situation. (In short: Lissie’s cover of ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ went crazy viral a few years ago, it’s a total fan favorite and she often plays it at her gigs. Recently she was misquoted about the song becoming sort of her own. The Cudi fans went wild after Cudi tweeted his displeasure of what she reportedly said in an interview.)
It made me cry — I got like two hundred mean messages from people who said they were gonna fuck me up! I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is what it’s like to be famous. I don’t like it, I don’t want this!’ It turned out to be a really awesome thing though. I tweeted him and asked if I could write him a longer message to explain, and he sent me his email address. And I just wrote him this long email explaining that I have so much respect for him and really admire his music and I thanked him for writing such a brilliant song and that it’s really helped my career. And that I could see how he felt violated by that interview but that wasn’t what I meant. He wrote me back this really nice email saying that he was so sorry and he was feeling impulsive, and now that he heard from me, he realized I was a nice person. And then he tweeted all of his followers to apologize to me which they did. It was funny — all of these girls who were like, ‘DIE BITCH!’ wrote back and were like ‘Sorry that I was mean to you!’
So all is good now?
We emailed for a few days and now we text each other all the time. We’re gonna get together, I was even like ‘Would you ever wanna write a song together?” And now we’re genuinely friends and have proper conversations. The power of social media! I’ve always wanted to meet him and I’ve never known how to get to him, and now we’re actually buddies. He’s into fashion and I sent him a picture of this coat that I wanted to buy and he’s like ‘You should buy it!’ He’s just become like my bro. It all worked out.