I recently conducted an email interview with Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (a.k.a. Plumb), talking about her latest album (her first in more than 5 years) ‘Need You Now‘ releasing at the end of February 2013, as well as her plans for the future and her musical influences that have created this album in particular. We also talked about the album name change, the lead single and her favourite songs on the album. One of my favourite albums in February 2013, be sure to check out this interview below and review of ‘Need You Now’ releasing in the near future on IVM.
Question 1: After a 5 year hiatus; you are now back in the music industry with a brand-new studio album, Need You Now. How has the time away from making new music been for you personally and how has your music continued to shape you as a person and those around you?
I’ve actually still been making or writing music (Blink 2007 and Beautiful History 2009) just not a full on Plumb studio project like 2005’s Chaotic Resolve, til now. I’ve spent all of 2010 and 2011 writing and recording it. However, when I’m not making music, it’s evident in my personal life. There’s a lot more chaos. So making music and communicating is therapy for me. It shapes me to be more like the person I was created to be I think. I get a bit crazy when I’m not making it. I want everyone who hears it to be able to share and be shaped by the hope that runs throughout it.
Question 2: Originally the album was supposed to have come out last September 2012 and be titled Faster than a Bullet; it was moved to a January 22nd release and then after an album name change (from Faster than a Bullet to Need You Now) and a further album delay, the album is finally releasing February 26th 2013. How has the recording process been for Need You Now? What was the impetus to change the album title to Need You Now (personally, the title track is one of my favourite songs on the album!)?
Faster than a Bullet is a lyric pulled from a track on the record- however, out of respect for the families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy, we changed it appropriately to Need You Now. The writing and recording process took much longer than any other project I’ve made, but I’m certain that it’s for good reason. It’s the most powerful album I’ve ever been a part of. It was never stressful writing or recording it. It was made with my closest friend in music, my producer and co-writer Matt Bronleewe. However, such is life that things and politics and opportunities cause for delay sometimes and all you can do is hope it was for good reason, and I feel certain that it was.
Question 3: How has your music evolved over the years from the inception of Plumb as a band in 1997 til this latest effort Need You Now? How would you describe the musical and lyrical themes of this album to those who may be a little unsure as to how your music sounds like?
Plumb was introduced to the world as a band, and it was our initial plan for it to be truly that. Incredibly drawn to and influenced by the female fronted band, Garbage and their first self-titled record, A&R and I agreed that’s where we wanted to go. However, form a legal contractual standpoint, Plumb has always just been a girl. After I left my first label, upon signing to Curb, it was agreed that it would be easier to sooner than later market Plumb more true to what it was and would always be, which is…a girl. The sound has evolved, just as I think every artist should evolve if they are open to growth and change. But the signature sound of Plumb is still the same- musically progressive and sophisticated, always with the goal of doing something outside the box and new and lyrically never being afraid to go where some never do.
Question 4: The first single of the album is ‘Need You Now’, alongside ‘Drifting’ (featuring Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine) which was released as a Single to iTunes in 2011. What was the process in choosing the lead single for the upcoming album? If there’s one thing listeners can walk away with after listening to ‘Need You Now’ (both the song and the album as a whole), what would it be?
We chose Drifting primarily as a means to re-introduce Plumb- Dan had worked on the very 1st record, Jars of Clay was my 1st ever tour and my respect and friendship to him goes deep…so it was almost like releasing an entirely new song that was grounded in the roots of where Plumb started- a song that says Plumb, which is most often a touchy subject that’s sonically epic and leaves you with hope. Need You Now was chosen after a 6 month pause from a crisis in my personal life. It was this song that gave me incredible hope during what I now call my winter. That there is no limit to how many times we can cry out to God in our desperation. There is no punch card. He’s always there. He’ll never leave. I desperately wanted fans to feel that same hope. I hope listeners hear that hope and can have it themselves. Hope is oxygen- and we all need to breathe.
Question 5: You’ve worked with a number of great producers in the past, from Shaun Shankel and Jay Joyce to Matt Bronleewe, producing most of your albums over the years. How has it been working with Matt in preparation for this album?
Matt has co-written and produced 90% of what I’ve ever created. I’ve enjoyed working with other producers on the few songs that I have done with them but nothing compares to Matt. He’s my closest friend in music, who I started with and who I will end with. We have a loyalty as friends and a chemistry as musicians that is rare in this industry. Working with Matt feels like spending time with a close friend you can totally be yourself with doing something you both love. It’s something you can’t get enough of and you jump at every chance to do it. He and his amazing wife Karin are like family to me. They always will be. I’ve always said the ‘B’ in Plumb is for Bronleewe. Ha.
Question 6: What are your favourite songs you have written for Need You Now (or ones that were the most difficult to write)? Which songs from the album has God spoken to you about, where He is showing something new to you about your walk with Him?
That’s hard. I think ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ is one of the more important songs I’ve ever written. It was inspired by my incredible son Oliver (6), who reminds me daily of God’s love for me in how He loves me so unconditionally and it says so powerfully and still so vulnerably how it makes me feel about them both. I don’t deserve your love, but you give it to me anyway. This album has almost been prophetic- in how it was written before a great personal crisis but now it sounds like I wrote it during it. These issues have totally and completely reconciled, praise God, however the journey is still teaching my family and I so much, and these songs all take on a new meaning almost daily. I can’t just pick one- serious!
Question 7: Which artists in the music industry (Christian or mainstream) are your current favourites right now? Have any of them been a major influence in the album production process, from recording to marketing and merchandise?
Florence and the Machine was a big influence from a production standpoint- she’s timeless and progressive all at the same time and that’s very inspiring to me. I was also reaching back to what inspired Plumb to be Plumb, and pulled out some Garbage and Suzanne Vega, the Cure and some Alanis, all from either a production standpoint and/or lyrical honesty. During my ‘winter’ I have never appreciated Christian music more- and although not necessarily influenced as much musically by anyone in particular, the influence to be more open and unapologetic in my faith came from artists like Phil Wickham in how he expresses so beautifully his romantic passion for Christ. I’m inspired by him to make a worship record next.
Question 8: What has God been teaching you lately through Scriptures, other people, or the media? Is there anything you can share that you have learnt in your own life that may be relevant to listeners; or maybe related thematically to ‘Need You Now’ and what the Lord is reminding you through the themes of this album?
A lot. As I mentioned, my family and I experienced a crisis in the winter of 2011-12. One of the most important lessons I learned was if I ever thought hope was real, it is. Our lives were healed and restored May 16th 2012. It was a miracle, God turned ashes into true beauty. My heart overflows with thankfulness. And a few other nuggets- to get out of God’s way. To be slow to speak and quick to listen. That I can’t change anyone but me. That life isn’t about me. That God is good- really good. That weeping can turn into dance. That fear is not faith. That I am never alone. How to love more like He does. That I talk too much. That I can’t do it all on my own and it’s ok to ask for help. That hope is oxygen and we all need to breathe, I think I might have mentioned that already. What it really means to be forgiven. That too many good things can be the greatest enemy to what’s best. To simplify. I can go on. How long do you have? :)
Question 9: How is touring going to be like for you in the upcoming months? Are there any artists you’d like to tour with in the future? Any countries that you’d love to see and visit through touring or otherwise?
That’s to be seen. I was scheduled to be on a weekends tour this January to April but plans changed so we are filling up the calendar with spot dates that make the most sense for and all the festivals this summer in preparation for a fall/winter tour. I’d love to tour with One Republic because I feel like we share a similar audience demographic- I’ve seen the world but there’s something new to be seen in your own backyard if you’re looking at it the right way. So as long as it makes sense for my family, I’ll go wherever God calls me to go. And I’m certain He won’t call me to compromise that priority. So we’ll have to see.
Question 10: What does 2013 look like for Plumb? New music video in the future or maybe a covers, worship, remix or Christmas album? Need You Now is certainly one of my favourite Plumb albums ever!
Thanks so much. 2013 involves an album release. Church, family time, date nights, ball games, swim lessons, ballet and the occasional chocolate bar. Okay, it’s weekly. What? I’m just being honest. And I’m sure some Plumb related things that are important (several in your questions are right up that alley). But not more important than what I just mentioned. We had our priorities out of what and our ‘no’ button’s battery was broken. We’ve simplified and gotten back on track to what’s most important- and purchased stock in Duracell. :)
Question 11: Is there anything else that you’d like to add that I haven’t covered yet? Any parting words of wisdom to those who will read this interview?
Thanks for all the questions, and for sharing my responses. God’s been incredibly patient with and good to me and I hope this record can inspire, encourage, move, shake and give a voice to the speechless. And at the end of the day, if nothing else, hope.
Be on the lookout for the review of Plumb’s ‘Need You Now’ this coming weekend. You can also check out all of Plumb’s videos on her Youtube page, inclusive of her new Blood Missions video and new single ‘One Drop‘.