Country Q&A: LeAnn Rimes Removes the Tape From Her Mouth With the Release of Her New Album "Spitfire"

For the past several years, LeAnn Rimes has had an overwhelming amount of feelings being bottled up inside her -- both good and bad -- and she opens up about those feelings on her just-released album Spitfire and in this exclusive interview!

Rimes co-wrote eight of the album's 13 tracks, and they express nothing but honesty from the 30-year-old singer who has literally lived her life in the spotlight since she was a child. The new music not only showcases the growth and maturity of Rimes' vocal capacity, but also her as a strong and confident woman who has taking quite the beating in recent years from the media over her personal life and choices. 

Roughstock recently sat down with Rimes to talk about her new music, her life in the limelight, and her blissful life at home with husband Eddie Cibrian and his two precious sons.  

Alanna Conaway: Talk about this project as a whole … obviously it’s a very personal work of art for you.

LeAnn Rimes: Yeah, it was a labor of love with a lot of tears and a lot of laughter [laughs]. My whole life has been such an emotional roller-coaster for the last four years. It seems like it’s evening out a little bit. The highs and lows have gone from real high to real low [laughs], but it’s good. I feel like I’m a little bit calmer. With that and coming out the other side of everything, I was really able to express myself through this record. I feel like I’ve had a piece of tape over my mouth for a while, so to be able to tell the truth through my music and to be able to put all of these emotions into songs was amazing. It was definitely a completely different process of writing and recording than I’ve ever done. And to be so human [laughs] … allowing myself to be human and write from that place, not to write from LeAnn Rimes the singer, but just as a human being was an amazing experience.

Alanna: Darrell Scott’s name pops up on a lot of the songs. Did you purposely lean toward him to collaborate on some of these tunes because they were so personal and you two are very close friends?

LeAnn Rimes: Yeah, I guess so. There’s definitely a trust level there that’s huge. We worked on Lady and Gentlemen, too. We’ve always written together and have written so well together. One day I said, if we can create all this together, why can’t we produce a record together? He really understood my vision and has always encouraged me to write from that very honest place. He was hugely influential on this record, just making sure I had backup to be able to do what I wanted to do and take the lead to be this honest on this album. He’s fantastic. It was amazing working with him. I’ve never had such a great experience in the studio, for sure.

Alanna: I’m sure that shows in the music, too.

LeAnn Rimes: It does. The performances were fun. No one wanted it to end. Everyone in the studio really enjoyed themselves, and that’s rare these days [laughs]! 

Alanna: One of the songs on the album – ‘Gasoline and Matches’ – is a duet with Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas and also Jeff Beck. How did all that fall into place?

LeAnn Rimes: Jeff and I worked on a Barbra Streisand tribute at the Grammy’s a couple of years ago together, and Rob and I have been trying to work together for a few years now, but it never worked out. But this time it did [laughs]! It was a simple couple of phone calls, which I wish everything was like that … every collaboration. Those guys are both fantastic and so easy to work with. They are super fun people. I love that song. I really, really enjoyed it!

Alanna: Let’s talk about some of the songs on the album …

LeAnn Rimes: ‘Spitfire,’ the title track of the album, that was kind of my anger moment [laughs]. I also wanted to title the album that because I felt like with being so silent for so long, once the tape was ripped off, it was rapid fire of all these emotions that came out. It’s kind of a different take on the word ‘spitfire,’ but that’s where that song came from. When I talk about the emotional roller-coaster ride, I think every song has some kind of different emotion attached to it. Songs like ‘Borrowed,’ which is about the way my husband and I got together, were incredibly hard to write. I think the media’s written such a skewed story and a surfaces story, almost to where I’m not human and have no feelings [laughs]. So to write something like that from such an emotional, deep place of where I felt in those moments was terrifying at times, but once I got past that, it kind of swung open the door for the rest of the album. I was able to take that turn and take that on. Songs like ‘What Have I Done’ – that’s probably the other hardest song for me to sing – is more of an apology and understanding the hurt that was caused. Songs like ‘I Do Now’ and ‘Gasoline and Matches’ which are super fun. I could talk about this whole album [laughs]! There’s just a lot of fun, clever writing. I have a well of experience to pull from now. There’s a lot of humanity on the album and I feel like I’ve written a lot of other peoples stories, too. As I play them live, I’m finding a lot of people are relating to all the songs, and that’s just the ultimate compliment. 

Alanna: Do you have any fears or nerves about exposing yourself with Spitfire?

LeAnn Rimes: I think everybody else thinks they know me and they have exposed all of this about me … I’m like, you have no idea [laughs]! The stories in the tabloids have been way worse than it was, and the picture that was painted was very skewed. I find that being able to be so open and honest is a freeing experience for me. Now they have the truth to twist [laughs]. They’ve been twisting lies for a long time, so now they have the truth.

Alanna: That’s a very classy and high road way of handling it!

LeAnn Rimes: I’m not naming names. People can take a song and make it about whomever they want to make it about … in their life also [laughs]. Some songs were probably more specific to certain situations or people, but then they became so much broader than that as I went along. But it was great to be able to release it all [laughs]! At least I did something productive with it!

You mentioned already playing some of the songs out live, so what has been the feedback you’re receiving so far on the new music?

LeAnn Rimes: People are just totally getting it. It’s awesome. I’ve never played anything that people haven’t had in their hands, but it seems like they’ve known these songs forever, from the first listen. I always know that I have something pretty good when people latch onto it and say, ‘Oh I like that song!’ after just one listen with never hearing it before. It’s cool to see people moved by it all and being able to relate it to their life. Whether people want to admit it or not, I think there are a lot of people who can relate to this new music.

Alanna: Plus your fans have stuck by your side through everything, so they have a real personal connection with the new music.

LeAnn Rimes: Yeah! They have seen so much out there that no one wants to see about someone they love their music or adore. I think this music is probably for my true fans. It’s a nice way for them to have the truth laid out for them. I’ve had some really great support for this record, for sure. 

Alanna: What kind of summer touring plans do you have in the works?

LeAnn Rimes: We’re going to be in Sweden for a show, and then come back and tour here for the summer. Then we go to Europe in September … Taiwan … we’re going everywhere [laughs]! I’m going to be racking up the miles on the plane for sure! I’m excited to go. It’s fun to play different countries and see so many different types of fans. It will be fun.

Alanna: Do you have any set tour plans for the states?

LeAnn Rimes: No, it’s just going to be dates here and there. Now that I have kids at home, the touring has kind of changed a little bit. I don’t really go out for long, long periods of time. We’re doing a bunch of fairs and festivals this summer. Next year there will probably be a more concentrated tour.

Alanna: With summer approaching and the kids being out of school, do you guys have anything fun planned?

LeAnn Rimes: Eddie’s turning 40, and it’s Father’s Day, too. We’re going to take the kids and go somewhere on a little vacation. It will be fun. They love to come out on the road, too. They think the tour bus is a jungle gym [laughs]. I remember doing that as a kid, so now I’m the one going, ‘Oh my God … don’t fall on your heads!’ They’ll come out on the road for a little bit, which is always fun. Summer’s always so crazy for me, but things have changed a little bit, so I leave myself some time to be home more. We just moved into a new house, so it’s hard to be away from home. I always can’t wait to get home, which is nice. It’s really good to enjoy the place that you live [laughs].