The country star dishes on her first trek in three years, life as a road mom, and embracing pyro
Credit: Frederick Breedon IV/FilmMagic

The 33-year-old country star, who kicks off a 48-date fall tour on Aug. 31, opens up about her life as a road mom—and why, 11 years after her American Idol debut, she’s finally embracing pyro.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For your latest tour, you’ve been performing in the round for the first time ever. How did you come up with that approach?

Carrie Underwood: Because of the name of my [latest] album [Storyteller], it seemed to fit. When you think about telling stories, you think of a lot of people surrounding you. It was intimidating at first. I kept thinking, “I hope I’m bigger than the production!” But after the first show I was like, “This is incredible.”

This is the second leg of the tour. How are you mixing things up?

I wanted to freshen things up with the outfits. And I like having different options because some days it’s like, “Oh, I can wear those tight pants!” And some days I’m like, “No way!” [Laughs] My stylists and I customize everything—the more rhinestones the better! This is country music, after all.

The show starts off with you rising from beneath the stage on a giant jukebox. Where did that idea come from?

<[My production team] found this jukebox, took out the insides, and put a lift in it. We wanted it to be fun and cool, and to make sure it [wasn't] cheesy. It's our first pyro moment.

What stopped you from using pyro on your other tours?

On American Idol, when we were going into the finale, [the producers] were like, “Whoever wins, get to the front of the stage because the pyro will go off behind you!” They told me, “We’re going to tell [the stylists] not to put any hairspray in your hair.” And I’m like, “Have you met me? Have you met them? No one is going to listen!” And they didn’t! From that moment on, I was horrified of pyro. [Laughs]

Are you still doing your own hair and makeup before shows?

I am! It’s my quiet time before the storm. It’s just how I do my makeup. [But] if I do a magazine shoot and someone does something different, I’ll be like, “What are you using? How are you doing that?”

What have been some of your favorite downtime activities while touring this year?

We happened to be in Scotland for my birthday and I wanted to stay in a haunted castle, so we found one and rented out the whole place. We had this big dinner and then went out trekking in the middle of the night. We didn’t find any ghosts, but that’s okay. [Laughs] Next time!

How’s touring while raising your 18-month-old son, Isaiah?

It’s great! Every day is Bring Your Kid to Work Day. But it definitely poses some challenges. Sometimes I feel guilty that he’s not in day care with other kids, but we do the best we can to keep him entertained.

What helps you cope with road stresses?

I work out. It helps with fatigue if I blow off steam that way. I try to do it almost every day.

Storyteller came out last October. Are you working on the follow-up?

I’m not. I’m a multitasker in life, but as far as work goes, I’m better at focusing my energy on one thing at a time. So now we tour, then I’m going to get off the road and take time to breathe.