Carrie Underwood Interview: ‘Blown Away’ Singer Talks Life In and Out of the ‘Celebrity Bubble’
Carrie Underwood is back, after taking a little time off in between albums to -- in her words -- "be normal." But the gorgeous blonde with the divine voice is anything but normal, as her superstar status continues to reach heights beyond her wildest dreams. Things are about to get even wilder as the singer-songwriter releases her fourth studio album, 'Blown Away,' on May 1.
The Boot joined a group of Nashville journalists in a chat with Carrie about her new music and its country-rockin' first single, 'Good Girl.' We also took turns asking the songstress about everything from her pets to perfume, and what prompted her to finally join Twitter. She talks married life and her new life as a vegan, along with plans for a fall tour that she promises to be bigger and better than her last. And we all found during our candid chat that what actually is "normal" about this multi-platinum-selling superstar is the way she carries herself like the 'Good Girl' next door. Here are some highlights from Carrie's conversations with our round-table.
On relating to the jilted character in 'Good Girl': "I've been that stupid girl that was with this guy. Not anytime recently, but I have had people come up to me and say, 'You don't need to be with him. I'm telling you as a friend.' But they would never be blunt with me, it was always dancing around it and I would think, 'This isn't the person I know.' So I've been that 'Good Girl' that needed someone to smack her. We all have!"
On being a happily married girl, but singing of a single girl's woes: "I've heard a lot of, 'She's married now, I would expect her to write a lot of love songs.' To me, getting to do music and videos, you work on a character. Being onstage is acting; you get to be larger than life and larger than yourself. I consider myself a completely different person outside of being onstage or doing videos ... I'm extremely happy, but I don't do love songs for the most part. It feels weird; that's such a personal thing to me. I'd rather live that in my real life and play a different character outside of that."
On channeling her inner rocker in 'Good Girl': "My inner rock chick has always been there. I grew up listening to a lot of rock music through my sisters, who were teenagers while I was young, so they had control of the radio. Just working with different people and experiencing different things influences what happens naturally. It's not like a guided effort to switch directions or add different stuff in your music -- it just happens. You don't fight it, you just go with it."
Watch Carrie's 'Good Girl' Video
On how 'Blown Away' is a stretch from her previous music: "The rest of the album is more growing and different influences but in different directions. I grew up a lover of music, and if you look on my iPod I have the most random stuff. We go to photo shoots and they'll take my iPod and push shuffle, and I'm always worried about what's going to pop up because it's the most random mix of music ever ... I love singing different kinds of things, which is why I can do the Steven Tyler thing ('Crossroads') and the next week turn around and sing on the Grammys with Tony Bennett. Those are polar opposites, but I feel comfortable in both places. My album is a lot like that. It's a big old puzzle and everything has its own place. There's 'Good Girl' and there's some more traditional stuff than I've ever done before."
On choosing songs for 'Blown Away': "I go after what I like. There is no objective. If you put too many stipulations that you're looking for that kind of song or this kind of song, you won't end up with the best album. You're bypassing potentially amazing things. I want to hear a song that makes me feel something immediately. I'm not looking for this many love songs, that many uptempo songs, or 'he done me wrong' songs. It just happens. Sometimes we go into a writing session, and we'll write something that I wouldn't sing. It's just not me. But that's great, because it's the best thing we could do that day ... I didn't have to force anything."
On writing her own songs versus outside writers for 'Blown Away': "I have written more than half of the album. There are so many amazing writers here and so many amazing songs. I feel very blessed that I seem to have the ability to go in and write, have fun and come up with the best stuff. In the end, the best stuff wins. I want to make the best album possible, not the best album I could come up with this time. My songs are basically submitted like everybody else's. I'll be the first to listen to one of my songs and go, 'No that's not that good. I don't like it. Next!' I feel like I can be pretty hard on myself because we want the best songs and that's that."
On naming the album 'Blown Away': "'Blown Away' is actually the title track. The first time I heard the song, I knew I had to have it and it was like, 'That's the title!' Hopefully everyone will be blown away by the album. I think it's pretty special. Hopefully it's not just the title track but the feeling people will get when they listen to it."
On the last time she was blown away: "My husband (professional hockey player Mike Fisher) threw me a surprise party for my birthday, and I was pretty shocked and blown away by that. It's nice to have friends, family and my husband really support me like he does and work really hard to surprise me and make me happy. I've been riding on Cloud-100 since he did that, and it makes me feel special."
On the 'Blown Away' album cover: "I felt like 'Good Girl' and several of the other songs on the album, as well as the title 'Blown Away,' allowed me to be more fierce for this one ... step things up a little more, fashion-wise. Every girl loves a good wind machine. [laughs] Actually, it was cold in there that day and I did not love the wind machine! There was a backdrop and they brought chunks of grass in, and I was standing on bricks in seven inch heels trying to balance on these bricks. It was actually quite treacherous!"
On taking her time in between albums: "I feel like so many people get stuck. They write, they get songs together, they make an album, they go on tour. They write, they get songs together, they make an album, they go on tour. They do the same thing every time. I've done it three times. I just wanted to change things up. I, like a lot of people who are creative, need to step away. I can't have stuff to write about if I don't have a life. If I talk to people, hang out with my friends and hang out with my husband, I feel like I have better things to bring to the table.
"Having that time off with my husband was really nice last year. It was a lot of decompressing and getting to remember what it's like to be normal. So much happens when you're on the road, making albums and doing TV shows and award shows. You forget what normal is. You're in your celebrity bubble, and I don't want to be in that bubble. It's fun sometimes, but for your heart and for you as a person, you need to step away and be real so you'll have real things to write about and real things to sing about."
On finally deciding to use Twitter, after vowing to never do it: "I would see Mike do it. He's been tweeting for about a year. I see him doing it and what a great tool it can be for him to stay in touch with people who love him ... I've always been intrigued by it but also scared of it. You see people get themselves in trouble. We use it as a tool to be able to let people know what I'm up to. I keep really personal stuff on the fan club site, the blogs. I don't tweet 23 times a day like some people do. I have to think about who I'm going to follow, because that person tweets too much. It's important to me to use it more as a tool."
On going from vegetarian to vegan: "I actually saw someone I work with and she looked amazing, like something had happened in her life. Her skin was glowing, her eyes were gorgeous, it was like her body was amazing. I was like, 'What are you doing? I need to know! The world needs to know!' She said, 'I went vegan.' ... I had been vegetarian for seven years, and I actually think I had dairy issues because I feel better now. All the stuff I had been dealing with, like my reflux, is better now."
On her two nominations at this Sunday's ACM Awards: "It's cool to be nominated, especially the nominations I've received over the past couple years because I've taken that time away. It's really amazing to still be remembered in the Female Vocalist category, even though they haven't necessarily heard me on the radio all over the place. I feel really great about that, and being in Vegas is always a lot of fun!"
On planning her upcoming tour: "We are putting everything together, getting ideas. Obviously you want the current tour to be bigger, better and brighter than the last one. I felt like the last one was pretty special, so I feel like we have our work cut out for us. But I'm very confident that we can achieve that. It will be a lot of fun. It's going be this fall, and we'll hopefully add more dates for the spring of next year."
On the possibility of choreography in her live shows: "My problem with the dancing on stage is I sing. Sometimes if I get excited and start bopping around, I can't sing. Everything I do is 1000 percent live. It's easier to move around on a video when you don't have to actually belt it out. It's also awkward because there are 50 people standing there watching you. You're not singing to anyone; you're not dancing for anyone. They're just watching. It's very awkward."
On whether she'd ever do a fragrance or clothing line: "I really don't know if I would do the whole fragrance thing. I don't want to smell like anybody else. You go to Walgreens and you see everybody ... That's not quite for me. If people walked up to me, smelling like me, it might weird me out. But I would love to get into designing clothes and shoes. I consider myself to be a girlie girl, and I have a lot of clothes in my closet -- ask my husband! It's fun to create a look for yourself, and it makes me feel a lot more confident when I can say, 'I look good.' I would love to do that for other people -- create things other people would like to wear."
On Mike as a "dad" to her dogs: "Ace was grandfathered in. Mike's not a little dog guy. Ace was there before he was, and I'll be darn if he was going anywhere! Love me, love my dog.
"Penny was a rescue from the shelter in my hometown. I met her and I knew I had to have her, because I knew no one else would love her like I would love her. So I called Mike and asked him .. well, I didn't really ask, I kind of beat around the bush. I was sending pictures and video, and I was like, 'She's so special, isn't she special?' And he's like, 'What are you saying? Are you asking if you can bring her home?' And I said, 'Yeah, kinda." He said, 'I don't think it's a good time in our lives right now.' I was traveling so much, and he was too. But he didn't say no, so I brought her home. You make room in your life for the things you love, and she's so a part of our family. He is absolutely wonderful with them. It's interesting to see how he is with them because I get an idea of what he will be like with kids someday. They rule the house, and he loves Miss Penny and lets her do whatever she wants to do. She was not allowed to sleep in bed for about a month and then that all went away and now it's the four of us. Couldn't imagine it any other way."