SHANIA TWAIN INTERVIEWS AND ARTICLES PAGE 3
Tonya Mei, OK Magazine, 3rd September 1999
OK! met up with Shania in her west London hotel room to catch up with her at this exciting stage of her career.
Shania, you recently had a massive hit with the song That Don't Impress Me Much, I know everyone will have asked you this, but what does Impress you?
Personality first and foremost impresses me. I think somebody's character is so much more important than looks. It's also way beyond material things and women don't need to find a guy who's got a great car or a great job or a great house any more. We can buy all those material things for ourselves and I really don't think that we look to rely on men any more.
And what made you write the song? Was it any man in particular or just a reflection of society in general?
What I wanted to point out is that women are much more independent these days, we make our own money and we don't need men so much. It's not even a matter of independence - society has turned around so much, the way the economy is, women have to work for a living. I'm at a point of my life where I feel as free as I ever have as a female and I'm just having fun pointing that out in my songs. I used to almost resent being a girl because I was a complete and utter tomboy but now I love my femininity.
Your husband, Mutt Lange, is also your producer. Do you find it difficult to live and work together?
Working together is great fun. I love writing with him, he is so young and enthusiastic about his music. We incorporate it into our lifestyle, I could be cooking or doing the laundry and we'll come up with a few lines or a tune and just go off and write a song from it. It's part of our lifestyle. We have fun together, we'll take our guitars and start jamming together. However, we keep the relationship pleasurable by going off and doing our own thing. he works on lots of other acts and I can go and ride my horses.
You are famed for writing ballads. Are they all about your husband?
Absolutely. He's all that I could want.
You both left the States and moved to a chateau in Switzerland last year. What made you decide to move?
I really wanted more privacy - privacy to go to the dairy, to the corner store, to dinner or whatever. Switzerland is one of the places where I can achieve that more than most places.
Are you happy with your position now and everything you have achieved?
I'm very happy now. It takes a lot of work, so the work is paying off. It takes a lot of effort and things don't happen at the snap of a finger and if they do you are very lucky. A lot of times if they do happen like that, there's very rarely longevity to it. So I don't mind, I understand what it means to put work into something and it's really rewarding to see a reaction now.
What music do you listen to yourself and who do you admire musically?
I listen to so many different types of music, from the Backstreet Boys to Fleetwood Mac to Billie Holliday. Elton John is always someone who I've admired greatly musically and vocally, he always moves me when he sings and he's just such an amazingly musical man. I've always been a huge fan, huge fan of Stevie Wonder for exactly the same reasons.
Is there anyone you would really like to work with or meet?
I'm not a big groupie really, if there's people I admire I don't need to meet them. Actually, I don't really have industry friends as such. If you do meet people you're always in the public eye and you don't have time to get to know each other, although it would be nice.
You have been offered lots of movie roles recently. Have you been tempted at all?
I get offers every once in a while. I had'nt considered them for the longest time as I decided that I did'nt have the time to get involved with one. But I'm getting to the point now where I think I might loosen up about it and say, 'Yeah, if something cool comes along let me know and I'll think about it.' But for the time being I'm happy working on my music with my husband.
Talking about your husband, he's never been photographed with you in public. Is there any reason for that?
He just really doesn't have any desire to be famous. His goal in life is not to be a celebrity. I mean, my goal in life is not to be a celebrity either but it's a by-product of my job - you simply have to do it. He does go to cetain lengths to protect his privacy, like standing out to the side if someone is taking a photo around him. But he wouldn't ever twist a guy's arm to get the film back. He's just not like that as a person - but he is a bit shy.
Your mother and stepfather died when you were 21 and you spent a long time bringing up your brothers and sisters. After all that, do you and Mutt still want to have children?
It hasn't put me off but I'm in no rush. I think I would like a child some day, but I don't feel this great urge.
And did your brothers and sisters appreciate what you did for them, putting your life on hold for them?
I don't know. I think they just felt it was necessary, they would have done the same for me - I don't think they feel they owe me some big thing. It's just the way it happened.
Your natural father is still alive. Do you have any desire to see him?
No. It's kind of late in life for me personally. He left us when I was a toddler and the first time I remember meeting him very briefly was when I was 13. But he has tried to contact us a couple of times since then. He tried to get in touch after my parents died but he was drinking so I just decided I didn't want to talk to him. I've never spoken to him since. The press give the impression that we knew each other and I have decided that I don't want to know him any more - the reality is that I didn't ever know him.
Are you still close to all your sisters and brothers?
Yes, very close. My sister is with me in London right now. I try and get them to come with me whenever I have the opportunity. She came a couple of days early so we could spend some time together. We had a great time and went shopping in Harvey Nichols and to the lovely antiques shops on the Kings Road. I bought some lovely 18th Century antiques.
What are your other extravagances?
You know what, having a lovely life, that is my luxury. I'm not a very extravagant person and I think it's because of my background. Right now, I still feel a little reluctant to be extravagant. Maybe I'll get over that - I don't know but I feel like I would be pushing my luck. My main luxury is having my own horses, even though they arent that expensive. But really, life is wonderful and thats such a luxury. It shouldn't be like that - everyone should have a wonderful life - but when you have money stress and you can't pay the bills, life is not lovely. I go into shops and even though I could probably afford to buy everything on display, I still don't do it.
You've just signed a multi-million pound two-year deal with Revlon, following in the footsteps of other beautiful women such as Cindy Crawford and Melanie Griffith. How does that make you feel?
I'm thrilled to be part of that because we are sp compatible. My image and music fits their campaign perfectly and I didn't have to compromise at all. They just let me be myself and that's what makes it the perfect relationship. Also, it's an extension of what I already do in my own job - dressing up and play acting. Except that this time, they are paying me to do it. Normally, it's a lot more stressful as I'm the boss, I'm the one directing and it's my money being spent - so working on the Revlon adverts is a nice change. And it's incredlbly flattering to be recognised with some of the most beautiful women in the world.
So you get paid to wear amazing make-up and clothes and have your photos taken by Herb Ritts...
Yeah, and it's a lot of fun. You go there, they do your nails, do your hair and make-up and are great to you. And Herb Ritts was a joy to work with. It's like I've been a special guest of Revlon.
On Mon, 23 Aug 1999 Ron C.E.O. interviewed Dan Schafer. A guitarist for the band which helped Shania to promote the Woman In Me album in 1995 and 1996. The below interview is exclusive to the Shania Twain International Online Fan Club, and must not be reproduced in part or whole without the express written permission of Ron CEO. or Dan Schafer.
Name: Dan (Daniel J.) Schafer
Background: Raised in Michigan to musical parents. Played in bands all my life. Wrote songs. Always made a living in music.
Most Memorable Moment: One afternoon in 1986, giving my life to Jesus Christ.
Musical Influences: The Byrds, Gino Vannelli, George Jones, Glad, Carpenters, (Guitarists) Clarence White, Steve Howe, George Benson, Brent Mason, (Producers) David Foster, Greg Nelson, Jay Graydon, Richard Carpenter, Keith Thomas.
Instruments: Electric & acoustic Guitars, bass guitar, pedal steel guitar.
Type of Guitars Played: I guess my main guitar is a '66' Gibson SG Custom Custom with 5 benders. I have many Epiphone guitars, (which I love) new archtops and a White double neck. I have 2 Fernandes guitars, each with different 5 bender devices including Parsons/White, Glaser and Bigsby. A Martin D-35 flat top, a MSA pedal steel, a Steinberger 5 string and Epiphone 6 string bass. There are more, Ovations, etc.
Favorite Show You Have Played: David Letterman show (the 1st time) or American Music Awards '95.
Favourite Live Venue: Dick Clark's American Bandstand Classics Show.
Favorite Locations on Tour: Northern California / Seattle
Greatest Musical Achievement: Number 1 for 5 weeks in the National CCM charts - Inspirational song 'All Along the Way' by Larnelle Harris from his album 'First Love', co-written with Greg Nelson.
1. What is it like to tour with Shania, and what are you doing right now?
We never really toured, just flew to rehearsals and TV dates. It was great. She treated me well, was very professional and sweet. Mutt was also a pleasure to work with. Currently, I'm doing sessions of all types, writing and doing anything that pays the bills.:-)
2. Do you have any interesting statistics on a past tour that will astound our visitors, and give people an idea of just how hard it can be on tour on the road?.
No real info, just that the road can be fun and lonely. I love getting away sometimes for a few days, but always ready to get back to my wife & 2 boys.
4. What was your favourite tour location? What made it special?
Northern California...the scenery was so beautiful.
5. The David Letterman Show was your favorite. Care to add a little more to that?
The Ed Sullivan Theatre (Letterman Show), just knowing I was performing on the same stage the Beatles, Byrds, Doors, Supremes and so many other favorites of mine had was breathtaking and humbling.
6. How many different Guitars did you require when on tour with Shania?
I think the most I ever used at one time, on a Shania gig was 3. The SG with the benders, the Fernandes 'Strat' LE-2, the Fernandes LSA-65 acoustic/electric, an Ibanez Roadstar with 3 benders and an Ovation 'Viper'.
7. Where do you see your career going in 5 years? What are your goals?
I want to focus on writing and doing whatever the Lord leads me to do.
8. From your position on stage, how far back into the audience could you see? (By Row)
Depends on the place. Sometimes I could see the whole room. Remember, I did mostly TV stuff with Shania. While working with Lorrie Morgan and Barbara Mandrell and others, I could only see the first 15 rows or so.
9. Explain your current music, and the style of music please.
I'm writing lots of country and Praise & Worship tunes these days. I'm also involved in an 5 CD set of Christmas songs that is supposed to come out this year, hopefully. It's called 'Christmas Across America'. I'm singing a bunch of songs on the set. There is one song for every state in the US.
10. Where can people see you play now?
I have a gig at a dinner theatre in Nashville, TN called the 'Nashville Palace'. I can be found there usually 5 nights a week. Just a sideman in the house band. I'm doing sessions, teaching, selling and promoting videos I've done on string bending devices and most of all serving my Lord, Jesus Christ and being a husband and father to my wife & kids.
11. Any particular message for our members?
Love one another, keep looking up, enjoy what God has given you and most of all, find out all you can about Jesus Christ and get to know him. You'll be Glad, forever, you did! Blessings, Y'all! Dan Schafer
SHE'S NUMBER ONE
By Mike Peake, FHM, July 1999
The Native American has never been a big hit with the youth of Britain. Children prefer to play John Wayne, and it's a sad fact that the school's least agile pupil is elected to run around shouting "I'm Tonto!" while classmates throw small pebbles at his back. In the movies, too, the Indian has a hard time. He's either a leathery-faced scrote who'd toss a hunting knofe at your head as quickly as say "How!" or a clod-hopping mental patient, like that big luff off One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
But finally the UK is warming to the incredibly hard done-by Native American, thanks to the races most attractive - and famous - public face: Shania (Ojibway Indian for "I'm on my way") Twain, the multi-million-selling singing sensation. Only she's not actually Native American. She's Canadian, and , to be perfectly honest, it's her adoptive father Jerry who carried the family's teepee-building genes. But the press love an angle, so Shania's basically an Indian - and She's a country and western star too. Mercifully, the truth about Twain's music is that it has nothing in comment with twang, dusty "Yeehaw!" sound that most of us know and hate. It's sexy, foot-stomping pop rock, and lots of ballads. With corny lyrics...
"I write with comic relief," Shania smiles. "You can't take it seriously. I don't think hardcore country fans realise it, but everyone else knows that the songs are ment to be humorous and corny."
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Shania - or Eileen, as she was called at the time - was mad about music from the word go, performing in smoky lounges and bars before she'd started on her nine times tables. She may not have shone in class, but had sense enough to graduate. Her true gift was her powerful set of lungs.
"I used to skip school a lot," Shania tells FHM, "and I'd write fake notes from my mother. I didn't want to be in history class when I could be in the music room writing songs. I was pretty much a loner, but I had my music and I was happy with that."
She'd never known her real dad - her parents split up when she was two - but Jerry was kind enough to take the teenage songbird hunting for such local delicacies as rabbit and moose. It's difficult to imagine the enormity of the tragedy that struck in November 1987. Jerry and Shania's mother, Sharon, were killed in a head-on collision with a logging truck - leaving Shania little choice but to bring up her younger sister and two brothers. These dreams of pop stardom were put on the back burner.
But in 1991, a Nashville producer heard about Eileen Twain's prowess in the lounges of southern Canada, and agreed to work on a demo. She moved to Nashville and signed a record deal, even though her debut album - and transformation from dull old Eileen into Shania - meant she had to sing other peoples songs. "I'm a practical person," she says, not. "I'm a survivor, so I did it their way. It didn't work and it wasn't a success."
Then fate - perhaps trying to make up for the lousy hand it dealt her so far - put Shania in touch with famed rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The curly- haired South African had already co-written such monster hits as Bryan Adams' Everything I Do (I do it for you), Billy Ocean's When the going gets tough, and half of Sheffield rockers Def Leppard's big tunes, as well as help shape the sound of AC/DC, the Boomtown Rats and even those American pop lummoxes Backstreet Boys. So when Lange heard Shania's shaky debut and offered a helping hand, there was no chance she was going to turn him down.
Over the next few months, as the pair wrote songs over the phone, the twice-divorced Lange became besotted. And 16 years Shania's senior, Lange must have been cock-a-hoop when he convinced the Canuck beauty to marry him in December 1993. Two years later and with a huge input from new husband, Twain released the watershed album Woman in me; it was a massive hit in the states, and went on to replace Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits as the best-selling country album ever. Now it's sold well over ten million copies, as has the follow-up, last years Come on Over.
Worldwide, Shania Twain is in the same league as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. The facts speak for themselves: She's the first female artist to sell over tem million copies of consecutive albums; she's only one of five woman ever to sell over ten million copies of one record; she's won Grammys, Billboard awards and played to over 2.5 million people. Come on Over has been knocking around the top end of the US charts for 90 weeks - and she's signed a million deal to be the new face of Revlon.
Twain is worth a packet, and Lange himself is thought to be good for a whopping million - putting their combined personal wealth on par with the GNP of Western Samoa, Population 170,000. And with Mutt earning an estimate million a year in royalties (,000 a week) for doing nothing, she doesn't need to work ever again...
"It's not all about the money though," Shania says. "At times I can be like, 'What am I doing this for?' But everyone needs new goals."
Notoriously press shy, Shania has done just three big interviews in the last year: Rolling stone, Cosmopolitan, and US Elle. And now she's cracked the UK with the hit singles You're still the one and That don't impress me much, she's doing FHM.
"Britain was slow to pick up on me as there was definitely a stigma with the country and western perception. That's changed now that people have heard the music. It was slow, and frustrating. I don't have a lot of time to spare, so when I come here I'm really pushing it. I didn't want it all to be in vain - and obviously, it wasn't. I'm glad I can say it was worth it."
But Britain was a bitch to crack. The Woman in me failed to grab us, so Come on over was "de-countryfiled" for its UK release: the hideous fiddles were taken off, the slide-guitars removed - and her image was revamped. It worked - it's sold 650,000 copies since its release in March 1998. And Shania's first ever UK tour earlier this summer was a sell out.
"I feel quite comfortable here," she says. "And I still don't recognised all that much in the streets - I love that. Freedom!"
You're obviously recognised all the time in the states - do you ever sit and think about all the hairy Texans who have pictures of you in their bathrooms?
Argh! I think I'd be surprised by a lot of the places where my pictures are pinned up. I was amazed at first by how many different people are into my music. I see them at my concerts - Last night in London there were a couple of German biker-ladies.
Are you followed everywhere by chubby bodyguards?
I hate having bodyguards. I have a dog - a German shepherd - that I take on tour, he's my bodyguard. That way I can run to the corner store for a soda or whatever without having people with me. It's less conspicuous - just a girl walking a dog.
No one could say you're inconspicuous on stage - have you ever had an embarrassing incident?
Hmm. Well, I've fallen a few times - and I can't say I landed well. I've forgotten the words to my own songs, too - usually when you see someone singing along in the audience. If they get the words wrong it throws you off. And burping is a problem! I have to time when I eat before a show.
How do you stop you're self sweating on stage?
I'm not a perspirer, but if the band see me sweating it's a big deal - like "Man, you were sweating tonight!" I get sticky, but you rarely see me dripping sweat.
These days, all you gigs are at colossal arena. Are the backstages areas ever revolting?
Yeah, they can be awful - really smelly and dirty. I usually have my bus with me on tour, and that's where I hang out; but in the UK, for example, I don't have my bus, so when I shower after the show I'll put towels on the floor - everywhere - so I don't have to step barefoot on dirty rugs.
Are your roadies screened to make sure there's no drooling weirdos in your crew?
That's taken care of, but the local crews you have no control over. They're told not to harass me - I'm not stand-offish, I walk around like everyone else - but it can get out of hand. Once I was sound-checking when a guy jumped on stage, grabbed the mic and started singing, like it was an audition. He was something to do with seating. He had to go.
You wear some saucy outfits during your shows. Privately, though, when do you feel most sexy?
I think it's when I get out of the tub. I know a lot of girls feel this way - you've just had a bath and you get out and your skin is fresh and you' ve stuck your hair up without even looking. That's when you look the best. I don't get it - you just get out of the bath, look in the mirror and go, " Wow! I look great!" But you're not going anywhere - you're just going to bed!
So you must stroll around naked if you're that pleased with yourself...
I do! I never used to - I was never comfortable with myself that way, but I' m a lot less critical now. It's a great time of the day - when there's no one around.
You've just swapped your 3,000-acre New York estate for a 19th century manor house in Switzerland. Do you have any famous neighbours?
Phil Collins lives close by. There's quite a few in the area - Sophia Loren is near, and there's Tina Turner...
Would you have Phil over for a barbie?
Perhaps. But I'm a vegetarian, so he wouldn't be getting Steak.
Who's the richer these days - You or Mutt?
Ha! We're about equal. I've caught up pretty fast.
You're not joking - but do you still stuff from hotel bedrooms like the rest of us?
Ha ha! Yeah, I do - I take the little mouthwash things, and sometimes if my curling iron's still hot when I leave I'll put a hand-towel around it.
What's the worst thing about living out of a suitcase?
Public bathrooms - usually at airports. You're travelling for 15 hours, and you're reliant on them, but you end up having to brush your teeth in public. I hate that.
We're doing a feature this issue on tough women - when was the last time you lamped a bloke?
I haven't done that. I have an arm wrestle here and there. I'm not particularly good, but guys seem to want to test my strength.
Maybe they just want to hold your hand...
Aww! That's cute. I'm gonna remember that - next time someone asks for an arm-wrestle, I'm onto them!
In the FHM sex survey, 71% of women said their first time was "Unsatisfactory". Any comments?
Ha ha! No, mine was pretty unforgettable. I'm kind of old-fashioned, so I was never really into the do-it-at-a-party-in-a-side-room thing. I wasn't drinking, it was well thought out, and I was like, "Okay, now I'm gonna experiment." And it was enjoyable.
Awesome! Finally, did you ever catch the British sitcom Never the Twain, starring the mighty Donald Sinden and Windsor Davies?
I never have. Never the Twain - how cool. We have company for dinner tonight, so I'll bring it up.