Randee St. Nicholas/ ET
Wilson Phillips -- Carnie, Wendy and Chynna -- is back together with a holiday release Christmas in Harmony, putting their signature vocal stylings on everyone's favorite Christmas songs. Now, ET talks to Carnie about the new CD and how she is going to fight the battle of the bulge this holiday season.
ETonline: What was the inspiration for the album?
Carnie Wilson: I had been hoping and praying for a Wilson Phillips Christmas album for many, many years, but after we reunited in 2004, we had children in-between that -- each of us had children, three more children, one more kid, I had two -- and we had to do that for a while, but it really ignited a flame in all of us. This year, it was just magical how it happened. The stars were aligned just the way they were supposed to be because we were offered a deal with Sony Masterworks just at the time we were going to start producing our own record of a Christmas album in my home with my husband engineering. We were thrilled because we wanted to sing together again and doing Christmas songs is magical.
ETonline: There are so many Christmas albums, how is yours different?
Carnie Wilson: Every artist that does Christmas songs has their own style. That is what makes it special. The songs themselves, whether they are the classics that we all cherish or originals, but especially the classics that we all cherish, you love them and you are willing to hear them over and over again. I think it is because of the artists who record these songs. I look forward to hearing how different artists are going to put their touch on it. If you are a Wilson Phillips fan, and there are a lot of them out there, you are going to be very happy and satisfied, because you are going to get what you expect: lots of vocals, intricate harmonies and some fun, playful arrangements. There is nothing out of the ordinary or over the top, it is just earthy, angelic, sweet and also … there is some power behind "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and even on "Christmastime," one of our originals on there, there is a driving beat that is really cool.
ETonline: With so many Christmas songs, how did you select the ones on the album?
Carnie Wilson: It was really hard to choose. There is just so much space on the record. We sat around with our producer Glen Ballard, and the record company sent over a list of 16 songs that they loved, and we probably chose about five off of their list. The rest of the songs were songs that we chose. We listened to a lot of the older versions of songs, like we listened to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Ronettes and a lot of the '60s versions of these songs, not as the vibe, but the influential energy for this record in terms of the tracks, but scaled down and simple with great young musicians to lay down simple, nice tracks on which we could go to town with the vocals. Each song that we chose has that certain special quality to it. We knew that "Little Drummer Boy" was a must because it was so hypnotic. Wendy and I did a real nice version on our "Hey Santa!" album and we used that as the template. "O Holy Night" didn't make it and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" didn't make it, and "Frosty the Snowman" and a bunch of songs, even The Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick" were close contenders, but we settled on songs that were close to us. I didn't win with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." That has to be on every single Christmas album, in my opinion, but that will be on volume two.
ETonline: Does being a mom affect which songs you chose?
Carnie Wilson: That is an interesting question. I don't know. We thought about "Frosty the Snowman," and "Sleigh Ride" wound up on the record and it reminds me more of, not for children, but it does have that playfulness. We also had every intention of having our children on the record, and we did a recording of the kids -- and maybe this is something we can save for the next one, or maybe this is something special for a charity thing. I am not sure, but we will use it somewhere. We recorded the kids reading a letter to Santa -- all nine children.
ETonline: Do you have a holiday tradition you can share?
Carnie Wilson: Since the kids have been born, and since I have been married and it is my little, inner-circle family, every Christmas morning, we get up and light a fire and put on Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and The Carpenters Christmas albums and we play those on like a loop, and then we open presents and head over to my mom's house. Christmas Eve, I usually spend with my dad [Brian Wilson]. We go over there and spend it with his family. Of course, my sister and her two kids come there, too. We make great food and play lots of music and laugh. Sometimes we play home movies, but usually, now that we have kids, it is chasing after them and laughing with them.
ETonline: Do you have any holiday weight tips?
Carnie Wilson: It can be as easy as -- no pun intended -- shut your pie hole. No, I am just kidding. The biggest tip I can give is … this is what determines weight gain and weight maintenance, never weight loss, unless you work out like a banshee. Weight gain during [the holidays] would be having large portions of everything that is being served. Weight maintenance is having a small portion of everything that is served. You can have everything at the buffet or on the table, but just eat a little piece of everything -- just a few bites worth of everything. You have to sacrifice portion. Let's face it. These are high-calorie dishes. And the more you eat, the more you gain.
ETonline: How are you doing?
Carnie Wilson: It's a struggle right now. At this moment, I am doing better because I went 32 minutes on the treadmill today, I made a good protein and whole wheat bagel with flax seeds and a piece of turkey bacon, so today, I am on a really good path. I decided I am not going to gain weight [this holiday season]. It is always going to be a struggle for me. I am just trying to stay healthy and that is the best thing.
ETonline: I know you left GSN? What's next?
Carnie Wilson: I didn't leave GSN. They let me go. I just want to clarify that. I am very sad about that. I have a TV thing on the burner right now, but I can't talk about that. I am doing some very beautiful and meaningful work right now for the Autism Research Institute. I am filming a beautiful commercial for them. In a few days, something really exciting … I have never done this kind of work. I have always done work with some sort of philanthropic meaning behind it. Right now, an amazing new website that I have is carniesmall.com or carniewilsonmall.com [websites launching shortly] and what this is it is a virtual online shopping mall with 1100 stores from Target to Barnes & Noble, everything you can imagine, with 8 million products, and every product that somebody buys, they get cash back and the Autism Research Institute gets a big donation. So, I am very excited about promoting this. It is a big deal. Also, [Wilson Phillips] is going into the studio at the beginning of the year with our producer to start a CD of original material.