Alabama Shakes’ "Boys & Girls" immediately shot the band skyward last year. The soulful Yellowhammer state quartet, who recently debuted on "Austin City Limits" and "Saturday Night Live," performs Wednesday, March 13, at Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo.
"We’ve been pretty fortunate to pass through Austin a good bit," lead guitarist Heath Fogg says. "I’m pretty comfortable there. It’s nice to have familiarity in a town when you travel all the time. I’m excited to get back."
American-Statesman: Describe performing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (Feb. 16).
Heath Fogg: Performing when there are television cameras is always nerve-wracking for me personally, but to be a part of "Saturday Night Live" was really special. It was an honor.
What was most memorable?
A lot of the cast and crew were in the dressing rooms in the hallway side stage. They were just clapping and smiling, and that was pretty special to see. I’ve been a fan of that show for a long time, and this season I’ll DVR it and watch every episode. So, (it was memorable) to see those cast members clapping and go out of their way to tell us how much they liked the band.
Did you talk to any favorite cast members?
Yeah, Bill Hader was really cool. He made a point to poke his head in our dressing room and make us comfortable. Fred Armisen was really cool, too. He and (drummer) Steve (Johnson) and myself did a triple hug at the end of the show.
Tell the story behind writing the newer song you played (‘Always Alright’).
(Lead singer) Brittney (Howard) came up with the lyrics and the rhythm guitar part. That’s a song we’ve been playing for a long time. That song feels like a half-written song, but it’s slowly taken shape over a few months, maybe even a year.
Does your part in the songwriting process vary from song to song?
Yeah, it definitely varies. Everybody’s welcomed and encouraged to bring in as much material as they can, and they’re encouraged to mold other people’s material. If I bring in a guitar part or even a complete song, I want them to take it and make it an Alabama Shakes song rather than a Heath Fogg song. They make my songs better.
Describe the dynamic when you’re onstage together.
I’m usually pretty chill onstage. I usually stand still and groove in my spot and just try not to fall down and play the parts right. Seeing Brittney, a front person who’s really enthusiastic, get into it gets my blood flowing.
What’s Brittney’s greatest asset as a guitarist?
Oh, man, she’s one of my favorite guitar players! I think she’s fearless. She plays any kind of music whether it’s jazz or R&B or folk and ragtime and country, and she plays it with a fearlessness that makes it raw and aggressive. She also does it with a conviction for the music she’s trying to play. She’s tasteful.
Have you been listening to any other guitarists lately?
I like Blake Mills a lot. I got to see him play at South by Southwest with Fiona Apple and a show with Dawes, and he really blew me away. He’s just a really interesting guitar player. I’ve been wearing out his record ("Break Mirrors") lately.