CJW: Since you did mention a lot of y’all are independent, give me an idea, I guess, if you can, of what it’s like to be an independent artist.
TLC: Very fun, very free, and very hard. I get to control where I go and what I do and how I do it, what my album sounds like and there’s nobody telling me, “You need to change your hair every six months” or “You need to wear this kind of clothes.” “You’re going to tour with this artist.” By the same token, it’s continually an uphill battle. I try to surrender my booking to a couple different people, a couple different agencies… no one books as hard as I book. No one cares as much as I care. I have to make sure that I make enough money to pay for the next album and to pay for my bills. There’s no label going, “Here’s $30,000 to live on while you record this album until it becomes a big hit album.” I try to let God define what success is instead of going, “It’s about selling this many albums,” or “You didn’t make our money back that we invested in you, so I’m sorry but you’re not going to be able to do this anymore.” I can do it as long as I keep trying to do it and as long as God keeps opening doors. In some ways it’s freeing, and in some ways it’s really frustrating.
CJW: Would you ever be willing to give up that freedom and go to a label?
TLC: It would have to be a really sweet deal! I don’t want to say no, but that’s not a door I would ever knock on. If it were open, I would look through and see what it looked like on the other side and maybe think about walking through. But I would never go knocking on that door. I don’t even really spend much time in that neighborhood! (laughing) I can’t say anything for certain, but…
CJW: The CCM song. Do you get interesting reactions to that?
TLC: Yes. It’s funny, because I feel – if there’s one thing that frustrates me, it’s that I get pigeon-holed as the “funny girl.” I don’t mind being funny, but I don’t want to be the girl that, when I try to get serious – you know how when Robin Williams first started to do serious movies, people were like, “No, no, no! Be funny!” I try to do serious stuff and people are like, “Be funny!” Okay, I have three funny songs in an hour and a half set, but the ones that they remember are the ten minutes of funny songs. They want me to play those all the time. Some people sometimes like them too much. Most of the people in the industry love it and laugh at it a lot. People always compared me to Jennifer Knapp, and I’m like, all right, here’s my chance. I loved most of those artists growing up, so it’s intended to be just a fun jab at all of us, and mostly at me. But I retired it from the shows because, even though it’s really fun and we all laugh, and I enjoy playing it and making fun of myself – self-deprecating humor, it pigeon holes me. So that’s why, when we did that album, Home Sweet Road, we only made 1000 copies with the silly songs on it because I want to give these to the people who are the original fan base who have been asking for them for years, and then no more! We’re not letting anybody else hear these! We’re getting them out of here. We’re probably going to put those songs on iTunes eventually, so people can get them.
CJW: I played those songs for my best friend, because I bought her the CD for her birthday. I thought, “Oh, she’ll enjoy this!” – it was right after I met you in September. I played those songs for her, because it wasn’t on her copy, obviously. She cracked up.
TLC: Not many people can pull off doing the funny thing without it being their schtick. David Wilcox can do it really well. I don’t know that I’ve fine-tuned it well enough, that I’ve been doing it long enough – and again, I’m not married to my audience. So they don’t know what to expect from me. They don’t know if I get up there and play a funny song, if the whole act is supposed to be like that. Hopefully I’ll eventually sort of make a place in people’s heads as an actual songwriter about serious topics. But I also don’t mind being funny.
CJW: And of course, Bebo’s married now, but I imagine there’s still plenty of girls swooning over him. I don’t imagine that changes things too much.
TLC: (laughs) No, the song’s still applicable.