Thursday, December 13, 2012
Singer Skylar Grey talks Packers, Ducks love
By Jared Zwerling
The Wisconsin native grew up rooting for the Packers and adopted the Ducks football team when she lived in Oregon.
On the night Carmelo Anthony made his New York Knicks debut, Feb. 23, 2011, Madison Square Garden played Skylar Grey’s “I’m Coming Home” in honor of the Brooklyn-born player.
Grey, a popular multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who penned Eminem and Rihanna's No. 1 hit “Love the Way You Lie,” eventually saw the video of the Garden player introductions featuring Anthony.
“It was awesome,” the offbeat, soft-spoken Midwesterner told ESPN Playbook last week.
Now, Grey is letting it be known she would love to perform “I’m Coming Home” at the Garden or at one of her favorite sports settings, Lambeau Field. The 26-year-old grew up just outside of Madison, Wis., and she and her family were such big fans of the Green Bay Packers that her dad, Gene, made an unannounced visit to Brett Favre’s family house one day.
Grey shared that surreal story with ESPN Playbook, along with her infatuation of the Packers and Oregon Ducks, as well as the sports she enjoyed then and now. Her latest obsession is bicycling, which she shows off in the song she debuted this week, “C’mon Let Me Ride,” featuring Eminem. It's the lead single from her upcoming debut album, “Don’t Look Down.”
How did you get into the Packers?
My dad is a big Packers fan, and we grew up on Packers parties with beer and cheese -- pretty typical Wisconsin Packers parties at my house. I was really into them when Brett Favre was there, and Dorsey Levens and Reggie White. That was when I was really into the Packers. I’ve gotten busy with life, but I still root for them.
Did you go to any games?
I just watched them on TV I’ve never actually been to a game.
Have the Packers ever reached out to you to perform?
Nope, but they should.
When you were younger, did you have any Packers posters in your room?
My older sister [Tiffany] had posters in her room, like of all the football players, and she knew all the stats and stuff. I was never that obsessive about it.
What sports did you play growing up?
I was a gymnast, actually. I don’t know if that counts as a sport. I think it does [laughs]. I did some track and field. I was like a sprinter and a jumper. I didn’t do any long-distance stuff.
Did you break any records or have a crazy finish?
Nothing crazy, but I did break a school record. I broke the high jump record and the long jump record. I don’t remember what they were. I think the long jump was something like 14 feet. That’s pretty good, right? And then the high jump record was like [4 feet, 10 inches] or something.
I give you credit for having to jump backwards. That looks pretty hard to do.
It is hard. I wasn’t by any means good, as I said. There were like 300 people in my high school. It might have been even eighth grade [laughs].
Music took over in high school?
Yeah, definitely. When I moved to L.A., I didn’t pay attention to sports at all, but when I moved to Oregon, I got really into the Ducks, the football team. I’m a Ducks fan.
How did you get into them?
Some of my friends from there I made would go to all the games, and they were big fans and I would watch the games. Also, Nike was such a big part of the Ducks with the uniforms and everything. I went to go see the stadium and it was really awesome. It was a really nice stadium. And I just like Oregon people in general, and I have some friends that went to school there. It kind of became my second home.
When you’re on the road, do you ever keep tabs on how the Packers and Ducks are doing?
Yeah, I watch games sometimes in my room or at a bar. I definitely catch games. I was actually at a Clippers game in L.A. [on Nov. 17], and I was with the Nike people in a box. But I was watching the Oregon game, which was on the TV inside the box. And they were playing Stanford. They went to overtime and it was right at the end of the Clippers game, and the TV shut off. I guess when you’re in a box and the game’s over, they don’t want you just hanging out. And I’m like, “Dude, you can’t do this right now!” I was so pissed. Oh my gosh, I was so pissed, but I caught the end on my phone.
So no more Clippers games for you, right?
Right. I got it on my phone, but I was disappointed.
The Clippers won, but the Ducks lost, and they were undefeated. And then they lost that game, and I feel like it was because I couldn’t get to see the end. If the TV had been on and I had been watching it, they probably would have won.
Does Oregon know you’re a big Ducks fan?
Grey would love to meet Thomas.
I don’t think so. I follow them on Twitter and everything. I follow the Ducks' mascot on Twitter [laughs]. I would love to meet [Ducks running back] De'Anthony Thomas.
Do you ever hear from the athletes?
I actually did hear from a while ago, like a year ago, Curtis Granderson [of the New York Yankees], who wrote me on Twitter. It was kind of crazy. Occasionally I’ll check Twitter, but I have some people that watch it, too.
Do you ever tweet about the Ducks or Packers?
Yes, I do. Usually it’s like, “Packers, why did you do that?” -- mad-at-them tweets. Not a lot, but I do tweet about the Oregon Ducks and the Packers. After that Stanford loss, though, I wrote a big, long time “Noooooo.” As many “o”'s as you could [laughs]. I’m a dork.
I wanted to ask you about your song “I’m Coming Home.” Did you see when they played it for Carmelo at the Garden before his first game as a Knick?
Yeah, it was awesome. I feel like every time that song is put in that way, in a scenario like that, it’s very emotional. Right now, it’s in the Assassin's Creed III commercial and an MMA commercial. Also, this past weekend, I had another song being used. It’s called “Our House,” with Slaughterhouse and Eminem, and it was used for the Miguel Cotto fight. It actually debuted two years ago at the World Series.
When you create a song, do you think about how it might be used in sports?
Yeah. I mean, after a song is written, I’ll be like, “Oh, that would be a good one for a sports team to pick up and play at an arena, or a commercial.” I definitely have thoughts like that.
I know you’re interested in playing “I’m Coming Home” live at a sporting event at some point.
Yeah, somebody should jump on that before the offer goes down. I’ll sing the hook of “I’m Coming Home” for somebody. It would be nice to be able to do it for one of my home teams, though.
Perhaps they’ll honor Brett Favre for a lifetime achievement award at Lambeau and you could perform then.
That would be dope. That would be super dope.
Have you ever met Brett?
Nope, I haven’t. My dad, though, he kind of stalked him.
What? Stalked him?
He drove to some place because he thought he could maybe find him and say hi. He found this building, the house or whatever, and the door was open. And so he just walked in and he looked around, and he said the house had jerseys behind glass on the wall.
Wait, your dad just walked into Brett Favre’s house?
I think so. Well, it was one of his houses or maybe it was his parents’ house or something, because then he turned around and Brett Favre’s dad is standing right there [laughs]. And he was like, “What are you doing here?” [Laughs.]
Are you serious? That’s hilarious.
Yeah. He’s like, “Sorry, I’m just checking it out.” [Laughs.]
Were you in his car outside?
No, I wasn’t with him. He was with his girlfriend at the time. He told me the story afterward.
So he just left the house and that was it? No warrant out for your dad’s arrest?
No, no, no. [Laughs.]
Do you guys have reunions back at the house and watch Packers games together?
Yeah, if I ever make it back to Wisconsin usually there will be a game on and we’ll watch it or something.
Your family is still living there?
My dad still lives in Wisconsin.
Have you moved away?
I moved to L.A., but I moved away again. I now live on a mountaintop somewhere, and I snowboard and ski. I love skiing.
Which mountains do you ski down?
Park City, Utah, where they had the  Winter Olympics. I like skiing there.
How long have you been a skier?
I grew up doing it, mostly cross-country skiing and then as a downhill. The mountains in Wisconsin are not as big as in the Rockies, so I was definitely surprised the first time I hit those mountains. They’re insane.
Are you pretty daredevil-ish, like double black diamonds?
Oh, hell no. I’m a wimp. I put my skis together at the front and I’ll go back and forth down the slope and take a break. I don’t go too fast because I don’t want to get hurt. I kind of like leisurely ski down the hill. I’m not bad, though.
What’s the best time to ski there?
The best time to ski, I think, for that part of the city is during Sundance, because a lot of people are there to watch movies and the slopes are pretty funny. I recently met Danny Kass, a pro snowboarder. He’s a buddy, but I’ve never skied with him. I’m not going to go skiing with any pros, but I’ll have a beer with him afterward.
Do you also snowboard or just keep it to the skiing?
I started snowboarding this past year. I’m better at skiing, but I want to do more snowboarding.