EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: “They are the girls next door that kick country ass”. That’s how The JaneDear Girl’s producer, John Rich describes them. Utah native Susie Brown and Texan, Danelle Leverett make up the duo and they want to rock. “We like our guitars loud, our fiddles ripping and a steady beat that makes people want to dance!” says Danelle. Nashville.com recently caught up the JaneDear Girls who are on tour with Jason Aldean and it’s obvious this duo is going to be around for a while.
Nash: So how did you guys meet?
Susie: We met about six years ago. I moved out here from Alpine Utah the year before to pursue music. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, I just wanted to give it a shot. I finally got my first gig playing fiddle for a local singer-songwriter and I was making like $50 bucks a week. I was so excited cause it took me like a year to figure out how I was going to survive and still do music. Danelle came to one of the shows I was playing with her friend Chris Burgess. I knew Chris too and he introduced us. Well about two weeks later Danelle was house sitting and she called and invited me over to go swimming.
Danelle: We actually ended up ditching swimming to write our first song together. Susie had brought her guitar secretly hoping to write. So it was meant to be. We wrote our first song together and my friend Chris helped us finish it and said “you guys are like sisters, you talk alike, sound alike, you’re a duo.” We looked at each other and said “ok”. We wrote three songs that weekend, three songs the next weekend. I quit my job selling insurance to focus on what we were doing and started living on taco soup. Six years and 500 songs later we’re still doing it. We started writing for Sony and they just put us in the machine.
Nash: What’s your favorite instrument to write on?
Susie: I mostly play fiddle but to write I would definitely say mandolin.
Danelle: She wrote ‘Wildflower on an electric mandolin, it’s called a ‘mandocaster’.
Susie: Its like a 1950s solid body mandolin.
Danelle: Yeah she had a little amp and both of us like to bring in electric ‘cause we like to rock. But the first instrument I like to write on in acoustic and second would be piano. I also like to build loops and write to the loops on Protools. I like to build a drum track that has a good beat. It helps to inspire melodies.
Susie: It automatically adds energy.
Danelle: We like up-tempos so it works for that.
Nash: So Susie, you come from a big family, was it a musical family?
Susie: Yes I’m the youngest of seven and my family is very musical. My mother thought it was very important that each kid have a sport and an instrument. Since I was at the very end of the totem pole I guess my mother thought it was important that I play a lot to keep me busy. So she he got me started in violin, mandolin, bass, guitar and accordion. We had a family band called The Charlie Brown Family Band. Charlie was the nickname for my mom Shirley.
Nash: Danelle, you were a big athlete when you were growing up, are you still an athlete?
Danelle: Sports were my entire life, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, track. But then I broke my wrist pole vaulting when I was 17. I had nothing better to do so I started playing guitar. My brother showed me some chords and I started writing songs. But up until then I literally lived in the gym. Now . . . I’m lucky if I go walking or jogging once a week. The only weight training I do is lifting my guitar or my ganjo ’cause my ganjo is pretty heavy. My physique has changed quite a bit. I don’t look as muscular as I use to, I look kind of puny.
Nash: Tell me about working with Jason Aldean.
Susie: Jason is amazing! He was always a guy we wanted to open up for. We love his show and he just has this long stream of hits.
Danelle: Jason heard our music through our manager, he loves our manager. We’re just really lucky that he heard it, liked it and decided to take us out. I can’t think of a better person for us to try to keep up with I can’t think of a another guy that rocks more than him that we can look up to and learn from, so it’s the perfect fit for us.
Nash: Speaking of looking up to someone, who were your early influences?
Danelle: Well I was raised on the Beatles for the first ten years of my life. That’s the only thing my dad would let me listen to. But my mom loved the Judds so I occasionally got them in there. Then I went through this phase in 6th grade and it was like No Doubt, Jewel, Green Day, Nirvana. I really fell in love with country music starting with Garth Brooks, then Shania Twain and Keith Urban. When I first heard Golden Road I was like “this guys got it down. I want to be like him some day.
Susie: For me, I grew up listening to a lot of really old country. I played in a group called the Utah Old Tme Fiddlers and we played anything from Hank Williams to Bluegrass. I have a deep appreciation for all music. I love like Shania Twain, Pat Benatar, Garth Brooks, Alabama The Oak Ridge Boys.