It has been 2 and a half years since Laura and Lydia Rogers or The Secret Sisters from Muscle Shoals in Alabama released their last album, the Grammy nominated ‘You Don’t Own Me Anymore’ which was produced by Brandi Carlile along with Phil and Tim Hanseroth. Working once again with Carlile and the Hanseroth twins, their highly anticipated fourth record ‘Saturn Return’ will be released on February 28th.
Named after the astrological occurrence of where the slowly orbiting ringed giant Saturn once again returning to the same position in the sky where it was at the time of a persons birth occurring roughly every 29 and a half years. The end of the planet’s transit is believed to coincide with progression into the next stage of a persons life along with the different challenges and experiences being presented. We recently caught up with Laura and Lydia to hear about it’s upcoming release along with their return to Europe in June.
The astrological concept of Saturn Return as a reflection of change in life and how it came to become the title of their 4th album:
That completely summarises what we were seeing. When you make a record at least when we make a record you just kinda write songs that are personal about the things that we’re experiencing. You know frustrations and victories, just kind of all the things we are dealing with that we need to process and then we choose the songs that feel the strongest and we make the record. When we were deciding about the album title, we really didn’t know what to call it. We looked at all the different songs trying to find a lyric or a song title that would be a good title for the record and nothing really jumped out but this overarching theme of you know growing up with all of the beauty and tragedy that comes with that transition. It’s what all these songs are about, kind of a photograph of where we are right now and how we got here from the last record, so the phrase Saturn Return just felt like the perfect kind of summary of everything.
On the process of creating the album and the writing process for the record:
I would say this is the most prepared we have ever felt in going to make a record. I think that we had maybe 15 songs written and ready to go and of course there’s 10 on the record so a few of those didn’t make it but this is the first time we ever felt like we knew the direction we were going in. Even though we wrote some of these songs separately, we were going through a similar time in our lives and it was that Saturn Return so even if written separately there was a similar theme. A common thread through all of the songs.
The time-frame on the influences that inspired the writing and recording of ‘Saturn Return’:
I would say it’s all pretty recent, most of the things that we wrote about in all of these songs on this record are things that we, you know our last record was very specific about a tumultuous time in our careers and all of these songs had been written since the third record came out so they’re all pretty fresh. There have been new experiences and emotions that we felt since that last record, so they’re still pretty relevant and everything we’ve experienced since writing this record is still very appropriate and it hasn’t aged yet.
The pressure and expectation to follow up their Grammy nominated third album:
I think there’s always the pressure we put on ourselves to exceed what we did in the past. I don’t know it’s necessarily what we expect from other people but we always want to be growing and having new challenges as we go forward. It is kinda hard to top what you’ve done in the past but we just write from our own experiences and try and do new things that may make us uncomfortable at times but try to learn and grow along the way. We feel like we topped the last one!
How the relationship with their producers Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth began and grew:
Well we did our third record with Brandi as well but that relationship actually formed years ago when we went on tour with Brandi back in 2011. We all found a similar love for each other and what we do then Brandi we obviously admire her career so much, just seems to be the perfect model of hard work to eventually pay off and very loyal fans. We’ve admired that for so long and Brandi I think she saw maybe a little bit of herself in us, just younger and not as far along so she took us under her wing and took us on several tours then when it came time to make our third record, she stepped up and said I’d love to help you guys do this. There’s no ulterior motive with her and the twins. They really do offer to produce records for us because they love us and love what we create. There’s never any question about their fanship over the 2 of us, so it just started out being strong mutual fans of one and other then friends then you know working in the studio together and it’s been a really successful fun process for us I think.
What makes Carlile and the Hanseroth twins so special to work with and the perfect fit for The Secret Sisters:
I think because we were friends with them first and they are artists first before they are producers or anything like that on that level. They are first performers so they understand what songs are going to translate live and really connect with an audience so they are really good in that way, they are very collaborative people. They weren’t just trying to play the producer role the entire time, they ask for our opinions and what we thought sounded best so it really felt like we were on the same level and same playing field the entire time. It really just felt like a bunch of friends playing together and having a jam which was just really refreshing for us. We’ve had really great producers in the past but this just felt more like we were comrades.
As veterans of touring the UK for over a decade now, what keeps drawing them back and why it is a special place to tour:
So much passion! There is so much passion I feel like our fans in the UK and Europe are so invested in the music! I don’t wanna imply that American audiences aren’t but when we come over there it’s like everyone knows so much about our background and our history. It’s like they’ve read every interview and digested every piece of information about us that they can find, sort of like they’ve really done their homework and it just feels like they are super invested in who you are as a person and on every level as a music maker. We’ve noticed that from the very beginning, we’ve been touring over there for 10 years now and we’ve always come away from it thinking these crowds are so passionate about music and they really are receptive to American Roots music. That’s fascinating and you could talk about that for hours, just the love that the UK has for American music but you know we love music from over there as well here in America so it’s nice to see that tradition of sharing artistry continue which we’re happy to be a tiny little part of it.
The touring process overseas itself and how much they actually get to see visiting new places:
I think in the early days, we didn’t get out very much. We were so busy, we would come over and it would be endless interviews, radio and promo but as we get older we try to fit in some time to explore but over the last few years I feel like we’ve really been able to explore all the places we get to visit. (Laura)
Yeah totally, like you said in the beginning it’s so expensive to travel over there so we had to have one show after the other so we didn’t spend too much money then as things have gone along it has got a little bit easier for us to set aside time and explore, see things in all the cities that we go to. So that’s one of the perks of doing this. We love it over there so much. (Lydia)
Finally what Laura loves most about the UK:
I love the fact that you guys have this tea thing, you know like we don’t drink hot tea in the South. Not at all! We do not do hot tea but when we come over there we are like British People and drinking tea every time you turn around. The last time I was in England, I fell in love with Digestives! I became absolutely obsessed with Digestive Biscuits, so I already have on my agenda that I’m gonna absolutely destroy myself in Digestive Biscuits when I get over there!
to which Lydia pointed out to her “You know Laura, they sell those in the States!”:
I know but it’s not the same! I don’t wanna eat a Digestive in Alabama, I want it to be in London!
and their correct way to address Digestives, calling them a biscuit rather than a cookie:
Hah Ha, I know I had to make sure I was culturally appropriate!
‘Saturn Return’ the new album from The Secret Sisters will be released on February 28th through New West Records which you will be able to find HERE. Laura and Lydia will return to the UK (which we are really excited about as the girls are so much fun) for a series of dates in June including London’s Union Chapel and at Black Deer Festival, with full dates listed below. For ticket information and to keep up with with The Secret Sisters you can check out their Website Facebook Twitter Instagram.
June 10—Bury St. Edmunds, U.K.—The Apex
June 11—Bury, U.K.—The Met
June 13—Gateshead, U.K.—Sage Gateshead
June 14—Sheffield, U.K.—Firth Hall
June 16—Leeds U.K.—Brudenell Social Club
June 17—Milton Keynes, U.K.—The Stables
June 18—London, U.K.—Union Chapel
June 19—Bristol, U.K.—St. George’s
June 21—Tunbridge Wells, U.K.—Black Deer Festival