After more than a decade as pop's perennial rebel, she's got a new baby and a brave new album, but don't think Pink's a girl gone mild

By Dave Karger
August 24, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Pink drink a glass of fancy red wine. ”I’m a wine freak — I just actually got back from Napa two days ago,” says the 32-year-old as she shoves her face into a goblet filled with a 2006 cabernet/merlot blend like a character from Sideways, inhaling the bouquet before swirling the liquid around, sipping it ever so slowly and savoring it. ”It’s gorgeous. That’s nice. It’s jammy.”

Okay, this wasn’t exactly what we were envisioning when she first sang her No. 1 smash ”Raise Your Glass” back in 2010. But so what, she’s still a rock star — and our most irresistibly confessional one at that. Her sixth studio album, The Truth About Love (out Sept. 18), will deliver more of the kiss-off anthems that have made her a fixture on the Billboard charts for the past 12 years. The album’s lead single, the cheeky ”Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” has already become the singer’s 12th top 10 hit.

”After she gets an inspiration for a song, it happens really fast,” says Greg Kurstin, who produced five tracks on Truth. ”There’s something very stream-of-consciousness about it — like you’re hanging out with her and she’s telling you a story.” And her life has certainly given her ample fodder: Over the past five years, Pink (whose real name is Alecia Moore) separated from and reconciled with her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, and gave birth to her first child, 15-month-old daughter Willow. Over tacos steps away from Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif., she talked to EW about the intersection of music, marriage, and motherhood — and why she’ll never be a reality-show talent judge.

How did you know you were ready to make a new record after becoming a mom?
Basically, when I make a record, it’s three years that I’m committing to. ‘Cause it’s a two-year tour. So I timed it by her age. I wanted to be home when she started preschool. I knew that if I started the record when she was 7 months old, I would be done with it by the time she was a year. Then I would be [touring] from when she was a year to 3 years — that’s the perfect time to have her traveling the world with me. And then when she’s 3, we’ll come home.

That’s called planning.
I’m a Virgo. It’s a joke that we’re perfectionists and planners, and it’s totally true. My Facebook says, ”I am Virgo, hear me vacuum.”

With the success you’ve had in the past few years, do you now feel like you can basically do whatever you want, or do you still have to answer to other people?
The only time I ever have to answer to people is if I don’t have singles. As a pop artist, that’s something you’re never going to get around. You need radio. And I’ve learned that by not having radio on my side. From [2004’s] ”God Is a DJ” all the way up until ”U + Ur Hand” [which reached the top 10 in 2007], radio hated me. They wanted nothing to do with me.

At one point on the new album, you sing ”I really hate you so much, I think it must be true love.” How much of that is you being funny and how much is it you being honest about your relationship with Carey?
It’s 100 percent always going on in my head. Carey and I have a very passionate relationship. No one pisses me off like my mom or my husband. I think psychologically, if you can get a rise out of someone, it means they care. We’re also taught from a young age — and I’m watching it with my daughter — that sometimes the only way she can get our attention is to do something bad. So we’re kind of programmed from a very young age to test the waters, and who do we do that with? The people we feel safest with. It’s f—ed up.

So is your music similar to what Willow is doing? Being bad to get attention?
That’s me. I do that every day. That’s how I was raised.

How does your husband feel about being the subject of all of your tough songs?
I think he’s cool with it. He at least knows what he signed up for.

When you’re writing about him, at what point does he get to hear it?
He hears it when it’s finished. [Laughs] My mom [Judy Moore, a nurse in Pennsylvania] went to the Enquirer around eight years ago after some of my songs came out, she was so upset. She felt like she needed her side to be heard. So she went to the Enquirer, of all places. As you do.

Do you still talk to her?
Oh yeah, she’ll be out here next week. [Laughs] I remember getting on a plane and the stewardess was like, ”Wow, I’ve never seen a celebrity alone with her child.” And I was like, ”How sad is that?” And that’s why I do it. I want to be a better mom, no offense to my mom at all, because she did the best that she could.

Between your first two solo number-one singles and your showstopping acrobatic Grammys performance, the past few years have been remarkable for you.
I’m never the kind of person who’s sitting at home reading the charts and basing how I feel about myself or even my career on stats. I’ve always based it on, Am I doing the best that I can do? And how’s my F— You account?

What’s that?
When I first started, [then-Arista label head] L.A. Reid said, ”Make sure you put money into your F— You account. That’s the account that, one day when people ask you to do things you don’t want to do, you say ‘F— you.”’ I make sure that my F— You account is okay, so that you never have to make decisions based on money. I feel like that’s where people kill their careers.

How much of your income goes in there?
More than half. Of everything. We live very calmly. We don’t need much. We have nice things, I’m not gonna lie.

What are your splurges?
Shoes. And now baby clothes. I’m in so much trouble with Carey for the s— that I buy for her. Because a 1-year-old shouldn’t have Diesel jeans. But it tends to slip my mind when I see them because they’re so cute. My thing is like, ”Okay, I will stop buying her Diesel jeans when she’s old enough to know that they’re Diesel jeans.” Until then, she’s going to look f—in’ awesome. And by the way, you can take her to Ross. I’m not going to Ross. I grew up in Ross. But you have to be careful. Nobody wants a spoiled little rich kid. I hated those kids growing up.

The one thing that’s missing from your career is a reality show.
It’s not gonna happen. It’s not that I don’t want to do one, it’s just out of spite for everyone else doing one and it being so f—ing annoying. I believe that ours would be very entertaining, but no thank you. I’ve been asked to do American Idol and X Factor. I’m an Ed McMahon kind of girl. Star Search? I’m in, all day long. It felt more authentic, and the market wasn’t oversaturated with karaoke contests. It’s just not for me.

You have a sizable role in the indie drama Thanks for Sharing with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo. You play a recovering sex addict. What made you want to take that role?
Because I understand addiction. I was a hardcore partyer from [ages] 12 to 15. I was like a candy raver and I was on all the club drugs. Selling Ecstasy and crystal meth and Special K. I overdosed on Thanksgiving of ’95. And then I never took drugs again, ever. It’s not that I want to be an actress or any of that. It’s just that it was a story I wanted to be a part of. And I believe that it will help someone. I hate when musicians act. Unless they’re Will Smith, LL Cool J, or Queen Latifah. So basically, unless they’re rappers.

When you’re writing songs that are so candid and personal, would you say you’re writing just for yourself? Or are you thinking about your young female fans as well?
It used to be that it was all just for me, ’cause that’s all I knew. Now I find out a lot about the people that listen to me. It’s sort of like world group therapy. I was at Regis & Kelly years ago and this girl was outside, like 13 years old, and she gave me this letter. It was literally, ”My mom just died, my grandfather was raping her, and now he’s raping me. And I want to kill myself, but I don’t because of your music.” I’m sitting there bawling my eyes out, trying to call Child Services and figure out where this girl is and can I take her with me. I was told that legally I couldn’t touch it. But those are the kinds of letters I get every single day. It’s not just like, ”Oh my God, Pink, I love your hair!” And it’s not even ”I want to be like you.” It’s ”I like you because you make me want to be like me.” And that’s why I still do it.

The Stories Behind the Songs

”Family Portrait” 2002
”That was from a poem that I wrote when I was 9 when my dad left. My mom cried for four days when she heard it. I’ve seen my dad cry three times and that was one of them; that was awful. And then my stepmom cried. She’s so strong — she was an Army nurse in Vietnam, and I’d never seen her cry. That was a song I wrote for me, and I didn’t realize how much it was going to hurt them.”

”Who Knew” 2006
”I always wanted to write a song for a friend of mine, Sekou Harris, who overdosed on heroin and died. And I never knew how because I didn’t want to force it and write some cheesy overdose song. Over the years it’s become about so many different things for me, which is why I love that song. It’s been about my dog that died, and Carey, and Linda Perry, and my grandmother. It’s always about something else.”

”So What” 2008
”Carey was my ex when we did the video. I didn’t want to do it unless I could have him in the video, in fairness to him because I was calling him a tool. And also, I didn’t want to come off like some man-eating bitch, because I loved him. And he came through. I had to drink a beer at 7 a.m., I was so nervous the day of the shoot — I hadn’t seen him in six months. I looked good that day! I made sure of it.”

”F—in’ Perfect” 2010
”I started writing that about Carey. And then I started writing it for the fans, and for all these little girls, and then it just became about me and it was just sort of for everybody. And then it was about this thing inside of me that I didn’t even know yet. It’s just all of it.”

”Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” 2012
”That one was kind of in my back pocket. Carey and I were getting back together, so I had to be a little bit nice. Those songs are really easy for me to write. It started out being about how we hold on so tight that we choke the life out of it. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, another breakup song from Pink.’ But it’s about 50,000 different things and 10 different people.”

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