By Rob M. Gooze‚

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Within less than a year, Melissa Ferrick went from playing open mic nights in Boston nightclubs to becoming the opening act on Morrissey's U.S. and U.K. tour. Three years and one record contract later, Ferrick released her much anticipated debut album, {Massive Blur.} Ferrick's hybrid vision of acoustic alternative rock hits Tucson this Sunday.

{The Wildcat} caught up with Ferrick to talk about her rise to fame, the new album and touring the nation in a Mercury Sable.

Wildcat: How has the current tour swing treated you so far?

Ferrick: It's been 23 shows in 26 days. I have a tour manager who's actually my bass player and we've been splitting the driving in a Mercury Sable rental car. Tonight, I'll be going to the show at six, hanging out there 'til 11 o'clock, sleep here and then wake up at 5:30 for the drive to Sante Fe.

Wildcat: I suppose this whole thing started with the Morrissey tour, what was that like for you?

Ferrick: It was amazing. He's a wonderful person and was really supportive of me. I knew at that time when I didn't have a record deal and playing Wembley Stadium, God knows if I'll ever be able to play that place again.

Wildcat: What made you adopt "Massive Blur" as your theme for your debut album?

Ferrick: I don't really know what exactly happened that got me here sitting behind this long table talking on the phone to you, but it has been one extremely {big} blur. At first I knew, it wasn't going to be Melissa Ferrick, "Happy Song." I wanted it to be a song to sum up my life and something I played the electric guitar on, which was "Massive Blur."

Wildcat: I'm sure this question has been asked many times concerning your quote atop your press release, "Sometimes I play guitar like I have a dick and sometimes I sing like I do." Now what was that all about?

Ferrick: (Laughing) The first time I put an electric guitar on my back I was completely a different person, it brought out this masculine side of myself. There's something about electric guitars that is very empowering kind of feeling like nobody can touch you and you like 'Yeah, rock & roll!'. I've got myself a Les Paul now so look out!

Wildcat: Now you're 23 years old and have a CD on a major record label in stores nationwide. What was it like to walk into the store and look behind section "F" to find your album sitting there?

Ferrick: Right behind Brian Ferry which is a nice place to be. Yeah, it was unbelievable. My sister was in town and she had her little camera so she took pictures of me buying it to give to my parents. It was just about the most exiting thing in the world.

Wildcat: What song is your personal favorite?

Ferrick: It's definitely "Breaking Vows" which is more or less about me and problems I think women have with image. Thoughts like 'how can I be able to have the perfect relationship my parents are in love with' or 'why at my mother is married and has two kids when at age 23, I can't even go out with somebody for more than a month and a half.

Wildcat: The music industry always seems to label female songwriters and guitarists under the same category. How has that stereotyping affected you?

Ferrick: The girls with guitar thing. Yeah, it is really tough. Liz Phair, Juliana Hatfield and I are all under the same label so not only do I get lumped into the girls with guitars thing, but there are three or four of us walking around Atlantic Records. The important thing to realize is that we're all really different people coming from different experiences. But I don't really hate it, actually I kind of laugh it it now.

Wildcat: Your daily schedule includes spending three to four hours writing poetry but what first prompted you to write songs?

Ferrick: I had been writing poems but they really never turned into songs. When I was 13 and I heard Suzanne Vega's first record, I was completely blown away by the lyrical content on it. That started this deep diving thing to find music that had meaningful lyrics.

{Wildcat: You played for more than 10 years, played trumpet since high school, but what made you decide to go with guitar?}

[Ferrick:] When I bought a guitar I figured okay I'm not going to learn how to read the music on this instrument and teach myself. I just started playing and pulling poems out from everywhere. So I just ended up sitting in my dorm room screaming until I was in tune.

{Wildcat: How did you go about taking those songs and begin performing live?}

[Ferrick:] I fortunately went to college in Boston where there is a great music scene. In Cambridge there are a lot of clubs and literally within four to six months of sitting in my dorm room, I was out every Tuesday playing two songs at open mic's bringing five or six friends with me. I kept doing it every week until I got used to it.

{Wildcat: How would you describe playing live?}

[Ferrick:] As far as a singer I really don't know what I'm doing, I just sing. I think that attitude is good because emotionally I am 150 percent on stage and I'm just letting it go. Most of the time when you give up the control your soul has, emotions have, and heart has, then usually they'll steer you in the right direction and I've found they really don't let you down too often.

{Melissa Ferrick's volitile vocals and acoustic rock come to the Cushing Street Grill at 343 S. Meyer (near the TCC) this Sunday beginning at 8 pm. The cover charge is $5. For info call 622-7984.} Read Next Article