#THROWBACK Q+A: Margo Price, Before the Best New Artist Grammy Nomination
Margo Rae Price has had a lot of (likely, obnoxious) jobs. We’re glad she stuck with the one job she loves: that profession of the timeless country music siren.
Did you come up with the name for your band while shopping? I get it’s a joke on your name in some way, probably…why are they Pricetags?
My full name is Margo Rae Price. I wanted to open up for “Shovels and Rope” at the Five Spot a couple years a ago for “Derek Hoke’s Two Dollar Tuesday”… He told me I was too loud with my current band (Buffalo Clover), and that if I could play acoustic or come up with a different line up, I could have the support spot for the night.
I put together a killer country band that included myself, Kevin Black, Sturgill Simpson, Eric Whitman and Moises Pallida. We didn’t have a name. Eventually, we showed up at The 5 Spot to play the gig, and Derek got on stage to introduce us and said, “This is ‘Margo and the Pricetags.'”
A lot of people in small towns do music for fun. Why did you want to make it a career?
It’s something that was born in me. Sometimes, I wish I had picked another career, something “normal,” something financially secure with benefits, but nothing else makes me as happy as playing music. Although, I’ve also worked as a dancer, waitress, painter, lifeguard, swimming instructor, roofer, caterer, preschool teacher, wife, mother, bartender, saleswoman and writer. At the end of the day, I just like to write songs, and hopefully, those songs have a positive effect on people.
How much of your material is about your Midwestern childhood?
A lot of it. There’s a big piece of me left out there on my Daddy and Grandaddy’s farm. We lived on a gravel road, and the closest town had a population of 32 people. It shaped so much of who I’ve become. I didn’t have cable TV or video games growing up. I sang in church and in the school choir. I spent my time in the woods, fields and rivers of Illinois. I grew up around cattle, horses, tractors, radios that played old country, gospel, classic rock and roll. I relate a lot to Loretta Lynn, even though I’m not from the South. She grew up in a rural area as well. She also had babies before she got her start. I may not be from the south, but I am country.
If someone wants to start a band, what rules do you want to lay out any possible warnings on team work?
Find people who will commit to your project. Treat them with respect, and you’ll get it back.
Also, don’t sacrifice your integrity for fame. Success may only last for a short time. But what you do in three minutes will last a lifetime. Ultimately, YOU have to live with your art, and so does everybody else. Don’t settle, and don’t sacrifice.
What are you doing now in promoting your work that wouldn’t have happened in 2008 with technology, the changing economy and more?
So much is done online these days. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The music scene has changed drastically in the last five years. I try not to worry too much about that side of things. Social media can be helpful and also terribly distracting. I mean, I share photos and post show dates, but I don’t think that’s what will make or break a career. The most important thing you can do is write good songs. Make something original and honest. People will pick up on that.
What’s going on with you for this and next year?
I just recorded a single at Sun Studio in Memphis that will be out sometime at the beginning of next year. I’m writing this from a hotel room between Tennessee and Texas. Right now, I’m on tour with Somebody’s Darling out of Dallas.
Over the next few months I’m playing the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, CMJ in New York and the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati. After that, I’m gonna lock myself in the studio and finish this record.
I recently left my band, Buffalo Clover, to focus on my solo career. It was hard. It was almost like breaking up with a boyfriend…
But it’s all very bittersweet, and it feels natural. I’m going back to my roots.
This article originally appeared en español on my ELLE Spain blog.
ELLE Spain discontinued their freelance blog journalism program in 2016. I have republished it on NicoleRussinMcFarland.com once again so my journalism may live on. I am grateful for the experiences I had from 2011-2016 writing for my personal Spanish language blog, revista ELLE for providing the blog, and the time from all of my interviewees.