Meg Mackey is back in town, though you might not know it since she's been holed up in Studio 2200 since she arrived. The songwriter is in Anchorage attempting to record an entire album in 16 days with bandmates James Dommek Jr., James Glaves and Marty Severin.
"We've got our work cut out for us," Mackey said on day 13. This test of endurance -- and friendships -- has been possible because everyone in the band gets along really well, she said, "and I have to give props to Alaska (Brewing Company) Freeride APA ... we've literally gone through about six cases."
Before Meg Mackey fronted an indie folk-rock band, she'd been a dog musher, an ice climbing guide and manager of Heritage Coffee in Juneau, where she'd worked for six years. That last gig is the one she gave up when she decided to make an album out of the songs she'd been writing, and she moved to Anchorage to get it produced.
Through local musician, producer and promoter Evan Phillips (The Whipsaws), Mackey met Dommek, Glaves and Severin. Recording went well enough that they decided to start performing together after the album was done.
"It was the album that pulled me here, but it was the guys that made me want to stay," Mackey said.
Led by Mackey's throaty powerhouse vocals, the Meg Mackey Band became a fixture of the music scene and got a big mention in national music magazine Spin. But the band went almost entirely silent after Mackey moved to New Mexico last year after a breakup, some writer's block, and "A lot of life happened all at once."
Now Mackey's back with some new songs, and she said that this album will be "definitely different" than her debut. She said all four of the band members are producing it, and fans can expect some rock songs (including one that's "kind of along the edge of a barn burner"). She said there's also "a bit more of a sexual vibe on some of the songs ... because life is what it is."
Mackey doesn't know what the official release date will be, but Anchorage can get a first listen this week at Tap Root, where the Meg Mackey Band will debut the songs.
As to whether she'll come back for good or continue to do "the snowbird thing on a beggar's budget," Mackey said she wasn't certain. One thing she does know -- "the band we have is special, and nothing to walk past."
1. What's your favorite event or venue to play in Anchorage?
In Anchorage, Tap Root has been a staple for us. When the opportunity arises, Bear Tooth and Moose's Tooth events are amazing opportunities and great gigs. Statewise, it's hard to beat Salmonstock in Ninilchik, even on a national level. I would stay there forever if I could.
2. What song or musician is your guilty pleasure?
"Atmosphere" by John Mayer.
3. If you could be a professional musher or professional musician, which would you pick?
Musician for sure. Both are extremely hard on your mind and body. Mushing was an amazing and is an amazing part of my life but the ability to create within the ways we have as a band is not even comparable. Working together and feeling the success and joy together with my band and my family is a special thing.
4. Spin magazine described your music as "glacial soul-rock, which sounds something like if Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs produced 4 Non Blondes." How do you feel about that?
Awesome that out of all the amazing bands in our state, mine happened to be mentioned. I feel thankful. And the comparison made me run like a zooming cat around my house playing air guitar for several minutes.
5. What inspires you to keep performing music, writing songs and making albums?
My bandmates. Definitely the folks that dig our shows, despite the nervousness, the stress, the anxiety that you feel leading up to a live performance. I get nearly sick before each show, no matter how small or big. It almost seems counter-intuitive, then you realize, "oh sh--, I love this exchange we have with fans!" The feeling after a successful night is like winning the lottery.