Band Notes: Q&A with Grace Potter

Ahead of her concert at Wolf Trap, she talks about avoiding band fatigue, being featured on a movie soundtrack, and more.

By: Tanya Pai

A Grace Potter and the Nocturnals concert is memorable thanks equally to their rootsy rock tunes and the seemingly indefatigable energy of Potter, its charismatic frontwoman. We talked with Potter, whose band comes to Wolf Trap August 15.

How did the Nocturnals end up with a song on the Lone Ranger soundtrack? 

Disney called me, and I love [director] Gore Verbinski’s work—and of course my boy, Johnny Depp. That experience has happened before, trying to create for a movie soundtrack—for Tangled, we had an original song. The Lone Ranger was different because they wanted that old, dusty railroad sound and we’re relatively electrified. I wrote six songs for the movie, but the one that wound up on there was a Roy Acuff song called “Devil’s Train.”

It seems like you’re basically touring all summer. 

It’s not nonstop, but it’s pretty close. Once we’re on the road, we have to harness that momentum, especially in the summer. People have been saving money all year for favorite bands, and the excitement grows—it’s hard to let them down and not do a summer tour. This one is particularly extensive. We’re opening for the Allman Brothers and Robert Plant [in other cities].

How do you keep from burning out? 

Usually I sleep till 11:30 or noon—that whole “nocturnals” thing is not a myth. I take my time to wake up and go slow. I save my energy up for evening, and then all bets are off—I just go for it.

What are you most excited about with this tour? 

It’s a relief to finally headline [on some dates]. As exciting as it is to open for people—we know how to compress what we’re capable of into 35 minutes—the thing that defines us is that every show is different. Something that’s lacking in so much live music now is they treat their show like a roller-coaster ride, where you turn the “on” button on and do the same moves over and over again. As exciting as it is to see once, if you see it six times you realize you’re getting the same show over and over. Live music is a conversation between fans and the band, and our job is to continue that conversation.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. August 15 at Wolf Trap. Tickets ($30 to $40) available at wolftrap.org.