Blake Shelton Q&A: Livin’ for the Moment (2008)

Blake Shelton opens up about family, hard times, his new hit, life on his Oklahoma ranch . . . and girlfriend Miranda Lambert.

Country Weekly recently spent some time with Blake Shelton on the 1200-acre Tishimingo, Okla., property he’s owned for nearly two years. Here’s part of what Blake had to say about life in his home state, his career . . . and his date for the CMA Awards this year! For more on Blake, check out the April 7, 2008 issue of Country Weekly.

Q&A with Blake Shelton

CW
Other than family, are you basically pretty solitary?
 
BS
Yeah, you walk kind of a fine line. You want to get to know people in the community and become friends with people around. But, by the same token, when you get in off the road, you need a week just to clear your mind and decompress and be away from people. And by the time a week goes by, it’s time to go back out on the road. So I haven’t met that many people in the community. But we’ve definitely started a few friendships and got some people around here that we really like. As far as neighbors go, I’ve probably met two or three of ’em—people who have farms that touch mine.
CW
Do you have a favorite spot on the property, other than at the house?
BS
My favorite spot is probably wherever I’m seein’ a deer at that moment (big laugh). It’s the truth, too. I’ll get excited if I’m walkin’ through and I see a big deer. I’ll go back to that spot every day until the next time I happen to be somewhere and see a big deer, then I’ll start stayin’ in that area. It’s kinda how I am with this particular piece of property. I’m sittin’ here right now lookin’ at this deer that’s been ruinin’ my life [he glances through some color prints]. I’ve been huntin’ this deer since way before season. I started gettin’ pictures of him on my trail cameras. There he is two miles straight this way and here he is last week right here in the front yard, walkin’ across.
CW
So he’s taunting you?
BS
Yeah. And here he is in the middle of the property. He kinda roams around and I never have seen him in person yet. So he’s my current obsession with this place.
CW
What have you done to this place?
BS
It’s funny because the least amount of things I’ve done are things to this house. When I moved in, all I did was kinda just threw everything in here and immediately started concentrating on the land. That’s where I’ve concentrated most of my effort—buildin’ ponds and just kinda openin’ it up. This place had kinda grown up and needed some attention. So I got my bull dozer in here and pretty much just got after it and opened up some fields. That pretty much takes up all my time now.
The only thing I knew I didn’t want to do with the inside of this house was to hang up a lot of industry stuff—gold albums and stuff. When I get here I don’t want to think about all that. It drives my mom crazy ’cause I won’t hang all that stuff up. So I’ve got a bunch of plaques and stuff that I just threw up on a shelf. ’Cause to me, all that stuff takes up room for my deer heads (laughs). There’s just not a place in this house for stuff like that. But I came home and my mom had brought this little shelf and went and found some of those awards and set ’em in there, and I’ve been meanin’ to take it back down. I just haven’t yet.
CW
Will you put it up every family holiday when she comes back?
BS
No, I’m just gonna tell her, “If you want that stuff, you can have it for your house.” (chuckles)
CW
Are there any industry disadvantages to your living here as opposed to in the Nashville area? Are there tradeoffs you make by living here?
BS
Yeah. I would say probably—it depends on what your priorities are. But I definitely think there’s a disadvantage in not being in the machine there in Nashville. But I was never one of those people that was down on Music Row all the time. Even when I lived in Tennessee, I couldn’t get far enough away from Nashville. I love music. But if there’s a way for me to make records and still tour, but not have to be in the campaign up there all the time . . . I’m just not cut from that mold, you know? I’m sure that it does hurt me. And it’s no wonder that I’m always kinda the guy who’s just outside the radar. I’ve never really been the most popular artist or Nashville’s pet, which is OK. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to be—I’d love to be—but I think because of my personality and kinda wantin’ to stay out a little bit, it’s kept me on the outside some.
CW
I think you’ve done some of the best performances and songs in the past 10 years—from “Goodbye Time” and “Don’t Make Me” to the fun stuff like “Some Beach and “The More I Drink.” It’s really quality stuff. It should be nominated and acknowledged, and it’s not. Just wondering if your not being in Nashville is a factor in that.
BS
I’m sure it is. I remember—especially when I was startin’ out—we came out and “Austin” was the first single and it was a multi-week No. 1. Then the second album we had “The Baby,” a multi-week No. 1. Then we had “Some Beach.” And all those things were passed over when it came time for awards and nominations and stuff. They were kind of ignored. And it’s gotta be because of my unwillingness to go campaign for stuff like that, you know? And that’s probably stupid on my part, lookin’ back on it. And now I’m even further away.
Really, honestly, all that matters to me is as long as I continue to get played on the radio and they know where I’m comin’ from—and I can keep myself on radio’s mind and in front of their face all the time—I can live with this niche that I’ve cut out. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those artists that you see on award shows and things like that. I don’t know what it takes to do that, and I’m havin’ a hard enough time keepin’ what matters goin’, much less goin’ to campaign for that stuff. (chuckles)
CW
How handy are you? Do you have carpentry skills . . . other manly skills people might be surprised to know you have? Other than operating tractors and dozers? Do you split fire wood? Got a fireplace?
BS
We’ve got a fire pit outside. You know, I don’t know that I’m all that handy. But I guarantee you, I’m not afraid to try somethin’, and I end up usually tearin’ up something . . . badly. Like with my dozer. I finally decided that’s something I ought to be able to do, so I just got on it and taught myself, and in the process probably did about 15 or 20 thousand dollars worth of damage to my property and four or five thousand dollars worth of damage to the dozer—but I did it! So I don’t think I’m that handy, but I’ll definitely try something. I’ve got my disc sittin’ out here that I disc up my property with and I’m in the process of tryin’ to take it apart, and I got out there beatin’ on it with a hammer. Now I actually have to order all new parts because, in tryin’ to fix it, I tore it up worse than it was. That’s kinda how my projects end up. But I’m so far out here in the middle of nowhere that it’s not easy to get somebody to come work on somethin’ or build somethin’, so I normally try to do it myself, because I have a limited amount of time. Usually, it would’ve worked out better if I had just hired somebody to begin with to do some of these things.
CW
But there’s some personal satisfaction though, in doing it yourself.
BS
Yeah, and you know, lookin’ back—and we can go out here after a while and look at some of the property and some of the fields I made. But it’s pretty satisfying, even though it took me a lot longer than it would normally take somebody. It’s satisfying to sit back and look at some of the things I’ve done back there, you know?
CW
Any surprises when you moved in . . . snakes under the porch or anything?
BS
The only thing that has surprised me, that creeps me out—especially in the summer time—I’ll kill, or Miranda or whoever’s here, we’ll kill two to four scorpions in this house a night, just walkin’ across the floor here. Two or three a night. And I just can’t believe that one of us hasn’t stepped on one, or they haven’t gotten in bed with somebody or somethin’. But it will happen. As we sit here, there’s at least 50 of ’em in these rocks [he points to the stonework inside his living room]. I guess it’s the way the rock wall goes around. They just get in there and live. We’ve sprayed and done everything and nothin’ seems to get rid of ’em.
CW
Planning a dream house here at some point . . . or will you be content to live in this one?
BS
This place is perfect to me. I don’t want to do anything like that. I don’t. Same thing with what you were askin’ before about kids—I’m not sayin’ no to any of those possibilities, but right now, I’m just so content with how my life is. And, finally, for the first time in three or four years, it’s calm again. And I’m lovin’ that so much that I don’t even want to think outside of that box right now.
CW
What’s Miranda’s contribution to the décor?
BS
Without her and my mom, there would only be dead animals hangin’ in this house. Like to me, this area (points toward trophy heads) is awesome. Then there’s a bunch of wuss stuff, the sewing machine . . . and some wuss stuff over there. All the animals in here are mine.
(Miranda, also a hunter, is in the kitchen getting some water before heading over to her place to do some painting) ML: I’m a temporary guest. I have my own deer heads to hang at my place.
BS
So, anything that would make a normal person feel comfortable, I would say Miranda is responsible for. And, if you’re sittin’ here feelin’ uncomfortable, those are the things that I hung up in the house.
CW
How did Miranda get to be your neighbor?
BS
It started out as she and I one night sittin’ in the garage, listenin’ to the CB and drinking. It was one of those talks where you decide that you’ve got some things figured out. And she said something like, “Well, I just like it around here.” I said, “Well, hell, there’s a couple places for sale around here. We’ll just go look at ’em.” And it kinda started out as one of those just really stupid conversations, and it kept building into reality, to the point that she actually went and looked. We actually went and looked at a farm, and when she saw it, it went from kinda goofin’ around and thinkin’, “This probably won’t ever happen,” to she found a place and just fell in love with it. And the ball started rollin’ from there. So it was never a thing where we talked about, “You know it’s time to be closer to each other.” It was a little bit of an accident that she even found a place that she liked around here. She’ll always have her place in Lindale, just cause it’s next door to her folks. She needs that. She needs to be able to go down there when she wants to. We’re still at the point where time together is great and time apart is great too.
CW
Talk about your dad’s health problems a little.
BS
My dad had a heart attack in Sept. of 2005. And, luckily there was no damage to his heart. And he was able to go in and have fairly minor surgery. I think they put a stint in. So he lucked out and his heart was still healthy. And he went in this past September and they went ahead and did bypass surgery on him. They did three bypasses. Just because some of those blockages, they were shown to still be gettin’ a little bit worse. So, instead of worrying about his heart always being of concern as he gets older, which it will be anyway, he and the doctors decided to go ahead and do the bypass. “You’ll feel 20 years younger and add 20 years to your life, and we’ll just get this behind us now while you’re still young enough to do something like this.” And he feels better than he has since I can remember, just bein’ around him now. He’s 66 now.
CW
How close was the timing between your dad’s surgery and your uncle’s accident?
BS
They were back to back. Maybe a week apart. I remember my dad, of course, went to my uncle’s funeral. And this was before his surgery. And I remember standin’ back and kinda watchin’ him as he’d stand around and talk to people. And I could tell he was havin’ a pretty rough time. My dad is one of those guys, he won’t tell you. You’ll just have to pick it up on your own if he’s in some kind of pain or discomfort. I remember standin’ back that day and watchin’ him, and he’d have to lean on stuff and sit down a lot. It was time for him to get in there and do that.
CW
What’s it like having Miranda in your life?
BS
With Miranda, nobody’s every pushed me as much as she does . . . in every way. Anywhere from musically to personally. She’s the only real person in my life, I think, that can argue with me about things that I’ll stop and really, really think about what’s she’s saying and pay attention to. I don’t know why I picked her to be that. I have a lot of respect for her first of all, as a person and musically. She’ll tell me, “That song you cut, I can’t tell you how bad that sucks.” She’ll absolutely be that blunt. That’s how our relationship is. We’re brutally honest with each other. Because we’re in a business of people who, for the most part, are afraid to be honest and tell me about a decision I’ve made or something I’ve done, out of fear of me bein’ upset with ’em. Know what I mean? And Miranda and I don’t have that deal with each other. So we’re probably more honest than we even ask each other to be, because we’re about the only ones who can give that to each other, with nothin’ there on the line.
CW
And you know it’s coming from an honest, loving place.
BS
Yeah, coming from the best possible place it could come from. And I’m not saying I always think she’s right, but I always give her the opportunity to say what she’s thinking and what she feels about something. And then I’ll consider it. Man, that’s been a blessing, because, like a say, even though a lot of people tell you what you want to hear, that’s not always what you need. When I say she pushes me, I guess it’s . . . that. I’m always on my toes here and I’m thinkin’ harder about stuff than I ever have before. That’s really been good for me.
CW
Think she makes you a better person?
BS
I think she probably thinks that! (laughs) You’d have to ask her, but I definitely think I’m that person for her, too. And the interesting thing about our relationship is she’s 24 and I’m 31. And, as hard as it is for me to say, she’s damn near a different generation from me. She was born in 1983, and she was still in grade school when I graduated, basically. I don’t know what kids her age . . . I say kids . . . .what people her age are thinking and what they’re into musically. And I really shouldn’t ever care. Because I’m an artist and I do what I want to do, and I have to make myself happy. But what it’s done is, if I’m a broad artist and there’s a lot of things I like, and it comes down to time to put things that I like on a record, I may sway more toward somethin’ that she’s really into because I know that she’s 24 and that must be something that I do that 24 year olds would be more apt to be into, if that makes sense.
As far as career wise, it’s that important. I think we’re that important to each other. I’ve been through way more stuff at this point as far as the business than she has. I’m goin’ on my eighth year now as far as a touring artist having hits. She’s going on I think three. And every day she’ll call and say, “This happened . . . or this happened. What did you do when that happened? Or what would you do?” Just like before, just because I say “This is what I’d do,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what she’s gonna do. She definitely is interested in knowin’ from somebody who’s been there . . . how they handled it.
CW
You talked about what it’s like comin’ home when you’ve been on the road a long time. You don’t want to be around a lot of people, just chill out for a while. What does having someone to love who might be there, depending on her schedule, what does that add to your life, to have someone special there for you?
BS
It’s great. We got excited to hear today that most of the month of March we have off, and we’re just gonna spend it at home. And it’s funny, as you’re lookin’ on your schedule, you think, “Oh man, I’ve got three days there. When I get home, I’ve gotta call John and Billy and all these people and by God, I’m gonna go fishin’. And I need to catch people, and I need to call people I haven’t talked to in a while. And when you get there, when you finally get to the house and you have those three days, you don’t even want to see anybody. You don’t want to call Billy and John. And you don’t want to go fishin’ with a bunch of people, because you’ve already been doin’ things with a bunch of people.
And to know that really all that has to happen when I get home is household chores and just spending time with Miranda when I get there. That’s really all that I have to do. It’s great. I run into people every now and then that I haven’t seen in a year . . . “Man, how come you don’t call?” And honestly, you run out of yourself. You run out of enough of yourself to give. Not that I’m some person that everybody wants a piece of, but I’m out there on the road givin’ it everything I’ve got. I want to shake every hand and win people over. And when you get home, it’s like your personality has been sucked out of you, to the point where if I’m around somebody they’re gonna think I’m in a bad mood, or I’m mad at ’em or something. And really, I just don’t have anything left in me for a few days. And by the time I start feelin’ good again and ready to start havin’ some fun again, it’s time to go back out on the road.
CW
And she knows what that’s like because she goes through it too.
BS
Exactly. I guess that’s what I’m saying. When we get there, you just want to not have to be “on,” you don’t want to be an entertainer when we’re around each other.
CW
You said earlier you were in the best place you’d even been in your life . . . is Miranda a large part of that?
BS
Yeah, she’s probably a bigger part of it than anybody, really. As far as being in a happy spot and being around family. And her family, too. I’ve grown really close to her family and she with mine. And our families with each other. It’s been pretty interesting. It’s kind of a rare deal that we can all spend time together and be happy. So, yeah, I’d definitely credit her with being around and being a big part of that.
CW
Almost accidental that she found her farm, after a few drinks one night. But the fact that she actually packed up and moved and made the financial, emotional and other kinds if investments seems to indicate things are going very, very well. Can you see yourselves killing scorpions together into your golden years?
BS
I’ll put it to you this way, I’m sure that Miranda will be my date in November to the CMA awards. I’m sure we’ll make it till then, at least. (chuckles)
CW
Anything your fans would be stunned and amazed to know about you?
BS
I tell you one thing that people might be interested in, and it’s really not interesting at all. And this drives her absolutely crazy. I mean she hates it . . . “hate” is the word I’m using. I have these motion-detecting cameras placed on my ranch in different places. And it’s on my mind 24 hours a day. It ruins my life thinkin’ about these cameras and what may have wondered in front of them. I’m telling you, David, when I come home, if I happen to get home at midnight from the road, I will at midnight, walk through the woods or drive a four-wheeler through the woods or whatever I’ve gotta do. To get to those cameras, to get ’em and take ’em back to the house—if it means 3 o’clock in the morning—I will go get ’em if I’ve been gone for a week, to see what critters have walked in front of those cameras. It’s ruining my life.

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