Laura Veirs' stunning new album, July Flame, is easily among 2010's best records thus far, her shows are filling bigger rooms than ever, and she's doing it all while eating for two. Fresh off a European tour, the Portland-based singer/songwriter (and Seattleite emeritus) checked in with Seattle Weekly to talk about her nerdy side, her maternal side, and her business side. (For more of this conversation, visit seattleweekly.com/reverb.)
Laura Veirs With Cataldo, Old Believers. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, tractortavern.com. $12 adv./$14 DOS. 9 p.m. Sat., March 13.
SW: How did Europe treat you guys?
Veirs: Great. It was really fun. Best response yet, so that was a good feeling. We sold out an 800-capacity venue in London, and that's a first for me. Usually I'll play like 300- or 400-capacity [venues] over there and here.
How is it harder or different to put out a record on your own, versus having someone much bigger like Nonesuch, your former label, do it for you?
It's harder just because there's so much logistics that I feel like I also need to be a part of. I like knowing the nuts and bolts of my business. I've kind of always had like a more sciency, nerdy side to me as well as the artist's side.
Are you ahead more than you would be had you gone through a record label?
It's hard to say. The only money I would ever see from [Nonesuch] was the leftovers of the recording budget. This album has already outsold the last album in the first month of its release, so I assume that over the course of this we'll more than break even.
Now that you're running your own label, have your thoughts on file-sharing changed at all, or have other strong feelings on the business end changed?
Well, I think people just have no idea how hard it is to make a living as an artist nowadays. If they would buy music, it would be so much easier for us. [Younger people] don't even feel guilty about downloading music for free. They'll come up to the merch table—rarely, but occasionally—and ask me to sign a CD-R. It's like, that doesn't make sense. How can I explain this to you? I'm at the merch table with my CD.
Do you have a wide variety of onesies for sale now that you have a baby on the way?
I should get some. I should follow the Decemberists; they've got so many baby merch items. I noticed, 'cause we share a warehouse with them. I took one, but then I told them, and they said that was OK.
How is life on the road with a baby on the way?
It's going fine, and I can feel it moving around right now. I've toured in all three trimesters, and this has been the easiest one.
Did [My Morning Jacket frontman and Veirs collaborator] Jim James throw you a baby shower?
He hasn't thrown me one, goddamn him! But he did sing beautifully on the record. And he's become a friend through that. It was really fun to have that experience hearing him singing in our living room.