It was starting to become one of rock’s most enduring mysteries: Why hadn’t diminutive pop powerhouse LP — born Laura Pergolizzi — achieved the stardom promised on her smart, scrappy 2001 Koch debut, “Heart-Shaped Scar”? Discovered by Cracker’s David Lowery, she was even taken under the wing of the hitmaking Linda Perry for her 2004 sophomore disc “Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol,” and still, bupkes. Finally, the charismatic singer seems to have struck paydirt with her fifth attempt, “Heart to Mouth” and diverse tracks such as the Eagles-chiming “Dreamcatcher,” a celebratory “The Power” and a Duane Eddy-booming “Girls Go Wild.” Her current headlining tour is bringing her to more sizable venues like Oakland’s Fox Theater, where this week’s show is sold out.
When we talked for “Scar,” I hung up the phone just expecting you to be an overnight sensation.
Ha! You and me both, brother! Right before the record was about to come out, they wanted all my publishing rights, and I said no to that. So they put my record out with no tour support, nothing, so I spent six months feeling bad for myself, and then I went back to working in a bar. I was a bartender.
Customers’ stories must have been inspiring.
Your whole life becomes a song after awhile, and that’s the point. So ultimately, I’m very thankful for my interesting life, just because I’ve gotten a lot of good songs out of it. After three years, I got a major-label deal with Island/Def Jam through Universal. So I’d written a bunch of new songs, but then a record didn’t come out. But that got me to a whole other level — bigger artists started plucking songs out of there, like the Backstreet Boys. So then I just started writing songs for other people. That’s what I thought was going down.
You wrote for Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Cher. But still nothing for yourself?
Well, I did begin writing songs for myself again, just for the love of the game. But my song “Into the Wild” was used in a big commercial, and honestly, for 10 years I’d been keeping afloat on these big advances I got from record labels, getting cuts on big artists’ albums, and getting songs in commercials. So I was just going along with it, since I was getting paid.
And then Warner Bros. signed you?
Yeah. But then everybody got fired, and the new people I met with said, “Uh, I think we’re gonna pass on keeping you on the label.” Then I got on Vagrant, but BMG bought Vagrant, then Greece asked to license my song “Lost On You,” then France and Italy. And it ended up going No. 1 in all those countries — all from a song that my old label said “meh” about!
IF YOU GO
Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 26
Tickets: $27.50 (sold out)
Contact: (510) 302-2250, www.ticketmaster.com