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Will surprises continue for Kasey Chambers?

By Jeffrey B. Remz, January 2002

Page 2...

She bounces along on "Still Feelin Blue," the first Gram Parsons her father ever heard. He used to play it to Kasey and brother Nash as kids. Buddy Miller supplies backing vocals on her version.

Chambers mixes it up on "Crossfire," with Aussie punk/rockabilly band The Living End helping out. The song rocks.

And she goes for social commentary on the spare hidden track, "Ignorance," where she rails against racism, hunger and other ills. "If you're not pissed off at the world, then you're just not paying attention," Chambers laments with an acoustic guitar her only accompaniment.

The mid-tempo "Not Pretty Enough" is really a double entendre song, according to its writer. On its surface, the song could be about a woman upset with her looks (Chambers needn't worry by the way. She's plenty attractive).

"I always say on stage before I play I wrote that about all the radio stations that play Britney Spears and not me. It's funny because it's looking at yourself and why things don't happen or do happen the way they do. It's sort of asking a lot of questions These are reasons that you don't like my music."

"On another level, it's a love song because I'm not pretty enough. Because I cry too much. At the end, if that's why then bad luck because this is me. I'm not going to change them just to get played on the radio or just to take notice of me."

People have been taking notice of Chambers for many years.

Her parents, Bill and Diane, were the free spirit types when their daughter was growing up. For about seven months a year, they lived in the Nullabor Plain of south-central Australia, far from the conveniences of city life. No TV. No radio.

Chambers did not attend school until she was about 10. "My mom taught me through correspondence schooling. My dad was a fox hunter. That's what he did a living. He'd sit around a camp fire and sing songs."

It was from her father that Chambers obtained her musical influences.

"When I was growing up, my dad was listening to Gram and Emmylou which...obviously influenced(me) I was young, and you just like whatever you like, and then you hate whatever your dad likes. I think probably the biggest influence on me was Lucinda Williams. That was probably one of the first artists I got into myself...She started me into song writing and things like. that. She was someone I was listening to 10 years ago, and I'm still listening to now. She was probably my biggest role model. It was different than anything I'd ever heard before. Because she was a songwriter, that got to me. I wanted to write songs because Lucinda wrote.

"The main thing is her voice. Every time, I'm blown away by her voice. It gets into my heart and soul. I can't compare that to anyone else I've ever listened to my whole life. Lucinda seemed to take it to another level in my life. I don't think anyone had ever gotten into my soul like she did."

As for her father, "he'd be in and out of bands when we were younger. He taught my mother to play the bass, and then they get married. He never took it all that seriously."

Well probably serious enough to release a few albums as The Dead Ringer Band - "Home Fires" in 1995 and "Living in the Circle" two years later.

Along the way they won an ARIA award, the Aussie version of the Grammys.

But don't get the impression that the Dead Ringer Band was a big deal in Australia. At least that's what Chambers says.

"We really didn't sell many albums. We toured a lot. We weren't the sort of band that sold many albums. We would sell albums at gigs, but we weren't household names."

"We got pretty successful write-ups in America. We were just cruising along doing our thing."

But Bill and Diane Chambers split up five years ago, resulting in the end - sort of - of The Dead Ringer Band.

"When my parents broke up, the band stopped playing," says Chambers.

"My dad started playing in some other bands. My mom started doing some other stuff, and Nash was working in the studio."

"I was left thinking 'oh my God, what I am I going to do?' I had always wanted to do a solo album one day. It was sort of building up. Now was the time to do these. I have nothing else to do, and I want to do my rent, so it sort of happened like that."

Getting inked to a label deal was not that big a deal, according to Chambers.

"It wasn't that hard because we had a bit of a name with the Dead Ringer Band within the industry. I had a few offers before that with people saying, 'if you ever go solo, come and talk to us'. It's not really what I want to do. When things changed a little bit, I said, 'we're thinking about doing a solo album.'"

"My family is so much involved in this thing as well. It's only my face on the cover of the album now, but it's not a solo effort."

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