By Beville Dunkerley
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Laura Bell Bundy says with a laugh, quoting the iconic line in Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” The free-spirited singer is speaking with Radio.com about her adventurous new album, set to release sometime next year.
Bundy is in many ways living up to that lyric with her most recent music. The upcoming album is, for instance, a project that was actually born from a big blow to her music career. The Kentucky native’s former record label shelved what was supposed to be her sophomore country album (Another Piece of Me), which she’d planned to release in 2012. When that happened, though, Bundy admiringly viewed that plate of lemons as an opportunity to try a different recipe for lemonade.
This summer, Bundy — who also has an impressive acting resume of film, TV and Broadway roles — released a daring new song called “Two Step.” Radio.com caught up with Bundy to talk about the song, and what she admits is a polarizing new musical direction. She also gave us an album preview and dispelled rumors about her newest small-screen co-star, Charlie Sheen (Bundy recently joined the cast of Sheen’s FX comedy series, Anger Management).
Radio.com: Being a dance track with a rap interlude (courtesy of Colt Ford), “Two Step” has both its lovers and its naysayers. What do you say to those who argue it’s not country music?
Laura Bell Bundy: I’m OK with it! Hopefully it’s creating a path for a new style. If something is truly innovative and no one has a problem with it, it’s not innovative at all. Take Howard Stern, for instance. There was this survey where they asked people if they love him or hate him. For those who love him, they asked how often they listen to the show and it averaged an hour a day. Then they asked the people who hate him how long they listen to him per day. [The answer was] an average of two hours! They want to hear what he has to say, because they love to hate him.
Female singers are few and far between on the country charts these days. It seems women have to stand out a lot more than men in order to be successful. Was that something you were thinking about in making “Two Step” so unique?
No, because when you force something, people can smell that. I just try to write what I think is fun. But look at Carrie [Underwood], Miranda [Lambert] and Taylor [Swift] – all at the height of their success. I’m not going to do what they do, because there’s already someone who’s nailing that. But what I can do is create music that is danceable. There really isn’t party music for girls. So what I’m working on now is music that is more on the edge. I live on the edge! There’s a Shirley MacLaine quote: “I’m safest out on a limb.” That’s very much me.
There’s talk of you leading a “Country Dance Movement.” Is that the strategy with your upcoming album?
There was a big dance movement in the ’90s, with Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes…. But now, there is even more pop and hip-hop in country, because that’s our generation. We grew up at a time when rap music was really becoming a part of Top 40. So as songwriters, we’re influenced by what we listen to. When I was in high school, I listened to Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Tupac and Biggie! Music is evolving.
Will there be any emotional ballads on the album, or will it be all uptempo?
I recorded a lot more personal, heartfelt music, but it hasn’t seen the light of day. I’m not sure when it will come out. So now, I’m focused on making a record you can throw in your car and have party music for the night.
That heartfelt music you mention was on an album called Another Piece of Me, which was never released. Is it hard for you to leave that music unheard and go a completely different direction?
That was really hard for me. When you make an album, especially one that was so heartfelt, a lot work and writing went into that. But when [my label and I] parted ways, I was re-inspired. I knew there was something I wanted to do with the hip-hop and dance world. This is who I am. I’m either going to a dark, spiritual place or to a party world – there’s not a whole lot of in between. I either want to break your heart or make you jump up and down and shake your thing. So with this new album, I’m focusing on the jumping!
You sent a tweet to your mom warning her not to watch you on Anger Management. Is this your most risqué role to date?
It really isn’t! I play a doctor who comes on to be Charlie’s partner in a sex study. She’s actually more buttoned-up than I am. But this is a show that really caters to males, so the subject matter is…uh…interesting!
Everyone wants to know what Charlie Sheen is really like to work with….
We have totally hit it off. He is really fun to bounce ideas off of. He cares about his work and people on the set. It’s one of the happiest sets I’ve ever been on. The energy is really positive, and I think that’s because Charlie is so positive. So, don’t believe all you hear in the media. He’s a good dude!