I was asked by my friends here at Diva Dirt to write some kind of review of my Mickie James‘ new album Strangers & Angels. I was like, “Can I write that?” I write about wrestling, sports and sometimes TV shows, but country music? I don’t know if that’s under my area of expertise. That would be like Mark Henry writing an article about how to have a successful diet. With that said, I like the album. I think Mickie’s got a great voice and does a very nice job of proving it over the eleven tracks that are on her debut album. It’s got a good mix of slow songs, upbeat songs and then the really emotional songs that you could tell meant a lot to her.
After I knew my review would be both a) ridiculously biased because Mickie’s a friend of mine and b) insulting to real country music fans (I live in Canada, eh!) I figured why not just let her talk about it? Luckily for me, she agreed. What I decided to do is ask her ten questions about her music. Before I get asked, I know it’s a wrestling site. I know you want her to talk wrestling. Well, guess what? She’s a country singer. Maybe wrestling will be in her future. For now, she’s focusing on her music and if you support her then you should focus on it with her. Would I have liked to ask her wrestling questions? Of course. Didn’t happen, though. This is about her music. Now with that out of the way, let’s get to it.
How many songs on the album did you write? Also, do you enjoy the writing process or can it be difficult?
Mickie James: I co-wrote three of the songs: ‘Hollywood Movie Moment’, ‘No Good At Pretending’ and ‘Don’t Apologize’. I worked with talented musicians on the other ones. It’s definitely a unique process. It’s not something that is easy. Music is an interesting challenge because you have to be able to tell a story, especially with country music. It was an interesting process. A song has to have a hook and there’s a unique style to every incredible song.
The song ‘Hollywood Movie Moment’ was written about the moment when I found out my ex-fiancée was cheating on me when I was 20. I saw pictures and love notes that he had hidden away, so when it came to writing that song all those thoughts were in my head.
‘No Good at Pretending’ is the one that I wrote while on the way to the gym. Stopped the car and just started writing it on paper. It’s about me telling off this guy who I was tired of playing games with because I loved the guy. Brad Wolf and Don Goodman wrote both ‘Hollywood Movie Moment’ and ‘No Good at Pretending’ with me.
What song or songs off Strangers & Albums mean the most to you emotionally when you’re on stage belting them out?
James: My personal favorite is ‘Don’t Apologize’. I wrote that coming home from a European trip. I was heartbroken at the time. It meant a lot to write that one. Sometimes you have to face things and it’s best to let go, or to admit that it’s never meant to be. It was difficult to write because I was in tears the whole time while on a plane. The paper was literally wet with my tear drops. [Laughs]. At that point I was working on a few songs anyway, so I had the melody in my head and made it flow. The original way I wrote it is how it is on the album. I completed it when I got back home to Virginia with the help of Tommy Wood. It was a serious power writing session. That song is me pouring my heart out.
Who are your musical influences both from the past and today’s current country music scene?
James: Tim McGraw was one I really loved. ‘Indian Outlaw’ was my anthem because I’m part Native American. I grew up with a lot of musical influences and listened to everything. I also played the violin growing up, so music has always been in my blood. People like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker are the people that paved the way and inspired me. Another one is Garth Brooks. Garth’s a hell of a performer and you know that when you put your money down to see him you are in for a show. Music is a powerful thing because they give you moments that take you back to a place in your life, like your first dance or your first kiss. It’s all around us, so we’re always going to be influenced by music.
You’ve got fans all over the world, so I’m sure a lot of them are wondering do you plan on touring? If so, any idea on when or where that might begin?
James: I hope so. I want to tour because I love travelling the world to meet my fans. It’s something that we’re working on. I want the experience to be on stage because I love performing. There’s nothing like performing live. I have booking agents in place and we’re constantly looking into it. When we have that information you’ll be able to find it on my website (MickieJames.com) and I’ll let everybody know on my Twitter page as well. Be patient everybody because I’ll see you all soon!
How about music videos? Any of them in the works? You can cast me for free, ya know. Just give me liquor and I’m fine.
James: I want to do them and I’m looking into it. I’m looking into sponsorship, which I hope to get soon. After that I’ll be able to do the music videos. It’s something I’m working on diligently. And John, you can be in a video only if you dance. (Note from John: I can and I will!)
Let’s talk about Twitter. It’s the only social networking site you’re a part of (take note, people!) at the moment. You’re very active on there and you’re nearly at 50,000 followers. I think it’s a tremendous marketing tool and you do a great job of interacting with your fans. Do you enjoy yourself on there?
James: I have a good time on Twitter and I enjoy reading people’s comments, but it’s hard to respond to everything. I hope people can understand that I get thousands [of tweets] a day. It’s difficult to reply to every birthday wish or to wish a loved one the best with a sickness. I guess I can also announce that my manager is forcing me to get on Facebook and it could be as soon as this coming week. Be on the look out for that, James Gang. We will let you know. (Note from John: I should point out that she specifically said ‘forcing’ multiple times to point that her manager really wants her to get on Facebook. And I agree with her manager, for the record!)
Sticking with the web, MickieJames.com recently got a facelift. What future plans do you have for the site? Might I suggest more photos? Am I right, fellas?
James: I plan on expanding it, but it’s a long process. We hope to get more photos up. I’m not very computer literate, so it’s hard for me sometimes. There could be more photo shoots in the near future as well as photos/videos from my performances. I also want to make a section where fans can post pictures of me posing with them or fan art. I love that stuff. It’s just one of those things where I ask for your patience because we are working hard to improve it.
With the early success of Strangers & Angels on iTunes (reaching as high as #4 in the UK, #23 in Canada and #60 in the US), what’s your immediate reaction?
James: Oh my God! I was blown away. Seriously, I did not expect that all. I expected it to be downloaded and do okay, but didn’t expect what happened. It confirmed that I made the right choice in doing an album in the first place. Made me feel like I’m on the right path doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I love it. It’s a true passion of mine and there’s a certain high that you get on stage. I love to perform and I’m very competitive at it, so I want to be the best I can be. Performing on stage is what I dreamed about. Funny thing is, I used to sing off the boombox and record myself… I had so much fun doing it. Then one day, my stepdad was ripping my songs when I was like 12 years old and it was breaking my heart! I thought I was good, but his comments hurt a little bit! [Laughs]. I always wanted to record an album and I’m glad I was able to realize that dream.
Do you have a second album in mind or is that too far in the future to think about now?
James: I want to do a second album, but it’s something further down the road. For now the focus is on promoting this first album and getting it out there. I’m always writing and there are always songs in my head. I want to be able to write. The more I write, the better I get and it’s like anything else: if you practice at it, you get better at it. Everybody that knows me knows I’m my own worst critic and I demand the best of myself, so the second album will be even better than the first.
Last question. ‘Dumb Bitch’. Explain that one? It’s a popular track especially amongst the ladies…
James: I didn’t write it. A girl named Stacy Donahue wrote that song and when I originally heard the song I thought, “Oh my God, that was awesome!” I loved it. I knew country radio wouldn’t play it, but I really wanted to do it. I listened to thousands and thousands of songs… you have no idea. Then we broke it down to the top 20 songs. ‘Are You With Me’ wasn’t even in there; we were listening to all the songs and my producer Kent Wells said he didn’t think I would pick that song. The first time I heard it, he thought I wasn’t brave enough to lay down that track. I’m glad I did.
Getting back to ‘Are You With Me’ for a second; the reason why it was in there is because I listened to the song and I loved it, but there was a guy on the demo. We listened to it a few times and I really took to it, but by that point we had ten songs. Originally, we were only going to put ten songs on the album. My producer Kent Wells asked me to listen to it one more time and I told him, “I don’t know if I can pull this song off because it’s really country.” He said, “We will rock this song out.” And I said, “Okay, I trust you.” I trusted him because he believed in me and he’s so amazing. His success stands for itself. I found out, after the fact, that Brooks & Dunn had that song on hold, but since they broke up they weren’t cutting another album. I got very fortunate and feel very blessed in being able to put ‘Are You With Me’ on the album.
Any final thoughts for your fans, Mickie?
James: I just want to say thanks for all the support as I try this new journey in my life. It’s like a brand new chapter and it’s taken a while to get this going. I poured my heart and soul into this project over the course of the last year and a half. I hope that you love it as much as I do. Thanks to my incredible team for all their support during this process. To John, thanks for being such a sweetheart. James Gang, saddle up because now we ride to glory.
On behalf of my friends here at Diva Dirt, I want to say thank you Mickie for being so gracious with your time to give us this interview. I had a blast. You’re as kind as you are beautiful. You’re an awesome person that I feel blessed to be able to call a friend. With that said, the part about me being in a music video better hold true. It was a serious response you gave me. I asked you twice. You gave me your word, MJ. It’s in print now. I’m going to hold you to it.
You can visit Mickie on Twitter at twitter.com/mickiejamesdiva where she loves it when people ask her if Mickie James is her real name. She loves that. Ha, she’ll kill me. But yes, that is her real name. You can also visit her website at MickieJames.com where she will hopefully be updating things on a more regular basis in the near future.
You can also find me on Twitter, usually cracking some kind of joke in the direction of Mickie James, at twitter.com/johnreport or visit my website at TheJohnReport.net for all things professional wrestling. You can also ask me questions about Mickie that I won’t be able to answer because she’ll kill me. Yes, I’m whipped.
And in case you missed it, here’s what I wrote about Mickie for Diva Dirt last month when WWE released her. It’s called ‘Mickie James Deserved Better’ and every single word holds true today.
Thanks for reading. Now go support Mickie James, why don’t ya?
— John Canton