It’s been a year on the road for LeAnn Rimes.
The country star, who hit the big time with her debut album “Blue” in 1996 – at age 13 – has been touring in support of her latest record, “Spitfire.” The tour brings her to Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Sunday night.
“It’s nice to be able to tour music when people have it in their hands,” she said by telephone Wednesday from her home in Los Angeles. “The album came out in June. People know the songs and they sing along, and you can tell people are moved by certain things.”
Rimes said her shows these days include several tracks from “Spitfire,” as well as music dating back to “Blue.” Fans who are still buzzing about Rimes’ powerful tribute to the late Patsy Cline on Dec. 10 might get to hear her perform a Cline song Sunday night. It’s hard to stay. Rimes admits she’s a lot less likely to stick to a set list than she was earlier in her career.
“I’m open to the crowd, and sometimes they scream out something they want to hear and we know,” she said. “It’s really kind of an open, living conversation with my fans. It’s not very rigid. I have so much more fun that way. … The other night we did ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Billie Jean’ back to back, so you never know what you’re going to get.”
One song you’re likely to hear is the latest single “Gasoline and Matches,” which features Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas and guitar legend Jeff Beck. The elaborate video for “Gasoline and Matches” was filmed by a director Rimes and her team discovered on Vine, and who shot the video using only two iPhones and something like 8,000 still photos, Rimes said.
“Something that would have cost millions and millions of dollars back in the day is readily available right in your hands if you have the imagination to do it.”
Even though Rimes is only 31, she’s a 20-year music industry veteran. These kinds of do-it-yourself videos – done well – are only one aspect of the industry that’s changed. The Internet is now the place where artists can promote themselves, rather than channels like MTV or CMT.
“Going through the Web and social media are definitely the place where you’re seeing content like that,” she said. “We have iPhones. We can film ourselves to talk to fans about a new project that’s coming out or if we want to let them in on something we’re doing in the studio. It’s good to have that, and in good quality, so you don’t have to bring in a whole film crew.”
Another change? The release of “Spitfire” has brought to an end her relationship with Curb Records, the label her parents signed her to when she was 11 years old. She’s not inked a deal with another label yet, she said.
“I’m sitting back and letting it sink in that I am a free agent,” she said. “It’s a nice, freeing experience with a lot of emotion that comes with that.”
She’s open, she said, to whatever opportunities come her way. She’ll have a lot of meetings in the new year, she predicted, and is really hoping to find a label that’s a good fit.
“I’m exploring and taking meetings,” she said. “It’s kind of the opposite way around this time. Instead of them interviewing me, I’m interviewing them. Where’s the best place to land to be able to create the music I want to create?”
And she knows the kind of music she wants to make. When asked if she’s started planning the next record, she replied that she’s planned the next five records. “I’m really excited to branch out and do new stuff,” she said.
She later added, “I want to be able to create and sing whatever it is that I want to do. I would love to do a dance record. I have many dance hits. I’d love to find a few DJs and do a proper dance album. I would love to do more of a traditional country record. I’d love to do a duets album.
“For me, when I started, the lines were so defined as country and pop – now it’s very, very blurred,” she continued. “I think it opened up what I’ve always what to do, which is be an artist with a voice.”