Ten Qs with Miranda Lambert
Set to hit the stage tonight at John Paul Jones Arena, country singer Miranda Lambert spoke with tableau about her current tour, her successes during the past year and life on the road.
tableau: By the time you reach Charlottesville, you will have been on tour for about a month - how would you describe the experience, and how has it compared to other tours that you have done?
Lambert: Fantastic is the short answer. I feel that I have been on the road with truly amazing artists and learned a great deal along the way, and I am sure I will continue to go out and support many more headliners as the time goes on. But it was time for me to try out what it would be to ask my fans to come and see me play. I think it's very important to grow as a performer and sometimes that means stepping out from the safe zone of the draw of a major star.
tableau: You're now touring in support of your third album Revolution. Does it really feel like it's been five years since you released Kerosene?
Lambert: Time has flown by so fast, but professionally I'm more comfortable in my live show, as I had a chance to get better at entertaining partly by watching all the incredible artists I had a chance to tour with in the past, and partly because I have come to know myself better.
tableau: So what's your favorite part of touring?
Lambert: When I'm on stage every weekend and people are singing lyrics that I wrote back to me, at the top of their lungs, or when I'm in a meet-and-greet and someone says, "Your song 'Gunpowder and Lead' got me out of a really bad relationship, an abusive relationship." That's what we do this for. It's to touch people with our music - that's my favorite part.
tableau: Do you have any favorite songs to perform or is it too hard to choose?
Lambert: It's too hard to choose. We play my hits as well as some new songs off my album Revolution. I even like to throw in a few of my favorite covers. I am having a great time playing around with the set lists. It turns out it's much easier to be able to pick from three albums to put together a great concert and keep it interesting.\ntableau: Earlier this year, you scored your first No. 1 single with "The House That Built Me." What did that achievement mean to you, especially with such a personal song?
Lambert: Authenticity is the vital part of my musical being. I can't sing a song well if I don't believe the words. I am thrilled that "House" went to No. 1. It feels like I could have written this song, because I feel it, and I understand where the character comes from. Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin wrote this masterpiece, and I am utterly grateful I got to record it. They did a marvelous job conveying what it truly feels like to lose yourself in the world and hoping by revisiting your roots to find again the simple life one lived growing up. There is nothing like visiting your home with all the magical memories, everything seems possible then.
tableau: Musicians will often talk about the differences between recording and touring as night and day - how is your mindset different on tour from when you're in the recording studio?
Lambert: I love performing live with an audience - it changes the whole vibe of what's going on depending on the fans' interaction. When the crowd is really into the music, the show and the whole experience, my band and I work even harder on my end to give them a great time. I can't imagine not performing to a live audience. I hope that I get to do this part of my job for a long time to come, whether it's thousands of people or just a handful in a bar. Recording my albums, on the other hand, takes another mindset because what you put down in those sessions will live forever; it's an imprint, and you want it to reflect truly what you have to say at that particular time. Touring is more of an outgoing activity as recording is all in your head and exploring your emotions and feelings internally.
tableau: Your sound is very country when compared to other acts that have emerged out of Nashville in the past 10 years. Is it hard to resist popular trends, which may lead to bigger hits, or has your sound just evolved naturally?
Lambert: Have you heard me talk? Honestly, I am a bit twangy in my speech, so when it came to music, my voice just fits much better into the more traditional country genre, but that put aside, I always knew what direction in music I wanted to go for. I grew up listening to traditional country music at home: Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline ... You name them, their records were played by my folks at the house. But in addition to country, my family used to listen to Southern rock like CCR and Lynyrd Skynyrd so I think you can hear those influences in my music as well. Most importantly, I want my music to reflect me and who I am, and I want people to be able to relate to it. My fans are great, and they have accepted my music and responded well to it so with a little luck, I hope to keep doing what I am doing and making music that I love for a very long time.
tableau: You've got a pretty full schedule at the moment with touring, but have you started to think about the fourth album? Any ideas about what it might be like?\nLambert: I am already crafting ideas for my next album, and I'm going to start writing for it soon, which seems crazy, because I feel like this one just came out! Once I finish a record, I usually don't write for a really long time because I'm burnt. But this time I have been writing so much, just all kinds of songs with all different people. I'm really excited! Hopefully I will start recording in mid-2011.
tableau: Who in country music at the moment do you personally enjoy listening to?
Lambert: Nostalgic country music. Merle Haggard!
tableau: If there's one thing that you want the audience to take away from your show, what would that thing be and why?
Lambert: Our show is all about leaving your problems at the door and just escaping for a few hours and having a good time. I hope I can help deliver that. I'm thrilled with having Eric Church and Josh Kelley out on tour with me and think this tour is a great package and will give fans great value for a show.