"The last time I remember saying, 'Holy sh*t! Who is this?' is when Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill came out," says Lisa Marie Presley. "It broke through that whole barrier of honesty and attitude. "You Oughta Know" hit me right between the eyes. That was the first time I was inspired. I actually started writing songs again after I heard that."
Morissette's catchy kiss-off is just one stop in Lisa Marie's journey towards rock stardom. Weary of standing in dad's shadow, Presley set out on her own with 2003's To Whom It May Concern. If you thought its slick songs and take-no-prisoners frankness was a fluke, she's back to prove herself all over again. Her new Now What? is a candid collection that tells us Presley is here to stay. VH1 played her songs by some fellow travelers and inspirations; along the way we learned about the career advice offered by about Johnny Ramone, and her respect for Marilyn Manson.
Lisa Marie Presley: It's the Ramones. I didn't become a fan until I met Johnny. I met his wife first. She used to be a hairdresser and one day she did my hair. Then I went to a party and didn't know who anyone was. She grabbed me and pulled me over to where Johnny was. We hit it off. I think he really mellowed out because his wife used to say, "When did you get so nice? You used to be so nasty."
VH1: What was it about meeting him that made you go back to the music to see what makes him tick?
LMP: I needed to know about him because he was becoming my best friend. I heard all these stories about him: 20 years, two chords, blah blah. If you sit with him any time he'll talk music and lecture you. Every time I was on the road I'd call him. He'd be like, "Did you like New York? Did you like Japan?" I'd be like, "I'm miserable." He'd be like, "Lisa, why are you even doing this?" I'd call him for advice and we became so tight.
LMP: I used to sing this song all the time when I was three. The Sweet Inspirations were underrated. They were in the same realm as The Supremes, but weren't as well known. My dad got them to be his backup singers. I had a thing for soul and R&B. I've always loved that and grew up with it around me.
LMP: I loved Lita Ford. This was the time of Ratt and Motley Crue and all of that. I never got to hang out on the Sunset Strip during the '80s, but I was totally part of the spandex thing and the [teased] hair. I was a huge fan of Whitesnake. I loved Joan Jett, but I gravitated more towards Lita. Joan was like Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days, the cool one in the leather.
VH1: Did the idea of a woman in rock seem like a novel idea back then?
LMP: Not at all. It was an evolution. There was Pat Benatar, Linda Ronstadt, Anne Wilson from Heart ... It wasn't like now, where it's novel to actually have a real rock chick. They were the real deal back then.
LMP: Who is it?
VH1: He's a rapper called Cowboy Troy. He describes his music as "Hick Hop."
LMP: It's cool. I like it.
VH1: Do you listen to much country?
LMP: I listen to old country. Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash. I don't know what they have that today's country artists don't other than the fact that it's just different and more commercial now. I haven't listened to country in a long time, but I used to. I like Emmylou Harris but I'm not very familiar with Gretchen Wilson. There are things I love about it when it's very soulful and authentic.
LMP: It's Marilyn Manson.
VH1: I know you have one of his paintings in your house. Can you tell me what it is?
LMP: It's his self portrait. A deranged self portrait, if you will, because he does watercolor and it drips. So it's not perfect. But it was one that I liked at his art show and he gave it to me.
VH1: Manson and Presley seem like a strange combination.
LMP: I went with Janet Jackson to her record release party. He came backstage with Billy Corgan. [Janet] was flipping out because she thought he was the devil. I was completely star-struck, I had a crush on Marilyn during his Mechanical Animals phase. Then Rose [McGowan] went on Howard Stern and ripped me. At a Halloween party, I tapped her on the shoulder and was like "What the f*ck was that all about?" She was shocked and all like, "I didn't mean it! It was taken out of context!" Manson was getting a little protective of her, then realized it was me and was like, "I'm so sorry." Johnny Ramone was also friends with Rose and him, so he and I became friends via Johnny.
VH1: Do you think music needs people like him?
LMP: My God yes! I love his shows. I've seen him at least eight times. I went twice in a night once in LA. He's the most amazing theatrical performer I've ever seen in my life. I find it really funny when teenage pop people want to hook up with him because he's like, "Get the hell away from me!" He sticks to what he's doing. But there's not a lot of room in the music industry for people that want to push buttons. There's kind of a monopoly, and a lot of politics and people deciding who is going where. I'm stepping on my own feet here, but that's what is going on.