On her new album Slap Back, Sallie Ford strikes out on her own after making two full-lengths that were co-credited to the Sound Outside. Well, she’s only sort of going it alone: Despite releasing Slap Back under her own name, Ford is living out her dream of starting an “all-girl rock ‘n’ roll band” after enlisting Portland cohorts Anita Lee Elliot (bass), Amanda Spring (drums), and Christina Cano (keyboards) to help make the new album. PopMatters touched base with Ford to find out more about Slap Back, a boisterous rock album that hopscotches between folk, blues, psychedelia, and punk intuitively and convincingly.
Premiering here on PopMatters, Slap Back comes out on 14 October on Vanguard.
PopMatters: Obviously, the big change with Slap Back is that it is credited to just you. What was the reason behind performing under your own name now?
Sallie Ford: I wanted the new album to be a continuation of what I was doing before, so I kept my name on the new project. I had thought about coming up with a new band name along with my name, but couldn’t think of anything that really made sense. I like how simple it is and just my name now. Also, with the last band I was in, everyone was a partial songwriter and this project I am the only songwriter. The other band members have their own solo projects that they write songs for.
PopMatters: As a result, does the new album reflect more of a first-person perspective, perhaps in contrast to a band perspective?
Sallie Ford: I have always written the lyrics for my records. I always get inspiration from my personal life. With this record, I feel like it is more me than my last records. Before I felt like I was playing more of a character, because that kind of took the stress off of songwriting and made it a fun process where I felt outside of myself.
This record is straightforward lyrically. Some of the songs I wrote for friends and some of the songs are love songs. The thread between all of the songs is that they are all about relationships.
PopMatters: Perhaps the most striking quality of Slap Back is diverse styles you use from track to track—even within tracks. You move fluidly from more traditional sounds like country and blues, to funkier elements, to a more psychedelic feel when the organ comes in. Do the different approaches blend naturally for you, or do you combine them in a more conscious manner?
Sallie Ford: I think all modern music mixes genres. I would feel bored if something had to just be one thing. This is just a rock’n'roll record or anything that is “blank” rock. Punk rock, garage rock, psychedelic rock surf rock and fuzz rock. Those all complement each other quite well, wouldn’t you say? I know everyone is going to hear something different though and that’s cool with me.
PopMatters: With the lineup change, you say that you were able to “fulfill a dream of starting an all-girl rock’n'roll band”. What has living the dream, so to speak, been like for you as an artist?
Sallie Ford: Having such a specific idea of the next band I wanted to start, helped me really push into gear. I am so excited to be playing new music, doing something different and challenging myself.
PopMatters: There are some familiar names from the Portland music scene contributing here. How did collaborating with them come about?
Sallie Ford: Portland can feel pretty small sometimes especially the music community. I found my new band because I asked my friends in the music scene to suggest any cool female musicians they knew of to play with. The producer, Chris Funk [of the Decemberists], has been a friend of mine for a few years now. He was such an inspiration to work with and he is such a badass.