Elizabeth McGoven, star of stage and screen is known to many a British household now as Lady Cora in Downton Abbey; but i bet you didn't know she was also a songwriter and musician. Elizabeth tells me she has
always been a "secret guitar player" and about a decade ago she decided that she wanted to take her instrument to the next level. She instilled the help of guitarist Steve Nelson to help improve her technique. It soon became apparent that their weekly tutorial session became a forum for songwriting instead.
"He (Steve) has a real passion for song writing and inspired me to start writing songs... Instead of having lessons we quickly started bashing song ideas out. " They would discuss style,chord progressions and what musically would best suite the lyrics. After about two years Steve thought that they had written some good songs and suggested taking them to his brother Simon Nelson who had an interest recording. As it happened Simon was also well connected in London's music scene invited some musicians who he thought would work well together along to play and Sadie and the Hotheads was born.
It appears as if McGovern's move from actor to musician was a happy accident and a labour of love. Her organic and innocent approach to music and its industry is reflected in her new album How Not To Lose Things. All the songs on the album were written McGovern herself, who for a period after making the first album was "always thinking about song ideas...I wasn't trying to create a record. I don't know If I'd be able to do it if that was what I was supposed to do... I had the ideas and I had the time to indulge them...The record is a genuine reflection of a person who isn't trying to fit into any commercial mould."
Her songs such as Cow Song and Superficial are witty, quirky and original andL.A Days is an autobiographical heart felt tale. It is a mixed bag that fights the limitations of a musicalgenre. "As a band we tried to take each song and give it the musical expression to bestilluminate the lyrics."
Elizabeth tells me she takes great pride in her music and the process is very different for her than her day job. "There's less responsibility being an actress then there is in music...As an actress its my job to embody and inhabit somebody else's vision and bring somebody else's voice to life. With the music I'm giving myself a voice. It makes me take more responsibility."
Whether she will swap her musical responsibility for the rock and roll life and let her onstage alter-ego 'Sadie' take over and start throwing televisions out of the windows or driving limos into pools remains to be seen. Elizabeth laughs and says "oh no, we're a very tame band... But we'll see how it goes."
Sadie and the Hotheads will be touring around the UK next year. If you can't wait, their new album How Not To Lose Things is out now.