Neko Case, kd lang and Laura Veirs are a trio that’s nothing like Destiny’s Child, but they might just need to borrow Beyonce’s mom this summer. Since the three of them are taking their joint album, case/lang/veirs on tour, and Case is tempted to sew all their costumes—Tina Knowles-style. The albums is out this Friday, 6/17 via ANTI, and they’ll begin their tour a couple days later.
“I was like, how about ‘Survivor’-era Destiny’s Child?” Case told me over the phone last week, giving up the scoop about tour rehearsals. “I don’t know if I could pull off the camo bikini top though.”
Case has sewn her own stuff before (when she played Northside in 2015, she proudly paraded her handmade leggings), but her bandmates are a tad skeptical. Either way, they’re still figuring out the details of their live shows.
Although they’ll be spending a lot of time together in the next few months, three years ago, the musical forces were just “ships passing in the night,” as Case put it, or, more accurately, ships passing in the Northwest, where they’ve all lived at one point in their lives. But it wasn’t until lang sent a fateful email to Case and Veirs saying something like ‘Hey, we should work together’ that they’d become linked forever. “We replied without even reading the entire email,” Case said. “Yes yes yes yes! How may times can I hit yes yes yes yes yes.”
So they had their first meeting in Portland–“over delicious dessert treats and coffee, which is how every great idea is born,” Case said–knowing only that they wanted to make an original record together. What they ended up with was something of a folksy, soulful, organic splash of beauty, tenderness, exuberance and healthy cynicism. There’s the smoothness of the cradling “Honey and Smoke,” the icy echoes and imagery of “Greens of June” and the bouncy orchestral party of “Best Kept Secret.”
There’s a menagerie of keyboard, guitar, clarinets and strings, strengthened by the vocal harmonies of all three: lang’s round-toned croons, Veirs’ playful top notes, Case’s explorative howls. There’s a lot of artistry presented in the 14 songs, with a different element of production presenting itself with each listen. For that, Case gives “a shit-ton of credit” to Veirs’ husband, Grammy-nominated producer Tucker Martine, whose name is on the work of The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Case’s most recent album The Worse Things Get…, and much more.
“Tucker was kind of the frosting on the whole thing that made it super cohesive,” she said. “He’s the fourth member of our band for sure.”
During the making of the album, Case was on a tight schedule, touring in support of her box set (released last November) and playing shows with her other project, The New Pornographers. So getting studio time was a bit of a struggle–so much so that other artists who had booked time with Tucker graciously moved their schedule around for the supergroup.
“Even though Laura’s married to him, we were still lucky to get him. He’s a sought-after individual,” Case said.
At first, they had tossed around the idea of a covers record, but quickly decided against it: “We really wanted to push ourselves and go through the challenge of actually contributing ideas and actually being a democratic community,” Case said. “‘Yes, no, maybe, that works.’ So you have to kind of check your ego at the door.” The ego thing is important because here and there, they’d disagree on lyric or a chord change, but they’d have to learn how to let go. “It’s funny because there are things you really feel attached to at the time and then when it doesn’t happen your way after a little bit, you’re like, ‘You know, that actually sounds fine that way.’ You don’t really obsess with what isn’t there anymore.”