It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to fly to New York to hang out with an American Idol winner.
I jumped on a flight from the UK last weekend to go and meet up with music star Carrie Underwood.
In the UK she’s not a big name…yet. But she’s clearly got fans – after all, tickets to her debut UK tour date at the Royal Albert Hall in June sold out in a matter of minutes last week.
In real life she’s cute, bubbly and very easy to talk to and I’m pleased to report very normal considering the fact she’s mobbed everywhere she goes in the States.
I’ll set the scene, we met for a drink in the plush London Hotel in NYC and loads of fans were waiting to say hello whilst we enjoyed a glass of wine in a quiet corner.
Managed by Spice Girls creator Simon Fuller, this week Carrie releases Good Girl – her first proper single in the UK. Then her debut album for UK fans, Blown Away, follows on June 18.
Enjoy the interview and I look forward to meeting this young lady again when she comes to the UK in the summer.
Hello Carrie, First of all – your gig in London has sold out with ease which is great news. Have you been to the UK before?
I can’t wait to get to London and perform at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve been there as a visitor and been running around like a tourist but never performed there. I remember doing the whole double decker bus tour and going past Buckingham Palace. I went to Wimbledon too. I went with my mum and my sisters and it was an amazing trip. If I’m honest though I’ve got no idea about tennis and what happens in the games so I just sat there completely jetlagged and zoned out trying not to fall asleep or faint.
And tickets sold out in ten minutes? That’s crazy.
I can’t believe the tickets have already sold out. I’ve never been to the Royal Albert Hall so I’m looking forward to actually stepping out into the arena and seeing it. People keep telling me it will take my breath away. I’ve got a fear about performing at a venue and it comes to the night of my show and I step out and nobody has shown up. I’ve heard the Royal Albert Hall is like ‘starting at the top’ in the UK. So I’m very excited.
Where is home for you these days – I’m imagining you’re in LA an awful lot?
I live in Nashville these days actually. I really like LA – I love the weather but I’m a space girl and I love loads of space around me. So LA is OK for me but not totally perfect. A friend of mine lives in Sussex in England actually and we stayed there too and got to take a ride in a helicopter over the fields. It was glorious. Sussex was very spacious indeed.
Do you live on an amazing plot then?
I’ve just bought 450 acres or so of land just outside Nashville to live on with my husband and it’s beautiful.
Tell me about Blown Away – what’s the general feel of this album?
The album is diverse. We basically decided to use as many different styles as possible. I love music in general and pride myself in feeling like I can sing whatever I want. I don’t ever want to be locked into one type of song or style. I never want people going, “oh, that sounds like Carrie Underwood”. I want things to sound different from song to song and that’s what we’ve done with this particular album. There are dramatic songs that are dark, big and bold. And then there’s tracks that are so sweet and organic and swell. There’s some pretty country in there as well.
And how involved are you with the process of writing an album?
I’m involved in everything when it comes to the album. People might think I’m just an Idol puppet but not these days. When I came out of Idol it was so important to strike while the iron was hot so there wasn’t much of an option but to rush things. We went on the road with the Idols tour and during that I was recording and then it was ready to go straight away afterwards. Tonnes of people came out to see that tour but it was very hectic behind the scenes. It was a good time for me to learn a lot but it did happen so fast. I never went in there saying that I knew everything.
And you learned the game form good people around you, I assume.
I wanted to learn everything from scratch and in the beginning I would always say: “I know enough to know I don’t know anything about the music industry.” But now I do. I was never going to try and dominate the situation or be a diva. I had never done that before and had to trust the people around me.
I have people around me who are wonderful. Simon Fuller, in particular, has been brilliant from the very beginning. He’s all about what makes the people that he works with happy and what makes me happy. He asks me all the time if I’m happy with every aspect of my career. He’s a supporter and a friend and there’s opinions, guidance and loyalty with Simon.
Were you a Spice Girls fan before you met him?
I loved the Spice Girls back in the day and to know him now on a personal level and what a great guy he is in real life is brilliant. Being on idol, he didn’t have to be nice to me or approach me about management. He could have given me to somebody else – but he didn’t, he believed in me and had a vision.
And were you a fan of British music in general growing up?
I’m a fan of the Brit music scene right now. Adele’s brilliant and obviously there’s been a big history since the British invasion in American. So many people have managed to make it big around the globe. My iPod is very random to be honest. When I was growing up my parents used to listen to the oldies station when I was young. I always used to hate it and would moan but now that I’m in the industry I’m so appreciative of what they did making me listen to it all. It gave me a knowledge of music and grounding.
Often I will cover those songs in my shows today. I would listen to the Carpenters and the Rolling Stones and lots of rock music. My mum loved a little bit more a laid back style. My sisters were teenagers when I was little so they listened to all the eighties top 40 like Debbie Gibson and Culture Club. A little bit of hair metal too like Motley Crue and Guns n’ Roses.
How is married life? (Carrie is married to ice hockey player Mike Fisher)
Married life is great – I’m not going to lie. It’s nice to have a constant fulfillment in my life – in all aspects. I’m so happy with Mike.
You seem to be good at keeping your private life private.
I’ve always been about keeping my private life private. I’ve never been some club girl falling out of bars and all of that. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my girlfriends and chilling out and having some wine. But I’m just not to interested in going out – I feel really old these days. I honestly feel so old when I go out to clubs. It’s just not me to be in a nightclub and drinking. I have a lot of friends and we do what we do – we don’t need to world to see us.
What’s the secret to your longevity as a couple?
It’s nice that Mike has his thing and I have my thing and we support each other fully but in all honesty our world’s rarely collide and that helps things and keeps them working. They never really collide. I look at Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin and how their marriage works and think that’s a great way to make things work. They support each other through thick and thin but they’re still independent and have a life together behind closed doors.
You seem to have managed to stay on the straight and narrow easily dealing with fame.
It’s really easy to look at people and think how easy it is to fall off the wagon in this industry and fall into drinking or going out too much. I remember the first time we were on Idol we were herded up like cattle – because there are so many of us – and then when we made the top 24 we were doing a photoshoot and a girl standing next to me said to herself: “Man, I’m thirsty.” And then somebody standing there suddenly rushed forwards with a bottle of water. I was like, “oh my gosh, we have gone from being yelled at to people doing stuff for us.” It was a big defining moment in my life. It would be easy for me to fall off the wagon but I can’t do that to the people around me. I’m too responsible for so many people I work with.
How do you chillax?
Reality TV is crazy in our town. I watch loads of it. The Kardashians, Dog the Bounty Hunter and Jersey Shore. It’s kinda funny that it makes news in the US when things happen on those shows though. But it’s mindless television and I’m guilty of watching it. When I’m sitting in a room all day writing I work hard and when I come out I need to watch ‘nothing’ television. I could be sitting there for three hours but I couldn’t even tell you what I watched. It’s forgettable TV. But you need that kind of escape sometime
What about starting a family?
Children are definitely in the distant future.
Well, you’re still young?
Well, not really. We do have busy lives but I guess Mike and myself are wanting to get everything we want to do out of the way now before we have children. And also I do think as a mother it’s tricky in this industry. I know so many men that have kids and just carry on with life as normal but for women it’s a far bigger deal in this industry to take time out to have a child. And I’m not done yet. It’s fine for a man to be there on the road away from his family – as long as his wife’s there looking after baby. But it’s different the other way around. I’m not sure why that is but it’s obviously trickier. Right now, Mike’s so busy, I’m so busy and neither either one of us are willing to compromise our careers to start a family.
It’s not like it’s unusual to wait until later in life to start in life….
We waited late to get married compared to where I’m from. We waited late. Where I’m from people are generally married out of high school or college. You’re married at 21 or 22. That’s just the norm. Most of my friends I went to school with are still married and almost all of them have children.
I’m glad I didn’t come out of college married. I wanted to date and enjoy myself and figure out who I was. I didn’t have a clue what kind of guy I wanted at 21. I had no idea. I definitely think I’ve played it all the best way by waiting. I’m the last one out of my friends to have kids. Everybody else has. Everyone. I went back to my 10-year High School Reunion recently and that was a real eye opener.
Carrie’s single Good Girl is out to download today and Blown Away is released June 18