While this isn’t Think Country’s first time chatting with Allison and Krystal Steel of 2SteelGirls, it has been a while, so for those who aren’t familiar with their background, I’ll give you a quick synopsis.
2SteelGirls are a Mother/Daughter duo who first reached the public eye when they appeared on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Voice”. They were mentored by country superstar, Blake Shelton on the show, and while they didn’t win the season, they did come home with enough of a fan following to know they should give the music business a try, and with that, I’ll let our interview do the talking. I will also add that this time around, I was joined by Think Country’s Founder, Annette Gibbons, which only made this one a lot more fun and added that unique flavor that only she can.
(Annette and I arrived at the restaurant first. It was a sizzling hot day in May, but because the UK doesn’t get much sunshine like we do here in Nashville, I agreed to dine al fresco on the patio. Even with the canopy and the fans going, it was still a scorcher, but after a while, I think we all forgot about the heat. The chat was just that good.)
Allison and Krystal arrived shortly afterward. Despite the difference in ages, they both looked fabulous and even more than that, what strikes one most of all is the difference in style choices between these two women. Allison (“The Mom”) in rock star chic. A sleeveless Steven Tyler black t-shirt, long black pants and heels. On the other hand, do you know when a song gets stuck in your head sometimes and you have no idea how or why it got there? No matter what music was playing on the house system at our meeting place, nothing could have possibly overtaken the song that got stuck in my head the minute I saw Krystal walk in, and I knew exactly how and why that song got into my brain.
“She comes in colors ev’rywhere
She combs her hair
She’s a rainbow”
Video courtesy of YouTube and ABKCOVEVO and The Rolling Stones
One of the greatest songs ever written and recorded by The Rolling Stones, “She’s a Rainbow”. Krystal was the epitome of that song that day. Rainbow colored choker, leopard pants and the shoes! Sky-high sandals and what color were they? Rainbow of course! It may not have worked on just anyone, certainly not me, but it sure worked on her. Now that you’re up to speed on the weather and fashions of that day, let’s try this again. Interview, start talkin’!
Think Country (Annette): So, where are you guys from originally?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Ohio.
Think Country (Patti): What part of Ohio?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Southeastern Ohio, Jackson County. A small part of Jackson County.
2SteelGirls (Allison): About 100 miles from where Loretta Lynn grew up. It’s very “coal miney”.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We moved here about 15 years ago. This is our home now. We live so close to Nashville now, about an hour from there so why not try the country thing and see if anything comes of it.
Think Country (Annette): The big thing is, a lot of people know you from “The Voice”, right?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Yes.
Think Country (Annette): And what team were you on?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Team Blake.
Think Country (Patti): What other team is there?
Think Country (Annette): We have “The Voice” in the UK, but we don’t have much country on it and we don’t have a Blake there. So, how long ago was that that you were on there?
2SteelGirls (Allison): 2012 was our last episode.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We did a music video for our 100 or so Facebook “fans” (laughs) and producers for “The Voice” somehow found our video and asked us to audition for the show.
2SteelGirls (Allison): We had a private audition. To this day, we still don’t know how our names got submitted to the show or how that audition got set up.
Think Country (Annette): Would you say you’re glad you did “The Voice”?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Oh yeah. (Both nodded in agreement)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We look back at it sometimes and go, “Oh, I don’t know”, because we were so unsure of who we were. We took the long way around the mountain in being confident in being ourselves, so on the show we were very new to everything, so in that sense, we look back and say, “If I could do it again, I would do it so much better!”
Think Country (Annette): Would you do it now looking back?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’d show up looking completely different.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It was a GREAT experience for us and everybody from the person who was refilling the coffee pot to the producer of the show were all very, very nice and kind and they really did their best to prepare you and help you do well on the show.
Think Country (Annette): If you were asked by someone today, “I’m thinking of doing “The Voice”, would you say they should do it?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Yes! Absolutely yes.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): 100% do it. People sometimes ask for advice on how to act or how to dress and my advice has always been just be yourself.
Think Country (Annette): You can see through fake.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): There’s a million Taylor Swifts. There’s a million every other person in this life. There’s already a Beyoncé, we don’t need another Beyoncé. We need a YOU, because you’re fantastic. If you just be yourself, you don’t have to worry about keeping up with trends and all this, if you just be yourself, you’re just there all the time.
2SteelGirls (Allison): The greatest artists of all time were very different. You know, my Mom liked Elvis, so my Mom always said, “Your Grandma hated Elvis.” They hated him because he was so different. The greatest artists of all time were different. Prince. I love Prince, I love Elton John.
Think Country (Patti): There you go. Prince was an original and Elton John was original and Elvis was original.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Imagine the flak they got though when they first started.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): The BeeGees…
Think Country (Annette): The Beatles. My Mum went and saw The Beatles live and my grandparents were horrified that they could go and see something like that.
Think Country (Annette): So, how does the whole Mother/Daughter dynamic, I mean, I have a daughter and I love her dearly, but sometimes we don’t always see eye-to-eye, so, how does that work?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Some days you love each other and some days you want to…
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Chop each other in the throat.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Stab each other (laughs).
(Everybody’s laughing at this point, because everyone at the table can relate. We are all daughters of mothers of course, and we are all also mothers of daughters.)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): What makes it a little crazier is, we still live together.
Think Country (Annette): You live together and work together?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I see her more than anybody I see in my whole world. Like, I’m married. Me and my husband live there. My brother lives there too. He has a baby, so every other week we also babysit her during the week for the full week.
Think Country (Patti): The brother’s in the band too, right?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): And my Dad’s there and he’s in the band too, and my brother plays guitar and we rescue dogs, so we have seven dogs now. It’s chaos. It’s like a circus.
(At the same time, Annette and I both said, “REALITY SHOW!”)
Think Country (Patti): You need one! (A reality show)
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’ve already been talking about that with a major network, so we’ll see.
Think Country (Annette): So, before you get on stage, you’re having that normal Mum/Daughter argument. You’re ready to walk out on stage, can you just (snaps her fingers) and it’s done?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Yes, it’s done.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Really, it’s done before that. We do go at it, my Mom flips me off sometimes, I flip her off back… (believe me, they were smiling and laughing through all of this)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We do argue, but we get over it.
Think Country (Annette): All of this just shows that you’re normal.
Think Country (Patti): Abnormally normal. Whatever that is. Like the rest of us.
Think Country (Annette): You’ve got the new music coming out. Tell us about that.
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’re so excited about that. It’s a full album, 11 tracks and we’re just so excited. We co-produced it. Blake Shelton told us this, “Don’t try and fit into a box. Be yourselves. Be unique. Don’t be afraid to embrace that part of yourselves.” We thought we didn’t have enough twang, we tried to look more like Carrie Underwood..
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We didn’t have a lot of confidence. Other people can tell you to be yourself and you’re good enough, but you’re like, “No, if you really knew me, I’m not that great.”
2SteelGirls (Allison): So, what we did was, we tried to fit into that box and we didn’t do it successfully and we didn’t understand. We were working hard, we were doing the very best we could, we tried not only to give the best of ourselves, but the best music we could put out and we just weren’t doing well and we were just so unhappy. We were going on stage and we were singing these songs and we would do covers of artists we actually loved like Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, and we’d do them and we’d do them well, but there was something still missing. With this album, we just went for it.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We decided our only specification for the music we picked or wrote for this album was that we loved it, and if we loved it, we put it on there.
Think Country (Annette): Have you written any of the music on this album?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We have, but a lot of it, we haven’t.
Think Country (Annette): Well, that’s good because there’s so many good songwriters and unless you’re like, the best songwriter in the world, you need to go out and see what else is out there.
2SteelGirls (Allison): That was our exact thought because Blake Shelton said, and we didn’t even know he said this until after we decided we aren’t that great at songwriting, he said, “There are people in this town that have written for 25, 30 or God only knows how many years, and that’s what they are great at. Why would I go out and write an album of a whole bunch of songs when I’m not the songwriter they are? Why wouldn’t I go pick up their songs? It doesn’t even make common sense that I would try and be everything in this business. I’m not everything.” We’re not everything either. We’re not the greatest songwriters. We write some good songs, but this town is full of GREAT songwriters.
Think Country (Annette): You did write some of your own or you have some covers?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We did write some and we do actually have a cover. It’s a Janis Joplin cover of “Cry Baby”. Our album is very modern.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It’s also eclectic too.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s also very retro, which we’ve only showed a couple of people our album and it’s very retro-modern, if that even makes sense.
Think Country (Patti): Who sings on that cover (“Cry Baby”) or do both of you?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We both do, and we both do harmonies on it.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Our new album, I would say, it’s got a lot of pop influences. It’s also got rock influences, like ‘60’s and ‘70’s rock.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Led Zeppelin…
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Like a Led Zeppelin type feel to it.
Think Country (Patti): Wow.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Different. We talked about it, like, even the songs we picked for it took like a year and a half to pick the songs for the album. We just wanted to really make sure we had what we loved. The sound is just really eclectic.
Think Country (Annette): Have you got a name for this album?
2SteelGirls (Allison): “The Real Thing”. It’s called that because this is really us. We wanted people to know we’re done playing games, we’re done fitting in boxes. This is really us and either you love us or you hate us and it’s just the real us. We co-produced the whole thing and had our hands in the whole thing.
Think Country (Patti): Where did you record it?
2SteelGirls (Allison): At a little home studio. Our producer works full-time with Reba (McEntire. As if there IS another Reba.) He also works with Brooks & Dunn.
Think Country (Patti): I’ve never heard of either of them.
2SteelGirls (Allison): He is not a well-known producer at all. His name is Mike Kyle. He does things for Reba like house sound at Caesar’s Palace.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): The reason we picked him is he’s been our friend for about 10 years now and he’s known us since before “The Voice” and before 2SteelGirls.
2SteelGirls (Allison): He always said if we ever wanted to do an album that was really us for the first time, he wanted to be the one to be the producer of that. So, when we decided to make the album, we said, “Let’s call Mike and see what he says.” It was crazy. He jumped right on board and he worked his tail end off.
Think Country (Annette): When is the album out?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): June 15th.
Think Country (Annette): That’s a physical CD as well as iTunes and all of that?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Yes, iTunes, Spotify, all of it.
Think Country (Patti): CMA Fest. Are you playing anywhere during that?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We are! We’re playing the CMA Spotlight Stage which is inside Music City Center on Friday, June 8th at 10:30 AM and we’re going to play a 15-minute acoustic set there with a 30-minute Meet and Greet after. Then we’ll be at The Nashville Universe Booth #111 inside Music City Center on Saturday, June 9th at 1:00 PM and that’s a Meet and Greet with no performance. On Friday, June 8th at 2:00 PM, we’ll be doing a CMA – TCN Television Taping at Nashville Underground. We’ll be doing four songs with our full band and it’s open to the public. Finally, on Sunday, June 10th at 11:00 AM we have a Gospel Brunch at Nashville Underground.
(I’m just adding that for anyone still in town after CMA Fest, 2SteelGirls will be LIVE on the TV show “Today in Nashville” on WSMV-TV Channel 4 on Tuesday, June 12th at 11:00 AM. It’s a fun, local Nashville lifestyles show. If you’re around to watch, make sure to tune in!)
Think Country (Annette): Are you planning an album release party?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’re going back to our hometown for that. We’re going back to Ohio for our release party. Our friends and family in Ohio have supported us since the beginning and we just felt like we could do it here, and we do have a lot of support here, but it’s good to go back home.
Think Country (Annette): Especially since it’s “The Real Thing”. It’s about you guys being yourselves.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Right. Grandma and Grandpa will be there, and it’s like, yeah…
Think Country (Patti): You have to do that, I think. That’s great and it’s not really that far from Nashville. It’s not like you’re going to Alaska to do it, so I think it’s cool.
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’re really looking forward to it. We think it’ll be a lot of fun.
Think Country (Annette): Then are you going to be doing any shows to go around promoting the album?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Yeah, we are doing some shows. We’re going to Pennsylvania, Ohio, of course Nashville stuff and we also just signed with a booking agent so we’re getting ready to do a fall and a spring tour promoting the album.
Think Country (Annette): So, what’s the artwork? Did you put an awful lot of thought into how it looks?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Krystal created the artwork and it’s very funky. It’s retro, but it’s modern, same as the music.
Think Country (Patti): Do you have a first single that you’ve planned on yet?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’ve talked about “Lost”, it’s very rock.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): That is going to be the one. It’s the first track on the album (“Lost”).
(Krystal then holds up the album artwork)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): This is the album artwork, I made that.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Very different.
Think Country (Annette): It’s very cool. I like that.
Think Country (Patti): Oh, I like that. I can see where the retro comes in, like the fuzzy jacket, yet modern with the geometric things going on, yeah, I like it.
Think Country (Annette): When you’re on stage, who thinks about what you’re going to wear? Do you kind of think about that together? I’m sure you don’t throw things on.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Most of the time we do throw things on (laughs). We usually, because we’re a duo, we will generally ask the other person, “Hey, do you have an idea of what you’re gonna wear?”
2SteelGirls (Allison): Usually she comes up with her ideas first.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Well, she usually asks me.
2SteelGirls (Allison): I can’t put clothes together.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): She’s like, “Let me know what you’re gonna wear and then I’ll find something.” One of the main reasons we ask each other is she wants to really know if she should wear heels or not because she’s like six inches taller than me. With heels, she’s like, nine inches taller or plus. I’m only 5’2” and she’s like, 5’8” so it makes a difference when we stand next to each other.
Think Country (Patti): I’m not the least bit jealous of your height. (I hope you’re all catching my sarcasm here. I’m a short girl and I would give anything to be taller.)
2SteelGirls (Allison): I stand above my husband.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): So, there’s that, because it looks odd in photos, it’s like “boob level” (laughter all around). We try to coordinate around that generally. If she’s gonna wear heels I try to wear heels, but sometimes I don’t, but generally on bigger performances we try to, just so we look like we’re a duo, you know. We have different styles. She’s very rock and roll. She likes a lot of black.
Think Country (Patti): The Steven Tyler shirt didn’t give it away at all.
Everyone at the table: “Not at all.”
2SteelGirls (Krystal): She likes leather and black, I think black’s her favorite color.
Think Country (Patti): It’s mine too.
Think Country (Krystal): I’m like the complete opposite. I like really bold patterns and a lot of color, crazy-like. Usually I tell people, “If no one else would wear it, I probably would wear it.” Most people probably wouldn’t wear what I would wear.
Think Country (Patti): That’s good though. If you were exactly the same, you wouldn’t be the duo that you are.
Think Country (Annette): And especially, you are mother and daughter. You don’t try and hide that, you embrace it. If I asked my daughter to wear the same thing I was wearing, she’d be like (rolling her eyes), “No.”
Think Country (Patti): My daughter would roll her eyes. She’s very good at that.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): She’s tried to wear something closer to what I wore, but like last CMA Fest, it was really our debut of like, “We’re different.” So much so, I had a sequined, to-the-ground kimono on and everybody else was wearing beige and olive green.
2SteelGirls (Allison): For me, I was not comfortable, I wanted to run and hide.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): And for me, I loved it. I had on a checkered jacket with colored flames on it and my sequined kimono, but she tried to wear white pants and like, a pastel colored top.
Think Country (Patti): Oh yeah. I remember.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): She was like, “I feel SO uncomfortable.”
Think Country (Annette): Right, like, you’ve gotta be comfortable, but you’ve also got to be looking like, “Hey, you want to come and see us.” Do you have very much like, “These are our stage clothes” and “These are our day clothes” or some kind of mix?
2SteelGirls (Allison): My day clothes are usually sweatpants. (Laughs)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): If we’re working in the house, it’s usually gym clothes, five-dollar Walmart lady clothes…
2SteelGirls (Allison): There’s something about, when you put on clothes when you go on stage, I need to feel bigger than life. I didn’t feel bigger than life at CMA Fest (2017). I felt like, not happy with my look.
Think Country (Annette): And that probably came through in how you worked. I know that sometimes if I’ve gone out and I’m like, “Oh, no, I shouldn’t have worn that.”
Think Country (Patti): Yeah, you don’t feel like partying or even being there.
2SteelGirls (Allison): So, then I started wearing more black and then I was okay.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): She tried to branch out that one time but it didn’t work. She likes black and that’s how she’s always been. I think it’s funny that I’ve heard a few artists say this, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé definitely, that it’s almost like when they go on stage they make themselves a whole new character. Beyoncé said she was Sasha Fierce and all this, and people thought that was weird, but as an artist, it’s easy to understand because naturally I’m a shy person. If I go to my husband’s family reunion, I’m not, “Woo! Hey! Hey! Hey!” I’m more like, sitting in the chair over in the corner, quiet and to myself and if someone comes and talks to me I’ll talk to them, but I’m not naturally that outgoing.
Think Country (Annette): This is kind of like being an actress or something. Like, today I’m going to be 2SteelGirls, go and do my thing and then I can just kind of come back to being me.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Right, I’ll be just the regular me.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s kind of what we do. Even like today, the clothes that we wore, I mean, I would wear this with some jeans, but the heels and the pants I have on, I feel different. It makes you feel…
Think Country (Patti): A little more like you’re on a stage, which you’re not right now, but…
2SteelGirls (Allison): It actually helps with confidence.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It helps in your mind to separate, because if you think, “Oh, I’m just Krystal”, then you go up and sing in front of all these people, that’s kinda scary, but if I’m Krystal and I look the part and I’m gonna go up here and I’m about to be this person everyone expects me to be, then it’s different.
2SteelGirls (Allison): That they WANT you to be a rock star, they don’t want you to be insecure. I’m very insecure, so the insecure me needs to go “Bye.”
Think Country (Patti): You have to take command.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Like I said, my favorite performers are Steven Tyler and Prince. Prince looked like an idiot in some of the outfits he wore, if you just look at him, you’re like, “Oh my God, really, what is that? The high heels, all of it, but when you look at him on stage he’s larger than life and he’s my favorite entertainer. Steven Tyler. Steven Tyler is 70. I watched him the other day, and I was like, “Oh my God! He’s so unique, so different!”
Video courtesy of YouTube and Steven Tyler VEVO
Think Country (Patti): And he can wear the most ridiculous things, but that ridiculousness is what works for him and ONLY him.
Think Country (Annette): You know, I met him at a Big Machine (Label Group) party a couple of years ago and he was so friendly.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Very kind, that’s what I’ve heard as well. I’ve heard how wonderful he is, how kind. You know, Brenda Lee, she’s this little tiny thing. We met her at CMA Fest in the green room, and she’s this little tiny, she’s probably, what, 4’11”?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Yeah, she made me look like a giant and I’m 5’2”, and she was like, up to here on me. (Gesturing near her shoulders)
Think Country (Patti): One of my Dad’s very favorites ever, Brenda Lee.
2SteelGirls (Allison): She’s so little, but when she gets on stage, oh, my God.
Think Country (Patti): She’s like a rock star?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Yeah, what do they call her, Dynamite?
Think Country (Patti): Little Miss Dynamite.
2SteelGirls (Allison): She’s incredible. She takes on this character that’s awesome, but when you meet her in person, she’s the most gentle, kind, sweet person who embraces you. That is like, what a real star is. It’s incredible.
Think Country (Patti): That’s a star. A person that can go out there and just turn it on.
Video courtesy of YouTube and PeterRabbit59
Think Country (Annette): What are you hoping this album does for you? Are there dreams of what you want to do and where you want it to take you?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Dreams, we have so many huge dreams.
Think Country (Annette): Everybody has dreams, you have to.
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’ve always had these dreams of selling out stadiums and I watched Steven Tyler the other day and I’m like, “God, I would love to do that when I’m 70 years old.” It’s like, women, we put this thing on us like, “You’re older, you should dress differently…”
Think Country (Annette): Yeah, like, “You should calm it down now.”
2SteelGirls (Allison): I get that a lot actually. When people find out I’m the Mom, people are like, “Oh, she should dress her age.”
(We all laughed at that one.)
Think Country (Patti): Well, do you really think, I mean, I don’t look at you and think, “She’s so inappropriately dressed.” I don’t look at you and think that, I really don’t.
2SteelGirls (Allison): The thing that we hope to get across to women is that we’re Mother/Daughter, and immediately when people hear that they think like, we’re The Judds or something.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Like we sing lovingly at each other, and we don’t.
2SteelGirls (Allison): They think, our songs are, “Oh, I just love my Mother…” and we’re not.
Think Country (Annette): So, you got to that point that you’re playing at stadiums…
Think Country (Patti): The Opry?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We’d rock the Opry.
Think Country (Patti): Yeah, you would.
Think Country (Annette): If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I would like to play at The Superbowl Halftime Show because if you can play that, you’ve made it. That’s my ultimate top of the list.
Think Country (Annette): World Tour. Big world tour, who are you going to take on tour to open for you?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I don’t know who it would be. I guess artists sometimes try to pick someone that’s kind of similar to them. I would pick someone that’s really doing their own thing and being different.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Someone that’s really hungry to make it and working hard.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Someone that’s really working hard and genuinely being themselves. That’s one thing that seems to be, I don’t know why, well, I guess I know why, because of money, right? When there’s already a pattern of something being successful, people just want to repeat that pattern because it seems like less of a risk. Yeah, someone who is really talented and works really hard, but maybe a little different. Maybe they look a little weird or maybe someone who may not get a chance otherwise, that’s who I’d pick.
2SteelGirls (Allison): I guess we like the underdogs. We feel like, a lot of times, that we are underdogs, because the reason being is that we are a Mom/Daughter duo. I’m older than she is. When I walk in a room, you know, with artists, up and coming artists, they’re all under 30. I walk in, I’m the old chick. So, you know what? That makes me the underdog, but you know what? Who made the rule that says if you’re over 30 or 40, all your dreams are no longer legit? You’re not allowed to dream anymore because you’re too (expletive) old.
Think Country (Patti): Right? You might as well just go dig your own grave and bury yourself.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Then you watch somebody like Steven Tyler and you’re like, yeah, he did make it while he was younger, but still, LOOK AT HIM!
Think Country (Patti): He’s still doing it!
2SteelGirls (Krystal): He may not be the average 70-something year old…
2SteelGirls (Allison): He may be exceptional for a 70-year old, but he’s a rock star! Seriously!
Think Country (Annette): As long as you can make good music, that’s really all that should matter. I know it doesn’t always matter but often it does.
Think Country (Patti): Why can’t you be the one to break that mold?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Somebody has to, it’s like “Who’s gonna run the one-minute mile? It’s IMPOSSIBLE.” Then one person did it and guess what happened? A lot of people did it.
Think Country (Patti): So, somebody’s gotta go out there and do it and maybe you can do it.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s a hard rock to break, but maybe I can do it.
Think Country (Annette): Country music’s getting really popular in the UK and we have a big festival called Country 2 Country. So, we’ve had like, Emmylou Harris come over to play and Reba, and they’re always put on what we kind of classify as a “legend”. Somebody that’s, I don’t want to say older, but we’ve got all the young people going, “No, I’m not going to bother”, but then they hear them and they’re like, “Wow.”
Think Country (Patti): There really shouldn’t be an age limit on when you can make it. I mean, you can make it when you’re young and have staying power and keep on going, but there shouldn’t be an age limit on when you can break into it.
Think Country (Annette): For women especially, it really seems that way though doesn’t it?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It’s definitely more rough on women.
2SteelGirls (Allison): In country music here in the US, there’s plenty of guys in their 30’s that are getting signed, while women, we’re told, “You need to lose weight”, “You need to do this”, “You’re too fat”, and all these men, they can just look however, but they’ve got a good song, so, it’s not the same.
Think Country (Annette): Like, Luke Combs, he is fantastic, but he’s not that poster boy, but a woman wouldn’t be likely to be given that opportunity.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s actually very sad. It’s like you have to fit into this mold. You have to be the right age, you have to look a certain way, you have to have the long hair, God forbid, you cut your hair!
(Krystal points out that she recently cut her hair short.)
2SteelGirls (Allison): Our manager called in like, 15 minutes as soon as he saw that she cut her hair off. He said, “You cut your hair. Guys like long hair.” She was like, “Why do I care what guys like?”
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I don’t look in the mirror everyday before I leave the house and go, “Will guys like what I’m wearing today?” I go, “Do I like what I’m wearing?”
Think Country (Annette): If anything, “Does my husband like it?” Not whether other guys like it, and do you feel good wearing it? That’s what should matter.
Think Country (Patti): The way I see it, it should always be about the music. What does it SOUND like? It shouldn’t be, what does it LOOK like? Of course, that’s just how it goes. They want a certain look and all of that. When I’m listening to music, I’m not looking at the person, I’m listening to it, but that’s how they play the game.
Think Country (Annette): Are you hoping that your single’s going to get on the radio? That’s so hard over here (in America), to get music on the radio, isn’t it?
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s very hard. We would hope it would, it’s our main objective.
Think Country (Annette): It’s much easier to get on the radio in the UK, so you need to get us your single when it’s out and we can definitely get it to the radio stations and it won’t be pay-to-play! (Laughter, as there was quite a bit of commotion going on that day over bars charging artists to pay in order to play on their stages, which is seriously frowned upon in the Nashville musician community.)
2SteelGirls (Allison): We need to do a UK tour, that would be so great.
Think Country (Annette): One of the questions we like to ask, especially in Nashville, you’ve got Jason Aldean’s opening, Blake Shelton’s just opened, FGL House, let’s say you’re opening your own themed bar. What are you going to call it? What kind of feel is it going to have and what will your signature drink be?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I’ve got it! This will be mine, she may not agree with it, but I have always loved this, it’s a line in a song, but it’s Disco Lemonade. I’ve always thought it’s the coolest thing ever. It fits kind of our, you know, a little regular, a little pizazz, you know. We’re regular people, we’re a little Southern, but we’re also a little Elton John.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Regular but a little much.
Think Country (Patti): What’s in this Disco Lemonade?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Disco ball, fur, bright and colorful, sparkly. I just always loved that and I told her we should name the album that because when you think of that you just wonder what it is.
Think Country (Patti): So, that’s the name of the bar.
Think Country (Annette): I think that would have to be the name of the signature cocktail as well.
Think Country (Patti): Really, there are no disco bars in downtown Nashville, are there?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Some of them play songs that we play out and cover like Bruno Mars. Stuff that has this funk to it.
Think Country (Annette): Songs that you hear in your car and you want to dance.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Bruno Mars. It comes on and you’re like, “Yeah…”
Think Country (Patti): You have to turn it up. You have to.
Think Country (Annette): The merch. I can only imagine the t-shirts in this place.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Oh, yeah.
Think Country (Patti): It would have to be like the color of your choker (rainbow).
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It would have to be a little bit ‘60’s, a little bit…
Think Country (Patti): Psychedelic. It would be a cool place. I think I’d like it there. Even the drinks would probably be colorful drinks.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Since I’ve got this whole plan now, we’d probably have to bring some black and leather in for Allison.
Think Country (Annette): Maybe on the second floor.
Think Country (Patti): Maybe the VIP Room would be the black and leather. You’d have to get past the velvet rope to get into that area.
Think Country (Annette): Yeah, but it would be a PINK velvet rope.
Think Country (Patti): Alright, but once you got past that, it would be all black and leather, with maybe a splash of pink here and there.
2SteelGirls (Allison): With neon signs.
Think Country (Patti): I like that place.
Think Country (Annette): Yes, I’d like to go.
Think Country (Patti): We need to be there for opening night, just so we’re on the list.
2SteelGirls (Allison): You’re on the list.
Think Country (Patti): If you guys could collaborate with another artist outside of your genre…
Think Country (Annette): If you could NOT say Steven Tyler (laughs)…
2SteelGirls (Allison): Dead or alive?
Think Country (Annette): Dead or alive.
Think Country (Patti): To do a duet or a co-write or something, who would it be and why?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): You answer because you already have your answer (referring to Allison). I know exactly who you’re going to say.
2SteelGirls (Allison): Prince, because as a true artist and a true entertainer, that’s him. I mean, imagine him at The Superbowl (XLI), standing out. He really could have got electrocuted honestly. It was raining at The Superbowl and just downpouring and he was in heels that are crazy. The floors of the stage on “The Voice” are like this plexiglass stuff, and we did it at Christmas time so they put this fake snow down. It was so slick I could barely shuffle my feet. Prince was standing out on that same type of floor, in the pouring rain, playing the guitar he could have been electrocuted with, and they told him actually, “You probably should not do that.” Management warned him, “You could be electrocuted”, but he went out and did it anyway, and if you watch him, he stood and if you watch him walk, he did not slide or misstep once, and I’m going, “Oh, my God.”
Think Country (Patti): How did he do that?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Superhuman to me.
Think Country (Patti): Who’s yours Krystal?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I listen to a lot of older artists, but one person that I really like who’s newer is Beyoncé. I think she’s one of those artists you either hate her or you love her. I know a lot of people in country music don’t like her, but I respect her a lot because I watch a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with her. She’s a person that’s standing out in the audience, that’s making sure her band’s performing well and the show is how she wants it and the lights are right. She stays up late in the middle of the night to make sure everything goes how it needs to go. To have that much talent, to not just sing, but dance, perform, put the show together and make sure everything runs smoothly, she kind of does her own thing which I think is cool. I know she has a big operation behind her, but she just kind of runs it and she does what she wants, and she’s to the point where she has so much money she doesn’t have to be that involved. She can pay people to do all that, she doesn’t have to stay up until three and four in the morning to make sure her lighting people are going to get the cues right, but she does, so I respect her for that. I would just like to take lessons from Beyoncé, like, “Please teach me your ways!” I know she has a lot of people working for her, but she’s gotten to that point because she’s worked hard and she’s in control.
Video courtesy of YouTube and Rama Yudhistira
Think Country (Annette): Are you a bit of a control freak?
2SteelGirls (Allison): I’m very much a control freak.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I am too, and that’s mostly where we butt heads. We both have very strong ideas and we both like to think we’re right.
Think Country (Patti): So, who in your band is actually the band leader?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Just us really. At one point we did have an actual band leader, but I guess they didn’t really know the direction we were wanting to go as 2SteelGirls, so we were kind of doing it their way, which was fine, we didn’t expect them to be a mind reader, but I guess part of us coming into our own and really being comfortable with who we are and knowing what we want now, we didn’t need someone telling us, “Oh, you should do it this way.” Like, it drives me insane when someone says, “You can’t do that.”
Think Country (Patti): So, the band consists of you two, Allison’s husband who is the drummer, Allison’s son is the guitarist, bass player?
2SteelGirls (Allison): We hire several bass players. We wish we could have a full-time staff, but we just can’t right now.
Think Country (Annette): So, have you ever come up to your Mum and said, “I have the best idea”, and she’s just gone, “No.” (Obviously, this question was directed toward Krystal)
2SteelGirls (Allison): Usually right before she even gets it out of her mouth. (Laughter)
Think Country (Annette): What about the other way around?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Yeah. Like, I say this because this is what we’ve been working on. Our new show is coming up, obviously, we want to have new songs, and if it was up to Allison, I think we’d do the same songs we’ve played before because she’s comfortable with them and she doesn’t have to relearn new ones. It does make you nervous to sing new songs, but I love the new songs and finding new arrangements and doing different things. The risk with that is sometimes it doesn’t go over live like it goes over in your head. Sometimes it’s like, “That was NOT good.”
Think Country (Annette): Sometimes does a fan come to see you and say, “I want a little of that old stuff, but I’d like to see some new stuff too.” There’s nothing worse than when you go to a gig and they play all of their new music, and you’re like, “Where’s my favorite? I want to sing it.” Then you leave and you feel a little bit shortchanged, so you need to have that mix of new songs and older stuff that people already know and love.
Think Country (Patti): And you do already have a following of fans that know what you’ve played before. So, in your setlist, so-to-speak, in your new show are you going to mix in some of that old stuff for the fans that know it?
2SteelGirls (Allison & Krystal): Yes.
Think Country (Patti): Will, at least, the new single, “Lost” be out on iTunes and Spotify and all that good stuff before the actual album releases so they can at least learn it and sing it and be excited when they hear it at the show?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Yes.
Think Country (Annette): What about videos? Do you think videos are still as important today as they used to be?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We haven’t decided on that. As for importance, I think they sort of are, but not. I think the way the music industry is now, it’s almost like you use the music video as something fresh to give people to go, “Now that you know the song, here’s this cool video we made”, instead of it being the intro to people that it was before. Videos are really expensive to make.
Think Country (Annette): Sometimes a good lyric video, especially because at home we don’t get to see many videos. If we’re going to look for your music, apart from iTunes or Spotify, we have to go on YouTube, and quite often they have YouTube videos on there that aren’t of that great quality. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to listen to the music and see something.
Think Country (Patti): Sometimes the lyric videos are great because you just don’t know what the heck they’re saying. It’s like, “Okay, maybe I need that so I can tell what they’re singing.” Especially for certain bands. Sometimes you can tell exactly what they’re singing and other times, you’re like, “What the Hell are they saying?” Then you’re singing the wrong lyric and even if you find out the right lyrics you sing ‘em wrong anyway because it’s the way you sang it the first 300 times. Lyrics videos are great though.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We’ll definitely do lyric videos and we’ve even talked about a music video, but not doing it the traditional route that people are taking now. Like now, a lot of people that are sinking a whole bunch of money into music videos and that’s not what music videos used to be about. Now they’re like a movie you’re watching and they’re a huge production and it costs thousands of dollars.
Think Country (Patti): Unless you’re with a huge label, who has that kind of money?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We don’t have that kind of money, number one, and number two, I think people appreciate seeing something that you made yourself and handcrafted, and you know, where we are in our careers, Allison and I do everything essentially, ourselves. We have managers, but, I mean, as far as design our merch, our website, all of our social posts, we do everything, you know, so, when we do stuff like that our fans enjoy it. We put the time in to make it
Think Country (Patti): Yes. Your fans, especially, really feel like they’re connected to you. Aside from stalkers, which nobody wants stalkers, but I always feel like they feel connected to you guys. You really appreciate them and they really appreciate you.
Think Country (Annette): And in a video, you don’t want someone else playing you. It kind of goes against “The Real Thing”. You want it to be you.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): Like you said, it’s “The Real Thing”. What’s wrong with showing people where we are right now and what we’re actually doing? We could try to put on airs with this big band and we do well and we can play a really cool show, but we are not Beyoncé or Prince yet. We might be that someday, but we are not that now.
Think Country (Patti): I’m just really excited to hear what this is because I’ve heard all of your other stuff and this sounds like it’s going to be such a different thing.
Think Country (Annette): I don’t know if you’ve read any of Patti’s reviews, but wow, she is great at writing reviews, so much so, that I’m sitting in England one day and I had this message from Randy Travis’s wife going, “Oh, my God.”
(I must confess, that email from Mary Travis helped erase a lot of my own insecurities about by writing. Too be honest, I couldn’t even read the email myself. I had to have my husband read it to me. I was shaking too much. Then I poured a glass of wine. Or two. To date, the Randy Travis Tribute review remains the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Having Randy and Mary Travis give it their stamp of approval was insanely appreciated.)
(At this point there was some discussion between all of us about me reviewing the album. I was given very strict instructions from both Allison and Krystal to be honest. To quote Allison, “Patti, if you think it sucks, don’t be afraid to say it sucks.” That is how direct she was with me. I promised her I would be honest. This interview took place on May 15, 2018, and my review has already been published on thinkcountrymusic.com. If you haven’t yet read it, please do that. I promise I wore my honesty on my sleeve completely.)
2SteelGirls (Krystal): When we co-produced the album, a lot of people say that they did that (co-produced an album), but we were literally IN THE ROOM. I stayed up the last night we finished it with our producer Mike until like, two in the morning. She (Allison) was sick at the house. I was over there and we were like, “We need to change this, we need to change that. This has to go TOMORROW to be mastered so we can have it out for June 15th.” So, we stayed up and made sure everything was right and he made changes and I had ideas, and it was really cool to be able to work with Mike ajd to feel like your ideas are good. So, we were literally like, “Let’s change this arrangement.” We recorded a few songs and by the end, I was like, “Mike, I hate to do this to you, but this part could be a whole lot better”, and we had someone cut it and it had a completely different groove to it. I was like, “Mike, I know this is going to take longer and it’s gonna be a little bit, but this will be best for the song, can we do it?” He was like, “Yeah.”
Think Country (Patti): That’s what you have to do. If it takes a little bit longer to make it sound just exactly right and the way you want it to be, you have to take that extra time, because otherwise, every time you heard it, you would be going, “Aaarrghhh! Why didn’t we just take the time to fix it?!”
Think Country (Annette): Also, when this first comes out, you can only make that first impression once, so you want it to be perfect.
Think Country (Patti): Did you just have your own musicians play on the record?
2SteelGirls (Allison): Her Dad, my husband, played all the drums on it. Aaron, her brother and my son, played guitar on it. My brothers actually wrote the last song on it, it’s called “Flying High”, and it’s one of these Pink Floyd meets Queen maybe, meets The Beatles…
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It’s totally not country. It sounds like a ‘60’s, ‘70’s drug song.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It’s fantastic.
Think Country (Patti): It sounds amazing.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It’s the perfect album ender.
2SteelCountry (Allison): All of my family writes. I’m a Fourth- Generation musician and she’s a Fifth (Krystal). My husband is a Third-Generation musician. So, music, you know, when you’re poor and you’re from a coal town there’s nothing to do and you have no money, and there’s nothing like a theater to go to, so we all wrote music. Our cousin, he’s one of the most famous songwriters in town, Anthony Smith. So, we go back to family reunions and there’s Great Grandma and people like Anthony and all of us are there, like 100 people playing and singing, you know, it’s a lot of fun. All our cousins play. There’s hardly anyone in our family who doesn’t play an instrument, so it’s cool to have my brother who came down. Two of my brothers wrote the last song that we talked about, and one of my brothers was able to come and do a lot of the tracks on it.
Think Country (Patti): So, you had a lot of help. That’s great.
2SteelGirls (Allison): It was just like a family thing, like our dream project.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): It’s our dream project, that’s why we were saying we know it’s different and we know some people won’t love it, but that’s okay.
Think Country (Patti): You know what? You’re never going to please the world.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): When first we were trying to be 2SteelGirls like Carrie Underwood, and then our second EP was really super country, the We-Need-to-Country-it-Up-2SteelGirls, and people didn’t like that, then when we were trying to be ourselves but a little bit of something else, that didn’t work. So, if we’re 100% ourselves, we know people aren’t gonna love it, but we love it and that’s okay, we’re happy with it.
Think Country (Annette): And if you’ve done the best you can do, I think that will come through.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): We tried to lay out the tracks so it’s like an event.
2SteelGirls (Allison): We have a hidden track. A track where… (Nah. I’m not telling you people what she says here! Get the record!)
Think Country (Patti): So, this really is “The Real Thing”.
Think Country (Annette): So, finally, because we are Think Country, when you Think Country what do you think about?
2SteelGirls (Krystal): I think about Willie Nelson. My husband actually got us tickets to see him at his 4th of July thing in Texas. I’m so excited. As crazy as I look, I love Willie Nelson. I think he’s so cool. When I think of country music I think of sittin’ with my Grandfather, my Dad’s Dad. He does not have cable and he doesn’t have a cell phone. He’s 80 years old and he still has a home phone and when we go back to Ohio and I go visit him he puts in old videos of “Hee Haw” and “The Grand Opry” performances and that’s what we watch. Sometimes it’s videos, VHS’s, that I’ve seen 500 times, but when I think of country, that’s what I think of. When I visit with my Grandpa, we listen to people like Kitty Wells and all the old people, and you see Willie Nelson before the braids, when he was wearing suits, when he had the parted hair, he looked like a preacher or something.
Video courtesy of YouTube and dekkadon
2SteelGirls (Allison): My Dad makes me think country. Hunter, outdoorsman. I don’t know if you can find anybody more country than that. He’s like the all-American grandfather. He’s a Disabled Veteran, he built his own cabin out in the woods, he loves bluegrass. He’s very down home. He’s a man’s man.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): In Nashville you meet a lot of people that try to be country, but he IS country.
2SteelGirls (Allison): He’s a very strong man, he stocked the pond that he built, he hunts for deer on his land. He drives a truck.
2SteelGirls (Krystal): He doesn’t even want to go to the grocery store. He doesn’t even want to go on vacation. He calls his home paradise and he doesn’t ever want to leave. He’s country.
Think Country (Annette): Well, thank you.
Think Country (Patti): Thanks, this went really well. We’ll get this written up and we’ll take a listen to the new music and I’m sure it doesn’t suck. (Laughter)
2SteelGirls (Allison): Oh, it doesn’t suck.
(And this time, I let the interviewee get the last word.)
2SteelGirls can be found: