Lisa Germano’s music is intensely personal, passionate and fiery, especially on her newest album Lullaby for Liquid Pig. It’s also autobiographical, even when it doesn’t appear that way.
Even though some of the songs on the disc address issues she’s never personally experienced, such as drug addiction, she insists that, at their heart, all of her songs are about her in some way.
“I always write about a feeling I have to express, and sometimes writing a song helps you to go through it, because it helps connect you to the rest of the world,” she says.
“A lot of people are going through a lot of these things. It starts out as being autobiographical, but I strip away a lot of things that to me are too personal. If I think that somebody else might feel it, I put it out on a record.”
With her new record, she wrote three songs that crossed her own line of being too personal. Then she wrote “From a Shell” and “Into The Night,” two of the album’s highlights.
“Then it clicked, it somehow made sense to cut those three songs out and put these on. It’s just a matter of putting a puzzle together until you know you’re done,” she says.
Germano, who’ll headline a show at Birdy’s on Friday night, enlisted some powerful friends to help with Liquid Pig. The most notable supporting role comes from Neil Finn, the singer/songwriter known for work with Crowded House and Split Enz as well as his solo work. She met up with Finn through producer Tchad Blake, who worked with Crowded House.
“I’m such a Crowded House and Neil Finn fan,” she says. “It was funny, because I was all excited to meet him. We decided that I would make a pasta sauce at Tchad’s house for Neil. I like my sauce, you know, and I decided to make it with mushrooms. And I noticed that Neil wasn’t eating it and it really offended me. I found out later that Neil hates mushrooms more than anything in the whole world.”
They later met again, hit it off, sauce notwithstanding, and Germano played with Finn on disc and on tour. Finn returned the favor with work on Liquid Pig.
It was after a Neil Finn show in New Zealand that Germano met former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who guests on several songs. Finn had recruited a short-lived supergroup featuring Marr, Eddie Vedder and members of Radiohead. “We bonded really quickly,” she says of Marr.
While the album has gotten wide praise from critics, even some of the rave reviews have noted the downbeat subject matter. (E! Online said Liquid Pig is “extremely depressing but extremely good.”)
Germano admits much of her material is about bad relationships. “Usually you write about relationships that have gone bad because you’re trying to figure out why you’re so lonely, so you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong,” she says. “I mean, I’ve written some positive songs. Not very many, but some.”
She adds, “I think it’s positive to be looking at the stuff that went wrong, because you can change it.”
She also draws positive motivation from her listeners and fans. “A lot of people write and just tell me how my music really connects with them and makes them feel better. Sometimes they think the songs are about them. And that makes me feel good, because that’s the point. You know, you put music out and if somebody takes it in, it becomes their experience. The word ‘you’ in the song could be you, not me, talking. And that’s what I really like.”
Germano says she hasn’t spoken recently with John Mellencamp, who gave Germano her first big break in music, but that she’s still friendly with him. She’s grateful for her time with the bard of Seymour, she says.
“It’s a totally different world than what I do with my music,” she says. “It was incredible, though. It was so big. Before I met John, I couldn’t even get on a plane. Playing with him really taught me a lot about life. I was agoraphobic before I went on tour with John. I couldn’t even leave the house, not knowing if I was going to die. Playing with John was a big impetus for me getting therapy, which is how I learned how to write songs.”
She says, “I write songs like I’m in therapy. You have to feel it first, and then you strip away what all those feelings are, then you strip away what those feelings are, and then you find out that something totally different is going on because you were so blinded by all this shit out there.”
She says, only half joking, that she hopes Mellencamp will turn out for her Indianapolis show. “There’s no way he’d do that,” she says. “I’d have to go to his home and play for him.”