As she sits in the backseat of an SUV, Lisa Marie Presley — looking particularly goth with her jet black hair, black jumpsuit and black sneaks — prepares for the first question of an interview with a look of dread.
Maybe that’s from past experience. When the King’s daughter released her album “To Whom It May Concern” two years ago, inquiring minds were more interested in Elvis and those brief marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage than her budding music career.
As she releases the follow-up, “Now What,” she’s still facing the same questions — but only to some degree. With the critical acclaim and solid commercial success of her first record, there are plenty of people who want to know about Lisa Marie Presley, the singer, instead of the tabloid character.
AP: You had a lot to live up to when you first came out. Do you feel less pressure now with a second record?
Presley: There’s never not going to be pressure on me, but I did feel a little more like I made a thumbprint on the last one because it was a credible record, because I felt a little more relaxed, but on the other hand ... I’m going to get attacked to some degree. I know that, regardless, so that’s never comfortable.
AP: You said when you first started performing, some people were there just out of curiosity. How did you deal with that?
Presley: I think that happens less often then you’d think, but when it is happening it’s very obvious and I can tell what’s going on. I had some of that in the beginning, but I think that ultimately I got a pretty strong fan base based on just my personality alone, and my honesty, my music. So it wasn’t based on anything else, and I did notice if someone else came looking for something else, they’d probably leave, or complain it was too loud or something. (Laughs.)
AP: Was it everything you expected it to be?
Presley: No, because I think most artists start off playing in front of people and are used to doing it before they go out. I kind of did it the opposite. The thing got blown sky high and I’m on TV on “Good Morning America” doing my first performance in front of everybody. I think it was backward and from that, what I got out of it, the end is what I wanted, which was headlining my own tour, having people come because they loved my record and loved my music ... that sort of let me to do the second record, because I was like OK, in the end, if all is said and done, if that song stopped someone from killing themselves and these people are actually listening and being moved my music, that was my whole purpose in the first place, and that’s why I did the second one, and it wasn’t because of any other reason.
AP: What was the most difficult thing about becoming an artist?
Presley: I don’t think I realized what was going to be the hardest part until I dove off the diving board ... first I had to overcome a pre-speculated idea of me. I had to sort of burst through that and introduce myself, and that was the first hurdle, and then now sing in front of everybody, and then that was the second one, and I’m the offspring of — you know, who I’m the offspring of — I had a few hurdles to get through, no doubt about it. But the scales never tipped in the other direction too much.
AP: Talk about your new single, “Dirty Laundry” — why did you choose to remake the Don Henley song?
Presley: I think the song speaks for itself, in terms that it points out the state of affairs. I think it did in the early ’80s. I think it’s even worse now in terms of what our entertainment is and what we watch every night on TV.
AP: Celebrities often criticize the gossip, but do you ever find yourself being taken in by it — like, “I’ve gotta see what’s happening with Brad and Jen?”
Presley: You know what? It’s such a thing right now that I actually feel bad for everybody who gets it, honestly. I don’t get wrapped up in it like that because I also know what they do. But the song is not just an attack on the tabloids, to be honest with you. It’s like, what is our entertainment? Our entertainment is — whether it be reality shows or people’s demise or having cameras in people’s faces — when there’s something tragic happening.
AP: So, you couldn’t see a Lisa Marie Presley reality show?
Presley: No way. Never gonna happen. It’s been asked. I’m so anti ... I turn them off, I can’t do it. I think I kind of liked “Fear Factor” at first. But it’s gone so far, and you realize, look what these people are doing for money, degrading themselves for money, and that’s just not appealing to me.
AP: When you first came out, you were very honest talking about your father, Nicolas Cage and Michael Jackson. Do you think that took attention from your music?
Presley: Well, that was a really hard fence to walk, and it was a fence, because I knew there was so much that I needed to explain to some people. I understood the human nature and needing to fill that gap of all the voids that had been happening or all these questions marks. But at the same time, when I did talk about them, that’s all that would be discussed in the interview, and that’s what would be blown up ... you don’t know whether or not you should say something, but you understand you need to explain yourself a little bit, but you don’t want to then have the whole focus of the damn thing being on that — which it ends up being.
AP: It is difficult releasing this record now with Michael Jackson on trial?
Presley: To be honest, it makes it really easy for me to deal with, because I just say it’s too hot of a stove. Anything about that subject is going to be way blown up out of proportion, so I don’t even touch it.