Celebrity Journalist, Soup Expert
Lisa Marie Presley is in the building. And hopefully she'll be somewhere near you soon as she continues the third leg of her "Storm & Grace" tour across North America, which is scheduled to wind up Nov. 24 in Vermont.
The "Lights Out" singer's father -- Elvis (maybe you've heard of him) -- must be looking down from heaven with a smile on his face. His only child is doing just fine, settled into a blissful marriage, happily raising her four-year-old twin girls with her musician husband, Michael Lockwood; keeping close to her grown children -- 24-year-old Riley Keough and 21-year-old Benjamin Keough -- and, of course, sharing quality time with her mother, Priscilla.
Lisa Marie spoke with The Huffington Post to talk about... everything we wanted to ask. Great sport! Honest! We love that!
How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a recording artist and a songwriter?
Lisa: "I always loved singing and writing poetry. I always loved music, and I've loved writing my whole life. When I put them together it was probably in my early 20s, where I put words to music for the first time. "
You began your music career officially 10 years ago with your first album "To Whom It May Concern." What motivated you to make that album when you were 35?
Lisa: "I don't know. I'm a writer... I was always writing music anyway. I just sort of fell into it. Writing for me is a therapeutic process. I waited for my children to be older. It wasn't a priority particularly for me before that."
Your second album in 2005 "Now What" was also a success. Both albums were certified platinum which is a huge deal. How did that feel?
Lisa: "Really, really great. It's so hard now in music. It's hard to gage what is happening and what means what anymore but I've very proud of those records."
Your third album "Storm & Grace" came out in May, 2012. I love your Storm & Grace video because it's a little window into your life which was really cool to watch. In the video you said you took a seven year break because you went through different degrees of shedding skin, shedding people and situations. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Lisa: "I just went through my own sort of rude awakening wake-up call a few years ago about who I was surrounded with and what I was surrounded by. So, I was just in a cesspool of deceit. It was ridiculous stuff. It's such a cliché to have celebrities surrounded by an entourage but I did, at one point, have that - a million employees and staff. They were trying to pretend like they were there for me and rooting for me and had my back and they were part of my family and part of my team... and they were really not, in any way. That's one thing, if you go for a really long time thinking that you have stability somewhere and you don't have it anymore, it's pretty alarming. So I think if you really trust in something or someone for a really long time and you find out they are not what you thought, then it is really heartbreaking. I guess everybody goes through that. "
Also in that video, you explain your motivation for writing songs for your album. You said you moved to England where you felt free to write, to find out who you were for the first time as an artist and a songwriter. How did that play out for you?
Lisa: "I just started out like I normally do which is I just sat there and wrote. I've been writing songs for so long but I think at that point where we had just gotten rid of everybody. We were literally at ground zero. So we just moved very far away. I needed some air. I needed to figure out who was who, what was what from this circus in this nest that I was uncovering going on around me. I just started from ground zero again writing. My normal process but without any kind of agenda: 'Are you going to get hits, are you going to get radio songs, or are you going to do this or that.' It was more: 'Let's just see what happens.' My husband was trying to get me with these different people. He's a huge fan of the English music scene. It was experimental to see what would happen. And sure enough, after a while, it started heading in this organic, simple place which is kind of where I was in my life as well. "
So you feel comfortable in your own skin as an artist now?
Lisa: "Yes, definitely."
Your four-year-old twin girls are absolutely adorable. How is your life now having little ones by your side given that you have to manage this busy tour schedule?
Lisa: "It's going well. We actually get to spend quite a lot of time with them while we're on tour. They're with me and I get to take them to all these different places. And every day they love waking up in a new place. Wherever we are, if we have a day off, we get to take them out all day and show them around somewhere. Or if we don't, we find something for them to do while we're doing the show. The only time that can get tiring sometimes is for instance we did a four-day run, and we came back for a two-day break, and yesterday I just stayed in my room all day. That's what bothers me, and I feel guilty. I know that I need to sleep but then I feel like, 'Oh God, I need to get them.' I can hear them and I feel really guilty having to take time to sleep, but I just need to rest for like a day sometimes. I'll hibernate myself to catch up on my sleep, but I feel guilty. It's juggling but I don't mind it. It's good juggling. It's all good stuff."
Your husband is your musical director and guitar player in your band. Is he a good daddy?
Lisa: "He's the most incredible, patient, amazing father ever! That helps me out a lot. He's really super patient which is great because he's got all these great things that I don't have." (Laughs)
You shot your video for "Weary" in Sun Studio in Memphis which is where your father made his first recording six decades ago. Did you get goose bumps being there... or feel his presence or his spirit?
Lisa: "Well, I mean honestly, it's not that I don't believe in that stuff but I do, but I was working that day. For me, I can't think like that when I'm working. I would love to have an amazing story for you but truly I was focused on the fact that we were [working] pretty raw in this room. No sounds, no bells or whistles. I was focused on technicalities while I was in there so I couldn't actually take a moment, but I did look around and it was pretty mind-blowing when I saw all the people on the wall who has recorded there, including my father as well."
What music did you listen to growing up?
Lisa: "So many... probably Elton John, Heart, Linda Ronstadt. I was a fan of everything then. The Bee Gees... the disco thing came in. I also listened to a lot of country music: Patsy Cline, Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell, Alabama, Lee Greenwood, Johnny Cash."
And Elvis Presley?
Lisa: "Yeah I did, definitely."
Do your oldest children, Riley and Benjamin, listen to your music? My grown kids never ask me who I'm interviewing, never take an interest in my work, and it kind of hurts my feelings.
Lisa: "Yep, I know, they get like that. (Laughs) Like the other night, Riley came to the show, and she had to go right after the show. She said, 'That was good, mom, I gotta go.' (Laughs) I was like, 'OK, great!' There's always something pressing. They always have something pressing going on at that age -- like late teens, early 20s. They cannot be bothered with you. "
What about your son?
Lisa: "Ben loves to be part of it. He loves touring. It's on his time frame. Always. Then when he's ready to see me, he'll come. It ebbs and flows, but they are very supportive. They just have pressing matters now with their own lives." (Laughs)
I saw your Oprah interview with Riley from 2007. Riley is such a nice young lady! You obviously did a great job raising your children. They don't act out. There's no controversial behavior with them.
Lisa: "No, there's not. [A tabloid] is trying to turn Riley into like some crazy, wild child. I'm just like: you're nuts. It's the three of us. Between me and my mother and Riley, I think either my mom or I would get the stamp of 'wilder.' (Laughs) We were all giggling because I think it's such a silly story about Riley being so wild. Riley is not wild or out of control. Riley is in better shape than I have ever been in my whole life. I go to Riley for advice. It was funny that you said that because the tabloid was trying to make it like she's so wild and crazy. I'm sitting there going, 'No, actually she kind of keeps me together.'" (Laughs)
Miley Cyrus' performance recently on the VMAs with Robin Thicke was a bit risqué. If your daughter had been on stage gyrating like that, would there have been words between you or would you have chalked it up to youth and artistic license?
Lisa: "I don't know what I would do with that. I don't really know what that was all about. I guess if I understood what that was all about, maybe I could try to understand it but I didn't quite get it. We all had the same reaction I think everybody had. (Laughs) I was actually watching it with my kids and we were all like: 'Whoa!' We all had the same reaction which I was happy about. I don't know what I would do, really. It would depend on what was the purpose of that. Did you actually have a purpose there? Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish? What are you trying to do here? Because there's a responsibility with that sort of thing. You can use it for good or you can use it to freak people out, whatever you want to do, but I would try to lean towards trying to use it for good and not just for shock value. What would be your point? With my kids, I would kind of try to understand what that was all about. If they could explain it to me in such a way that I would understand, then I would support them, but, again, I always try to be conscious of the message over all to others. "This world is so screwed up as it is. There's too many crazy things out there. It [would be] nice to have someone to look up to that is stabilizing for kids these days. I just think now in our civilization the way we are in our culture, it's a little bit of a case of 'too much too soon,' going on with everybody. Even in the reality world of TV. You don't have to do anything now. You don't have to have any talent. You can become a celebrity no matter what. It's too much too soon, everything now, instant gratification. "
I came across a video -- "Don't Cry Daddy" -- a duet with Elvis that you did in a concert which marked the 20th anniversary of your father's death. I was bowled over by that video!
Lisa: "It was a last-minute idea that I had one year. I called David Foster who did the Natalie/Nat King Cole duet. And then I just started this little tradition where I did "In the Ghetto" (30th anniversary) and five years later (2012) I did "I Love You Because" (35th anniversary). It was a tradition for the fans. It's all for the fans. I haven't released anything to the public. We always gather in Memphis every five years. I'm always there so I try to do something for them."
What a wonderful tribute from you to your father and his fans. I watched "I Love You Because" also and enjoyed the vintage videos and pictures. It's very nostalgic to watch your video duets with Elvis. What is your favorite memory with your mom and dad together?
Lisa: "With them together? I don't recall a lot of them together. I have a few with them together. I was with them mostly separately. The things I remember the most is that my room and his room are on the top floor of Graceland. So he kind of would set up an area for him to stay in my room and watch TV just to be near me, and I got to spend a lot of time with him alone up there which is sort of what I hold dear in my memories. It was like doing crazy things in the middle of the night, like taking me to the pet store getting me a dog... and then getting 50 other people a dog.
Lisa: "I really liked the times when I was alone with him. I got to spend a lot of time with him up there... I was always upstairs. I would kind of tip-toe by his room and try not to let him see me if I was up to something I shouldn't be up to. (Laughs) If he had his door open and he was sitting up there, I would always try to sneak by as I was always in trouble or up to something. He would call my name out if he saw me out of the corner of his eye, and I would go into his room trembling because I was always up to something or I had broken something or I had done something that I shouldn't. Always." (Laughs)
And how did he react to your little child-like misdemeanors?
Lisa: "The only time he got upset with me is if I were going to hurt myself. He told me one time to not get on a motorcycle with my friend. He said, 'I don't ever want to hear that you were on a motorcycle with her.' While he was sleeping, I got on the motorcycle and somehow, as fate would have it, we had an accident and it fell on my leg. The muffler landed on my leg so I had a blister and he saw it. I got a pretty good spanking on that one because I hurt myself. It was only if I put myself in danger that I saw him upset. He wouldn't get upset easily but if I hurt myself, then he'd get mad at me."
You were nine when he passed away.
Everybody remembers where they were when they heard Elvis had died.
Lisa: "I was right there. I was upstairs. I don't normally like to give the details, but I was there."
I was looking at some of your tweets and I'm so impressed that you answer tweets from your fans. That's a classy thing for you to do, as busy as you are, to take the time to respond to your fans. Your fans must mean a lot to you.
Lisa: "Yes, they definitely mean a lot to me! They are the reason I do what I do. I know what I'm up against. I know [who] I'm compared to and I have to prove a lot. But these people come to me with these stories that are incredible so they keep me going. Like 'You saved my live,' or 'This song got me through cancer or a death.' I hear their stories and they keep me going. Otherwise I don't know if I could do what I do. It makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing. "
You posted an Easter picture of your family. Was that your four kids, your mom and you?
I had never seen a picture of your son, Ben. He looks a lot like your dad, don't you think?
Lisa: "I think so. Sometimes a lot. It depends how he's fixing himself up. Yeah, without question actually."
Does he sing?
Lisa: "Ben is doing his own thing right now. I'm going to let him decide when he wants to go out and do what he wants to do."
You're quite the children's advocate. You have the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, Presley Place which provides homeless families up to one year of rent-free housing. You've teamed up with World Vision to encourage people to sponsor children in third-world countries. You must have a special place in your heart for children in need.
Lisa: "I really do. I think having kids just makes you want to do things to help people. You have children and you see how fragile and innocent and helpless they are when they first start out. If they are going to be a victim of whatever they are surrounded by, I just do everything I can to try to make whatever change I can. I want to go next year and do volunteer work, in the field somewhere. We have aligned ourselves with World Vision while I'm doing this tour so that I can help encourage sponsorship for children in third-world countries all over the world to get them all the necessities that they need... food, water, shelter, school books, clothes. I'm one of those people that if I hear about something happening, I go crazy. I want to go help."
To check out Lisa's tour schedule, go here.
Follow Lisa Marie Presley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@LisaPresley
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