Fly Tour Press Conference

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The Dixie Chicks gave this press conference on April 14, 2000. The Chicks discussed what to expect during the tour as well as other subjects.

REPORTER: Tell us about when the tour begins. Does it have a name and how long do you plan to be out on the road?

MARTIE: It's called the Fly Tour and we're gonna be out for about 72 or 3 dates.

NATALIE: And it starts June 1st.

REPORTER: What size venues are you going to be playing in?

EMILY: Well, we decided, kinda based on last year, that our favorite venue was the arena...because it has a lot of...you get a lot feedback. You get that roar with the audience where you can hear everything coming back at you. So..and I think it also lends itself to...it can be any time of day but it looks like it's nighttime...and the lights look good and the stage...you can really do a great stage show, so it'll all be arenas in those 72 cities.

REPORTER: What can the fans expect? In other words, is this gonna be a big production?

MARTIE: Would the Dixie Chicks do it any other way? (laughter) We hired a company that we felt were the most creative and kinda out there and theatrical, and it...the team is one guy that did the Cirque de Soleil shows, so if you've ever seen any of those, they're just really incredible visuals. And we wanted it to be eye-catching, not just a rock 'n' roll light-flashing show, you know. So we really took it song by song and wanted the visuals to enhance the music, not cover it up or be distracting but really help...

NATALIE: Set a mood.

MARTIE: Yeah, set a mood for the different music, and have the show have a flow. So I think people will go away definitely visually satisfied as well as, you know, with the music.

EMILY: It's an experience. You wanna give someone the experience of the Dixie Chicks and whether you do that or you wanna do that through every sense that you can get, you know, give them.  So, I think it'll be...

MARTIE: We'll create smells. (laughter) In the auditorium.

EMILY: Yeah, there're gonna be smells .

REPORTER: You toured on three major tours last year, all totally different types of shows. What did you learn and did the experience help prepare you to headline?

NATALIE: We learned men don't know how to do catering and women do. (laughter) We learned a lot of different things. I mean, the goal last year was to be seen in front of the most diverse audience that we could, so with George Strait it was just...

EMILY: Sheer masses.

NATALIE: Thousands of country music fans, and with Lilith Fair, it was proving ourselves once again in front of an audience who may have heard us or seen us in a magazine, but didn't know our music and...

EMILY: Tim has kind of a young, hip crowd.

NATALIE: Yeah. And at Lilith Fair, you could see that a lot of people didn't know us, but they all gave us a chance and by the time we did Sin Wagon and Earl... (laughs)

MARTIE: They were hooked...

NATALIE: We had them on our side. (laughter)

MARTIE: I think we learned more than anything just how much work it took. We really appreciated, because, you know, we would just show up and eat the catering and go on-stage and not have to worry about the sound and the lights and the look and the problems you can have on tour.

NATALIE: Or how everyone was being treated and, you know, everything...

MARTIE: Yeah, and so, and we were treated so great on those tours. It made us want to turn around and have just as great of a show and treat everybody, who, you know, get those key people that make it happen and have good relationships, and, you know, because they were so sweet to us.

REPORTER: How involved are you in the planning of this concert tour?

EMILY: Probably a little bit too involved, as far as our sanity's concerned. But, we really...that's the way we've always been, very hands on. We like to deal in everything, whether it be the visual, whether it be what sound equipment's being used to...what, you know, we pretty much do all our own hiring. And firing. (laughter)

MARTIE: But there's so many things to think about. I mean how high the stage is. We went in and saw the stage for the first time and we said, "No you've gotta drop this down a few feet and you gotta move this riser and this has gotta be here and there. Thank God we all agree on everything and we pretty much have one vision and it's come true. And we got to see the stage in L.A. a couple of weeks ago and we're just really, really excited because it starts just a little model that's a few inches tall...

NATALIE: Stonehenge.

MARTIE: And you don't know what it's gonna be...yeah, Stonehenge. And you don't know what it's gonna look like and then you get in the room and you see it to scale. And we're right now picking out all kinds of video treatments and how we want the set to flow and so it's an ongoing thing. We haven't had the five and a half months off we thought we were gonna have, but that's all right.

REPORTER: A lot of attention has been focused on the Dixie Chicks look. Any special outfits or costumes planned or lots of costume changes?

NATALIE: We're not a costume change band, you know. We wanna just impress them and entertain them with the music, not the shirt, or...

EMILY: Wooo!  I got a new sparkle shirt on now! (laughter)

NATALIE: Now I'm worth listening to...So no, but Martie's our point person for the wardrobe. I'm the point person for the bus and Emily is exercise.

EMILY: I'm lifestyle manager. (laughter)

NATALIE: And lifestyle... so we'll have...

MARTIE: We have to delegate.

NATALIE: We'll have different outfits along the tour, but not in one show. But if you see us in Dallas, we'll be wearing something different.

REPORTER: Your fan base is so diverse -- young, old, male and female, country traditionalist and rockers alike. How do you please all of those people in one concert?

EMILY: You don't try to.

NATALIE: Nope.

MARTIE: I think you try not to go to far in one direction. Like I remember when we were talking about stage colors. They had talked about pinks and purples and, you know, as much as we might like those colors, we thought we want it to be aesthetically pleasing to a man as much as a woman, somebody older and somebody really young. And...but it doesn't take that much thought because, I think, we're kind of right in the middle. We're, you know, in our twenties. Well, I just reached the thirty mark, but...

EMILY: We're a very active band onstage, so we like to have things to play off of, but it really does come down to just, you know, the music and the songs and, you know, interpreting the songs, you know, with a few visuals and things like that. But there's no flash-pods and things like that. (laughter) I tried to get my sparkled kneepads so I can like run and slide with my banjo (laughter) but they're not coming along very well.

REPORTER: A common statement made by people after they see you in concert is that you're even better live than on record. What do you think makes your live show so special?

MARTIE: Maybe it's because we're the ones on the album. (laughter) And, I mean, these days, you never know what you're getting on an album.  How many layerings and layerings of vocals and studio musicians coming in and playing.  And I think we're confident musicians so in the live show if we played that solo in the studio we can surely play it live too.

NATALIE: Yeah, it's the visual thing, too. And I think especially the first time people see us they're surprised. I mean, I think they know that we played on the record and they've heard that...well, not me. I just sang on the record. But Martie and Emily have played on the record. And then it's more like they still want it proven to them. So when they see her or when they see either one of them play a solo, it's again that visual bluegrass element.

EMILY: But just, like, live music is wonderful, you know, to begin with. I mean, there's that energy there with live music that isn't there on a recording. Because people don't want to come and pay X amount of dollars, come sit in their seat and get the album played back to them, you know. We'll have different arrangements, we'll have things that we add and take away and move things around so that it is a different experience than the album.

NATALIE: And I think there's more of an interpretation when they see the expressions on our face and the lighting and, you know, we create a mood.

MARTIE: I like to look people in the eye. I don't like it when the lights are so harsh that you just see a wall of white light and you don't see the people's faces. I think we like to visually interact with people and let them know we see them there and, you know, we get excited when they're excited.

REPORTER: By the time your tour starts, you will have been off the road for six months. How are you keeping sharp during your time off?

EMILY: I've been trying to find instruments on my time off. Just, you know, get some more instruments for the road and things that I enjoy playing. And really, I find it harder to have time to practice on the road than when you're at home and you're sitting around with all your favorite CDs and you've got them, you know, the 50-disc changer and you're sitting there and I'll sit there with my banjo and just play along with some of my favorite stuff and we've all been...

NATALIE: Emily took up the accordion.

EMILY: I got an accordion for Christmas, so who knows if I'll be good enough to play it. Maybe by the end of the tour we'll have a little accordion solo.

MARTIE: (in background) Now Natalie's taking bass lessons.

NATALIE: Ahhh...no. (laughter)

EMILY: No.

MARTIE: Natalie's taking bass lessons. I'm taking guitar lessons. I mean, it's never ending. We're always trying to grow as musicians and singers. And we did a Ricky Skaggs tribute to Bill Monroe project where, you know, we got back together in the studio and we sang and played and we've done other sessions too. So we just haven't been doing our music, we've been doing many other peoples.

REPORTER: For the folks who don't know, there's a lot of practice time for these big shows. You just don't walk on stage and wing it, do you?

EMILY: Noooooo! (laughter)

NATALIE: Yeah, lots of practicing. The band will practice without us for a week and then we'll come in and practice for two weeks with them. And during that, you know, it starts out we're just in chairs sitting around really hashing out the music and remembering how we played things or changing how we played things. And, you know, there'll definitely be some new songs and some songs that aren't on either album. And we'll play around like that for a while and then we'll actually get on the stage and maybe just still do the music. And then we'll start running the show top to bottom and trying to interact on the stage and figure out what we're gonna do and how we're gonna move, certain places. We don't really set too many steps or "okay and then when I say this I'm gonna go run over to this side of the stage," (laughter). I think every show is different and that way the spontaneity feels different. Some nights I don't really feel like talking a lot or moving just a whole lot, so, you know, it's different and I think that's good. It doesn't make it all look so mechanical unlike we do, you know...it's like not a Broadway review where we...Step, ball, change!  Step, ball, change!  Kick!  Fiddle!  Banjo!  Fiddle! (laughter)

EMILY: You're not on your marker, Martie. 

REPORTER: I'll bet you can hardly wait for the opening concert.

NATALIE: I think it'll be the hugest rush and exciting. It's been so long.

EMILY & MARTIE: Uh huh.

NATALIE: We don't really get nervous anymore.

MARTIE: I'll worry more technically. Just to make sure that like the screen doesn't fall down and...

EMILY: Well, we had a run-through the other day and one of the curtains that was supposed to open got snagged. Oh great, is this an omen!

REPORTER: The TV commercials for your tour are hysterical spoofs on the big rock star clichés...trashing a hotel room, smashing a banjo and playing around in a stretch limo. Do you really feel like big stars or are you just three country girls having fun?

NATALIE: No. As you'll see when you see the commercials, the hotel room is not trashed, the banjo is not smashed.

MARTIE: We're total dorks.

EMILY: We have no idea how to be rock stars, so it's kind of the funniness of...the humor in not knowing what to do.

NATALIE: And we don't really know what we're doing. (laughter)

REPORTER: Do you think this fame has changed the Dixie Chicks?

NATALIE: Sure. How could it not?

NATALIE: Yeah. And I think it changes everyone around us. I know my parents have to take on new roles as far as telling people no. I mean, you know, the neighbor asked... the neighbor came over and asked my mom if I would play her daughter's thirteenth birthday. And without my mom going, "You've got to be kidding" she has to be nice.  And so everyone deals with things or, you know, seeing things in the paper, and... you know, the whole family has to learn not to believe what they read and...

EMILY: My mom called me the other day and she said "Emily, is it true that you're opening a restaurant in Branson, Missouri?" And I said "Mom, haven't you learned by now? What would possess us to open a restaurant in the middle of..."

NATALIE: And why wouldn't you know about it?

EMILY: Why wouldn't you know about it? Stop believing what you read!

NATALIE: You get very protected... we're still learning. I think we'll be learning forever.  And my thing to do right now is, you know, every person that we come in contact with that's done this before...

EMILY: Pick their brain...

NATALIE: Just fill our heads with advice because we need it and we want it. 

EMILY: As far as the industry and people in this town... in Nashville really staying behind us. I feel really supported and that they still are our cheerleaders.

NATALIE: And it's so cute to see our website because the only reason I worry about anything is just that fans might believe it. You see how many tabloids are bought and so you know those people are reading that garbage and so that's what I think about. And it makes me mad and so it's so cute to see on the website, you know... there'll be someone going "Why'd they do this?! I hear Natalie's trying to have a baby!"  And then, you know, you'll get the die-hard fan going "She is not!"  "You're so stupid!  You're not supposed to believe that stuff!"  (laughter) We really have those fans that try to protect us. And they're the ones who are right, you know. We've always been very open and vocal and if anything's ever true we'll be the first to say . . .

MARTIE: We'll claim it!

NATALIE: And if there's anything to make fun of, we'll be the first ones to make fun of ourselves. And, you know, I think that kind of ruins it for the people who want to gossip or talk about us because we say everything before they can say it. You know, nothing's secret, nothing is to hide. Yes, we have our private, personal lives, but that's only fair... everyone does.

REPORTER: You've all been off the road for several months now. What have you been up to?

NATALIE: I've been doing a lot. We all went on vacation together in January. We charted a boat and went to the Caribbean. That was fun. And I pretty much live in L.A. now and I've just been nesting there. And I got a little puppy bulldog, Ralph, who'll be on the road and so people will get to know Ralph. He's a heavy breather. (laughter)

EMILY: He's not allowed in the room during interviews... recorded sessions.

NATALIE: And, gosh, what else? Done a lot of traveling and got a little apartment to paint and sew in that's separate from where I live. Spent a lot of time with family. I've been in Austin a lot. My sister got married and then a lot of it was just planning for this tour, so I feel relaxed. I live right on the beach and I wake up to the sound of waves everyday and it's been fun. I'm fine.

MARTIE: I've been living in Nashville and trying to be creative and get up every morning and think about what I want to write about because I've experienced so much in the last year, just personally. I think I have a lot of stuff to get out and get down on paper. And I'm taking guitar lessons and just trying to expand my creativity and get inspired again because a lot of just being on tour ends up being a lot not about the music because you're worrying about logistical and technical things, so this was kind of a breathing period where I could think about the music again and I've been taking  trips out to L.A. to see Natalie (laughter)... see if she has any friends to fix me up with (laughter). And going to Texas to see my stepson and just trying to feel emotionally healthy and satisfied and get ready for the tour. I'm definitely ready to be back on stage, I miss it.

EMILY: I moved to San Antonio in the middle of last year and we were on tour for most of it. So I've just kind of been settling, getting the house kind of put together in San Antone and clearing a place on my husband's ranch where we're gonna build a house. Just diggin' in the dirt. You know, pulling out stumps, burning brush piles, that whole thing. Got a puppy. I've got a little Blue Heeler puppy to help us herd the cattle and just really been hanging out, going to my husband's shows.  It's fun to be on the other end of things, getting to watch the show and be a part of the audience, and really... I love live music so just to go out and see some of the festivals that he's on and stuff like that. Just hang out and being with my best friend.

REPORTER: Emily, are you going back to blonde or are you staying brunette?

EMILY: I'm gonna stay brunette through this tour, I think. I might do something, you know.  I don't know.  I'm talking to my hairdresser right now. What we can do, you know, as maybe a little departure for the tour, but I'm liking it. I'm liking it and I've gotten a lot of compliments. I know people who have something bad to say usually don't tell you but it's usually behind your back but I really feel like it's... it's good for me.

REPORTER: You have scored a bunch of awards over the last two years and the nominations keep on coming, including a bunch of ACMs.

NATALIE: Yeah. This time though nobody called and told us. It was like a week before somebody just happened to go "Congratulations on your nominations," and I said "For what?"  And I guess that we've been off or just a little bit out of touch, but usually they call.

EMILY : That was... that was... really exciting.

NATALIE: Yeah, so it was exciting.

EMILY: And I just heard... my husband told me the other day that Martie and I got nominated for Musicians of the Year.

MARTIE: Really?

EMILY: Or something like that. For ACM's, yeah. And I don't know if it's a new category. I need to look into it because somebody from Diamond Rio was in it too. I don't know if they have a new Artist Musician category, possibly...

MARTIE: Maybe it's Artist.

REPORTER: "Goodbye Earl" is a big hit. You knew the hubbub would come. Any regrets?

ALL: No... oh, no.

MARTIE: I think even if it had been so controversial that some of the stations wouldn't play it, we were prepared for that because the fans tell us what they like, on the website and in person, and that's all we've heard about since the album came out, that Earl . . . they love Earl, everybody loves Earl.  So, I think we would have given the fans what they wanted either way and the fact that it is moving up the charts is just the icing on the cake.

REPORTER: Your album Fly continues to sell. It's getting close to 5 million copies. You ladies have shown that you are not one album wonders, that you break away from formulas and still do well. If you had to start making album three, would you try to make it totally different than albums one and two?

EMILY: It wouldn't say totally different. I think there's always the core of the Dixie Chicks, but it's always kind of a snapshot of our lives, you know.  When we go in the studio over the six months and we record songs, and even when we're writing songs, we write them from our experiences over the last, you know, X amount of years.  So I think it... I don't know, as we change our albums will change.

MARTIE: The key...

NATALIE: And I just don't think anything will ever be totally different, just because of the elements that make up the Dixie Chicks. You know, we could play some heavy metal song but when you put banjo and dobro and three-part harmony on it, it sounds like our song. So I think if anybody does anything totally different, I mean... like they've been playing on other albums and I've done some singing in sessions with other people. And I think that's where we can get away from what this is. But as far as our music is, I think depth will change and arrangements will change and as we learn new instruments that part'll change, but I think... the sound is the sound, you know. I don't see us ever having a lot of reverb and mushy harmony and, you know... and so those things are there.  I think if we have...

EMILY: I'm thinking with this new Latin explosion we could just start doing all salsa music! (laughter)

NATALIE: We're gonna do a banjo-fiddle rap record. (laughter)

MARTIE: The key is always not to over think it, you know. We never pick the single until we're right upon it, you know. You don't want to project too far into the future because you don't know how you're gonna be feeling. You gotta take it for how you feel then. And I think when we go in the studio next summer we'll just see what songs have inspired us, that either we've written or what we've heard from other songwriters, and lay 'em down and kick 'em around and see what feels right.

NATALIE: And we also never put any pressure on ourselves on a timeline. I think that's where a lot of mistakes happen, too. "Well, the album's gotta be done, so I may not really care for these two songs, but they just won't be singles and I'll just call the album done." I mean, I'm sure the label has a time that they'd like our album done but it doesn't matter to us. If it takes us two years before we're happy with the next piece of product, then that's how long it's gonna take because we don't wanna have any regrets on that.

REPORTER: Writing always seems to be difficult when you're touring. How do you create a creative writing environment on the road?

NATALIE: Well I think this year, we're trying... we try to create that environment because it is hard. Only one song was written on the road last time and that was "Don't Waste Your Heart." Emily and I wrote that on the road. But we really haven't written on the road. But this year we're gonna carry like a 16-track board and little recording unit and have it set up every day in the dressing room. Two weeks may go by without it ever being used but it's there for when someone does feel inspired.  And I think we'll... since we're gonna be at the tour and at the show all day this time... last year we were checking in and out of hotels... I think it'll make for that sort of environment. We want to surround ourselves to be inspired and be creative. And I think it'll help that we'll be around our band members all the time 'cause it's always rewarding when you can go lay it down and hear people play it, instead of just you sitting there, you know, I can't really write with the guitar it's more if someone else can play, that's great, but usually it's just me thinking of melody and words in my head and it's just so inspiring to hear it played. And so hopefully that'll motivate us more and we'll get some creative stuff done on the road, but no pressure, you know, it'll get done when it gets done.

REPORTER: There are rumors afloat that there will be some special perks for people whom show up at the very beginning of the concerts.

NATALIE: Yeah, I think there'll be some bonus perks for people who arrive early to see the opener.

MARTIE: We don't want 'em to miss it. Because it's... the openers are definitely worth hearing every every note and every word and so there'll just be some... a little pre-entertainment. Something to watch and something to do.

NATALIE: And I'm definitely one of those people who call... whenever I call for tickets and I ask what time it starts, they'd give me the time, then I'd say "Yeah, but what time does Allison Krauss go on?"  (laughter) And so, you know, we know people do that and we don't want them to do that on our tour.

EMILY: And at the same time, we're kicking around the idea of having kind of a Dixie Chicks TV kinda thing that would go on all during people coming in, so there'll be videos running, little spots of, you know... tidbits here and there, maybe an animated something. So I think... we're gonna try and keep it...

NATALIE: Possibly free merchandise for people who are... we want it entertaining from the minute they step in the door.

REPORTER: The World Wildlife Fund is the charity of choice for the Dixie Chicks Fly concert tour. Why that organization?

MARTIE: Well, it took a lot of thought to come up with... we knew we wanted to benefit an organization, especially because we were inspired on Lilith Fair. Sarah McLaughlan gave a lot of her proceeds, or a certain amount of every ticket, to a charity. And we thought that was a great idea and we really thought about "Okay, what do we want to benefit?" Is it, you know, cancer or is it, you know... there are so many great causes out there, AIDS, whatever... And our management brought to us World Wildlife Fund and it was helping animals, help preserve their habitats, help them not to become extinct.  And they're a great organization and, apparently, the one organization where most of the profits actually go to the cause. So we want the people who buy a ticket to feel like they're contributing too. So a dollar of every ticket will go to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

EMILY: It's also something that all three of us are very passionate about. We love animals, we're very against, you know, abuse of animals, using animals for anything to benefit ourselves as opposed to just letting them be animals. And I am... I also...

NATALIE: Except for being meat eaters!

EMILY: Well, I'm just saying... I'm into the food chain and all, but...

NATALIE: Abuse.

EMILY: But just animal abuse and I think that another big part that people don't realize is the conservation aspect of the World Wildlife Fund and that helps us all. That doesn't just help the animals. That's, you know, helping our environment is something... you know, it's so cliché now, you know, the environment... blah blah blah... but it is so important. And as women, you know, we're gonna be embarking on bringing kids into this world at some point, you know, it's very important.

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