Interview: Sera Cahoone, alt-country’s accidental diva

photo by Gregory A. Perez

Sera Cahoone‘s much lauded, self-titled debut seemingly came out of nowhere. As she was known primarily as the drummer for Carissa’s Wierd and Band of Horses, it’s not likely that many folks knew Cahoone was a songwriter as well — until her songs started showing up on the radio. That first record’s laid back charm and countrifed twang immediately won her a large following, not to mention a slew of music writers who took to championing the album. NPR chose it as one of it’s “Top 10 CDs of 2006″ — over some damn formidable competition.

Saying that many folks have been looking forward to Sera’s sophomore release is an understatement. She has a fan base the world over now, and everyone who loved the debut album has been clamoring for more. Now signed to Sub Pop, Cahoone’s second album is finally on the horizon. Titled Only As the Day Is Long, it’ll be out in March, and KEXP is honored to offer a peek at the contents. Here’s the title track:

Sera Cahoone – Only As The Day Is Long

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Take a listen (or two, or three) as we talk to Sera about the making of this new CD.

What was it like writing and recording this new record? Suddenly, there was pressure, knowing this time there are expectations, and so many folks waiting to hear it.

The whole process was a lot different. I have a band now, and we were going in to record all at once, which I didn’t do before. At times I did have some freakouts, thinking that people will hate this. But I finally just said “fuck it, if people like it, they like it, and if they hate it — well, ok.” After that, the songs started becoming much more clear, the way they should.

I get the impression your first record was very casual, just kind of recording to see what happens and playing it by ear. Is that the way it was, or were you looking at it as the beginning of — hopefully — a “solo career”?

No way. I was completely shocked. After I recorded my first record, I sent a copy to John in the Morning, having no expectations other than I thought it would be great if he played it on Audioasis. Then one morning I got a call from a friend telling me to turn on the radio, and that I was on KEXP. I remember that morning — I was so excited. It was very strange. From then on they started playing my record more, and people were emailing me asking how they could get the CD.

Well, I had no idea how to get my CD either! I had no art for it, no ideas about that. I was so not ready for what happened. But it pushed me to get it done, and get it out there. I’m so appreciative to John and KEXP — without them, I feel like no one would know, or care, who the hell I am.

I don’t have a copy of Only As the Day Is Long — they are closely guarded by Sub Pop, I expect! So, I’ve only heard the title track and haven’t read any of the liner notes. Did you play any drums this time? And is it the same cast that made the first record?

I did end up playing drums on one song. But this time, I wanted to go into the studio with a band. I wanted to get another drummer’s perspective, and my band’s thoughts and ideas. Jason Kardong and Jeff Fielder, who played on the first record, are on this one as well. They both have such a huge impact on how the songs move.

Now that it’s finished, how does Only As The Day Is Long sound to you, as compared to the first record?

The new record definitely has a different feel. It’s a bit more upbeat, and has a bigger sound to it. But Zack Reinig, who recorded the last record, did this one as well, so it has some similarities. We both wanted to make sure to keep some of that rawness the first record had to it.

It was nice to have a bit more time in the studio for this one. The first record was recorded in 4 days. I was running around like a maniac, recording the guitar part, running back to play the drums, running to do the vocals. While I did enjoy recording that record a lot, it was nice to have a little more time.

Tour plans?
Nothing booked at the moment, but I want to tour a bunch.

On an unrelated note, looking back at your time with Carissa’s Wierd and Band of Horses… which songs stand out to you, are real personal favorites?

They’re both such amazing songwriters. It’s impossible for me to pick one song.

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  1. Brenda
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Sera is playing Feb 20th at The Triple Door! Save a good seat for me, people!

  2. Posted February 4, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Sera is an incredible song writer…such magic in her words.

  3. Old Mule
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree — she is tremendous. Running Your Way is just an incredible song. You don’t find this kind of songwriting talent and voice under just every rock, maybe none. Bien hecho.

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