Miranda Lambert is taking the attitude and music of Texas to the masses. Her successful recording and touring career are models of how to do things the right way. Along with producer Frank Lidell (Jack Ingram, Chris Knight, Mando Saenz, Eli Young Band), Lambert has crafted a raw, yet accessible canon of songs that have made her a national success. On October 13th, she’s taking part in the BIG STATE FESTIVAL right here in her beloved home state of Texas, and she took time out of her extremely busy schedule to take a stab at my Twenty Questions. Her insight is humorous and candid while leaving you with the feeling that this young Texan is determinedly focused and destined for greatness.
1. What’ new and exciting with Miranda Lambert both professionally and personally?
I’m winding up the Toby Keith Tour and I’m really excited that we’ll get to be doing our own stuff through the end of the year. The Big State Festival should be fun…and we’ll get a little time off over Christmas, which I’m really excited about!
2. Your music is very real and honest, straight from the heart type songwriting. This is quite a turn from a couple years ago when acts like Shania Twain ruled the charts with disposable dance-alongs. To what do you attribute the rise of acts such as yourself? Is the audience looking for deeper meaning in their music? Or, did they just not know it existed until you exposed them?
I’ve always said that I just write what is real. Real life, real love…and it’s not always pretty. I think that quality of being real appeals to an audience. That’s what got me hooked on songwriting…songwriters like Allison Moorer, Jack Ingram, Merle Haggard, that always had that quality.
3. Name association:
-Pat Green – Texas.
-Natalie Maines -Great.
-Dierks Bentley -I…love…him!
-Rusty Wier – Texas Legend
-Charlie Robison- My Hometown
-Michelle Branch -My Friend
-Cory Morrow -Flip Flops
-Jennifer Nettles -She has tattoos.
-Merle Haggard -My hero.
-Taylor Swift -Sundresses.
-Jerry Jeff Walker – Longevity.
4. The independent spirit that is closely associated with the Texas/Red Dirt music scene is one that you carry wherever you go. And like many other acts, such as Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Randy Rogers Band, you have found mainstream radio airplay to be relatively hard to come by. Yet, you’ve sold a ton of albums, had the television medium behind you, and hit the road on several high-profile tours. To what do you attribute the radio void for your music? Do you think radio programmers are ignorant or intimidated by what you and your peers bring to the table?
I am thrilled with how my career is growing organically. We live in a time where there is a lot of talent all aiming for the same market…and I am a relatively new artist, and people are slowly getting familiar with my music. I have only had two albums released, with the last one just having come out earlier this year. I love to tour and bring my music to the fans in a live setting, this allows me to see first-hand what the audience likes about my performances. If you take a look at the charts right now, my song “Famous In a Small Town” is being received very well by radio and it feels great to finally have a Top 20 single!
5. You’re a proud dog owner and supporter of animal causes. You’ve personally raised a great deal of money for the Humane Society of Smith County. Tell us about your dogs and what spurred your interest in throwing your support behind the Humane Society.
I’ve always said if I wasn’t an artist, I’d work in a vet’s office. I love dogs so much and want to do whatever I can. Last time I went to visit the Humane Society, I came home with Delilah…a ten pound wiry haired mutt with a face only a mother could love!
6. You have worked with Frank Lidell as the producer on your albums, and have openly spoken about the influence Jack Ingram has had on your style. They made the greatly underappreciated Electric album together. What made you gravitate toward the sound of Lidell’s production and Jack’s songwriting?
I picked Frank Lidell because of what I heard on Electric, as well as, what he did on Chris Knight’s first record. As I mentioned earlier, I try and write things that are real and I feel like Frank makes music that is real. It is not slick and overproduced…it’s still raw and in your face…and I love that! It fits my personality and style.
7. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s I caught well over 100 Jack Ingram shows You also witnessed a great number of Jack’s shows during that period. As you know, he is one of the most passionate and emotive performers to ever hit a stage, and you seem to have latched onto some of his energy for your own stage show. Aside from Jack, who are the biggest influences on the performance aspect of your career?
I was probably next to you in the front for the majority of those 100 shows! (laughs) I watch a lot of music dvd’s, and I’m always picking up new things that influence me.
Watching The Band’s Last Waltz, I learned how fun it can be on stage. That makes the crowd much more into the show. I watched Jet’s live dvd and realized they get up and just rock…whoever’s in the audience better hang on! (laughs) I also love the energy Steve Earle gives off in performing…it’s like the band just follows him.
8. Stories behind the following songs:
-Kerosene – Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned who’s been listening to Steve Earle! (laughs)
-Famous in a Small Town -True stories from Lindale, Texas. Names have been changed to protect the guilty!
-Me and Charlie Talking -Heather Little, a phenomenal songwriter and friend, wrote this with my dad and me…it’s a story about a childhood friend of hers.
-Desperation -I wrote this by myself several years ago. It’s about what happens when you’re lonely…I think a ton of people can relate.
-More Like Her -This is probably the most personal song I’ve ever written…and it scared me to think I put it out for so many people to hear…but people have responded to the feeling in that song like I could never have believed.
-Greyhound Bound For Nowhere -I wrote this with my dad…it’s all about leaving a situation and wondering if it’s the right thing to do.
-Gunpowder and Lead -I wrote the majority of this song while taking the test for my concealed handgun license…which I passed with a 100, thank you very much, (laughs). Heather Little helped me write it…and I just felt like it was a stand for battered and mistreated women.
-New Strings – I wrote this a couple years ago. It’s about picking up and starting over…and proving you can do things on your own.
-Crazy Ex-Girflriend -This song started completely different than it turned out. Travis Howard and I wrote this together…and it was a sweet song about being someone’s favorite ex-girlfriend…needless to say, it didn’t feel right that way, so we re-worked it.
-Bring Me Down -This was another song that I wrote with Travis. It’s all about being trapped in a relationship that you know is not right for you…I’ve definitely been there before.
9. Recently, you caught Ray Wylie Hubbard’s weekly radio show in New Braunfels where Adam Hood and Drew Kennedy were playing. You were there just to hang out and enjoy the music. Do you miss the anonymity to do that sort of thing more often? Who are some other acts that would cause you to check out a show on your rare off-night?
I love Adam Hood! I haven’t quit listening to his record since I got it. Finding new great music is a passion for me, and I really like doing it from the audience like I used to do. I really like Lee Brice…a new up and coming singer/songwriter. And, I’d love to see the band Jet live.
10. The road is not nearly as glamorous as many probably think it is. Aside from the show itself, what is your favorite thing about being on the road? And, aside from missing home, what is your least favorite thing about being on the road?
My bus has basically become my home…I sleep better there than I do at home! I love having the routine of the road…I know what’s going to happen and when. The negative side is that I miss out on a lot of cool stuff that I’d love to be doing like vacations, shows, hanging out with my friends and the family.
11. CMT and GAC have been very supportive of you from the start. Do you enjoy making videos? Are you as involved in the video creative process as you are the rest of your career?
Absolutely. CMT and GAC have been great…and I feel like a video, for me, is an extension of the song. I’m very involved in the concepts and feel of the videos I make. I want to make sure they give an accurate representation of my writing.
12. It is well documented that you enjoy hunting, 4-wheeling and everything that’s great about growing up and living in Texas. Share with us one thing or hobby you enjoy that might surprise some people.
Last year I learned to bow hunt. I’ve grown up hunting, but bow hunting is the ultimate challenge! I’m really proud that I’ve been successful in doing it.
13. Since hitting the national scene in 2003, you’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of amazing artists. Who’s been your favorite to work with? Who have you yet to work with that you would like to?
Everyone I’ve toured with, I’ve learned something from. I’d have to say that touring with Keith Urban was the best experience we’ve had strictly because of what we learned…every night we would watch every aspect of his show…and we were treated so well by him, his band, and his crew. Everyone in my organization learned by example. Dierks was great too…we felt so at home on tour with him…it was like a big family on the road.
I’ve love to tour with Kenny Chesney, because I’ve heard such great things about their show. I’d also love to do some shows with Shooter Jennings, because I think it would be a good match.
14. While having a successful music career affords you many great opportunities, it also keeps you away from home a lot. Are there things that you feel you’re missing out on due to your career? Things that your friends back home get to do, that you don’t.
For sure! Being home so much puts me out of touch with the day to day happenings at home, and with my friends…but I wouldn’t trade what I have for the world! Yet, it still does hurt when you hear what you’ve missed.
15. Related to that, you have a great support system around you, and you’re a young, successful woman enduring the demands of a busy career. With that in mind, what do you make of all the mistakes, mishaps and problems that plague certain females in your age group such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan?
You know, it’s sad. I’ve surrounded myself with enough good people that they will slap me in the head and bring me back to reality if I get off track. I can’t really comprehend how things could get so out of control for people like Paris and Britney…and I can’t believe it becomes such a news story when they do! I feel like that only feeds the diva.
16. The old saying goes that gigs are like sex and pizza, no matter how bad they are, they’re still pretty good. Without naming names, tell us about one of the coolest gigs you’ve ever played…and one of the worst.
The first time we played The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa was unbelievable. It was a Sunday in the dead of winter and we had a line around the block by 5 PM. It was right when my song “Kerosene” was just coming out…the crowd started screaming so loud and banging on the stage that we had to go on fifteen minutes early. We played almost two hours and ended the show with “Not Fade Away” which was the last song Buddy Holly ever played in the last place he ever played…I still get chills just thinking about it.
The bad gigs are bad when you do them…but they’re the ones you talk about for years! (laughs) We had an outdoor gig in Atlanta last year and it was 106 degrees outside…I wore shorts, our guitar player put a wet towel over his head for a whole song…it was so miserable it was funny. The poor crowd was so hot they couldn’t even move. (laughs)
17. When you’re not on the road, you’re based in your hometown of Lindale. Have you ever given any thought to moving to another part of Texas, such as the traveling convenience of DFW, the music scene in Austin or the serenity of San Marcos/New Braunfels?
I love Austin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels…but Lindale is convenient for me…it’s only an hour or so from Dallas, where we bus or fly out of. I’d love to have a place in south Texas and hopefully will some day…but for now, Lindale is still home.
18. Rapid fire:
-Beer or whiskey? Bacardi Clear Rum!
-Longhorns or Aggies? Too tough to call…probably have to go with the Longhorns.
-Highways or dirt roads? Dirt roads…unless we’re in the bus! (laughs)
-How many guns do you own? Enough.
-Favorite Mexican food joint? Whichever is closest! I love Mexican food!
19. Favorite George Strait song.
“Leave You With a Smile”
20. You’re very hands on with your music. What frustrates you most about some of the manufactured acts that hit the country music scene?
To each his own…I let my music and performance speak for themselves…I can’t worry about what is getting churned out. I just hope that I outlast it and that people get my music.