Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Why Did Melissa Cross the Road? Melissa Ferrick Talks about Taking Risks to Put out Her Latest CD, the Other Side

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Why Did Melissa Cross the Road? Melissa Ferrick Talks about Taking Risks to Put out Her Latest CD, the Other Side

Article excerpt

When Melissa Ferrick says she's calling from the parking lot of a shopping mall near her home in Newburyport, Mass., it doesn't quite track. The out folk-rocker with the powerhouse voice and the gut-spilling lyrics is not exactly the galleria type. "I know I should he calling from like a used-clothing store or something," says the singer with a laugh, "but sometimes it's just good to go to the mall and buy things you don't really need."

Ferrick can be forgiven for a little retail therapy; she's under a lot of pressure these days. Her new album, The Other Side, is an all-Ferrick-all-the time affair. She wrote it, produced it, engineered it, sings all the vocals, and plays all the instruments (save for one cameo guitar appearance by Teddy Goldstein). "It was like creating Frankenstein with the freakin' wires everywhere, but I loved every minute of it," she says of her process. "Every time my heater would go on, it would make this noise, so I would have to wait to do a vocal until the heat shut off, and then I knew I had eight minutes before it would click on again."

If there's anyone who knows how on-again, off-again heat can be in the music business, it's Melissa Ferrick. She was just 20 when she signed a dream-come-true, multi-album deal with Atlantic Records, but she was dropped after just two CDs. "It wasn't the right record at the right time," concedes Ferrick. "It's not anybody's fault. I made a shitload of mistakes and yelled at executives that you just don't yell at, but I was trying to save my life, and I didn't know how else to do it." It was in the mid '90s, while putting out her albums on the indie label called What Are Records? that the Berklee College of Music alum bottomed out. "I was drinking like a fish every day and taking a bunch of pills," she admits. "I had to move into my parents' house because I had no money. I lost everything. I was a mess."

Ferrick credits a chance meeting in 1996 with the late gay photographer Herb Ritts with getting her back on track. "I played a show in Santa Fe, and a friend brought Herb," recalls Ferrick, her voice brimming with emotion. "We just had a very intense connection. …

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