Wareham band aims to bring back rock with debut album "Love in Hell"

Feb 3, 2015

Everyone knew that when Jeff Lawson and Bethany Pierce met they would make beautiful music together. Everyone except Lawson and Pierce that is.

Despite both being musicians, the two began dating with no intention of performing music together. Fast forward 18 months and the duo, which go by the name Angry Ginger, have a debut rock album that has garnered award nominations across New England and another album in the works.

The two Wareham natives met in July 2013 when Pierce and a friend saw a show by Lawson's previous band. Lawson has been playing guitar for decades, performing everywhere from New York to Nashville. At the time, Pierce was singing in a country cover band. When the singer of Lawson's band fell ill Pierce stepped in for a few performances.

When people began asking them to come back as a band, not knowing that Pierce was just a fill-in, the couple realized they might have a hold of something.

"People just assumed we would start collaborating when we got together," Pierce said.

But they still weren't set on making a band. It wasn't until Pixy 103 DJ Lori Lori, who knows Lawson and just about everyone else in the southern New England music scene, debuted one of Lawson's solo songs and mentioned he was in a new band that would be releasing music soon. Lawson said at that point they figured if people expected music from them they might as well give the people what they want.

The duo began writing for their debut album, "Love in Hell" in November 2013. Lawson was in charge of writing the music while Pierce handled the lyrics. They both said the key to their collaborative process was trusting each other creatively.

"I'll come up with something on guitar and then she'll go into a different room and write something that I wasn't thinking of at all," Lawson said.

In the fall, the two went to Providence to see a performance by Imelda May, an Irish rockabily and blues musician. May is a female vocalist who is married to the guitar player in her band. Lawson and Pierce met the couple after the show and asked them how they write songs together.

"We asked them how they do it and they laughed and said 'We can't, do you?'," Lawson said.

Angry Ginger's debut album "Love in Hell" was released on Dec. 13 2014 and contains seven original songs.

"We want to being back rock. We're trying to go against the grain," Lawson said about the band's sound and vision. "Everything [on the album] was inspired by our relationships and the people close to us," he said.

Even the album artwork is personal, having been created by Lawson's 12-year-old daughter Amber. The cover is a picture of Lawson and Pierce photoshopped over a picture of an inn in Onset.

The duo recorded the album with Matt Withrow, who they met through playing at 3065 Live on Cranberry Highway, where Withrow works the sound equipment. The album was recorded over four days in August at Withrow's recording studio in Falmouth and took another three months to tweak to perfection.

Lawson and Pierce wanted an organic, live-sounding album that would sound the same at a show or on your stereo. The group didn't use any pitch correction or auto-tune on Pierce's vocals.

That work was especially tough for Pierce who was just getting back to being able to sing at all. At the end of 2013 she had developed vocal nodules which made her take eight months off from singing while writing the album. She had to retrain herself to sing with the help of vocal coach Debra Perry.

"She saved my voice," Pierce said. "Not singing for those eight months was the hardest thing I ever had to do."

All the hard work has paid off though. The group has had songs played on Pixy 103, Radio 92.9 and have been nominated as Best New Artist for 2014 by Limelight Magazine, a New England music magazine. Pierce was also nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year.

"It's so cool when you see people singing along to your songs at shows," Pierce said.

Lawson, who teaches guitar at Onset Music Village, had a surreal moment of his own when one of his students asked him to teach her how to play "Pretty," one of the songs off of "Love in Hell."

The two are contemplating a tour down south in the spring and are already writing songs for a new album they hope to release in the summer.

"It's amazing how many doors can open for you when you're playing your own music," Lawson said.

To find out more about the band, the album and where you can see them perform, go to angrygingerband.com. Click here to vote for Angry Ginger in the Limelight Magazine reader's poll.