Meet the new and improved Melissa Ferrick.
With her second Atlantic album, “Willing to Wait” (due April 11), the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter doesn’t want to know what single is being shipped to modern rock and album alternative radio stations or whether it has videoclip potential. She’s not interested in sales and marketing strategies or demographics.
“The new record definitely embodies that whole process of just chilling out about everything,” Ferrick said recently. “There are more important things in life than selling a million records.”
This carefree outlook is a stark contrast from 1993 when Ferrick’s “Massive Blur” created a massive buzz within Atlantic and with critics but sold only 10,000 copies. Then, Ferrick was uptight and consumed with every detail of building a successful career.
“When ‘Massive Blur’ didn’t do what we wanted it to do,” she said, “it was really hard. I really had to pull myself up by the boot straps and go, ‘Okay, why am I doing this again?’ ”
She dusted herself off and, in the meantime, came to terms with a subject she had desperately avoided in press interviews: Her sexuality. All her friends and even most of her fans knew Ferrick was gay. After falling in love two years ago and feeling more stable with her private life, she decided she owed it to herself to be aboveboard on “Willing to Wait.”
“Coming out, for me, is not a scary thing,” she said. “I’m not like getting on stage and saying, ‘I’m Melissa Ferrick and I’m a lesbian.’ Thank God for Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang. Someone’s sexuality has a lot to do with who they are as a person, and I thoroughly believe that it does embody part of who they are.
“I felt like by not saying it, I’m not really giving the whole picture of myself, and making a record and writing songs that are honest and forward and direct, it would be really rude of me not to allow people to know as well that I’m gay.”
Standing up to life’s struggles and challenges permeates as a theme through the pared-down tracks on “Willing to Wait,” particularly “Falling On Fists” (the first single) and the title track. While not downplaying the slickly produced “Massive Blur,” Ferrick said the new songs have more of a cohesiveness, due in part to her becoming more comfortable with writing and production techniques.
Now touring with Del Amitri, Ferrick said she’s not worried how her new openness will be received by the public.
“I don’t want other people to get over it,” she said. “I want to get over it. I wasn’t coming out for anyone else but myself.
“It’s been an amazing experience just being able to not talk on the phone with someone and feel like, ‘Oh, I hope he doesn’t ask me (if I’m gay),’ because I think that kind of dishonesty breeds on itself. If you’re not honest about it, it’ll eat you up.”