By Théoden Janes The Charlotte Observer
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) We were first introduced to the uber talented Mandy Moore through her music as a teen pop sensation. Now, the 35 year old award winning actress is going back into her roots with a new music tour in the works.
The Charlotte Observer
Mandy Moore picks up the phone and, upon being asked what she's up to, announces she is at the car wash, and that she's spending Presidents Day running around L.A. doing errands during a day off from work.
When the person on the other end of the line points out that talking to a journalist seems awfully work-related, she laughs.
"This doesn't really count," Moore says of the phone interview. "I'm not in old-age prosthetics or anything. So to me, that's a win."
It's true. It could be worse. This conversation will be over in 15 minutes, and she can talk while getting her car washed. But the painstaking process used to turn the 35-year-old actress into a character roughly twice as old (that being the present-day version of Rebecca Pearson, on NBC's time-hopping dramatic series "This Is Us") requires her to be chained to a chair for three hours in the hair-and-makeup trailer to apply some of those old-age prosthetics.
In just a few weeks, production will wrap on the fourth season of "This Is Us," for which Moore in past seasons has garnered Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations for her performance. Then, a few weeks after that, she'll put on a different hat, one she hasn't worn in more than a decade. That's the hat of a touring musician.
Although Moore has recorded a song here and there for the show over the years (the '80s and '90s versions of her character is shown periodically trying to embark on a singing career), the real-life former teen pop star from long ago hasn't put out an album since 2009, when she was just 25 years old.
Since then, she's gone through a divorce, become a bona fide TV star, and gotten married a second time, to Taylor Goldsmith, frontman for the folk-rock band Dawes.
So what finally lured her back into the music business after all this time?
What was the impetus for the collection of deeply personal songs, such as "Fifteen," which reflects thoughtfully on her early music career as a "pop princess", that populate her forthcoming seventh album "Silver Linings," due March 6?
Here's our recent conversation with her, lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: In a sense, even though you've technically been on this long hiatus from the music business, for the past couple of years, you've gotten multiple chances to perform music on "This Is Us." Would you say that, on some level, those opportunities helped to sort of rekindle your desire to get back into the studio?
A: Yeah, I can't discount that, by any means. I think that definitely was a factor. And part of it was the fact that I watched my husband for the last year write music and tour and perform, and this kind of weird jealousy seethed in me. Like, "I want to do that, I miss that, I know how to do that, too!" (Laughs.)
And, really, just coming to the realization that if I wanted to do music as much as I knew I did, and as much as I claimed to, it all started with me. I couldn't lean on the excuse of, "Well, I don't have a record label, and I don't have a music manager, and I don't have all the machinery required to be a music artist anymore." That couldn't really be my excuse anymore. It starts with the music.
So once I decided, "I'm gonna do this, and I'm gonna do this now," getting on the road was the priority. Making this record was a means to being able to tour again. Because that's really what I've missed, is performing live, and being on stage with a band. That was my line of thinking.
So we just jumped in. I jumped in with Mike (Viola, a longtime collaborator of hers) and Taylor (her husband), because they're quite literally like my family, and I knew I'd be safe. I also have the utmost respect for them as songwriters and as musicians and performers.
And at the beginning I was like, "Well, if we do this together, let's just start with a song." And then a song turned into, "OK, well, maybe we do an EP." And then it eventually was like, "OK, I think this is a full record." (Laughs.) But the key was not putting that expectation out there, and not putting that pressure on myself for it to be something that it didn't necessarily have to be. It was like, "Let's slowly ease my way back into this and see what feels most comfortable and most authentic."
Q: Of the songs that are on the album, how old is the oldest one, in terms of when you wrote the song?
A: "When I Wasn't Watching" was kind of the first one. That was back in 2016. But it was a different iteration of the song, and it was just Taylor and Jason (Boesel, formerly of indie-rock band Rilo Kiley) and I messing around; we wrote the song.
Then while we were in the midst of writing the record, I was going through voice memos on my phone, and I was like, "Oh! Taylor! Do you remember this song?" And he's like, "Oh, yeah! Play that for Mike!" We played it, and Mike was like, "I love that!" But we sort of re-jiggered the chorus. So I'd say it was, in actuality, probably the fourth or fifth song, in terms of how it fell in the writing process for the album. The very first song, technically, was "Forgiveness." That's sort of what set us down this path of, "OK, yeah, this is a record. This isn't just a song, or an EP."
Q: Did you say voice memo? Like, on your phone?
A: A voice memo, yeah. That's where ideas go. And Notes is for all my lyrical stuff. So yeah, I'm just using technology that's always gonna be in my pocket.
Q: And could that inspiration strike you anywhere? Even at a place like the car wash?
A: It could! Absolutely. I think sometimes, for me, when I'm in the right frame of mind, lyrically things start to jump out at me. Someone will say a phrase, or I'll see a word written on the side of a truck or something, and that will stir something in me. Even at the car wash.
A return to touring Q: So you were talking about Taylor, and about working with him on the album. This might be a stupid question, but will he be out on tour with you as part of the band?
A: He will! He'll be on stage, yeah. This is gonna be the most amount of time consecutively that we've ever spent with each other. I'm very excited about it. The idea of us being able to be together, and sharing this experience, and having written this whole record together, it's immensely special. And kind of once in a lifetime. Like, who knows?
Dawes is busy, and they're always on the road and always making records and stuff. I don't know if I'll ever be able to tour like this with him again in this sort of capacity. So I'm really just owning it, and really gonna savor every single second.
Q: You also mentioned that you felt kind of jealous when he was on tour. Were you with him?