We ply the reigning queen of country music with cocktails — and get her to talk about writing hits, the perils of celebrity marriage, and how she likes her deer steak (chicken-fried)
One of the more amusing songs on Miranda Lambert’s upcoming fifth album, Platinum, is called “Old Sh!t,” an ode to her favorite Texas flea market. That, along with her current hit “Automatic,” speaks to the simple pleasures that Lambert, 30, is trying to hold on to, especially at a time when her star has never been brighter — or the scrutiny of her life more intense. Forget the old crap; it’s all the new crap that comes with being country royalty (and the wife of fellow superstar Blake Shelton) that preoccupies the five-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year these days. “I’m a singer-songwriter,” says Lambert over fruity cocktails at the Good Luck Bar in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood. “I know you care that I lost weight, but it has nothing to do with who I am.”
Round 1 Lambert sips a Potent Potion, a sweet concoction of spiced rum, bitters, and pineapple juice served in a plastic coconut.
You were named CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year for the fourth time, and you just won your fifth consecutive trophy in the same category at the ACMs. And yet, once again, it looks like you didn’t prepare a speech.
I never do. I think if you prepare a speech, you look like you thought you were going to win. I just wing it and speak from my heart. It’s always just “Really, guys? You voted for me again? This is awesome.” It’s amazing, but it all comes right down to just sitting down on your porch with your guitar writing a song.
Let’s talk about that. Your fifth album, Platinum, drops on June 3. Do you get nervous in the days leading up?
Oh, I freak out, just because it’s what drives my whole life. All of this other stuff is great, but none of it happens if the music isn’t there. I really overanalyze everything, this one especially. Every song has something to do with who I am right now in my life.
Platinum is a hard metal that dirties very easily. Is there a metaphor there?
[Looking down at her diamond-and-platinum engagement ring set off by a five-carat eternity band] I have to clean it a lot, yes, so I just look at the sparkly part.
You reportedly were intimidated to ask Carrie Underwood to collaborate on ”Something Bad.” Why was that?
I respect the crap out of her for everything she’s been through and the way she came to fame. She’s always classy and sings her ass off, so I’m intimidated by her in a good way. I wanted to send an email that sounded smart!
She really broke out of her comfort zone by doing The Sound of Music for NBC. Can you see yourself doing something like that?
No! I think she did such a great job. We made a family event out of it. I was just so proud of her. You couldn’t tell one time that she was a country singer.
One of your new songs is called ”Smokin’ and Drinkin’.” Do you wish you had partied more in high school?
I was a real Goody Two-shoes. I was a cheerleader, I sang in church, and was just straight down the middle. Then I started playing bars at 19 and was like, “Oh! There’s a world.”
How much did you get paid for those gigs?
Oh my gosh, nothing. My dad would tip out the bar owner to let me get up and sing. I made these Texas cowboy hats to sell. I would buy them in bulk at Walmart, paint them like the Texas flag, crimp them around the edges, and then sell them for gas money to get home.
Now ”Old Sh!t” is a song based on your annual visit to a flea market in Round Top, Texas. Where do you stash your finds?
That’s why I have a store now [Ed. note: two, actually, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, and Lindale, Texas, both called the Pink Pistol] — it’s not even junk anymore. It started out to be an old-s— store and now it’s a boutique with boots and shirts and jewelry and novelties. I have all the [actual] old s— in storage. It’s all half-painted pink and chipping, and I don’t know what to do with it.
Round 2 Lambert tests the Scholar, a white-rum-and-fresh-mint drink served in a tall Fu Manchu glass.
Explain how ”Priscilla” got its inspiration from Priscilla and Elvis Presley.
I was hanging out with [songwriter] Natalie Hemby during one of those weeks where whatever trash rag said Blake and I were getting divorced. She was like, “How do you deal with it?” No matter what level, there’s always somebody pulling on you. There’s always this pressure. A girl’s gotta hold it together. It’s risky to put a song like that on your record, but it’s real. It’s what’s happening in my life right now. There’s no privacy.
You got a lot of personal questions on the red carpet at the ACMs last month.
The reporters were like, “I hate to ask you this, but…” It’s like, “Well, then, why are you asking me?” I have a lot going on right now. I have a charity foundation. I have a new shoe line. I have a new album. I have a store. There are six things you could ask me about and they all choose to ask me whether I am going to have a baby and how did I lose the weight? I just don’t understand it, but I’ve come to accept it because it’s not going to change. It’s a good problem, in a way, because it means I hit a new level. But I don’t understand when the new level hit. I didn’t know there was, like, a line. It just kind of happened. I think being married to another celebrity takes it to a different place. You learn how to deal and you move along, but it still doesn’t mean I don’t get pissed when people ask me first off, “When are you having babies?” Like, is that any of your business?
Do you think your career would have progressed in the same way without your 2003 appearance and third-place finish on the reality show Nashville Star?
I could have done it, but it probably would have taken me an extra 7, 10 years to get to where I am now if I didn’t have the launching pad. I’m not sure it will be that way forever.
If your husband wasn’t on The Voice, would you still watch it?
I think it’s great. It celebrates good singers, and I love the fact that it doesn’t matter what you look like.
Why do you think Blake is so successful as a coach?
People want him because he’s relatable. He’s warm and he’s funny and feels like home. I would pick him even if he wasn’t my husband. He just feels comfortable, like he’ll protect you.
Round 3 After deeming the first two cocktails ”too sweet,” Lambert moves on to her old reliable: beer.
You’ve been referred to as a ”hot-tempered honey,” so I’d like to run through some pop culture newsmakers to see if they managed to get your goat.
Kanye and Kim on the cover of Vogue.
They’re not even on my radar.
Stephen Colbert and David Letterman, a.k.a. one white male replacing another one on the Late Show.
I didn’t even know about it. Clearly I’m out of the loop.
Juan Pablo Galavis and whether he was the worst Bachelor ever.
Oh God, The Bachelor is, like, the last thing I would ever watch in a trillion years. It’s the craziest thing when they ask the girl to marry them after knowing each other for five minutes. You’ve kissed every other girl on the show!
Anything having to do with Justin Bieber.
Bless his little heart. He’s so cute and talented. He just seems awesome, but I don’t know or care about him at all.
I’ve heard you know how to kill a deer with a bow and arrow. Is that true?
I physically can. It’s a compound bow. You just put her on automatic and let her fly. My husband taught me how to shoot it. I can also chicken-fry a deer steak really well.
Last question: The first time you ever sang on stage was at the True Value Country Showdown in Lindale, Texas, when you were 16. You came in second in your region. What ever happened to the winner?
The County Line Band. There were six of them and only one of me. They’re probably still big…in Cook County.