I really hope that Dolly Parton reads this interview. If any of you know Dolly Parton please send this to her.
1. What have you been listening to lately?
Maddy: I’ve been listening to the album Blue Heron by Jodi and the album Soloists by Ben Eisenberger.
Mairead: I’ve been listening to a lot of ABBA and Cher recently.
2. Pros and cons of me growing a mullet?
Only pros no cons
3. First concert you remember attending?
Mairead: Cheetah Girls: World Tour
Maddy: The Fray
4. Can you write a Schoolhouse Rock type of song explaining NFTs?
No we literally can’t we have no fungible idea of what they are :(
5. You can go back in time 100,000 years to a cave that will be discovered by archaeologists,
what do you write or draw to mess with them?
Discover? I hardly know her…
6. Do you think Dolly Parton would be into your music?
We have to believe that or we will cry.
7. Hottest music take?
Glee cast albums?? Definitely have some bangers like maybe more bangers than flops and a lot of times the covers are better than the originals even.
8. What is the worst piece of advice that you can give me?
If you eat the roach it’ll get you really high
9. Which fictional location would you like to play a show at ?
The Bada Bing or maybe Crazy Horse
10. What local Boston bands should we check out?
Grace Givertz, Mei Semones, Winkler, Paper Lady, and Hasaan Barclay to start but there’s so many good ones
Can you introduce yourselves and give us some of your musical background?
Mairead: Howdy! I’m Mairead and I grew up in Virginia in a super musical family! My parents were in a band for the first 20 or so years of my life, my brother is a professional musician, and my sister used to be a harpist before deciding on a career in law. Growing up, family get-togethers were filled with music and jam sessions usually based in old time music and the roots tradition. I’ve always loved singing and have been writing songs since I was a kid.
Maddy: Hi I’m Maddy, I grew up in a family with no musical talent or background and somehow just decided that’s what I wanted to do with my whole life...I played violin in school and sang in choir and then when I was fourteen I started writing really terrible songs on the ukulele. I picked up the banjo during my first semester of college and discovered old time music and the roots scene and it changed my whole life!!
What did you listen to growing up?
Maddy: I was raised on Simon and Garfunkel and then got really into some super cringy indie folk bands in high school...basically all the ones you’d think of. But harmony singing and folk instrumentation has always really appealed to me.
Mairead: A lot of the music I listened to growing up was Americana and Celtic music. I’ve always had a big soft spot for good pop music as well.
Was there anything in particular that made you gravitate towards Folk/Americana?
It’s a style of music that holds a lot of what we love about playing music. Front facing lyrics rooted in storytelling and everyday life, really rich vocal harmonies and an emphasis on community.
Can you describe what the Boston music scene looks like at the moment, and what it was like for you coming up in that music scene as an Americana/Folk duo ?
There’s a lot of really sick stuff happening here. The scene is overwhelmingly queer and there’s a really big emphasis put on safety and community health which is especially important right now because of covid. It’s always been a bit funny being a folk band in the DIY scene because there are definitely a lot of preconceived notions about what folk has to bring to the table, but we’ve managed to find people and places that appreciate us for our music which is such a lucky thing. However we also want to add that the opportunities in this community are most often given to white people, which is something all white individuals in the scene need to recognize and work to dismantle.
Congratulations on your upcoming EP ‘Lovingly’! Can you talk to us a bit about that project?
“Lovingly” is a five track EP with each song revolving around themes of love and heartbreak. Two of the songs, “People Watching” and “You’d Be my Man” were written back in 2018 and are staples in our live sets, and the other three are songs written in the past year. Most of the tracks are just the two of us, as is true to our live performances, but the EP also features Mairead’s brother Seamus Guy on fiddle, bird sounds, and some screaming.
How does this EP compare to previous releases?
We took a lot more time with the actual recording process and redid things when we didn’t think they were good enough- in the past we were operating with a “one and done” mentality which I think you can tell when listening lmao...the songs on this EP are really special to us so we wanted to get them right.
What was the recording process for the EP like?
We recorded it in Maddy’s basement with Curtis Heimburger, a dear friend of the band since the very beginning. Working with Curtis was awesome because he knows our music really well and had a lot of ideas to elevate these songs creatively, and he’s also a wizard with logic shortcuts.
Is there a song you’re most excited for everyone to hear?
“4:31am” is probably the best representation of what our sound is evolving into, so we’re excited for people to hear that and get a glimpse of what Sweet Petunia will sound like in the future.
Is there any idea or feeling that you’d like to transmit through the EP?
We LOVE love and romance and that’s mainly what we were trying to get across.
My personal favorite song off of the EP is “Early Morning Blues”, can you give us some background on that song?
Maddy: I wrote “Early Morning Blues” probably the second week into quarantine, right after I had been fired from my bakery job and had to evacuate my dorm and move into a temporary living space. I was also suddenly unable to see my partner at all because of the pandemic and so I was grappling with all of these huge life shifts at once. I was remembering how when I would get up for work at five am the light would be stretching out across the wall of my room, which is how the song then starts and I move from there to describe my typical early morning while my partner would still be asleep in bed. When we started talking about which songs would make it onto the EP, this one stood out because it’s not a traditional love song- it’s melancholic and wistful and comes from a really distinct moment in time. It’s also funny because we broke up literally as it was being recorded and then I realized that it kinda was a break up song the whole time… which is definitely something lol.
Where do you usually find inspiration for songwriting?
Usually it comes from life experiences. “4:31am” came from a real life experience of when we went out of town for a gig and a friend tried to steal Mairead’s boyfriend. It’s basically the story of a 4am panic attack in Maddy’s childhood home. But then we also write songs about fake things, like “People Watching” is just words that sounded good together.
Who do you consider your musical and non-musical influences?
Maddy: Adrianne Lenker, Lomelda, Paul Simon, Haley Heynderickx for musical. Really trying to think of a single non-musician but I’m influenced a lot by like...walking around brookline when the sun is setting and crying watching people draw on tiktok (not like sad ones just like bc they're beautiful)
Mairead: Some of my musical influences are Dolly Parton, Danny Barnes, and Courtney Barnett. My favorite non-musical influence is videos of people proposing to each other at the same time. That shit is so cute wtf
What does “success’ look like to you as far as music goes?
We want people to make fancams of us but don’t want to get recognized on the street. And like not having to have a day job would be cool.
Is there anything that you want our readers to know?
Did you know you can get a worm/parasite from cat poop that makes you love cats so much? That is so messed up, and we want everybody to know the truth about Cats. It literally changes your brain chemistry so that you love cats more. Big Cat doesn’t want you to know but it is the truth, unfortunately.
What can we expect to see/hear from Sweet Petunia in the near future?
We’re going on tour in California with our good friends Winkler from November 14-30. After that we’ve got some gigs around New England, and we’re hoping for a full East Coast tour in the early spring. We’re planning to start recording our first full length album this winter.
To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
Did you know about the cat worm thing? Do you feel better or worse now that you know?
Listen, I know for a fact that the reason I love my cat so much is because of his great personality and not a parasite. You can't convince me otherwise.