chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines ~ above the queer creators behind the trio’s comeback album
The Chicks picture by Sony Music

Sitting somewhere with an abstract-art lift obscuring her precise location (Dixie) chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines erupts right into an explosive maybe-I-shouldn’t cackle. Maines states this during our Zoom call as she talks about how she’s about to get in trouble for saying also much.

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This time, it’s regarding a controversial decision make by nation trio Lady A, formerly known together Lady Antebellum. ~ the band adjusted their name in solidarity with the current Black Lives issue movement, they sued a black color blues singer named Lady A because that the trademark to the title. And yes, Maines has actually something to say around that.

After all, this is Natalie Maines, that directed spicy criticism at chairman George W. Bush in 2003. At that London concert the Lubbock, Texas native said The Chicks to be “ashamed the chairman of the United says is indigenous Texas.”


Country music blackballed them. Conservatives torched your CDs. The promo poster because that the 2006 documentary about the fallout, Shut Up and Sing, portrayed The chicks sitting on peak of the U.S. Capitol building, your half-naked bodies graffitied through words and also phrases choose “Dixie Bimbos,” “Traitors” and also “Big Mouth.” In the 2020 doc Miss Americana, about Taylor Swift’s advancement into a vocal anti-Trump liberal and also LGBTQ-rights advocate, Swift claimed she had been pressured to refrain from being politically and also socially free-spoken to avoid a Chicks-like job implosion.

Returning after a 14-year record hiatus, Maines, fortunately, tho refuses come shut up on Gaslighter, the trio’s most authentic and unflinchingly personal album yet. Join by sisters Martie Maguire and also Emily Robison, Gaslighter does exactly what Maines couldn’t throughout our interview (a prenup preempts she from act so): information her divorce from she husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, of 17 years through scathing lyrical specificity. It is the kind of wig-snatching realness the queer neighborhood devours. An honest album around survival, it couldn’t have come in ~ a much better time.

During our Zoom session, Maines disputed the post-controversy era of their career together the moment she noticed a major show of support from the LGBTQ community, the queer creators that nurtured the brand-new album’s vibe, and also the gays she’d party v on her boat. Yes, that boat.

Let’s begin with a different personal journey you’ve taken. It involves you city hall Vanderpump Rules. Tell me what led you under that road. It is a road, so numerous gay men themselves have gone down.

Natalie Maines: Ha! Well, let me to speak it’s a component of mine pandemic TV binging. In the past, as soon as I to be sick, I remained in bed every day and, “Oh, hey, I’ve never watched The Kardashians. But there’s a entirety marathon. I’m gonna watch The Kardashians.” So ns think through COVID, I’ve binge-watched mirrors I never ever would’ve binge-watched before, and also Vanderpump Rules is a really good one, actually. Ns will proceed to it is in a fan even after this pandemic! Ha!

You acquire to live vicariously through someone else’s drama.

NM: I prefer drama in ~ a distance! A big distance.

For Gaslighter, you operated with queer popular music songwriter Justin Tranter and trans-woman producer Teddy Geiger. Just how did working v LGBTQ collaborators help to shape the authenticity that the album’s narrative?

NM: They kind of play different roles, but yeah, the an initial song the we composed for the album was v Teddy and also Justin, and it to be “Sleep in ~ Night.” the (track) to be a very different sound because that us, and that really excited me. The was every Teddy. She visited these electronic drums and just began with that beat, and the way that Justin and Teddy can both phrase things really percussively and put them in the song was a genuine lesson because that me the I shot to execute now and perfect and also get far better at. So, yes, as far as whereby we could go v the sound, they were really much there. And also Justin is such a an excellent lyricist. That was definitely there to help us to speak what we wanted to to speak and tell. Ha!

Your producer, Jack Antonoff, as soon as told me he was a straight guy with “lesbian chemicals.”

NM: He’s an extremely in touch with his feminine side! ns think that’s why he functions so well v females. I have actually never asked the this, and also he works through males too, yet I wonder if the does reap working through females better. Or, a many males simply look at him as the mrs producer, therefore they don’t asking him. Ha!

When us chatted in 2013, you told me Rachel Maddow would certainly be her “lesbian girl crush.” perhaps your lesbian chemicals and also Jack’s lesbian chemicals room what yes, really made this teamwork work.

NM: Ha! ns don’t know. Since we every three got along good with him! he just has actually a sensitivity. He just doesn’t have that macho, masculine, jerk kind of thing. He’s acquired a healthy and balanced ego. The doesn’t need to develop himself up by placing other human being down or by holding them back. And also he’s a great communicator, which ladies love. A lot of straight guys are not! Ha!

You consulted different activist groups for the “March March” video, which functions images from a pride parade alongside clip from existing Black Lives matter protests. For the video, who did you consult from the LGBTQ community?

The Chicks photo by Sony Music

NM: My friend Michael Skolnik, one activist and also an organizer and also a liaison for a most people. The is a establishing partner that The Soze Agency, a an innovative agency concentrating on authentic campaigns that uplift compassion and also equity. We consulted him because that the “March March” video. One of the things he stated was, “Have an ext from happy Pride marches.” He mentioned the (Black) trans march in Brooklyn (in June). He was like, “That was a huge march, therefore you need to put the one in.”

I’ve known Michael for a long time; he’s a good guy; he organized March for Our lives (in 2018 in D.C.) that us all visited as well.

Also, I’m on these calls as component of a group dubbed Harness (founded by America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, and Ryan Piers Williams. The team connects areas through conversation come inspire activity and strength change. They’ve been having actually a lot more Zoom calls, and I’ve to be on a lot of those.

Harness bring all various walks of life together and also supports diversity and Black resides Matter, and also White world 4 black color Lives, and different trans and also LGBTQ causes or groups. It’s a great place as just somebody who wants to speak out and also hear and also know as lot as i can. And those calls space a an excellent way come listen, and not talk, and learn. Learn straight from the source.

Your partnership with the LGBTQ community goes means back, at least publicly. Have actually you always been a queer magnet?

NM: i mean, ns was always open come it. Yet growing up in Lubbock, Texas, I have the right to think of civilization that i knew who were probably gay, but they weren’t out yet. I don’t also know if lock knew that around themselves yet, necessarily. Lubbock was a really suppressive place.

But you would’ve guided them and held your hand with the coming out process.

NM: i would’ve constantly been their friend, for sure. In Lubbock—I’m sure it’s various now, I’m one old lady, ha!—but ago in the ’90s in high school, ns can’t even think that somebody that was out-there gay. They might not have been trying to act straight, but you just… you didn’t feel totally free like that. So i hope that’s adjusted in Lubbock. I need to assume that has.

You know, I’ve asked some of our gay fans, “What is it that has attracted gay civilization to us?” due to the fact that I think after the controversy, there to be an extra kinship for simply understanding what that feels favor to be hated by a mass group of people. Ha! Then, lock acting out on it. But then fighting because that what you think is right, and standing up for yourselves, and also not letting lock shush you. Prior to that, what mine friends have told me to be what happy fans favored was the over-the-top type of Spice girls fashion. Ha! us were the cliché because that every fad! we wore every fad all at once!

You must’ve watched a many Chicks drag kings then, right?

NM: Yes. “Chicks with Dicks”—there were a lot of those type of revues.

I think her divorce has maybe offered some false expect to lesbians. On Twitter, I’m see queer ladies express that also though castle love Gaslighter, they’ll always be sad the you’re no queer.

NM: Ha! friend know, occasionally I perform think, “Would that have been easier? bland it!” but I think I’m much more of a gay guy on the inside. Is there a title for that?

For a straight woman that presents together a happy man?

NM: Or just feels it top top the inside!

Call Jack. I’m certain he has a great name because that it.

NM: Yeah, us probably fulfill right in the middle. I forgot the question!

It was about lesbians who room sad the you’re no queer.

NM: Ha! ns mean, we used to constantly joke that when I acquired the brief hair, yeah, civilization liked come think that. But prior to that, we constantly joked that lesbians seem to like Martie. Martie’s always dressed a little much more gender-neutral. She likes pants. And also listen, she’s got a great body, for this reason (she attracts) all demographics. One time she flirted through Ellen on a red carpet.

Gay Twitter is obsessed v your boat, referenced ~ above Gaslighter and then, that course, “Tights on my Boat.” and also they desire to party on that boat. If you could invite three renowned LGBTQ folks to hang with you on her boat, that would castle be?

NM: Ha! I’m thinking of several. I’m gonna go through Andy Cohen, Howard Stern’s optimal gay. Goin’ through him. I likewise have the stress of: I’ll probably miss out on my favorite one because I’m simply not thinking! I might go all news. I need to think in smaller sized categories.

You’re one Indigo girl fan. How about Amy and Emily?

NM: Yeah, there’d it is in some an excellent music there. I could go, like, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and Don Lemon. There’s my 3 news people.

Wait. What around Fortune Feimster? i mean, friend did have a dance through her.

NM: Love, love, love, Fortune. See, that’s why I claimed you gotta go smaller sized categories! therefore if I had actually a comedy LGBTQ guest list, it’d be: Fortune, Wanda Sykes… that else? maybe Rosie or Ellen. Yeah. I might have a great time through either one of them!

Is luck a great dancer?

NM: Fortune’s a good ice cream dancer. Us did her very first duo ice cream cream dance. Lock danced through ice cream in their hands. I had actually the respect of being the very first person to carry out that. Ha!

The Chicks adjusted their surname to fulfill the moment. The name change was subtle; there was no flashy push release. And also you didn’t also have come sue a black artist because that the civil liberties to the name. How do friend think various other bands have actually handled their method to an altering their name?

The Chicks photograph by Sony Music

NM: Listen, i think it’s unfortunate, yes. Bad move ~ above the lawsuit. I think castle should’ve rethought that. Simply not a good look. And also I say this through peace and also love. But if they had dubbed me because that counsel —ha!—this is what ns would’ve said them: ns would’ve said, “Listen, through suing her, you’re doing the the opposite of what you’re trying come do. And also it’s no going to walk well. And it’s simply not the appropriate thing come do. If you really desire to fulfill this moment, if you’re transforming your surname for the right reasons or to really have a certain impact or outcome, then you room doing opposing of that.”

And listen, us felt the press of, once you’ve had success, an altering your surname feels favor a large thing to overcome. We had actually discussions about transforming our name since 2003. Yet it seemed, simply for whatever reason, too large a thing to do, and also nobody was calling on us to carry out it. We simply felt icky having actually Dixie in our name. Then, for us, we had actually to think of various other names. Us didn’t really desire to have anything other than The Chicks, however we knew the that might legally be a really tough thing come get since it’s such a common word.

So we had lawyers, and also we take it our time. However even Lady Antebellum, or Lady A, they had that trademark for, like, 6 years. But I don’t understand their situation. Come me, if they were told nobody else had actually that name, they should fire that attorney. Ha! Because, basically, that was an easy thing to find. So i don’t understand if (the attorney) knew and also just thought, You’re bigger than them so friend would success the trademark. And also you’ll it is in fine walking forward. But it’s really no the right means to perform it.

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So, ns think lock should’ve simply picked a brand brand-new name. That’s what i would’ve called them. Due to the fact that they might’ve even had much more fans, or made civilization recognize their name even more. I think the problem is, “Nobody’s gonna recognize who us are.” Like, maybe they to let go the news story where you changed your name. Ha!

But i think that’s what castle should’ve done. Brand brand-new name. And they can still execute it best now. The is my advice come them. And also it feels amazing. I have to say, all of that discussion and overthinking and also worry, like, “How do you change your name after so lot success?”

Oh my god, it to be a gift. It to be a weight the you didn’t also realize you to be carrying.