Q: WHO IS YOUR JACKET BY? IT'S CUTE.
SC: Oh thank you. Zac Posen.
Q: WHEN THEY HANDED YOU THE SCRIPT, DID YOU RUN THROUGH IT?
SC: Actually I never got to see a script. I saw the movie completed, had a screening, then went home immediately and wrote the song. And even Irwin [Winkler], after the movie, wanted to stop and talk about it, I went no, no, no. You can't talk to me about it. I gotta go straight home, while I still have it in my head, and I wrote it that night. Called the next day, he liked it.
Q: WAS THERE SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR IN THE FILM THAT STRUCK YOU AND GAVE YOU THE BASIC IDEA?
SC: Yeah, part of it was my own experience of having had breast cancer. Not the same thing, but I think the experience, the pivotal experience when you realize your life's never gonna be the same, and you're gonna have to integrate back into your life, that's the story of these four people, just trying to figure out, how do I go from here, or from there to here. And I think we get into trouble when we try not to remember, because life just winds up being a lie. So if you really deal with it, you really experience it and embrace it, and you're able to move on. And I kind of equate that with -- I think that we're kind of in the same place we were in Vietnam, and yet instead of really, really looking at that and learning, we've sort of not remembered the lesson, and so here we are.
Q: DO YOU HAVE PERSONAL FRIENDS WHO HAVE KIDS OVER THERE?
SC: I have many personal friends, and also I have a really dear friend of mine [who] went over. He's lost both of his hands, most of his arms. And he's quite an inspiration. He's a lot younger. He's the son of a friend of mine, and he's from my hometown, and he feels like the characters in the film. He feels like he hasn't been supported as a vet. He is now very involved in trying to lead a movement to get troops out, to stop the war, and he also feels like there's so many questions as to why we're here. But that's not really what the film is about, although I love the fact that the film does at least touch on the political aspects and the fact that people are on all sides of the issue. And it's not heavy handed, but it really does portray what it must be like to come home.
Q: HOW DO YOU WRITE A SONG? DOES IT START WITH WORDS OR A TUNE?
SC: With movies it's different, and I've only done it a couple of times, like I did the James Bond theme, and that's very specific, because there's a whole legacy there, it's thematic, it's torchy. And this I felt like, needed to be more, more dramatic, and I didn't want to restate what had already happened in the film, because the film already really gives you a clear depiction of what it's saying. I wanted it to sort of - anyway, this film, I wanted to just ease people out of the theater, you know. You've just seen something really heavy, and so I started with the music first. I play piano, that's my main instrument, so I started with that. And then sang kind of an ethereal melody, and that's where I started.
Q: IS THAT YOUR USUAL PROCESS?
SC: That's not the way I write when I'm writing for my own. When I'm working on my own stuff, I generally write the words, or at least part of the words first, so that I have some idea of where I'm going. And I think I'm most successful in finishing something if I have the lyrics first, and then write the music to the lyrics, because otherwise I get bogged down with the lyrics. And that for me is the main - is the most important aspect of it.
Q: WHEN YOU DO A MOVIE SONG, DO YOU HAVE TO CONNECT WITH IT?
SC: You mean like as far as the cinematic content? I've had that experience where people will ask for something and I just say sorry, I can't do that. That's not what I do. But for the most part, I guess I've been really lucky in that I've been approached to do projects that had integrity, and that were things that I could see myself doing.
Q: WHEN YOU'RE WRITING ON YOUR OWN, ARE YOU EVER INSPIRED BY FILMS?
SC: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it is interesting, because inspiration comes from all different places. It can be a line that I've heard somebody say, or - and I'm constantly writing stuff in a notebook, because my memory banks are - I think I've had too much tuna in my life [laughs], so I can't remember anything. So I'm always writing stuff down. But I can watch something on the news, or read a story in the newspaper, or movies are great fodder for inspiration for me, dreams are great, but also I think for me, I am like a pack rat. I store stuff up, and then I'll sit down and write a bunch of stuff, and then I won't write for a long time. And that's kind of my mode. But movies are great in that you have sort of an idea - you have boundaries, and it's not like the slate is completely blank as it is with a record, and so I don't have those little voices saying, does anybody want to hear this? Anybody but me? With a movie it's more specific, and there's for me a lot of freedom in that, and having kind of boundaries.
Q: HOW IS LIFE RIGHT NOW?
SC: Life's great! It is. I'm healthy. Had my six months check up about a month ago, and so far so good. And I just finished a tour about a month ago, a little over a month, and I'm really happy. Things are good.
Q: DID YOU ALWAYS TELL YOURSELF, I'M GONNA OVERCOME THIS?
SC: You know, it's an odd experience. I think, when you're a person who thinks that they have a lot of control over things, like you know okay, I'm gonna work really hard, and if I work hard, then this is gonna happen, and then all the sudden to go from having everything kind of mapped out, this is what's gonna happen this year, to having none of that, and to having your life be threatened by getting a diagnosis like cancer, I think you do what your spirit tells you to do, which is to just hunker down and start investigating what you're made of. And for me, I really in some ways met myself, in a way that I had never done before in my life. And part of that is I'm older now, so I handled it in a different way than I would have if I would've been thirty or in my twenties. You figure out what you're made of, and you look at your life differently and decide from this moment on who you're gonna be. And there were things about my life that were not functional before, that I'm so much more keyed in on now, like taking care of everybody else, and making sure everybody's happy with me, and I'm good with everybody. I don't do that anymore, and I practice saying the word ‘no’, even though it's real hard for me to say. But this year was, it really dictated that I show up for myself, and I really put myself first.
Q: YOU TRIED TO RAISE AWARENESS WITH CANCER.
SC: You know, it's interesting with breast cancer, because I was in a really rarified position, that my cancer was caught very early, and right now, until there's a cure, early detection is gonna be the only prevention that we can hope for. And because I have a large audience of young women, as well as women who are my age and older, I feel like my experience is worth talking about as far as encouraging people to get mammograms and do self examinations, and with younger people, it's a different beast to treat, so therein lies the urgency. But also I think we're in an age now where people want to talk about these things, they don't want to be at home in the embarrassment of having had something go wrong with a very personal aspect of their health, and for women, you hear the same story over and over about physically, what the breasts mean. So you know, I'm in a daily dialogue about it, because people in the breast cancer community flock to each other, so I'm kind of brought into that, even though my main job is as a musician, and that's where I feel I am who I really am.
Q: HOW DID IRWIN APPROACH YOU WITH THIS?
SC: Actually, we were over at a friend of ours house to screen a movie. I can't remember what the movie was, though. And we were just eating dinner, he said ‘I'm working on this movie, and I would love for you to write the end title for it.’ And you never really know if those things are serious, but sure enough the next day he called me and I went the next day and then it was done. It was a nice easy kind of natural process. He's as lovely a person as I've ever met, and he's just a very elegant man, and I really enjoy him, and I think his film has a lot of integrity.
Q: WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAREER LOOKING BACK? WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES NOW IN HOW YOU APPROACH MUSIC?
SC: Oh, I thought you were going to say ‘What are the things you regret?’ Oh, bad haircuts.. . I grew up in a very musical family and I studied piano and got my college degree in that. For me to be an artist, a singer/songwriter, the fame thing was always kind of a weird distraction. I always wanted to be a great musician and I wanted to be a great songwriter and I wanted to write music that was compelling. So every time I’ve made a record, I’ve just driven myself to become a better musician and a better songwriter. There are certain instruments I go to now and I’m comfortable on them so I don’t find that I really do anything different so I always switch up what instruments I write on. My second record, I wasn’t a very good guitar player, so I wrote on guitar. For my third record, I wrote all on bass just so I would write melody. I would just sing the melody and find the bass note and that was the demo. Now I just wrote prose and poetry all day long and I don’t go to anything until I have it. So, it’s a process for me. It’s whatever I do to make it interesting so I’m not just repeating myself.
Q: WITH THE HOLIDAYS COMING UP, WHAT GIFT DO YOU HOPETO GET?
SC: Ah, world peace [laughs], a new president. I’m so blessed. A cookbook I can understand maybe.
Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO COOK?
SC: I’m such a terrible cook that I really, honestly, need a cookbook that just walks me through like ‘make four steps to the right,’ like one of those car directionals, ‘pick up spoon from drawer.’
Q: DO YOU THINK THIS MOVIE MIGHT BE A HARD SELL SINCE THE IRAQ WAR IS SO UNPOPULAR?
SC: Yeah, I do and it’s one of the reasons I’m talking about it a lot because I think it is an important film and I think there are certain things we don’t want to look at ourselves. I think that’s what the movie does. It points out that we, as a nation, have really gone to sleep. We’re not holding our government responsible for giving us the truth, the real answers. They are failing our troops and there are certain things that we just don’t want to look at. It’s not light entertainment, but it is a good story and it’s well done and it’s an important story. It’s not going to be a movie that you go to and escape the news from.
Q: ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME OFF NOW?
SC: I am, after today. This is my last thing. After today you will not see me for at least three months.
Q: HAVE YOU NOT DONE JUNKETS BEFORE?
SC: I’ve not.
Q: HOW DO YOU LIKE IT SO FAR?
SC: Oh, it’s fun. I love talking.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE ONCE YOU HAD GOTTEN SICK? DID YOU JUST JUMP RIGHT IN?
SC: You know, I got diagnosed about a month before I was supposed to go out on the road on a tour. The schedule was all set up and it was the "Wildflower" tour for that record and I loved the record and I really wanted that record to do well. I was really disappointed about it and all the promoters started calling and saying ‘Look, we’re going to have to start refunding tickets if you’re not going to reschedule.’ So we figured out when I would be done with radiation and we gave me a little time after radiation to recoup and it just wasn’t enough time. When I went out, it was very emotional for me and I had a lot of people explain to me that when you do radiation, you’re just kind of left wide open emotionally so you go out and face all these people who really love you and are supporting you and it was really hard. I was really tired all the time and emotional. I came back in the summer and toured with John Mayer and that was the best tour I ever had. It was really fun and I could really feel the audience wanting to go there, wanting to be transported away from the Iraqi war and away from everything else, and it was a great, celebratory summer. It was nice, because now that I’m not touring, I’m leaving on that note until I make a new record. I’m really looking forward to it.
Q: YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF COLLABORATIONS IN THE PAST. WHO IS A MUSICIAN YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH? 50 CENT?
SC: I love him and I did not know his name was Curtis Jackson. I was like ‘Curtis Jackson?’ I’m really lucky. I’ve really worked with people that I really loved. I would actually like to work with Jack White who lives in Nashville now where I’m living. I think he’s interesting. Obviously, he’s a kid, but he’s very well-versed in what I feel like are the important references to American music. I would really love to see what the two of us might do together.
Q: HAVE YOU SEEN "SHUT UP AND SING"?
SC: I have not seen it. There are several film that, because I was touring, that I haven’t seen. I didn’t see the John Lennon film yet. That’s what I’m going to do for the next three months is catch up on things that I want to do.
Q: DO YOU SEE YOURSELF GOING BACK ON CAMERA LIKE YOU DID IN "DE-LOVELY"?
SC: I don’t know. "De-Lovely" was, for me, not a stretch because I got to play a singer. But also, as a kid I grew up just absorbed by song and dance films. I loved everything from that period like "Brigadoon" and "Song of St. Louis." All of those I loved. I grew up and loved. In fact, I loved Gene Kelly so much when I was eight that I wrote him a letter because I really wanted to marry him and I thought, ‘If you just wait’ and he did write me back.
I don’t know. "De-Lovely" was, for me, not a stretch because I got to play a singer. But also, as a kid I grew up just absorbed by song and dance films. I loved everything from that period like "Brigadoon" and "Song of St. Louis." All of those I loved. I grew up and loved. In fact, I loved Gene Kelly so much when I was eight that I wrote him a letter because I really wanted to marry him and I thought, ‘If you just wait’ and he did write me back.
Q: WHAT DID HE SAY?
SC: Just said ‘Good luck’. I’m sure some press person wrote it but, when he [Irwin] asked me to do it, it was easy for me to step into that crooner role as a torch singer like Rosemary Clooney or Judy Garland. But, as an actress, I don’t know. I’m not very confident when it comes to stuff like that.
Q: ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT SO MANY PEOPLE WILL GET UP AND LEAVE BEFORE THE CREDITS START ROLLING AND YOUR SONG COMES ON?
SC: They do? [laughs] No, they do, I know. Yeah, that’s out of my control. That’s the kind of thing I just have to let go of. They’ll hear it as they walk out. But you won’t hear it on the radio, I promise. Radio doesn’t play it unless it’s got a groove.
"Home of the Brave" opens in limited release on December 15th and nationwide on January 5th.