Back in March at this year’s Country To Country, British and Irish fans got to encounter Alana Springsteen for the first time as she opened up the festival as part of CMA’s Introducing Nashville round alongside Caylee Hammack and Tyler Braden. The trip turned out to be so successful that less than six months later, Alana returned for her second European visit.
Springsteen has played the Grand Ole Opry, been on the road with the Mitchell Tenpenny and Luke Bryan plus in January she was named by CMT as part of this year’s Next Women of Country class alongside the likes of: Catie Offerman, Ashley Cooke, Megan Moroney, Georgia Webster and Carter Faith. In addition to returning to the UK to perform at The Long Road Festival along with some dates with Eli Young Band and a few shows of her own, the Virginia Beach native has just released her debut album “TWENTY SOMETHING” (available HERE through Columbia Records NY/Sony Music Nashville) that comprises of three instalments: Messing It Up, Figuring It Out, and Getting It Right. At the back end of her tour, Jamie spent some time getting to know Alana and learning more about her debut album along with some joint Taylor Swift fangirling.
Hey girl, thanks for taking the time to hang. How’s Northern Ireland treating you so far? “Honestly, it has been wonderful. It’s not raining today which is a win.”
That’s good news and helpful to disprove the myth that it always rains over here. “That’s right but it wouldn’t be so green if it didn’t rain as much so, can’t complain.”
That is very true and it looks like you’ve been having a fun time over here then? “Oh my gosh, the best time. I honestly don’t want to leave.”
I noticed that you have discovered a love for prawn cocktail crisps or chips as you would say. “Ha ha, it’s definitely unique. I didn’t know what to expect eating them but I can see what all the hype is about, that’s for sure.”
“I have a friend that moved from here to Nashville came back to visit us the other month and we did like a back ally trade off where I said if can you bring me some Goo Goo Cluster’s and loads of Crystal Light, then I’ll stock up on all of the Walkers that you can dream of. “You guys have got it all figured out, y’all worked it out.”
I have seen that you have been doing pretty well in terms of how you guys cope over here, you’re digging the hot tea and seem to have found the best stuff as well, then love that you are sampling the English breakfast. “Man, I feel right at home here. I’m becoming a tea girl, I just had some breakfast tea this morning, instead of coffee which I never thought I would do. You guys have fully converted me, well at least whilst I’m here but, I’m fully embracing it and loving getting to see so many new places. I’m from a small town in Virginia Beach and most of my family have never been outside of the States so, I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that this music has reached so far, connected with people all over the world and I love that we’re getting to sing these songs together in person, having these first like headline show experiences together, it’s awesome.” It must be really crazy to look back to March when you first came over, where you were sat on that big stage at the O2 with Tyler (Braden) and Caylee (Hammack) just playing a writers round in a big arena. I’ve got to hang out with both of them and they both had talked about how that wouldn’t happen in the States. It must feel so cool as an artist to be able to do something like that. “I was definitely taken aback by how the fans listen to music here, just their love of songwriting and storytelling is the most beautiful thing to me. Especially with the album that I just released because “TWENTY SOMETHING” is packed full of songs with a lot of nuance, heart and just vulnerability in it. The fact that they have been listening with the intention of really knowing my story and the heart behind these songs is everything to me. They are singing back deep cuts and stuff that was just a couple of weeks ago word for word, singing the bridges and you don’t see that all of the time in the States or at least from my experience so, I was pleasantly surprised and just grateful.”
You mentioned the album, which is now fully out into the world. When you were releasing it, you broke it down into the three parts with “Messing it Up”, “Figuring It Out” and “Getting It Right”. At what point when putting it together, did you have the idea to do it that way? Were you able to fit the songs from a list into each portion or were you having to try and find songs that were a fit for what you wanted to do? “Writing this album, really came together in the way that I experienced my twenties. I really have experienced it in these three phases, there are times that I am messing it up and making mistakes, especially in areas when it comes to love and relationships. You know, falling for the wrong people and not trusting my gut and I’ve experienced some figuring it out, for the first time truly getting to know myself and who I am in relation to somebody else. Self defence mechanisms, the way that I was raised is showing up in my life now and now a lot of this year has been getting it right which I’m happy to say. I’m getting to experience so many milestone moments and things that I only dreamt about like being able to tour over her in Europe is one of those moments. I never would have imagined that songs that I was writing as a kid or started on my bedroom floor would carry me to all of these different countries and connecting with people all over the world. I have really experienced my twenties in those three phases so it just made sense to me and release it that way. After I wrote the title track “twenty something” I looked at the songs which I had been writing and kind of saw them falling into these categories which really framed how I approached the entire album.”
Coming away from the record for a second, over the weekend at the festival, you got were able to get the songs out two ways. You had the rocking set on the main stage with Frankie (South) and the girls, then it was just you on your own a little bit later over at Buddy’s so, it must be quite nice to have a bit of a different festival experience compared to what you are probably used to back at home. “Oh man, it was completely different. I will say that it felt a lot more chilled than some of the festivals back home. It was definitely a welcoming vibe and it was cool to kick off the day on the Rhinestone Stage being the first one on the main stage, to see so many people show up so early and be fully ready to go was incredible. I was like alright guys, let’s go, these country fans over here in the UK know how to party and that’s awesome. I approached the Buddy’s stage differently because I knew that probably a lot of the fans that came to my earlier set would come back later and I wanted to give them a different experience knowing that the fans here really care about the songwriting and the storytelling so it was like let me just tell you guys my mindset writing it and turned it into a little songwriter experience on stage. I have never heard people scream back lyrics to my songs so loudly, I just had a moment standing up there, thinking this is real life and it’s crazy!
I want to lean towards one of the songs on the record in particular because yesterday, I decided that going to see an artist at Wembley here in London and then in Lisbon, wasn’t enough, so, as there were still tickets available for the Eras Tour in Poland, we would head off to Poland next year for my third Taylor Swift show of 2024. “That’s incredible, you’re going to have the best time!” You went to the show at SoFi in Los Angeles didn’t you? “I sure did and it was kind of a last minute thing, we didn’t know whether or not we would be able to go and I ended up there, where I just lived my best Swiftie life! I hadn’t seen her since the Red tour and she was actually my first concert when I was nine years old. Taylor played such a big role in inspiring me and helping me believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to. Growing up, I found songwriting really early, I was writing music when I was nine or ten years old and just having the ability to say things through songwriting that I couldn’t say to my family or my friends, it was how I processed emotions that I was going through. Having a role model like Taylor to look up to, that was writing at such a young age and co-writing in Nashville, then releasing music so young made me think after watching her do it, that I could do this too. Getting to see the Eras Tour was just like reliving all of those memories, I just released a song called “taylor did” which I wrote with a couple of other Swifties in Nashville about all of that. About how she inspired me and has been the voice of an entire generation, it’s been so cool that from teasing that song a year ago on TikTok and it going crazy, to it now being out and people connecting with it, it’s been really awesome. It is kind of my thank you to her, giving me the confidence in myself to chase my dreams.”
I do love the way that “taylor did” has the element of being a song, song where you have some titles coming it but you do it so cleverly and almost subtly that if someone was living under a rock and has genuinely heard of Taylor, it wouldn’t just sound like there were titles being dropped in. You get the sense of her influence on you coming out really well, I first saw Taylor Swift over here, fifteen years ago in a room to three hundred people, she’s playing to three hundred people now. “Ha ha, it’s a few more than that now!”
You had some really amazing collaborators on this record like Shane (McAnally) was involved and Mitchell Tenpenny had some cuts then Shay (Mooney) as well but as a Swiftie, I guess the big one was getting to write with Liz Rose. “I mean it is definitely surreal because I grew up on songs like “You Belong With Me”, “White Horse” and “Girl Crush” where these songs shaped me, they shaped the artist and the writer that I am. It’s funny because when I was about ten or eleven years old on one of my first trips to Nashville, during CMA Fest and I’ve told Liz this story since and we both laugh about it but there was a writers round that she was hosting in town where she had a couple of artists up there with her and just playing songs. I was in the audience, watching in awe and thinking Oh my God, that’s Liz Rose, then she was down in the crowd mingling and meeting people after the show. I wanted to meet her so badly but I didn’t end up going to say hi because I was just kind of starstruck, to now be like homies and friends where we had the title track and so many other songs on this album that have been so pivotal to my career so far. It is definitely surreal and she is one of those people that just makes everyone around her better, I sit in the writing room with her, she just brings the best in me and has taught me so much. One of the biggest things that she has taught me as a songwriter is to trust my instincts and trust my gut, like there is times when we were writing and I’ll be humming lyrics or say something that comes to mind. I can be an over-editor, I’ll sit working on a lyric for hours and maybe even come back to it another day to tweak it until all the life is written out of it sometimes and she has taught me to just trust my instincts where that first thing you said was the right thing. I think that just comes with experience and being the legend that she is but I am so grateful for her and the ways that she has helped me tell my story.” Had you already written “taylor did” before you started writing songs with Liz? “I think I did write “taylor did” after we did start writing together but me and Liz have had so many conversations about how that music has inspired me. It’s just full circle, I think it’s full circle for both of us and she’s just so good at taking your story and finding the most honest way to deliver it. Sometimes we will just be sitting there, hanging out just as friends talking about life, experiences that I’m going through, guys that I’m dating or whatever is happening in my life and that will turn into a song just through that organic conversation. That’s just kind of her, that’s what she does, the way that she creates and I love it.”
One other thing with the record and it’s a bit of a random thing I guess, that someone asked me about the other day. All of the track names on the record are stylised entirely in lower case where there are no capitals in any of them. We first saw Kelsea (Ballerini) do that with her record, is there a secret reason for it in particular or just for the aesthetic of it looks nice and felt right? “It’s funny that you mention that. The amount of time that I spend thinking about details that no one will ever notice is ridiculous. I’m such a detailed aesthetics person and I nerd out about this stuff but there was something nice and aesthetically pleasing about the title of the record being in all caps, then the different parts just being the first letters in capitals and the songs underneath to be all lower case like you said. I actually text in all lower case and tend to like write in all lower case so it just felt fitting and felt like me.”
This has been a lot of fun and it really has been but I know you have things to do before the show tonight. Have a blast playing with Tyler (Booth) later and hopefully you will keep coming back to see us? “Oh Jamie, you can’t keep me away. I’m so excited to come back already from C2C and just connecting with fans there, I immediately talked to my team and looked at how can we get back over ASAP? I feel right at home out here and there are fans that love my music who feel like family already. I never imagined that I would get back so soon but it is really cool to be here just a few months later and now I’m already dreaming about playing headline shows and doing a headline tour out here where I’m adding different countries to the list. There were so many people that came to my show in The Netherlands from Germany and Switzerland who said please come to play there, so we might add that to the list. Wheels are already spinning, plans are already in the works so stay tuned!”
Lastly, from one Swiftie to another, I know this year has been pretty awesome for you with the album, coming over here and all of the tours that you have jumped on but how do they compete with getting to scream that bridge to “Cruel Summer”? “Ha ha ha, man I’ve defitely screamed that every time that I hear it on the radio in the car. It is just like the best bridge ever written, it’s so much fun.”
This has been so cool, thank you so much for your time. Have a blast tonight and like I said, please come and see us again soon. “Thank you so much, it has been a lot of fun talking to you.” The debut album “TWENTY SOMETHING” from Alana Springsteen is out now through Columbia Records NY/Sony Music Nashville and is available HERE and you can see what else up she is up to by checking her out on INSTAGRAMTIKTOKTWITTER & FACEBOOK. The Long Road Festival will return in 2024 to Stanford Hall in Leicestershire over the weekend of 23rd to 25th August where the initial release of limited early bird tickets have already SOLD OUT. Further tickets will be available in the future on their WEBSITE which you can be the first to know when by checking out their socials on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks