Allison Crutchfield is on her own now, supporting her brand new solo debut, Tourist in This Town. And perhaps that’s how she feels in Birmingham these days, a town that’s seen quite a revolution since her departure for Philadelphia after high school at Oak Mountain. There have been a couple of records with her band Swearin’, but this time, the material was much too personal. This time, the project was hers alone.
More than a decade ago, she and her twin sister Katie formed The Ackleys and cut a record with Aaron Hamilton — a really, really good record. They were just 15, and neither had any idea that collection of songs and their beginnings at Cave 9 would lead them to large clubs throughout the Northeast and the airwaves of NPR.
Recently, Crutchfield talked to Weld about releasing her most personal material yet.
Weld: Is this the first album under your own name?
Allison Crutchfield: It’s the first album. There was an EP in 2014 that was my first experiment in solo music; it was recorded at home. Super, super lo-fi. This is obviously very different.
Weld: Why did you decide that now was the time to present something as a solo project rather than under the umbrella of a band name?
Crutchfield: This record had to be a solo record because it’s so personal. At this point, Swearin’ is broken up, and there’s no way in hell this could have been a Swearin’ record. [Laughs]
I had sort of decided to use my own name to differentiate from Waxahatchee a little bit, and Katie [Crutchfield, a.k.a. Waxahatchee, her twin sister] and I talked about how it made more sense to do that as opposed to coming up with a moniker.
It’s such a personal record that I feel like it wouldn’t have worked with a band.
Weld: “Chopsticks on Pots and Pans,” the final track on the record, is one that particularly jumped out as seeming personal. Is that about Birmingham?
Crutchfield: Part of it definitely is about Birmingham! It’s kind of vague; that’s funny that you caught that. I actually wrote that song in Birmingham; I think it’s the only song that I wrote in Birmingham.
Weld: Do you feel like your writing is less angry than the writing of the girl that started a punk rock band in Birmingham a decade ago?
Crutchfield: I’m definitely a person that has a lot of rage, and obviously my music, no matter what I’m doing, is influenced and informed by punk. But it has definitely evolved, and it’s a more nuanced anger and directed at different things than it was when I was younger. But I’ll always be full of rage.
Weld: What is your rage directed at now as opposed to then?
Crutchfield: [On this record] I think I have a lot of issues in different relationships. At this point in my life, I had been dating this person for five years, and we broke up and subsequently, I was dating other people and those relationships were going sour. So I was looking inward, but also looking at the types of people that I was choosing to hang out with and be involved with romantically. It was sort of a mild existential crisis.
The rage came from that. It was directed at myself; it was directed at those people. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of overt anger on this record, but I think a lot of sass and a lot of very pointed commentary; not the explicit anger that you heard from Swearin.’
Weld: The record definitely feels like it’s about someone. Is it all one person or is it a composite of several people?
Crutchfield: It’s not so much a composite — it’s about a handful of people that I was associating with around the time that I broke up with this person. On the surface, it might seem like it’s all about this one person that I dated; but when I’m singing about that specific person, I’m singing about that specific person. It’s about a few people.
Weld: Is there the slightest chance that at this show at Syndicate Lounge we could get an Ackleys reunion?
Crutchfield: [Laughs] No. That’s only in Birmingham. All the time. “What about The Ackleys? When are The Ackleys going to reunite?”
That’s so funny. We got asked about a year ago to do something, and I texted Katie and asked, “Do you guys want to do this?” And I just don’t think we could do it. I see Carter [Wilson, the drummer] a decent amount; I haven’t seen Michael [McClellan, the bassist] in a really long time. It’s not particularly for any reason other than we’re all busy and I’m not home that much.
I can’t imagine what it would be like. It would be so different now. It’s also funny to think about — now I play synthesizers and keyboards a lot — it’d be funny to incorporate that. It’d probably be cool, honestly, to see what an Ackleys reunion in 2017 would be like.
Allison Crutchfield with the Fizz is at Syndicate Lounge on Saturday, March 11. Vagabon opens. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. She’ll also do an in-store at Seasick on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.