Being a crossover success means confronting listeners and critics with music that may be outside their expertise or comfort zone. For Tennessee singer Caitlin Rose, whose country-leaning music has been lauded by bloggers and indie rock fans normally suspicious of the genre, the result is a handful of keywords — Nashville, honky tonk, Loretta Lynn, etc. — and limited reference points that belie her range as a songwriter.

For me, that meant digging deeper to come up with inventive questions, most of which were tossed out in favour of tackling the issue head-on. How does one suffer through an interview, I wondered, and Rose obliged to answer.

I got kind of bummed reading other interviews with you; it seems like you get asked a lot of the same questions, more so than other musicians I’ve talked to.

The fact that you read other interviews is kind of a big deal. I think most (interviewers) just read press releases — or Wikipedia.

I try to make sure I never repeat myself, even if I’m answering an old question. When you do hear the same questions over and over you’ll realize they’re coming from the same place. They all start with the same material ... if people call my shit “material” I can call their work material, too ... there’s just a lot of keywords. “How does it feel to be compared to Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline?” I’ve answered that question 30 times, and I try to give a different answer even if I feel the same about it.

I guess when people stick to questions with definitive or “factual” answers there’s no way to really get around it.

Yeah, it’s gotta be a more personal thing. You’ve got to spur a conversation. Getting asked a brand new question can be an anxious thing for me but at least I’ll give an honest answer.

An interview shouldn’t be about promoting a product as much as showing who an artist really is. That is often missing in music journalism.

Have you undergone any rapid-fire, press conference-style questioning?

No! But I think that would be really fun. And scary.

My favourite thing about stage performance is building this weird connection with an audience. No matter what people say they don’t just go to shows to hear music, they go to experience something, and whatever they bring with them could end up on stage with the performer. So, like, heckling is the same thing (as being questioned).

You get heckled?

Not mean things but people love to yell. And I’ll yell back; I was in Glasgow and I sang the line, “Who’s gonna take me home?” and some guy yelled, “I’ll take ya home, lassie!” I enjoy that back and forth.

He totally had that line ready.

Yeah, and hopefully people in a press junket will write their questions down before they come.

Are you always "into" performing then? On some nights, like any other job no matter how fun, do you really have to push yourself into it?

My love of performing is very much about the audience — whether 10 or 500 people, I’m still forging a connection. Maybe during the sound check or the hours leading up to the show I can feel (reluctant), but once I’m on stage it’s a whole different thing. The good feeling takes over, and I can suffer through anything for the audience.

From your Twitter account I see you’re a fan of The Walking Dead. Do you think you’d survive a zombie apocalypse?

I think about this a lot. I can’t decide. I know that in the right moment — or wrong, to put it more precisely — you’d have to decide to keep going or just give up. I can’t decide if I’d keep going. And when it comes to sudden possible death everyone imagines that “Oh, shit!” moment where they’d have to jump out of the way, and I think about that in terms of zombies more than (realistic) death. I get kind of morbid about it. I’m a big fan, though.

I assume in a post-apocalyptic scenario, musicians would be welcomed as useful distractions by any group of survivors.

There’s a girl character on the show who sings all the time and it’s a little obnoxious. She’s definitely going to be part of the body count in the season finale. Hopefully, we won’t have to put up with her a cappella bullshit anymore.

You visit karaoke bar in the video for “Only a Clown.” What’s your go-to jam?

A few. One is “Seven Year Ache” by Roseanne Cash. But if it’s a dark and quiet night I’ll sing “Lonesome Town.” One time I did “Stand By Your Man” at a bowling alley and got a standing ovation. But I don’t do that one anymore.

I’d love to hear you take on “Lonesome Town.” That’s a personal favourite.

Me too! Such a good one. I’m a big Ricky Nelson fan.

Caitlin Rose will perform at The Garrison in Toronto on April 5.

Related: Our review of Rose’s new album The Stand-In.

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