A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to Lauren Alaina mere days before her Canadian debut as part of Dallas Smith’s Side Effects tour. Over the course of the interview Lauren opened up about personal struggles after American Idol as well as the tragic events of Route 91 Harvest Festival. This was one of my favourite interviews and easily one of the most personal interviews I’ve ever done.
The interview began with us talking about Canadian weather and I assured Lauren that, at least for her Ontario dates, the notoriously cold fall weather would stay away.
SCE – Wanted to start out by saying we’re huge fans, we watched your progression from American Idol…what was that 6 or 7 years ago now?
LA – ya it’s going on 7 years it’ll be 7 years umm, my audition was 7 years ago actually.
SCE – Wow it’s already been 7 years, time flies when you’re having fun and you clearly are having a blast. The last few years especially have seen a lot of growth for you, with your latest album which has been huge for you. What’s life been like post American Idol?
I used music to deal with all of it and now to be able to share it with people and connect with them through my growth and help them with their growth and whatever they’re going through so it’s been really great – Lauren Alaina
LA – Oh my goodness where do I start? There were a lot of ups and downs and turns and crazy moments that I would’ve never planned on or expected but, you know, I was 16 when I auditioned for American Idol so I was really young and to kind of figure out my way. The last 7 years I’ve been working on that, trying to figure that out. I really thought I’d like to do that with this new album. I wrote a lot of new songs getting ready for the album, its been such a huge growth period for me. I overcame an eating disorder, I watched my dad go through rehab, he’s a recovering alcoholic and just celebrated 4 years of being sober this week, umm he and my mom got divorced after he got out of rehab it’s been just like a crazy few years, a lot of just life changing things, and I got to write a whole record about it. I used music to deal with all of it and now to be able to share it with people and connect with them through my growth and help them with their growth and whatever they’re going through so it’s been really great just took some time to get there.
SCE – It’s not something you want to rush, you want to be able to take that time and put your best foot forward and I think the album is amazing, we all love it. My family, they were actually all country fans long before I was. I was never really a country fan but country music kind of adopted me over the last couple of years.
LA – Welcome to the family
SCE – Absolutely, thank you, that’s something that I actually really find with country music, in particular here in Canada, it is a family. Whether you’re on the media side or the artist side we’re all kind of this big happy family. The relationships we have in country music I have yet to experience in any other genre.
LA – it’s so exciting for me to hear that it’s like that where you guys are because that’s exactly what it’s like in the states. Everywhere we go we bump into extended family, it’s like you run into your cousins everywhere. I’m actually doing a show today in Denver it with some other artists like Parmalee and Adam Craig and some other artists that are my family because they are in country music. We go visit all these people across the nation and we get to see different people so I’m excited that I get to extend my family now to Canada.
SCE – and we’re excited to have you. Now on a more somber note, I know that you performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Saturday before our family was attacked. There’s no better way to put it. Although I don’t want to get too deep into the subject because it comes with a lot of different opinions and everything but one thing I did want to ask you was how do you feel we, as a community, need to move forward? Not just from a country music perspective but from a live music community? How do you think the events at Route 91 Las Vegas will change the live festival scene in North America and the world? Do you think it’s going to change? Should it change?
I feel really, really personally connected to that crowd because I played for them the night before that happened. I looked at their faces, I was there with them, I saw what country music does, what music does. It brings us all together – Lauren Alaina
LA – When something horrible like that happens, change is something that always happens. I think the change we can not let happen is fear of going to concerts, the fear of playing live music and the fear of being a family and being together and celebrating the music that we love because that’s what he wanted. He, his goal, was to put fear into us and to harm people and we can’t let one monster take away the joy of music. I mean, that’s what he wanted so if we, all of a sudden, stop doing what we love and stop coming together as a family and using music to do that, he wins. I refuse to let him win and he will not win. I have been nervous and scared and fearful since that happened, but I’ve already played two shows since, I have another show tonight; I had shows two days after that happened and I was terrified before I did them, but I would not let him win. I feel really really personally connected to that crowd because I played for them the night before that happened. I looked at their faces, I was there with them, I saw what country music does, what music does. It brings us all together, just because that one monster wanted to try to take that away from us…we can’t let him do that. Because of those lives lost, they were doing, they were at music festivals, they loved music, they were there for the music. I’m gonna keep playing tunes because they wanted to be there, they loved that music, I’m gonna keep playing shows in their honour because that’s what we all love and we can’t let him strip that from us.
SCE – It echoes a lot what I was saying too, we can’t let hate win…ever. If you let the music be silenced and say “we can’t do this anymore” then they win. We have to rise up and say we’re going to keep partying, we’re going to keep loving each other, we’re going to keep loving what we do and love going to these shows and you can’t stop us. I’ve loved seeing the positive fallout from that tragedy with some of the music that is coming out of the event. I feel that few genres can respond to a horrific tragedy with so much positivity and love the way country music has. The fact that it’s spawning powerful new music and tributes to the fallen is simply inspiring, which in reality is the exact thing he was trying to stop.
It makes me proud to know that my fans would risk their lives to help someone else – Lauren Alaina
LA – something else that I’ve been thinking a lot about and really trying to focus on is all of those people who helped people who were hurt. The ones that ran back in there when the gunshots were coming in and were helping people get out of there, that’s what country music fans do, that’s what good people do. Just because that one guy was bad people were risking their lives to save other people, it’s sad that bad things had to happen to enable people to show their hearts and show their love but it’s also kind of rewarding to see, even in times that are that horrible, that people are still loving and kind and helping out people in need and those people are my fans and it makes me proud to know that my fans would risk their lives to help someone else. Especially in a time when they hear gunshots ringing around them and not really knowing where they’re coming from and still running back in there.
SCE – Before we wrap things up I want to ask you, when you come to Canada what can your fans expect from a Lauren Alaina show?
LA – We have a half an hour set and we’re going to do “Road Less Travelled” and a lot of the stuff from the new album but we’re going to do some of the older stuff too just try to let everyone have an overall summary of who I am as an artist. We have a really high energy set. We hope you’re ready to have a good time.
SCE – Road Less Travelled came out, almost a year ago now, in January of 2017. You mentioned you wrote over 200 songs for that album any chance some of those will make it on album #3?
LA – Maybe there are a few that I’m guessing could go on the next album and I’ve just started writing again. I actually wrote yesterday and it was good for me to do that, and use that part of my brain. It’s so important to me. I’ve already written some songs that are big big contenders for the next album.
SCE – I want to thank you for your time, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. We’re very happy things are going well for you and we wish you continued success and many more tours to Canada.
There are still four more chances to catch Lauren Alaina in Canada. She’s in Prince George, BC tonight, Kamloops, BC tomorrow night, Penticton, BC on November 17 and then finally in Abottsford on November 18 before returning to the USA. For full details on where you can catch Lauren Alaina near you visit www.laurenalainaofficial.com