Lisa Ward is a Shetland girl through and through. She went to primary school in Hamnavoe and formed an interest in music there. That passion to be a singer songwriter has stayed with her all her life. A horrendous injury whilst exercising resulted in a broken back and saw her laid up for sixteen weeks, with time to think and write songs. Her recently recorded album “27”, with her XYY band, was launched at a gig in the Legion on 1st April. She is back living in Hamnavoe now and Jeff Merrifield caught up with her in her new house.
People have asked about the title of the opening song on the new album 27 Slices of Pi. It actually came from a joke I made to Craig Birnie (my partner and bass player in the band) just after I broke my back. I was extremely lucky as the CT and X-ray showed that the break was stable and the spinal cord safe – no surgery required – but I was in a hospital bed for several days while they made me a back brace, then when the brace was fitted there were lots of limited yet painful movements to get the blood flowing and optimise the healing.
Basically, I was 27 at the time it happened and I wanted to make light of the situation a bit, so I said to Craig, “Well I’m clearly not rock and roll enough for the 27 Club, but the universe took a little swipe, so I must at least have a bit of rock and roll in me!” This was a reference to the famous ‘27 Club’ of rock stars who sadly died at that age. It got me thinking about the number 27. I’m a bit of a numbers person and a big believer in the idea that mathematics is the language used by the universe to tell us about itself. As I was recovering, I did a fair bit musing on the beauty of mathematical constants and got to thinking about Pi, then I started contemplating how people talk of ‘wanting their slice of the pie’, which led to a myriad of cultural meanings behind pies and thoughts of Pi as a good metaphor for the universe or life itself. So, in combination with the idea of getting your ‘slice of the pie’, my 27 slices of Pi is the 27 years I’d been lucky enough to get to so far. 27 Slices of Pi is kind of a celebration.
XYY band has been together a couple of years. We put an earlier EP out of my own songs, as I didn’t want to be defined by twenty seconds of a cover version in The Voice. The process of being on that programme was interesting. Some BBC agents came to Shetland to listen to a few singers. I was one of a small group of singer-songwriters. I was asked to go to Glasgow for others to hear me, but I said I couldn’t afford the fare. But soon after, one of my doggies had something wrong with her and had to go to a special hospital in Glasgow. I got in touch with The Voice people and they arranged an audition while I was there. Some further time later, I had to go to London for another audition, but that time expenses were met. So, it was a long-ish journey, but I made the programme. I picked Tom Jones to work with and he turned out to be a really nice, level-headed person, for someone who has worked in a crazy industry as long as he has. He was very helpful to me, very relaxed and chilled, balanced.
What tracks did Lisa choose? You’ll need to buy the magazine to find out!