K: So you’re still smoking.
P: Yeah, I’m not that fucking evolved. (laughs)
K: How’ve you been?
P: Good. Everything. Up, down, and otherwise.
K: Your last record did really well.
P: I know, it’s kinda weird. It was a shock. More so with getting out to people, putting my tendrils around people’s souls than record sales, I think. It was a fuckin’ deep record. Every interview I had was like therapy. And then performing those songs every night—when I got off the road in January, I rescued some dogs and put them in the bed with me and slept for thirty days.
K: Was it hard to try and follow up such a big seller?
P: I told L.A. [Reid], don’t put that pressure on me--don’t tell me I gotta go in and record a bunch of hit songs so I can sell 11 million records. ‘Cause I never wanted to sell 11 million records in the first fucking place. I’m not even thinking about that. The album would have sucked if I’d thought about that.
So I started with Linda (Perry), because that’s my safe place, but even me and Linda were like, maybe this isn’t the time or place right now for us. I don’t know—with Misundaztood, our two universes collided, and there was a fucking energy there. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a different girl than I was two years ago. I was super fucking excited and putting everything I had on the line and it was like carrying a torch. And this time around it was just different for us. And then me and Tim [Armstrong] found each other. And that was just like, boom, two more universes colliding. Now I’m excited again. It’s a new thing, and like—wow, who would expect me and Tim to work together? That’s fucking cool. I wouldn’t have expected it.
K: How did you guys meet?
P: Tim came up to me at a video shoot and said, I’ve got some songs for you. I was super into the Transplants and I’ve loved Rancid forever. So I went over to his house and went on tour and went in the studio and it was done. It was very fatalistic—I don’t know if that’s a word.
K: It is, and you used it last time and you used it correctly and most people use it wrong.
P: Really? Good. (lisps) I am smart! I am special!
Anyway, Tim’s so versatile and so talented, plays every instrument, super humble guy. I needed a humble person around me. Someone who’s been in the game that long that’s still untouched by bullshit. It was fucking exciting again. I kinda woke up. All of a sudden I had shit to talk about. We did—fuck, we did ten songs in a week.
K: Were you on speed or something?
P: No! The Transplants were on tour with the Foo Fighters, and I went out and slept on the bus. He had Pro Tools on the bus, and we set up a drum kit in the aisle and fuckin’ recorded—so if you were to solo the vocals from Trouble, Save My Life and Oh My God, you’d hear engine. It’s so bad! Everyone was like, you’ve got to redo those vocals, and I’m like, No fucking way dude, that’s a vibe. Who does that?
Then the rest we’d just go in the studio--it ended up being me, Tim, Travis [from Blink-182 and the Transplants], and my bass player Janis (sp?) all just jamming in this room. I thought, Tim’s going to think I’m really cheesy because everything I’m coming up with is super pop melodies. But he’s so good for your ego—“That’s amazing! Fuck, that’s so rad!”
K: So I wonder if he’s going to go off now and become the new Linda Perry.
P: I don’t think so. He comes from a much humbler place than that. Of course, I’m sure the shit’s gonna hit the fan once this record comes out just like it did for Linda. But Tim’s different. He wouldn’t spread himself so thin. Because he’s an artist himself. And I think that’s what Linda is missing, the fact that she can’t be an artist.
Besides, Tim and I have a contract. We were joking around one night and made a contract that he can’t write for, produce, go to their shows, attend parties with, dance for, write a book with, make a movie with, have sex with—and he put all the names he wasn’t allowed to work with. It was a total joke, but I have it framed. It’s really funny.
K: Who’s on it?
P: Any American Idol. (laughs)
K: So I’m sensing you have some complicated feelings about Linda now.
P: Me and Linda have a very love-hate relationship--the most intense relationship [I’ve ever had]. And it has to be, or else we never would have wrote those songs together. I love her and I always will, but I hate her just as much, and she hates me just as much.
K: Did it piss you off watching Linda—I don’t know what I mean.
P: I know what you mean: Did it bother me that she was going on to work with these people or blowing up out of control and moving on? At first it did, I’m not gonna lie. I can be a very possessive type of girl. But I’ve learned that about myself in the past two years, and I’ve cured that part of myself through her. And I realized that I am really happy for her. Truly.
Would I have gone about things differently? Absolutely. It wasn’t the fact she was working with other people being successful. It was how it was done--sneakily and kind of egotistically and just wrong. But I’m not perfect. I love Linda and what we had together nobody can take away, not even her.
K: Your vocals are great on this record, more womanly.
P: Yeah! Well, I just turned 24 two days ago.
K: You say you’re 27 on “Unwind.”
P: I originally wrote the song about Janis Joplin. But I turned it around, I related to it so much, every line was true to me.
K: I read an interview with Linda where she said, “Pink’s not going to be yapping about her problems on this record” or something, and a lot of the songs dodn’t seem to be as personal [as on “Misundaztood”]—was that a conscious thing?
P: No, and I really resent that quote. I talked to her about it. That’s a very Linda Perry thing to say. We made a conscious decision last time to let down my defenses and be vulnerable, and talk about what I needed to talk about. That was a group decision, and it worked, because obviously other people needed to hear it too.
At the same time, I learned in the two years on the road with Misundaztood that I don’t want to do that again. Because I’m not the complaining type. There’s a lighter side of me that people aren’t getting from that record. I don’t regret it, ‘cause fuck, I got letters like, “I didn’t commit suicide because of that song, finally there’s truth out there in pop mainstream music.” But this time around I wanted to have more fun. It’s definitely not a party record, but it’s not lonely girls and family portraits and fucking dear diaries.
K: Is there anybody you want to work with still?
P: Yeah, the one person I wanted on this record turned me down, and that was Billy Joel. I was like, (pretend cries) No one’s ever turned me down before! Fucker! Who do you think you are!
I met him later at the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame thing in New York. It was a fucking acid trip--sitting at a table with John McEnroe and Barry Manilow—Tony Bennett’s behind me, Billy Joel’s over on the other side of the room. I was like, that’s Billy Joel. John, get me a beer. John McEnroe is fucking awesome. I went over to Billy Joel, and I told him, I’m singing tonight and I want you to see what you turned down. I just love him.
K: So what happened?
P: He gave me a standing ovation. I was so fucking nervous. You’re like, fuck, dude I just got to show all these people who have no idea what I’m made of. “Pink’s one of those little pop stars“--it’s like, this bitch can sing. And y’all gonna listen.
K: I just saw a Cher concert on TV—would you like to be like that at 60—doing Vegas, an incredible diva, yet human?
Pink: Yep. I’ll probably go back to pink and green hair when I’m 50. I never thought I’d live that long.
K: Do you still?
Pink: For the first time in my life, I want to.
K: Do you feel free?
P: As an artist, yeah. Absolutely. Sometimes I want to start a total side project and go fucking nuts--like dress up as a man and just fuckin’ set shit on fire. I don’t want to do side projects that are successful, though. I only want side projects with like 13 people in the audience.
But as a woman, I won’t feel free until I free everyone else. I see so many girls that are just… lost. Waiting for that knight in shining armor. When the knight in shining armor is inside their own self. I just think maybe part of my mission is to help women understand they need to love themselves first. Including myself. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have issues with self-esteem or body image or that notion of having a man come and save her. Look at how the world is right now. Men lead the world. Men got us into this shit. And I’m not a man-hater, I love men. But women have to lead this revolution.
K: Does it bug you to see your contemporaries working really hard to look a certain way—
P: No, if it makes them happy, absolutely not. I think it’s important to exercise and take your life in your own hands. (Grabs her belly) But I love my little bagel. I love my gut. People trash it all over the place—“Her once-taut belly now hangs over her Dickies.” I’m like, you know what? That’s just more lovin’. I just got more to love.
I love life and I love myself and I’m on a mission. That’s my mantra.