Interview: Carrie Underwood brings Blown Away tour to Staples Center
When country superstar Carrie Underwood and her crew go on tour, they really go on tour. The current Blown Away outing, in support of the singer-songwriter's fourth studio album of the same title which dropped in May, has her on the road from now until Christmas. Not that she's complaining. The 29-year-old knows what she's in for.
"We're having a lot of fun when we're out on the road," she says during a phone interview from one of the stops in Canada last week. "If we weren't, we wouldn't keep doing it."
The goal of the tour right now is to keep everyone healthy and strong, which is why Underwood says it might be boring, but they make sure to get their rest.
"We all work so hard and have such funny hours," she says. "It's such a weird life that we live and we live on tour busses and it's just strange so on days off I'll go take the dogs for a super long walk, I got a massage a couple of days ago and that was nice, but it's really all kind of about recharging the batteries."
She also says that she and the crew exercise daily and are advocates of lots of healthy food options from catering. There's always a table that includes a variety of fresh fruits and produce for juicing, multiple vitamin options and an abundance of Emergen-C packets. "When you walk in it's like, 'Oh my Gosh, what are they pushing in here?'," she says with a laugh. "It's all for the band and crew to partake in. To keep us mentally and physically going, you have to put some effort into it."
The latest big production tour is something Underwood says she's looked forward to since she first set her mind on the songs she'd be recording for the album. Since each track has a story with a more dramatic feel, Underwood says her mind was flooded with visuals as she laid down each cut.
"When you listen to the songs, you can see them happening in your head, they're like little movies in song form," she says. "I feel like we really got to play off of that when we were putting the tour together and made it more cinematic and all about telling these really great stories. We put great visuals along with it to take people on a ride throughout the show."
"Blown Away" lent itself to some pretty spectacular on-stage effects and visuals as well as "Two Black Cadillacs," she adds.
"I really enjoyed putting all of this together and I more than anything want people to feel like they get their money's worth because money is tight and there are not a lot of extra funds lying around," she says sincerely. "If someone spent that money to come see us play, I just want them to feel like it was so totally worth it."
At an earlier stop on this tour in Louisville, Kent., one fan, 12-year-old Chase, definitely got his money's worth when Underwood called him up on stage and gave the very lucky boy his first kiss. Underwood shared that she was 14 when she had her very first kiss and when she asked Chase how he wanted to make his first kiss happen, the witty pre-teen answered, "lip-to-lip." Underwood sweetly planted a quick peck on the boy's lips and the crowd cheered. She made it clear that this wasn't going to become "a thing" on tour, but ever since, the requests have been pouring in.
Underwood says she has seen a lot more homemade signs in the audience pop up asking for an on-stage smooch as well as things like, "Can I sing with you?" and "Will you sing 'Happy Birthday' to me?" She appreciates the effort that fans put into the signage so she does attempt to read them all, which can sometimes distract her from getting the words right on some of her more difficult songs.
"I have a hard time reading and singing at the same time and I cannot do both successfully," she says. "I read one the other night that was something like 'I missed my homecoming to come here.' I felt bad, I was like 'You shouldn't have done that!'."
Though Underwood won't be giving out any more kisses, something her hockey player husband Mike Fisher is probably happy about, she says she's seen a lot more signs pop up requesting lip-to-lip action from her opener, 21-year-old Hunter Hayes. "He's young, he should have fun," she says with a laugh.
As a former winner of the signing reality competition "American Idol," Underwood says that despite rumors, she was not asked to be a judge on the upcoming season. Those spots went to fellow country singer Keith Urban and currently cat-fighting divas Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, leaving Randy Jackson as the only original judge. Underwood took home the top prize in 2005 and says that she is still very grateful for her experience and that it was tough former judge Simon Cowell who truly encouraged her to continue on in country music.
"From the beginning producers had told me, 'You know, Simon hates country music' and I was like 'Crap,'" she recalls. "This is what I had grown up listening to and I love music in general but everything sounds country coming out of my mouth so I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to do with that. Now I feel like maybe they didn't give Simon the credit he deserved in that respect because he was always the one saying 'Be who you are' and I was so confused about what song to sing, what genre would I do and maybe I should have tried to be something I'm not, but him (Cowell) and Randy (Jackson) just kept telling me to do what I do and that helped me out so much."
As one of the show's top success stories, alongside season one winner Kelly Clarkson, Underwood says she would love to someday return, maybe not as a judge, but as a mentor to contestants.
"I would love to help people like me, like I was eight years ago," she says. "I think that's such a wonderful thing and I hope that all of the judges now realize that and realize the important part that they are playing in these peoples lives."
Underwood has visited the 'Idol' set numerous times over the years and even extended her personal phone number to a few contestants so that they can call with questions.
"I think they're a little scared of me," she says with a laugh. "So they don't use my number too much. Lauren Alaina (runner-up on season 10), she'll text me and we run into each other quite a bit and she asks me things and really tries to get information from me, which I really appreciate and I'm glad I can be there for her."
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