Mickie James, straight out of Virginia on this cold day, is busy gathering her stuff and getting some Christmas gifts packaged up and sent for her fans before heading off on a plane. I spoke with her just ahead of Christmas and I found a woman that is pleasant, beautiful, easy to chat with, and easy to laugh. For a woman that has been in front of 80,000 people for Wrestlemania, on TV countless times for both WWE and TNA wrestling, here is a genuinely friendly, insightful, and plain old cool lady.
Last year she started gaining notoriety for her singing career as she released her album and video ‘Somebody’s Gonna Pay’ that took off and she hasn’t looked back since. While we all have witnessed gimmick crossover work by so many people over the years, Mickie is one of those rare talents that deservedly makes the transition from pro wrestler to talented country music front-woman with a powerful voice and some great tunes. Her humility as she learns the business and makes her mark is remarkable if not surprising for such an accomplished and notable woman already. Refreshing indeed. I mean she is:
- A 3-time TNA Knockouts Champion
- A 5-time WWE Woman’s Champion
- A one-time WWE Diva’s Champion
- Carries along with her (currently) over 200,000 FB fans, 500K+ Twiiter followers, and over 700K Reverbnation peeps.
That’s some serious drawing power and star power for such a grounded person and engaging young lady who happens to be one of the hottest that wrestling ever saw and that side really shines through for her onstage as a vocalist. So, for those that know her; here is a chance to get to know her a little more and for those that don’t, take a moment and get to know her a bit. She is truly worth the time.
For those country venues, Mickie James is a can’t miss so go to her website and get her into your venue soon.
Interview with Mickie James
(Author note: Interview conducted just before Christmas 2013. Edited for length. Apologies to anyone whose name I may misspell ahead of time, I try!!)
Good morning Mickie it is a pleasure to talk to you this morning. What is a typical morning for Mickie James?
MJ – Well thank you! This morning in particular, I fly out to England tomorrow evening, (this was done just ahead of Christmas) I’ve been in the midst of putting all of these Christmas packages together for people that are on my website. Getting all of those done and ready to be shipped. Taking my dogs out, feed them and myself, going to the gym after this, just getting the to do stuff before I hit the road again, the usual; gym, family, dogs.
Let’s start with the music, what got you to writing, singing, and recording to begin with?
MJ – Well, I played the violin for five years or so when I was in school. On the road, I wrote all of these short stories and some poetry down or just some thoughts down. It wasn’t until my last 2-3 years with WWE that I, because we spent so much time in the car, that I started writing to melodies on the radio or melodies in my head and it took me back to when I was a kid. I’d tell my mom “I’m going to be a singer, I’m going to be a wrestler!” and my mom was like “Okay Mickie, right on!” you know? (laughs)
This was one of the things that I always wanted to do that I never really went after, once I started wrestling and fell in love with that it totally consumed my life, you have to give it your all to hopefully ever make it. I was at a point in my life where I had really done a lot in the world of wrestling and what else can you so except keep getting better so I was like ‘I really want to do this!’ I went to Nashville for the first time and met a ton of people and finally met my first producer Kent Wells and he liked the songs I wrote. He said ‘ You’re unlike anyone else in Nashville, you don’t have the same story, you are completely different, and you can sing’ so let’s just pull two or three of these and go and make a full on album! From there I started writing with other people and continued to get better, and got signed with eOne Music Nashville last year (2012) in September and released my first album with them “Somebody’s Gonna Pay” in May. It’s been doing pretty well and we keep pushing it.
MJ - I just love it; it’s a different type of emotion and adrenaline and passion when you are on the stage than when you are in the ring. It’s a vehicle for me to show the fans a different side of myself rather than that kick butt girl that they see in the ring.
You look much softer on the stage (laughs)
MJ – (Laughs) Aw, yeah a bit sweeter!
I think you look sweet anyway!
MJ – Aw thanks! (we laugh)
Like most people, my first exposure was the video for “Somebody’s Gonna Pay”; really good song and you look like a natural and have a really strong voice, plus it was cool having all of those wrestlers from TNA in it.
MJ - It was cool we shot that in Nashville. I pulled a big favor and called Trish Stratus and asked her, she was such a major part in my introduction in the WWE and set the bar moving forward on who I was going to be moving forward as a television personality and I’m really fortunate for that and very grateful for that. So I wanted her to be a part of this. I didn’t want it to be overloaded with wrestling personalities so I grabbed Magnus and a bunch of my friends and musicians too. We had a lot of fun! It was a long day but it was a fun day!
The album itself has some rock influences in there but has a more traditional country roots vibe; which I find refreshing in today’s overproduced world of country music.
MJ – I fell in love with country music when it was country music and I grew up on it and southern rock. A bit of that R&B soulful country music as well and some of that Eagles-type southern rock. So I wanted to incorporate that into my music; my first album was very traditional and very what’s on the radio now country music. Someone said you know people know you as this kick-ass girl and we need to tap into that in your music, we need you to sing music that’s more you. “Somebody Is Gonna Pay” is a Jamie Hartford song released in the early 90‘s late 80’s and I love it but I didn’t know if I could sing it but he was like “No, we are going to rock it out!” I couldn’t ask for a better song to get out there.
“A Good Time” has some of that rock and roll feel to it, great tempo, and a party anthem theme to it.
MJ – Thank you! I love that song! I wish we could have been able to kind of do more with that song. That song was actually pitched to me by a girl named Bridgett Tatum, she also co-wrote “She’s Country” from Jason Aldean with Laura Flowers. She plays guitar likes nobodies business and she has such a powerful voice. It’s fun song, one of those party rockin’ songs.
“Goin’ Fast” is another party-themed song, very cool stuff! Where do you get the inspirations for your songs?
MJ- I co-wrote three of the songs on the album. We wrote “80 Proof” in a car, and of course my theme song “Hardcore Country.” It is what it is; it gets in your head and is an entrance anthem. I also co-wrote with my first producers on the album when we did the Kickstarter for the album Jamie Lee Burston in her little house in Texas “Best Damn Night”, so it’s either you own life or someone close to you or what you have seen.
“Hurt’s Don’t It” really shows off your voice, very powerful lyrics, so what or who inspired this song?
MJ – Jamie Lee is on that song, her voice on it is just incredible. It’s one of those songs that send chill bumps up and down my spine and I feel like a lot of people can relate to those songs.
I have been keeping an eye on your career and the music side has you busy, what are some of the stand out moments since the album release for you?
MJ – Oh wow, I’ve been able to open for Gretchen Wilson and Montgomery Gentry, I was able to be a part of a video, do CMA Fest, I’ve been able to meet so many cool people and meet and work with one of my favorite people Cowboy Troy! My very first singing onstage was at the Dustin Wells Benefit in Nashville at The Longhorse Saloon. I just sang one song “Are You With Me” off the first album but Little Big Town was there and Rascal Flats were the headliner. So to be able to work and share the stage with them and then sit back and watch them capture the stage, that’s one thing that I feel my ability to capture the arena helps, is just sitting back and being a sponge. It’s just inspiring and the level you want to get to!
What’s ahead for Mickie James the singer?
MJ – Well I don’t know! We are talking about a new album and putting some feelers out there. We are still pushing “Somebody’s Gonna Pay”.
Which brings us to wrestling; you are done with TNA right? So what lies ahead for you?
MJ – At the moment yes I am done with TNA, since September. I know what I want to do but it is a matter of is that a possibility right now? At this point I have little control with what happens next, right? I’m taking it as it comes, whatever is meant to be and what happens is going to happen, you know? You can’t sit there and get yourself stressed out. I’ve done some Indie shows here and there and that’s cool for me because I get to workwith people like Jessica Havok and other people that I would never have faced outside of that arena you know? There is just some really talented women out there that you just don’t get to see. When I was coming up on the Indie scene I was really in touch with who was out there because you need to know who your competition is right? (We laugh) But, who was out there and who was good. It’s just been great working with some of these girls and it’s no stress at all, just go out there and do my thing. So yeah, just trying to make magic happen baby, that’s all I do!
When you left TNA you had turned heel, which was cool, will we see more of that when you land back in the ring?
MJ- I don’t know! The thing is, at that point, it took me so long just to convince anyone to turn me heel you know? So when we finally did, I feel like we were just really starting to scratch the surface and really starting to generate some legitimate emotion from the people in the sense of they were loving what I was doing or recognizing the fact that I was being just a total wench. (We laugh) It was just entertaining and it was so much fun for me. It was a character that I just made her and dove head first into her like a movie or crap that you heard back stage which is stuff that you joke around about and that people don’t really say in real life, but some people do talk like that which is hilarious. It would have been great to see how that played out in the end. So who knows? I love doing the babyface, I did that for eight years. I’ve only been a heel really on television twice when I first came into the WWE and that last time. I didn’t feel like neither one of them were full on ‘I hate everybody’. Because I don’t hate anybody, I love everybody. (Laughs)
Me either and I’m crazy too! (We Laugh) As a lifelong wrestling fan I think your character could out crazy AJ Lee’s character.
MJ – I was crazy before crazy was cool! (We laugh again)
We’ll, you would be the hottest diva there.
MJ – Aw, thank you!
Having talked to Gail Kim, Matt Morgan and Chris Jerricho this year, what would you like to say to your wrestling fans?
MJ – I just want to say that I know that it’s been a crazy journey, actually in Nov. marked my 15th year in this business which makes me sound really ancient. (We laugh) I have had fans that have stood by me literally when I was wrestling in front of 100 people and followed me my entire career to Wrestlemania in front of 70-80 thousand fans. It means so much to me to be able to touch someone’s life like that and to have those lifelong fans. If there is anything that I can say it’s thank you. Thank you for allowing me to do what I love to do on a daily basis in the ring and on the stage and giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I hope that in turn that I provided some inspiration to go the extra mile.
Well, you have been an inspiration, I’m a big fan, and it’s been a pleasure to talk with you today.
MJ - Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!
Maybe we can chat again next year when that new album comes out or you hit that ring again.
MJ - I would love it!