20 Questions With Miranda Lambert

She Talks About Stage Fright, Eating Right and Her Hometown Wal-Mart

Watch out, a brand new Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is coming your way. That’s the title of Miranda Lambert’s second album, as well as its first single. Here, in response to questions from fans, she talks about her fondness for Merle Haggard, touring with Keith Urban and proudly serving as the honorary “third Wrecker.”

1. Can we expect more of an up-tempo disc this time, or are you relying heavier on ballads?

It’s a good balance. There are a few more up-tempo songs than there were on Kerosene, but this record is really diverse. It’s also like Kerosene because it has some ballads that I wrote from my heart, some really personal songs, and I’ve got my same ol’ kick-butt, rockin’ songs, too.

2. Have you ever done the “ex-girlfriend” late night “drive-by” (to see if any other chick’s car was in the driveway)?

Uh … yeah. Unfortunately, I think I have. (laughs) I’ve had plenty of my moments, but hopefully I’m past those.

3. Did you gradually come to find that you love music, or did you have a moment where you realized this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

I’ve always grown up around music and so I always had a love for it. But I was 16 when I decided, “OK, this is what I want to do with my life. This is what I need to be doing.” It was something I was good at. I usually had to work really hard at everything else that I would try to do. Music came naturally to me. I entered a True Value Country Showdown [talent contest], and I didn’t win, but it was my first time to sing on stage. I sang two of my dad’s original songs, and right then, I was like, “OK, I like this. I’m pretty good at it, and I might want to pursue this.”

4. I love to sing but have a big problem with stage fright. Do you have any advice for me to conquer this problem?

That’s a hard one. I’ve never struggled with stage fright much. Of course, I’ve had my moments, and there are times, for instance on the Grand Ole Opry, when I get a little nervous. (giggles) Stage fright is something you really have to overcome, and you have to be confident. I think self-confidence is really healthy on stage. Even at my weak moments personally, I still have to get up there and entertain. I tell you what, my guitar player has actually been troubled a lot with stage fright, but he’s really, really come out of it. He’s been with me since the very beginning, so I’m secure, and he’s really grown. It’s a hard one. Self-confidence is the best way to cure it and to overcome it.

5. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Not really. I don’t warm up or anything like that. I guess I should start if I want to have a voice in 10 years. But we always watch a live music DVD. I usually watch The Last Waltz by The Band or something to get us pumped. I like to watch live music DVDs. I’m starting to get a lot more into it.

6. When you’re the opening act, what do you do after your set is over? Do you stay and watch the rest of the show?

Yeah, usually. It just depends on what our schedule is and who I’m on tour with. I never missed a note of a show when I was opening for Keith because I think he’s an incredible musician. Most of the time, I try to stay and watch the show. I don’t get to every night, but we do watch a lot of the time.

7. Has it been easy to find inspiration to write music since you’ve taken to the road?

It’s hard to write on the road because it’s like my job out here, what I do for a living. Sometimes it’s hard to write on the road, but I do sometimes get ideas and take them home with me. Actually, right now, Travis Howard, one of my favorite people to write with, is out on the road with me. That helps to get somebody else’s opinion.

8. What song is your favorite to perform?

I have to say it’s probably “Kerosene,” but I’ve got this new record and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is becoming one of my favorites to perform live. I like to get the crowd reaction. Once that’s going in the first verse, girls are screaming and people are liking it, and it’s just fun. It’s a song where I can go crazy and act like a crazy ex-girlfriend, I guess. (laughs)

9. Of all the songs you’ve written, which one are you most proud of and why?

“Love Is Lookin’ for You” from Kerosene. As a songwriter that’s the favorite song I’ve written. I really wrote that song from my heart, and lyrically, it’s one of the more clever songs that I’ve written.

10. What do you do when you are not touring or on the road?

I love to hunt and to be outdoors. I’m really an outdoors girl. I love to ride four-wheelers, and I used to love to go camping a lot, but I haven’t done that in such a long time. Anything outdoors — hunting, fishing, riding four-wheelers and spending a lot of time with my family.

11. If you could perform a duet with any country music star, who would it be?

I always say the same answer — and it’s Merle Haggard. (laughs) I’m a huge, huge fan of Merle Haggard. I think he’s one of the reasons why all of us are doing what we’re doing. Almost everybody in country music says one of their influences is Merle, so it would be great one day to do a duet with him.

12. I have read several interviews from the Wreckers where they say they are big fans of your music and that you are the honorary third Wrecker. I was wondering how you feel about Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp?

I love the Wreckers. I LOVE — in capital letters (laughs). I actually got a sneak peek of their record about a year before it even came out. I didn’t know Michelle or Jessica at all, but I got a copy of the record from my management company. We were with the same management company at that time, and I just loved it. They are so talented and such great musicians, and they’re really cool girls. They’ve each got their own style, and actually I’m a lot better friends with Michelle. I haven’t gotten to spend much time with Jessica, but they’re both awesome girls, and I love their music.

13. I loved your “Rant and Rave” picks on your Web site. What have you been listening to lately?

Oh, yeah, I need to start doing that again. Gosh, lately, I listen to all kinds of stuff. You know, Jack Ingram has a new record out, and I’ve been listening to that, and it’s great. It’s called This Is It. And just my old faithful, Merle Haggard, of course.

14. What’s your favorite country song of all time?

That is a hard question. Let me think for one second. Well, I’ll just say my favorite Merle Haggard song. It’s probably not my favorite country song of all time, but I have it as my ringtone right now. It’s “Red Bandana.”

15. Do you think hairless cats are adorable or plain ole ugly?

I don’t like cats, so I say ugly. (laughs) I’m not a cat person.

16. When you have a break and have time to shop, what are your favorite stores?

I hate to say it, but I’m a faithful Wal-Mart shopper. We just got one in my hometown of Lindale, Texas, and we’ve always wanted one there. I still live there. I have a house right next to my parents on their property. We have 26 acres there, and my uncle and my parents and I all live there. It’s kind of a little family hometown. It’s cool, but I don’t get to go back there very much.

17. You have always looked so good. What diet and exercise regiment do you follow?

I haven’t always looked so good, but thanks for saying that. Where I’m from in Texas, we eat everything fried there. Everything has gravy and butter on it, so I’ve always had bad eating habits. When I lived at home, my mom would cook dinner and she would cook pretty healthy. Then I went out on the road, and I’ve been on the road since I was 17, so it’s like fast food and Waffle House at 2 in the morning. I realized really quickly that when I finally got my major record deal, when Kerosene was coming out, that I might need some help. I actually got a trainer on the road with me. It’s really changed my whole body and the whole way that I eat. All my eating habits have changed, and it’s good for me because I don’t think I have the willpower to eat salads and fish and rice without him standing over my shoulder. It’s a really good balance. Our exercise regimen is an hour a day, almost every day we’re on the road, which is about four to five days a week. He’s really good for a Southern girl that has no willpower, when I want anything with gravy and sugar on it.

18. With your schedule being so intense, what happens when you come down with an illness?

It’s hard to stay healthy because we all live on this bus together and everybody shares everybody’s germs, you know? But I have my doctor put some Z-packs on standby so I can get on antibiotics immediately when I feel like something is coming on.

19. What gives you the drive and inspiration every day to do what you do?

It’s hard some days. I don’t have the drive or the inspiration every day, honestly. Sometimes when we’re out for two or three weeks, and I haven’t been home and haven’t seen my family, it wears you down after a little while. Most days, being on stage is what keeps me going. I may be in a horrible mood all day, and when I get up on the stage and people are singing along to songs that I’ve written and clapping, then I’m reminded, “OK, this is why I’m doing this.” Even though it’s only an hour a day, it’s enough to keep me going the rest of the week.

20. Do you think not being prim and proper, like most of the other women singers, will hurt you in the political crap in Nashville?

I don’t know. It hasn’t so far. Everybody has their own little niche and their own little image. There hasn’t been like a rocker chick come out in country music for a while, except for Gretchen Wilson, I guess. I think its something different, and it’s who I am.