Liv Warfield

Interview by Dennis Morgillo

Liv Warfield is an incredible vocalist who has sung with Prince's New Power Generation, and is currently in the Supergroup, Roadcase Royale,  with Nancy Wilson of Heart. 

Madhouse:    I want to talk about Roadcase Royale first, of course. It's an exciting time for you. You have a new album out. You are going on tour. You have  all this stuff going on. Let's talk about the album first. ‘First things First’! It's coming out September 22. What can we expect from this album? What’s vibe like?
Liv Warfield:    Oh wow! Well, first things first, it's an amazing album. I can't believe that we finally came-- two years ago meeting Nancy Wilson, collaborating as a unit with my guitar player. Coming in with her band and we created something really amazing. It's a lot of soul, rock and roll, hard rock, a lot of great ballads. It's across the board, an amazing, amazing project. We're ready for people to hear it for sure.

Madhouse:    Yeah, I had a chance to hear a couple songs. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know at first when I saw Roadcase Royale, was it acoustic? Was it this? Was it that? I heard "Not Giving Up", the first song and it's an awesome song.
Liv Warfield:    Oh thank you, I really appreciate that. We appreciate it, so there's a lot more. It's so much more to this album

Madhouse:    Yeah, I know I can't wait to check this out. You want to talk about how you met Nancy Wilson, how this whole project came together?
Liv Warfield:    Yeah, well [Ryan] and I with my band we opened up for Heart, I believe in 2015 it was in August. I knew when I got the call to open up I knew okay I have to do this, so after the show I have to meet either Ann or Nancy. I think Nancy was leaving when I caught her and we had such a great chat and talk and I know she had to leave, but the one thing she said was let's continue the conversation. Like let's not just say we're going to meet up but let's actually do it. 
 You know, and I kept in contact with her, I was sending her some stuff I was working on cause I really wanted to do a rock and roll record, I really did. And so I sent her some of my stuff to check out and you know she would respond back. It took into a really natural relationship with her and I and then I think she called me up and was like, "Hey you know what? You wanna try to write together?" That's was like yeah. And after that it just lead into this natural beautiful what we have, Roadcase Royale and packed in a circle playing some Joni Mitchell's songs at first and some Stevie songs. It’s really cool, it happened really fast but it's just really natural, really natural.

Madhouse:    So tell us about the tour?
Liv Warfield:    Yes, yes. We're going out on tour. I believe we start September 11, but we're also doing our own shows we're headlining at the Gramercy  Theater on the tenth of September. So really looking forward to that. So there's a lot coming up.

Madhouse:    Yeah it's exciting times. I'm going to come see you on the tenth too in New York City. I'll be there.
Liv Warfield:    Oh good okay.

Madhouse:    Yeah very happy about that. You mentioned about the band, you have Ryan Waters as your guitar player and the people from Heart. You wanna talk about who's in the band?
Liv Warfield:    Yes, there is first Ben Smith on the drums, who's also from Heart previously. Chris Joiner who plays keys. Dan Rothchild who also one of the producers on the album. Big shout out to James, he does an amazing job, he plays bass. And Ryan Waters on guitar. And of course Nancy and me.

Madhouse:    That's an awesome line up and I can tell that when you're singing I can see that you have such passion and I just love any music where people have passion for it. I'm just such a huge music fan and I can just tell you are the same way. So can you put into words how much you love music? How it makes you feel when you're singing it, listening to it?
Liv Warfield:    I have a huge passion for it. Music really drives me. I take it really serious but I also have a lot of fun with it. I really pay attention to the words. I just have a lot of fun with it you know. I am really a fan of music and musicianship, and to watch Nancy is pretty incredible. Watching her work, watching her write, you know she wrote a lot on this records. She's just really really amazing to work with, and just really easy. And she's fast. So I'm learning a lot from her.

Madhouse:    It's a great partnership. You've had a lot of great partnerships. Of course we'll have to talk about Prince, but first I want to go back to your early life here. I read that you grew up in Peoria Illinois and that there is actually one other famous person from Peoria Illinois. Do you know who that is?
Liv Warfield:    Richard Pryor.

Madhouse:    Yes. Very good. So you grew up as an athlete, and nobody really knew you sang until you went to college. You had a scholarship but then you dropped out to pursue your singing career. How did your parents take that?
Liv Warfield:    Not well at all. Not so much to prove to them, to prove to myself that passionately I wanted something so bad, I felt like it was in me. I felt like it was a burning desire for me to sing, it was a burning desire for me to write, you know. And I couldn't ignore it. I paid the price, of course as we all do when we want to sacrifice for something. I had my struggles but in the end I'm still working towards writing great songs, performing the best that I can any time I'm up on stage. So it's all a blessing definitely that I'm able to do it now still.

Madhouse:    Did you ever have like a black dark period where you said like oh I can't do this anymore, I want to give up, I want to go back to school, I want to do this or that? Or did you just say I'm staying the course this is my passion I will not give up?
Liv Warfield:    Of course I wanted to stop. But I immediately knew, for myself I felt what my purpose was. At least for me on a deeper level, I feel like I healed, like that's my connection in every way. You know what ever song it is that people can relate to, they relate to. Music takes us back to a moment and a feeling and I feel like that's what I can provide. And I also feel like that's what this band can provide. Every time we get up on stage together we take you to what ever feeling or what ever vibe you want, we gonna give it. So I definitely can't give up.

Madhouse:    I've often thought that if you have a backup plan, it's most likely you're not going to become successful in the arts. The people who really become successful put everything into being successful at their craft and not saying alright I'll be a lawyer. What do you think about that?
Liv Warfield:    I think it just depends on your definition of being successful. If your definition of being successful is having the money the cars whatever. If that's what satisfies you than okay whatever. But for me it's a little but different, success is for me is I'm able to get up on that stage and deliver what I can. And if someone loves it I'm successful.

Madhouse:    Exactly
Liv Warfield:    That's how it works out for me. What ever somebody's definition of success is okay cool, but for me personally I think that's what it is.

Madhouse:    So now let's talk about Prince for a little bit. He must have been a big influence on you. I understand someone sent him a tape of you singing Gimme Shelter, and that's how you got to be in the band. Now tell me what that call was like. Did Prince personally call you?
Liv Warfield:    Oh gosh, that was crazy. I think at the time he was looking for a background singer and a women by the name of Marla King was singing for him before. I think they were looking, they were searching and they found me doing Gimme Shelter on YouTube and they called me up. My friends sent the video, and I didn't hear anything for like three months and then I got a call that he wanted to meet me. And I finally  got a call from him, I didn’t believe it until I actually got the call from him. That just blew my mind. I owe him everything in so many ways. Cause not only was he a teacher, he was an epic supernova himself, he just was a teacher, and he was just giving with his life. And I'm so appreciative and I've learned so much. I miss him now, but his energy is definitely around for sure.

Madhouse:    Yeah, he was such and amazing talent and to have personally known him and hung out with him. It must have just been such a great learning experience for you.
Liv Warfield:    Absolutely you can't not do those shows and not grasp just a little bit ... He just put off so much of his energy and so much light you'd be crazy not to try to grab a little bit of it. Because he was dealing with his own light and he didn't need to be. You know he always took the time out to believe in gifts we had and other and anybody in the band and all the other bands he's had. He's just the light, he still is. Again I really appreciate it, and I'm definitely going to be carrying that with me for a lifetime.

Madhouse:    Yeah he was a true genius and he produced your album The Unexpected. So what was that like working with him in the studio so closely?
Liv Warfield:    You know what's crazy is Prince actually gave me the go ahead to produce the record on my own. And I was thinking stuff and he'd approve it cause he asked me if I wanted to record the album , I was like, yes I love you. But I recorded it Portland, only cause I wanted to show him that I could do this. I'd call him up and let him listen to it and send him some stuff and he would say I think you should change this or I think you should change that. The thing I loved about him was that he respected the creative space and he was also just really open to what I had to say and what I had to give you know. I wanted to prove to him that I could do it, and he totally allowed me to do it. Still even now to this day I'm super thankful. He wrote and produced the song called Your Show on my record, which is crazy. It reminds me of the Isaac Hayes type of feel with the horns, it's just so beautifully written. So it was just a crazy experience. I'll never forget that. I was just really proud of that record, so proud of it. 
Madhouse:    Yeah and that most have been a huge boost to your confidence. For you to let Prince listen to your songs, and Prince says, "Yes I like that." That must be -
Liv Warfield:    Yeah there's a couple of times he shut me down. He's like oh no that’s not it Liv, I don't think so. I love him for his honesty. But I absolutely feel good about that though.

Madhouse:    Yeah so you mentioned Isaac Hayes as well. What were some of your influences growing up? Or what were you listening to that really formed your sound, and got you to be where you are?
Liv Warfield:    I listened to ... in the beginning I was raised in the church so I had a lot of heavy gospel in my rotation. But as I was able to kind of move from that I listened to my Whitney's and stuff like that but when I moved away from Portland I got into my Don Hathaway. Like my ears just started getting exposed when I moved away from home cause I grew up in a strong gospel Christian family. So they were like I don't think so,  you're not playing that around us. But my ears just got exposed as I was in Portland, Jimi Hendrix, Chaka Khan - 

Madhouse:    I was researching on YouTube of course, and I saw you were playing ‘Them Changes’ by Buddy Miles, and I just love that song and love that version.
Liv Warfield:    Oh gosh. I think I'd been listening to a lot of Buddy Miles, I think it's just something about the groove of that song. It's that groove that just goes and I just really really enjoy singing it you know. And I just like the funk rock vibe of it. I really dig that.

Madhouse:    We also have something else in common. I was reading that you are a big fan of blaxplotation films.
Liv Warfield:    Yeah I am.

Madhouse:    What are some of your favorites? 
Liv Warfield:    Oh I love Cleopatra Jones. That's like number one for me. I could probably re watch that movie ... Cleopatra Jones, I love it, I'm obsessed with it. I like the women badass vibe and the culture the clothes. I love everything about it. I feel like I should have been born in late late 50's early 70's. I feel like that's where my soul was at for some reason. I really do.

Madhouse:    Maybe someone should recreate Cleopatra Jones and do a remake and you can star in it. That would be pretty cool.
Liv Warfield:    Yes, would you please manifest that for me too. Cause I really love it, I do.

Madhouse:    Yeah with a new soundtrack, you doing all the soundtrack. I think that would be amazing. Someone call in for that.
Liv Warfield:    Yes. Please manifest that thank you.

Madhouse:    I also saw that Bernard Purdie the drummer plays on one of your songs  as well. He’s a friend of mine, I saw that and said Yes! You know the beat.
Liv Warfield:    Absolutely Bernard Purdie that was a blessing there in my first ever record. I just was like oh my god I'd love to have Bernard Purdie on this, I can't believe he did that. He's such a cool cat, he's just a really great great cat to work with. I had a really good time with him. That's why I just feel really lucky, really blessed to have amazing people around me. Even with like Nancy, and everybody in the band. I learn so much and I keep learning so much. And I keep learning even ... I tell people who ask me that, "What's it like working with Nancy Wilson." First off she always tells me stop being so hard on yourself. And I learned to write better with her. I've actually been learning to write a lot better with her. Cause just goes with it, she goes with her spirit, she goes with her vibe. And I love that about her, so much.

Madhouse:    It's an amazing career you've had and it's just beginning. You have many years ahead. You have anyone you'd like to collaborate with?
Liv Warfield:    Oh there's lots of people I'd love to collaborate with.
Madhouse:    If you had one person to pick who would it be?
Liv Warfield:    Oh that's hard, you can't put me on the spot for one person. 
Madhouse:    Alright
Liv Warfield:    I would say, I would love to collaborate with Lenny Kravitz.
Madhouse:    That would be awesome, that's perfect. He can be in Cleopatra Jones too, he would be awesome.
Liv Warfield:    He would be great, he would be great, Lenny can play with Roadcase Royale too.
Madhouse:    Yes yes
Liv Warfield:    Come on Lenny.

Madhouse:   How did you guys hook up with Bob Seger? That's an unusual combination. Of course he's great but - 
Liv Warfield:    It was Nancy, it was a really cool offer she got. I believe Heart had it and I guess they weren't going to go out and Nancy was like what about Roadcase Royale? And we're like what? Are you serious? So really honestly a natural progress. Again I feel like we're really super lucky and blessed to showcase this new band cause I think we just have a lot to say. And for Bob Seger to have us on I'm super super thankful to him for giving us the opportunity to open, and Nancy. I'm so glad we're able to do it.

Madhouse:    That's amazing. So we're going to be looking forward to this album September 22nd it's goin to be released and you know you guys are on tour. I can't wait to see you. That's coming up soon, that's like next weekend, wow.
Liv Warfield:    That's next weekend right.
Madhouse:    Alright I'll be in the front row look for me. Very handsome tall man with lot of tattoos. I'll be right in the front row.
Liv Warfield:    I'll be looking.
Madhouse:    Alright I want to thank you for calling in and good luck on this tour and the album and thanks for all the music. It's great stuff.
Liv Warfield:    Thank you so much, thank you for supporting.


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