TV Party: Speedy Ortiz Talk Nashville
TV Party is a new Stereogum feature in which Kelly Conaboy, who you might know from our former sister-site Videogum (R.I.P.), will chat with musicians about their favorite TV shows, TV shows they’re currently watching, or TV shows they hate. Think of it as part TV recap, part interview, part transcript of someone else’s Gchat. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
I don’t think I have to explain to you who Sadie Dupuis is. She’s the front woman of Northampton, Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz, which was one of your favorite new acts of 2013 and is one of my favorite current acts of right now, and you talk about her all the time. Something I might have to explain to you, though, is what Nashville is. It’s a TV show. Huh. That was actually pretty easy! To explain further: it’s a TV show about a fictional Nashville’s turbulent country music scene. At any point there are 45,000 plot lines going at once, involving things like a father putting a hit on his son-in-law (because his son-in-law found out that the father murdered his mother-in-law), a country star’s mother murder-suiciding herself and her sober companion to keep him from putting out a sex tape featuring her daughter, love children exposing their true fathers in YouTube videos, LOTS of stuff about record labels, a closeted gay country star in a doomed marriage with a young girl who has no idea, plus one guy just bought a house. It’s the best. Sadie Dupuis watches it, and she loves it!
KELLY: The first thing I want to talk about is when you started watching Nashville. Was it right at the beginning?
SADIE: Yeah, I started from the first episode. I’m a massive Hayden Panettiere fan and have seen mostly everything she’s in (including all of Heroes somehow) so I was signed on from day one. Not to mention I love Connie Britton and was excited to see what T Bone Burnett would do with a country show.
KELLY: I started from the beginning, too, but mostly because the plot, at the beginning, was almost exactly the same as the plot from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Country Strong, one of the world’s perfect movies. But speaking of T Bone Burnett (the show’s executive music producer during the first season), do you have a favorite Nashville song? I feel like they were all so good during that first season, but since he’s left they’re mostly pretty forgettable.
SADIE: I was really into “Love Like Mine,” which is obviously Juliette’s big hit (for good reason). I even toyed with covering that song for a compilation with Denny from Roomrunner. We arranged it and everything, but never got around to recording it. I’ve also talked with Allison from Swearin’ about covering “Wrong Song,” but that raises issues of who would get to be Juliette, because I dunno if anyone wants to be Rayna.
KELLY: Oh my god, that would be so good. PLEASE DO THAT.
KELLY: Both of those songs are definitely some of the the shows’s best — “If I Didn’t Know Better” is another straight up slam dunk, also from the first season.
SADIE: Yeah, the music’s not nearly as good this season. But I think Will’s got a great hit with “What If I Was Willing” — that’s one of my top picks of the whole show. (And fairly sure that’s a second season jam, right?)
KELLY: Yeah, you’re right — second season and definitely good.
SADIE: I was also LOLin’ hard at Will’s song for Layla last night, where he was singing about crossing a straight line — c’mon y’all, subtlety injection needed.
KELLY: Acting VERY natural for the reality TV show cameras, casually singing a song about love to his female partner.
SADIE: I really hope that relationship ends ASAP. I’m sick of seeing Will torture himself and Layla, and I think it’d be a bold move for the show to have him come out sooner rather than later (and ideally on his own terms and not due to Jeff Fordham or whatever reality tv show). It could be a pretty good progressive example for the actual country community, and the show’s fans in the queer community would be stoked. Hoping that private session with Tony the trainer goes well, haha.
KELLY: I definitely agree. They’ve been dancing around it for a little bit too long at this point, but they’ve put themselves in a position to do something great with that character.
SADIE: Seriously. That scene where he was crying in front of the train — powerful! I’m rooting for him.
KELLY: Then he could get purposely dropped from Edgehill and switch back to Rayna’s insanely unlucky Highway 65! And save it!
SADIE: Yeah, Will back to Highway 65 would be amazing. I’d hate to see Rayna lose her house, and it’s sort of fucked up that Will (or anyone) is continuing to put up with that homophobic sociopath Jeff Fordham.
KELLY: Hahaha Jeff Fordham is so intensely terrible. It will be such a chore if Juliette is actually blackmailed into rejoining Edgehill because of his threat to tell Avery about their HOT DISGUSTING SEX.
SADIE: Seriously, I can’t believe Juliette has found herself blackmailed AGAIN at the end of another season. Jeff Fordham is like the Dementor of the Nashville universe — he sucks the joy out of every scene. I find myself actively groaning “no” at the screen whenever he shows up. He’s sort of unbelievable in the sense that he has absolutely no redeeming qualities — no one seems to like him or entertain him, and he’s always showing up everywhere alone. If Gunnar Scott is blowing you off, it’s probably time to retire, right? Lamar Wyatt was a much better villain because at least he had redeeming qualities — like he was a good grandfather, even though he ordered a hit on his former son-in-law. Jeff Fordham is too purely icky to seem very realistic.
KELLY: Yeah, absolutely — Nashville has a way of taking horrible characters and then slowly transforming them into good dudes — like Avery, who was basically in an abusive relationship with Scarlett at the beginning, now whispering to her that she’ll always have a piece of his heart. But I don’t see that happening with Jeff Fordham.
SADIE: I thought it might happen after he and Rayna worked out a sequencing for her album they both agreed on, but nope. Fordham’s irredeemable. I don’t even buy that whole blackmail thing. Considering Avery’s past of sleeping with his manager/burning his masters/pissing off all of his friends/bouncing back to a relationship with Juliette Barnes, I imagine he’d be forgiving of this horrible drunken slip-up, provided Juliette is honest with him. And I don’t really buy that Juliette would keep it from him — she’s sorta no-nonsense typically. The blackmail plot is just too much.
KELLY: I wonder who will murder him?????
SADIE: Maybe Maddie will slip him arsenic.
KELLY: Oh, I HOPE.
SADIE: I’m still not sure I totally believe Avery as a good boy either, but whatevz. As long as Juliette’s happy, I’m happy.
KELLY: My life’s motto.
KELLY: Oh, and I feel like we should address the elephant Skyped into the room: Michelle Obama was absolutely NOT in this week’s episode of Nashville. Just a pre-taped video during the concert for the troops.
SADIE: YEAH, that was a huge disappointment. She was like completely disembodied, and Daphne talked right over her little speech. I was sort of expecting Sasha and Malia to show up and take a selfie with Juliette, not just Chelley-O on a jumbotron rallying the troops.
KELLY: Yeah! She could have AT LEAST done the “Hey”s and “Ho”s in another rendition of “Ho Hey.”
SADIE: Haha, Michelle Obama on a huge screen doing “hey hos” on a Lumineers cover. What was the deal with the concert — was it at an actual military base, or were those actors?
KELLY: I’m trying to find out and I can’t find a clear answer — I feel like if it were with actual members of the military, the information would be more forthcoming.
SADIE: I thought Juliette’s backstory with her dad was sweet, but it seemed too neat, or off canon or something — why haven’t we heard about her dad before? Homeboy was a hero, apparently! Also, in the Nashville universe I would assume Juliette was much bigger than Kellie Pickler — she co-headlined a tour with Rayna for crying out loud. Having J. Barnes open = nonsensical.
KELLY: Yeah, I’m very much willing to suspend my disbelief for Nashville and do it every single episode, but Juliette’s perfect backstory and Luke Wheeler hiding to hear it were a little much. That backstory def would have come out when Juliette was trying to make people think she wasn’t an atheist, or during all of the times when she talked about how her mom never gave her a birthday party.
SADIE: Straight up, it was weird and implausible. Although I really loved the Luke and Juliette “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave” duet (another one of my faves from season 2). And let’s put Hayden P in more tight jeans and baseball caps…crazy good look for the girl
KELLY: Oh my god, yes — it was great, and that is definitely one of the better songs from this season. Hayden is VERY good at being a fake country star. Though also, it is completely nonsensical that Luke Wheeler would, after not wanting Juliette on his stage at all, IMMEDIATELY sing a duet of her most controversial song — the song that got her fired from the label that Luke is currently on.
SADIE: Hahaha yeah, Luke is the most inconsistent character on the show right now. I feel like they’ve developed him as this wishy-washy character because I’m convinced he’ll get written off after the finale next week. Like, is Luke a badass? Is he a corporate fuck? Is he a patriot? Is he a sweetheart? A family man? An artist? A hack? Fucking NRA member? His whole deal is so unclear to me, although the fact this his kid makes EDM beats is pretty hysterical.
KELLY: Yeah, I thought it was hinted that he would screw over Gunnar in his publishing deal, but that never happened. And then it was hinted that he’d screw over Rayna and Highway 65, but I guess…not? But I definitely 100% loved the moment when Rayna’s daughters won over his son by showing him the beats that THEY make.
SADIE: Stomp clap! That was cute as fuck. Not surprised it went viral.
KELLY: They are the greatest.
SADIE: I loved the scene where Luke was on the treadmill during his “writing session” with Gunnar — working hard on those songs, eh, dude? I think Luke’s a good guy but he’s so totally the opposite of Deacon. Who rayna is clearly about to get back together with, again 9_9
KELLY: Ugh, I know. A real Ross and Rachel. “We were on a break! Because I am an alcoholic!”
SADIE: Haha, oh wow that is apt. I think Rayna might be the Ross in the relationship though.
KELLY: Hahahaaaa, I think you might be right.
SADIE: Also can we talk about Scarlett
KELLY: Yes, I can’t believe we haven’t yet. What an incredible meltdown she had!
SADIE: I know! That was my favorite episode of the whole season. I think I was watching with my bandmate who hasn’t seen a ton of Nashville, and had to be like, “It’s usually dramatic, but this is over the top!”
KELLY: There is usually slightly less screaming.
SADIE: But I expected them to do something totally different with her meltdown. I didn’t really think sedation + inpatient + quitting the industry was the direction. If anything I thought she’d snap out of the addiction, tell her mom to fuck off, and emerge edgier and angstier and less complacent. Maybe cut her hair short and dye it orange and become a Hayley Williams type. I can’t believe there isn’t a Paramore-style band on Nashville.
KELLY: YEAH! I was expecting the same thing! It’s a sort of weird direction, because she has to come back to the industry at some point. Right???
SADIE: Unless they write her off the show altogether?!
KELLY: How could they do that, though?!?
SADIE: I also had the thought that she might join Zooey as a backup singer on Juliette’s tour.
KELLY: Oh, that could definitely be possible.
SADIE: Because that way she’d still have music in her life, but wouldn’t have to be sooooo central to the spotlight.
KELLY: As long as we get to hear her sweet voice somehow.
SADIE: Yeah, she’s a really talented singer. Maybe the best on the show. Although her speaking voice is so absurd. I was hanging out with someone yesterday who was like “she’s invented an accent that does not exist anywhere on the planet.”
KELLY: Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett, is Australian, though, so that might account for the impossibly cute, bird-like southern-ish accent.
SADIE: Yeah, it’s the same as watching True Blood — Australians doing southern accents sometimes results in this bizarre impossible hybrid. I think every time I hang out with someone now we wind up recapping Nashville, haha. I had 2 friends from Palehound sleep over last week and we stayed up til like 6 am watching Nashville and at the start they thought it was so stupid and by the end they were captivated, haha.
KELLY: Hahah, it’s so absurd and has so many insane story lines that you just get wrapped up in it. Plus you guys are in the BIZ.
SADIE: Yeah, especially for touring musicians, I think the unrealistic aspects of it are really hysterical — like the idea that you could book a 2-month stadium tour a few days before leaving. Not happening, buddy. It’s like doctors watching Grey’s Anatomy or something.
KELLY: Oh yeah, I always wonder what it’s like to watch that show if you’re actually a working musician. Like, in last night’s episode when they decided to do that Juliette Barnes’ song and then were just on stage, performing it right away? With a whole band? Also: How many Jeff Fordhams have you met? A hundred?
SADIE: Oh yeah, it’s totally ridiculous. There was this one episode where Juliette handed her whole band 12 new songs to learn for a show that night, and they were like, “well, we guess so…” Although I think the Nashville circuit is way more studio-pro than struggling indie bands, haha. They have pages of sheet music for new songs there. In most of the bands I’ve been in, if I’m teaching someone a song and say what the chord progression is, half the time they’re like, “I don’t know what that means, what fret should I be on?” And I’m not convinced Jeff Fordhams are real! That guy is just too all-around despicable. You can be business driven without being a complete soulless fuckface. Also, Jeff Fordham has no friends on that show. He can’t even get someone to play golf with him. If he was really rich enough to buy Edgehill, he would have tons and tons of friends hanging onto his wallet. Jeff Fordham, as we know him, is an urban legend.
KELLY: There is no God — — — — that would let a man like Jeff Fordham exist.
SADIE: Getting that bumper sticker ASAP.
Speedy Ortiz’s Real Hair EP is out now via Carpark Records. Nashville‘s season 2 finale airs 5/14 on ABC.