When I did my first interview with Kellie Pickler three years ago, she was packing and rather distracted. It wasn’t a good interview. Her publicist told me later that she told Kellie that that wasn’t a good way to do a phone interview.
Since then, she’s been greatly improved, offering up amusing stories and commentary in her goofy, charming way.
This is my fourth time talking to her, maybe my fifth. After three years, I have to say she is definitely more refined. The result: fewer anecdotes, more platitudes. Then again, I probably didn’t ask the right questions to elicit better anecdotes. Anyway, she does sound happy — and busy as always.
“I’m young,” she said. “I’m going to hit it hard while I can.” She said she wants to be like Loretta Lynn, who is still touring in her 70s. “She might never quit doing it,” she said.
And despite the ditzy exterior, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders: “I want to prove to country radio and the fans and critics that I’m really here for the long run,” she said. “I don’t want to be a fad. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Highlights from this year? “Being on the road with Taylor [Swift.] And getting to meet Loretta Lynn. She’s one of my idols. I got to hang out with her and talk to her and her family and her crew. They’re just the perfect example of the kind of person you want to be in the industry.”
I asked her about “Best Days of Your Life,” her first top 10 single, which took more than six months to reach its peak. “It was the never-ending single!” she said. I noted that the single only took off after the video (featuring co-writer Taylor Swift) came out three months after it was introduced to radio. Why did it take so long?
“You tell me! I’m ain’t going to get into all that,” she said. She made sure the video for the next single “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” will be ready to go when it hits radio this week.
Q: You guys [she and Taylor] met on the Brad Paisley tour a couple of years ago and became fast friends. How’s it been going?
A: A long time ago, she asked me if I’d go on the road with her if she ever headlines. I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course!’ And now she has. It’s been great fun. We’re really enjoying each other. She’s like a little sister to me.
Q: Why do you two mesh?
A: I’m crazy. She’s sane. She keeps me in line. She takes care of me! She’s only 19 but she’s already a smart businesswoman and an incredible songwriter. And she’s great with her fans.
Q: How’s the reaction been on tour so far?
A: Oh my gosh! It’s the loudest screams you’d ever heard in your life in the front. If you sit there, you can hardly hear her from the screaming kids! It’s insane! She’s such a beautiful role model. If I had a little girl or boy, I’d be happy to have them looking up to her. She’s got it together!
Q: You’ve become a Twitter fiend. I remember you telling me you weren’t a big technology person. How did this happen?
A: Taylor taught me how to do it. My iPhone is barely working. It’s got tape on the back of it. I’ve dropped it a million times. Someone got me some new 3G phone or something like that. I haven’t even activated it yet. For some reason, I can’t get rid of this dinky phone. It’s been through hell and back… I end up Tweeting random things. I don’t use it to promote myself much. It’s more silly stuff I get myself into.
[For example, her twitter.com/therealpickler page features her talking about her favorite Disney films being "Beauty & the Beast," "Peter Pan" and "The Little Mermaid." And this random thought from this morning:
I've got this jingle stuck in my head...."what would you do for a klondike bar??"...y'all remember that commercial?
about 2 hours ago from web]
Q: People have said you should do your own sitcom like “Reba.”
A: It’s possible. I’d love to do TV down the road. Right now, it’s important for me to keep establishing myself as a country singer. I don’t feel like I’m ready right now [to do something else.] For the most part, the past three years have flown by so fast. In the beginning, it was rush rush rush, go go go. I hardly remember the first two years. I hardly remember doing the show! This is the first time I’ve had a chance to step back and enjoy it a bit. I want to take my time and enjoy it, remember it.
Q: What did you think of Paula leaving the show?
A: I didn’t even find out about it til days later! People ask me, ‘How did you not know that?’ I don’t know. I have a job. I have to work. But I’m not surprised. She’s been doing it for eight years. If she’s not happy, she needs to move on. Do what makes you happy.
Q: How’s the Soles4Souls charity going?
A: I love working with that organization. The guy who came up with the idea saw the damage after the tsunami a couple years ago and saw a shoe floating in the water. That’s how he came up with the idea to provide shoes to people who can’t afford them. In the third world, a lot of people get sick through bacteria through their feet. And you know — I love shoes! I get pedicures all the time.
Q: What are your favorite shoes right now?
A: It’s Christian Louboutin. [I though she said Louis Vitton at first. She had to spell the brand name out for me since I know zip about shoes, which she said, "I'm impressed you don't know! It's probably a good thing for a man!"] His shoes are immaculate. They are so beautiful and sexy. All the shoes are red on the bottom. And red is my favorite color.
Q: Okay. I got this interview set up through ABC and the CMA Festival special Monday. I do need to ask a question about that. So how did that go?
A: It was amazing being able to co-host last year. This year, I was able to do a fun piece going downtown and meeting the fans. I did a little tour of Nashville and performed downtown in one of those little honkytonks. I had a great time. I’m excited to see how it turns out.
Taylor Swift, with Kellie Pickler and Gloriana opening
Thursday, Sept 3, 7 p.m.
Gwinnett Arena, Duluth
$20-$49.50 (That’s pretty darn reasonable in this day and age)