Lisa Marie Presley: There's nothing worse than celebrity offspring

Categories: Interview
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Photo by Kevin Hees

After a seven-year hiatus from music making, rock 'n' roll heiress Lisa Marie Presley is back with her own voice. Storm & Grace is her third studio album, and it's nothing like her previous albums -- the pop-centric To Whom It May Concern (2003) and Now What (2005). Here, she is a bold songwriter, with lyrics that spare no one -- not even herself. Her low, husky voice was born into the blues, and at long last, she's letting things flow naturally. 

Gimme Noise spoke to Presley about the process of delivering an album like Storm & Grace, what it's like touring with her 3-year-old twin toddlers, and updates on the rest of Elvis' grandchildren.


Tell me about Storm & Grace. You get really personal in your lyrics, and it sounds like you're really coming into your own as a songwriter.

This record happened when I was getting rid of a lot of elements in my life, kind of deconstruction and reconstruction. I went to England and got into songwriting and collaborations while there. I felt like I was just kind of needing to be around genuine people.

Tell me about the song "Un-break." You have the lyrics: "I've got run over by my own parade, I've suffocated in the beds I've made." Are you referring to anything specific?

Yes. You know, it was just kind of a rough period in my life. I was really aware of everything and everyone around me, people that I thought of as friends, and they were not making my life better in any way. It's that silly thing that happens sometimes, and I felt like I needed simplicity.

This album definitely digs into your roots side, as compared to your previous albums, which were far more pop-oriented. Tell me about this transition in sound.

Well, it was all during that period of turmoil. I just got rid of a lot of things. It was like starting at ground zero. I was in another country, and I needed to do something really drastic. I was writing throughout that entire process, so it came really organically. It wasn't like, "This is a rootsy album" or anything like that. It was just sort of this experimental arena... and then song three came with a vengeance, you know, and it was really natural and organic.

I read that your son, 19-year-old Benjamin, is an aspiring bassist and might join you on tour.

Not right now. This is a really rigorous, small tour -- it's only a two-week run -- and I think he might later, but he's got his own stuff going on, too.

What are your feelings about your son being part of the music lineage?

I want him to do the work and get really good at it. I don't want him to be a celebrity -- not that he would be, because that's not who he is. I really want him to absolutely go into it. He knows that there's nothing worse than celebrity offspring, because they don't have to do the work, but for me it's important for him to work hard and be really good [at playing]. That's how I've raised all my kids.

Speaking of your kids, Riley seems to be doing really well. She hasn't joined in the music industry, but her modeling and acting career seems to be taking off.

Yeah! She's in Namibia in Africa at the moment, filming Mad Max. She's doing that for six months, and it's been really hard. We're texting constantly. We'll probably we'll see each other in Graceland -- you know, we have the house there -- in September, but that's months away. I'm not really away from my children for that long. We're all usually back and forth [between California and England] every four or six weeks, so this is hard. Until one of them gets married, I want them with me!

Sounds a little like my mom!

[Laughs] I know! I'm mortified. I don't care how old they are, though. Until they're ready to marry someone who will be with them and commit, I want them with me.

Tell me about your twins, Finley and Harper. You're 44, and the mother of a pair of 3-year-old twins. How are you finding the freshness of motherhood, and how is it having them on tour with you?

I think that I'm really grateful for having them. They've had our undivided attention for three years. This tour is a specific window; they aren't in school yet, so it's okay for them to be traveling with us. It's mostly a balancing act, really. I'm thrilled to have them and to do it again. At times, it's stressful... We did three shows in 24 hours a couple days ago, so I wasn't seeing them as much, and they don't love that. It's just literally balancing all the time. One minute I'm sound-checking and the next I'm running back to check on them from a nap. I'm wearing one hat and then the next minute it's off. It's getting a bit tedious for them, I think, being cooped up in hotel rooms for a lot of it, but it's also been great having them. I need them around. It keeps me sane.

Lisa Marie Presley at the Fine Line Café on Tuesday, June 19. Doors 7 p.m. Show 8 p.m. $20. 18+.


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