Beth Hart chats with Kevin Cooper about playing The Royal Albert Hall, working with Joe Bonamassa, her latest album Better Than Home and her forthcoming tour.

Beth Hart is an American singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California who rose to fame with the release of her 1999 single LA Song (Out of This Town) from her second album Screamin’ For My Supper. She has released a total of seven studio albums, two live albums and two collaborative albums with Joe Bonamassa including the much acclaimed Live In Amsterdam.

Her records and live performances have included spots with guitar legends Jeff Beck, Slash and Buddy Guy. The UK have firmly taken Beth to their hearts after recent stirring headline performances at The Royal Albert Hall, The Roundhouse and Hampton Court Palace.

Whilst preparing for her forthcoming tour, she took time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what she had to say.


Hi Beth how are you today?

Hi Kevin I’m fine thank you. I am really good. Thanks for asking.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

No problem Kevin it is absolutely my pleasure.

You old flatterer you (laughter). So how is life treating you?

(Laughter) well Kevin life is treating me really good right now; thankfully my brain chemistry is balanced. I’m feeling relaxed which is so enjoyable; I have my husband with me and he is so wonderful. The press have been very good and I am feeling a real kindness from everyone. It is always so much easier when you put out a record and you receive such positive feedback. It is nice to be out on the road because I really am happier when I am out on the road. I am really enjoying going to different places and meeting different people. It is just so good and I can’t complain about a single thing right now thankfully.

Now I have to tell you that I thought that your last album, Bang Bang Boom Boom was great but your new album, Better Than Home has simply blown me away.

See, isn’t that wonderful to hear, thank you Kevin, that’s great.

I have played it so much over the past six weeks that I think that I have burnt a hole in it (laughter).

(Laughter) Oh my god, thank you Kevin, it is just so good to hear that.

Well I have got two favourite tracks and I will tell you what they are and then perhaps if you have got a favourite track then you could tell me?

Sure yes Kevin, go for it.

Firstly I feel that Mama This One’s For You is heart wrenchingly beautiful.

Thank you.

And I have to say that I think that The Mood That I’m In really does show a softer side to your song writing.

So Kevin you think that The Mood That I’m In shows off a softer side to me do you?

Yes I really do.

Well Kevin I have to tell you that this is an older song which I wrote about six years ago now. It was just really light-hearted and fun to write. It’s a story about being in love with someone who is no longer with you so you go and try to search out someone who is similar and who is familiar to you. But of course you can’t stop coming back to the thought of wanting that person. So I would describe that song as a light-hearted love song; it’s not like Broken or anything like that, which is fun and I really do like the music on it. It’s great.

Do you have a favourite track on the album?

Well I love them all for very different reasons but I would probably chose You Belong To Me which is a song that I wrote about my father. It was by far the most challenging song that I had to write. It took me over a year and a half to write it. The music was written very quickly as it usually is when I write, but I found that I had to spend more time on the lyrics which I believe is because I had to peel back the onion layers of denial in order to get to how I was really feeling, and for me to be able to face that. With this song being about my father, the lyrics simply wouldn’t come. In fact when I had written the music, I didn’t even know who it was about or what it was about. I had these lyrics that didn’t really mean anything, and I didn’t know what I was even trying to say. But because I loved the music so much, it kept me going forward with it and seeking it out.

Finally, when I got to what the subject was about, it was then that I realised why I was struggling with it so much. I didn’t want to revisit my feelings that I had about my father when I was young. I have been through so much therapy about it Kevin, but writing about it is so much different than discussing it with a Doctor even though I do trust my Doctor and love him so much; it was very different to write about it. What surprised me and what made me love this song so much that I consider it to be the number one song on the record, was that when it was finally finished I realised that there was no blame in me towards him; there was no anger in me towards him. But in fact there was this total commitment to never letting him go.

No matter how far he ran away, no matter how long he was gone, nothing could take away that love that I have for my father and the belief that I would have him back in my life again one day. That felt so wonderful to write, and so I dedicated the record to my father.

And a wonderful song it is.

Thank you Kevin.

Now please don’t take this the wrong way but whenever I listen to the album I can hear slight tones of Etta James in there.

Oh god that’s fabulous Kevin, thank you. Thank you that is really great; what a nice compliment. Isn’t that really something. This record absolutely terrified me and it was the worst experience that I have ever had making any album. I am so thankful now that I feel good about it but I really did struggle with it. It was only seven days of recording in the studio so that was easy but, the hard part was that the producers really challenged me to dig deeper as a writer. When I say deeper I don’t just mean being vulnerable, because I do tend to be vulnerable on all of my records anyway and I am very open about my spouse and my feelings.

But they challenged me to have a little more faith in my life, and to talk about what is good, and to talk about what brings me joy. I was very uncomfortable to do that as I didn’t know if I would be able to articulate it in a song. However, I became to realise very clearly that joy and happiness takes a lot more work as a human being for me, than me sitting in my sadness or sitting in my fears. It really was tough Kevin but I can’t give enough love and my gratefulness to the producers, Michael Stevens and Rob Mathes. They really held my hand through this project. I turned in well over forty songs and they went through everything so meticulously and so respectfully.

I kept trying to edge them towards some more jazz stuff, some more blues stuff and some different types of topics but they continually said to me that I was resorting back to my safety zone (laughter). They insisted on me giving them the honest pieces of my life Kevin (laughter) and I kicked and screamed the whole way. I really do owe Michael and Rob much gratitude for that and I have in fact written them an email this morning thanking them and telling them just how much I love them for this. The good thing is that I now get to be excited about having a new well to write from because I saw that I could do it and so this project has given me the confidence to face that and to draw from that again in the future. So it is exciting; it is a new challenge and a new direction. I am less afraid right now but who knows what it will be like when I get back to the writing again (hysterical laughter).

That’s very true but for now you are happy with the new you?

Well Kevin what I can say is that I am really enjoying the new well of the writing. I am loving that and it is really something to continue to work for and to focus on. It was just really hard to trust and to believe in order for me to go down that path. But now that I have, it is really something very different and very cool.

Do you still get a buzz out of touring?

Are you kidding me Kevin, yes, oh God even more so now than ever before. I think that it is because I have far less fear of the road now. I have finally learnt how to take care of my voice now and I don’t have to stress about that anymore. Even though I have had a lot of vocal training, typically my personality is always having to learn things the hard way. Even when I get given great advice I don’t listen to it. I am a very impulsive person and even when I am on the stage, I never ever think about the next show. I only ever think about that show and then I over sing and I get caught up in the moment.

But now I am trying not to do that; I am focusing more on the music, the songs and the delivery instead of trying to prove just how hard I can sing. I am trying not to get caught up in that any longer. So by doing that it has made me far more relaxed when I am out on the road. And because I am so relaxed I am enjoying it so much more Kevin. I really can’t wait to play Rock City. I really love these intimate venues when you can get up close and personal to the crowd. It will be awesome.

Last year you played at The Royal Albert Hall to critical acclaim. How did that feel?

Well I have got to tell you Kevin that I was scared shitless (laughter) I really was. I played in an amazing room which was so beautiful. We had to play after Robert Cray which was absolutely terrifying as I am one of his biggest fans. I remember thinking even before the show had started that if I ever get to play The Royal Albert Hall again, I will make sure that I enjoy it way more (laughter). I can remember that there was part of the show where I sang a song called Sick. Often when I prepare a set-list, which is always different each night, just so that I don’t get bored to be honest, but also I will change it during a show if I feel something or I am at odds with something or I think that the audience want to hear something else, I will turn to band and we will pull out another song.

I guess that I was feeling so nervous and so insecure that I called out this very juvenile song that I had written years ago called Sick. It is about George W Bush and my anger towards him during his time in The White House. This is a song about things that I would never say about him; I would simply sing the song. However, I resorted to being a teenager and talked to the audience about George W Bush (laughter). I was so very nervous and it was just me trying to make the audience think that I was so very tough by saying all of this stuff (laughter). If I ever get the chance to perform at The Royal Albert Hall again I will definitely not play that song in the show or at least not talk to the audience about it (hysterical laughter).

You have collaborated with Buddy Guy, Slash, Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa. Do you sometimes just have to step back and pinch yourself?

Yes I really do. Each of them has made a major impact on me as an artist and also upon my career. They are just wonderful, wonderful men who have been very kind to me. They have never dictated to me or told me what to do. Instead they have all made me feel that whatever I do is good enough for them and that has made me very happy Kevin. I am very excited about being able to work with them all again in the future I hope.

I have to ask you, what is it like working with Joe Bonamassa?

It is really, really easy Kevin is probably the best way for me to describe it to you. He is very professional but is also extremely respectful. Whenever we work together it is very easy for me to be myself. I always feel that Joe is so very supportive towards what I have to bring to the project and that makes me feel so happy. Whenever Joe inspires me like that I just tend to get to just go with things. I feel like I get to fly with him. It is wonderful. I will let you into a secret Kevin, Joe and I will probably be making another record together sometime in 2016. That will be something great for me to look forward to.

You have got the album launch to look forward to together with the tour. What next for Beth Hart?

Well Kevin, I am going to be doing a lot of touring with this album. I normally tour quite a lot each year anyway but this time I am going to stay out pretty much consistently for a while. One of the reasons is because I love this album so much and I really want to try to reach as many people with it as I can. Another reason is because Scott and I have just bought our first house and I have to pay this fucker off (hysterical laughter). So we have got to do a lot of work (laughter).

Are you already writing for the next album?

I am always writing Kevin, but there are already many, many songs ready for another album. So maybe I will add some songs or perhaps change some or swap some. Yes I want to put out another record but I just don’t want to put it out too soon. I want this current one to stay out there for a little while.

On that note Beth, let me wish you all the very best for the future.

Thank you Kevin and thank you for saying just how much you like the record. That makes me feel so happy. I hope to catch up with you at Rock City. Bye for now sweetie.