Singer Nellie McKay drives her fifth album Home Sweet Mobile Home to Chicago this month. The quirky songstress chirped about animals, Kathy Griffin and Harry Connick, Jr., Nunn on One.
Windy City Times: Whoa, Nellie! How are you?
Nellie McKay: Oh, good.
WCT: You are coming to Chicago…
Nellie McKay: I can't wait!
WCT: And two different performances at two different venues.
Nellie McKay: I didn't even know that. That's fabulous!
WCT: Two different crowds, I would imagine.
Nellie McKay: Two very small crowds.
WCT: [Laughs] We will see. So tell mewho is Nellie McKay?
Nellie McKay: I am like Kathy Griffin if she played piano.
WCT: Well, that will get the gays there and your crowd will get bigger! You started as a stand-up comedienne like Kathy, correct?
Nellie McKay: Yeah, I ended as a comedienne too, real quick. That business is not for the weak of mind. You ever do comedy?
WCT: No. I think that would be tricky.
Nellie McKay: I know one thing that is hard to do on demand is to be funny.
WCT: A lot of times when I talk to comediennes for interviews they are not funny. Well, Kathy is always funny…
Nellie McKay: She is always on! Think about how hard that would be. It's so nice to be allowed to be boring.
WCT: Even from your first album you had a funny title: Get Away from Me, playing off of Norah Jones' Come Away with Me.
Nellie McKay: She wasn't the only one with a title out like that. Jane Monheit had Come Dream With Me and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog had Come Poop with Me.
WCT: Oh, brother…
Nellie McKay: It seemed to be an entire theme. It was not a one-time gag. It's a whole philosophy. I think a lot of people can identify with Get Away from Me. I understand that title more as I go on through life.
WCT: Why did you decide to cover Doris Day for your album Normal as Blueberry Pie?
Nellie McKay: Well, she's a fabulous gay icon. She's an enigma, also. I am not sure anyone can entirely figure her out. She's such a retro figure. With regard to animal issues she is so ahead of her time.
WCT: You are a member of PETA and into the treatment of animals.
Nellie McKay: Yes, I am. Doris Day encouraged people to have empathy for animals before people had the idea to extend empathy to other people.
WCT: The hot topic now is horse-drawn carriages and how [horses] are treated.
Nellie McKay: This is a movement that has been going on since there have been horses and carriages. The ASPCA had one the most visible campaigns since the pro animal movement. I remember going to protests when I was a little girl. I am so glad it seems have gained traction and perhaps funding. I hope by getting word out that they will get rid of carriage horses in New York and around the country.
WCT: You performed with Laurie Anderson, who I spoke with recently.
Nellie McKay: Oh, yes! She is fascinating.
WCT: Your song on the David Byrne & Fatboy Slim album "How Are You?" I love it!
Nellie McKay: Aw, thank you! Talk about an enigma. It was a pleasure working with [Byrne].
WCT: David worked with you on your new album Home Sweet Mobile Home. How did you meet him?
Nellie McKay: He is such a lovely man. I have no idea.
WCT: He just reached out to you?
Nellie McKay: Yes. Perhaps it was my prison record.
WCT: [Laughs] You did The Threepenny Opera with Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper.
Nellie McKay: Yes, and to do Brecht in any space, not only a Broadway house, was incredible.
WCT: You won an award, so you did well.
Nellie McKay: The Theatre World Award, that was lovely. I got to address my arch nemesis Harry Connick, Jr. who was in the audience.
WCT: What happened?
Nellie McKay: He said I wouldn't get a debut double album and I did. So he was foiled again at the awards! We made a movie together called P.S. I Love You and it was wonderful to upstage him in that as well.
WCT: I liked your song from that movie. How would you describe your eclectic newest record?
Nellie McKay: We traveled the world to bring you this album and hope you like it!
Now Nellie travels to Chicago at the Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, on Wed., Jan. 26 ( www.lincolnhallchicago.com ) and Evanston Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston, on Thursday, Jan 27 ( www.evanstonspace.com ).
To purchase tickets visit their websites or McKay's own at www.nelliemckay.com .