Toronto Press Conference

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This 25 minute press conference was held on August 6, 2003 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto,Ontario, Canada after their concert.

REPORTER: Great show. It was a fantastic night. Thanks so much for playing Toronto. Big stage. You guys played on a huge stage, walking around you guys are on different sides of the stage all night. How do you communicate on stage like that?
NATALIE: Communicate with each other?
NATALIE: We don't (laughter). It has to be a well rehearsed show which sometimes doesn't feel exactly how we like to do it but with a stage that big and to play to all sides of the's really important to have the same relationship with every things have to be a little more choreographed and we just ptretty much have it down. There's a guy down in front who makes eye contact with us for every song to see if we need anything up or down in our ears and that's about the only communication that goes on.
REPORTER: You guys seem to have a special relationship with Canada. Your first single. I think it was your first single or your album went first here in Canada and obviously you've said some nice things about Canada tonight in your concert. So what do you guys feel about Canada?
EMILY: Well after the year we've had it's been a wonderful welcoming place to come. And the crowds are always incredible. Vancouver was equally as wonderful crowd and so you're always wanting to go back to the places that you feel very welcome so that's why we added four dates to the end of the tour here in Canada. We wanted to end on an upnote.
REPORTER: I guess I'm going to have to be the evil one on this one. I gotta ask. How have things been going since this whole Bush controversy. I mean we've been reading stuff. We've seen it on TV. How are things going for you guys now?
MARTIE: Well, thank goodness we went on tour right after the incident because it was just so gratifying to get out there in front of the fans and see...they just seemed to want to show us even more now that they are our true fans and support us. And we didn't have any change in sales. People weren't turning in their tickets in large numbers or anything. So it was nice to see that a lot of it was hype and mediahype. And along the way we'd have two or three protesters at most. It just didn't seem to be equivelent to the picture that was being painted in the press so that made us feel really great.
NATALIE: But album sales are definitely down and we don't get played on the radio. I think they play old songs but not really much new. We're just kind of okay with that. We feel stronger and better as people.
REPORTER: What's been the best thing that a fan or a listener has done for you since this has turned around because I know this has been emotional for you. Has there been one moment where you ran back and said 'Oh my God. We're okay. This happened.' Has there been a real positive from all this.
NATALIE: I don't know if there's one thing. One thing I remember is being surprised by the audience reaction in Dallas. Texas was the hardest on us. We played Austin and that was good and then Dallas and Houston were probably...well and San Antonio. All three of those places were the hardest on us during this so it was...and I think Dallas felt that. Dallas I had a pretty serious death threat and like Martie said, even though we never made that public, it just seemed like the crowd sort of knew and they just worked extra hard to show us that they live in Texas and they're proud that we're from there. People have great signs and t-shirts.
EMILY: I have to say I love it when I see somebody who says I'm from a military family and we know this is what they're fighting for and that's when I know that they get it. I think a lot of people have tried to paint this picture as if we don't support the troops which is not the case. So when you see whether they be in the military or just military families and they have the sign going 'We love you. We're behind you. We believe in you' that's always fun to see that in the audience.
REPORTER: Your collegue Merle Haggard right now has a song that's being banned from a lot of American radio stations and I wondered what do you guys make of that? sort of the same...not the same boat but.
EMILY: Well yeah. Once again it's if someone stands up and says anything that they believe in they're banned from the radio. He's a mainstay in country music and to ban Merle Haggard it's just not right. That's just wrong. It's funny because a lot of people would, when they were mad at us, they'd quote his Okie From Muskogee song and say 'I wish everyone was still like Merle Haggard' and then when he came out and said that, it was just kind of nice to see everyone kind of do a doubletake. See what happened. Unfortunately, there has been fallout from people who've just said 'I may not agree with them but they have the right to say it. Why is there such a witch hunt?' and then they get banned so it's just silly at this point.
MARTIE: We've heard they've turned what happened to us into a verb. You can get "Dixie Chicked". And if we had to be the example that's fine. I hate that it's happening to other people and I think we'll be the first to stand up and defend them when nobody...seemed like nobody was standing up and defending us.
REPORTER: Just to follow up on that. I mean first it was Steve Earle, and then it was you guys and now it's Merle Haggard. Is there something about being in country music that makes it more difficult to speak out than say if you were rock singers cause there must be a lot of rock musicians out there who have had things to say that aren't having the same kinds of problems.
NATALIE: Yeah, definitely it's country music. I think it's also for us and probably Merle as well, it's that people...we surprised people. They thought that they knew who we were and we thought that they knew who we were but obviously we were not connecting there. People expect that from Steve Earle but I don't think they expected it from us and I do feel with us it had to do with the fact we were women. But definitely our genre didn't allow us to...and I think the press and the right wing wanted to make an example out of the three of us to tell everyone else this is what will happen to you if you speak out.
REPORTER: How are Gus and Slade?
EMILY: That's a wonderful question. They're great.
REPORTER: Do you really have Faith Hill's tour bus and what happened recently?
NATALIE: I have her old tour bus but Emily's is the one that got smashed into.
EMILY: We were coming back from a Houston show and we had a day off so I was going back home. They were going to Austin so we weren't caravaning like we usually do and my busdriver got hit by a random box that had fallen off of a truck so he pulled over and was making a police report because he has to make any claims when something happens to the bus. While he was on the phone with the police...he wasn't even in the driver's seat...standing in the front of the bus somebody plowed into the back of the bus. I was asleep. It woke me up but I don't really remember much as far as impact. The guy in the car was hurt and that's unfortunate. He said he was reaching for a cell phone and just lost track of where he was so it was unfortunate but he's, considering the damage, he's fine.
REPORTER: When was that?
EMILY: About a week ago
NATALIE: Last Thursday, early morning.
REPORTER: I'm wondering what sort of concessions you've found you've had to make to incorporate the touring lifestyle with being mothers and how difficult that is and what sort of changes you see in the future because I've talked with people like Ben Harper about this sort of stuff and who are all at the brink point where its...they have young kids and it must be a hard thing to do. How do you sort of mediate that?
NATALIE: I think because they're younger it's actually not that hard. It's all they're used to and they get actually, probably -- I don't know if spoiled is the right word but they get to do all these different things in all these different cities. One day it's the children's museum. The next day it's the amusement park and the zoo. There's a playroom that we set up every day here and my son personally when we're at home when he gets tired he always says 'I wanna go to the bus'. (Laughter) Like that's gonna be some saving grace for him and Gus is...
EMILY: He's oblivious. He's eight months old and doesn't know the difference. If we had them when we were travelling three years or four years ago I think it would have been different but because we have the means to travel well and have seperate busses and we have such a support group around us. I mean...I'm afraid to go home and he's going to be 'where are all the hundred people who are willing to pick me up at any moment of the day.' So it's actually...I think it's a great experience for him out here.
NATALIE: As they get older I think it will be harder. When they have their own friends and they know what they're missing at home then we might have to make some changes or compromises. We'll see.
REPORTER: Just have a quick question regarding things that have been happening with Toby Keith lately. He was in town a couple of weeks ago with little bit of a video poking fun at you and obviously that's been involved in the last year. What are your thoughts on that and is it all just in fun or is there any seriousness to what's going on with the jesting back and forth kind of thing.
NATALIE: Oh it's not in fun for me. I don't appreciate what he does in his show with my picture and he has not been banned for that but yet I...we got banned again for me sort of standiing up for myself at the ACMs. But we're used to it by now. Doesn't hurt us.
REPORTER: I heard that Natalie you're gonna be in a movie.
NATALIE: You did?
REPORTER: I did. Is it just a vicious rumor that's going around.
NATALIE: I think there is... I think Barry got distribution for that movie maybe. A kid's movie. I did it two years ago but Julia Roberts was my acting coach.
REPORTER: It's a kid's movie you say?
NATALIE: Yep. It's called "Grand Champion".
REPORTER: It's being released now?
NATALIE: I think he got distribution and now it's going to be out and I think we have a song on it as well. We gave him Lil' Jack Slade.
REPORTER: Are you going to do more movies?
NATALIE: Sure, yeah. I wanted to throw up. (laughter) It was the most nerve wracking experience but I feel like I need to overcome those things. Public speaking and acting make me very nervous.
REPORTER: Hi. Loved the show. Just wondering if you're going to see any of the sites in Toronto while you're here. I know you're playing in Hamilton on Friday so you have a couple days in between.
EMILY: We actually got here yesterday so last night we had an end of tour party since we're going to be wrapping in the next week. I forget what the name of the restaurant was. It was an Asian restaurant. We bought it out last night and all the crew and the band...we had a party there last night. So that was fun and then today went to a bookstore.
MARTIE: A little shopping on queen Street.
NATALIE: I laid in bed all day.
EMILY: But actually we're gonna take three days--- we have three days off while the trucks get to the other coast and we're going to go to Jasper and go to a resort. That'll be fun.
NATALIE: But we leave tonight after the show so we don't get a lot of time here.
REPORTER: Do you guys think you're going to get a fair chance when your next CD is released. Like do you hope this whole thing is going to be done with and fans will just go with the music and not worry about everything else?
MARTIE: I think the real fans will.
NATALIE: Yeah. We don't want this to be our legacy. We want our music to be our legacy. But I think forever any review will start with the sentence that I said or one blurb about what happened to us which is unfortunate. But one positive with that is I think it's sort of opened the door for us to do anything musically that we want to do now without feeling any pressures that we have to please someone or a certain format and we have no idea what our next album will be but I remember after we did Home we thought...we said in interviews...this was probably the only album where we'll feel this free because we didn't have a label. But I actually think we'll feel just as free on this next one because we don't really have anyone to answer to as far as radio is concerned.
REPORTER: You guys have just been nominated for the third time for top selling album for the CCMAs and I know you guys have won a ton of awards and I don't know if this award still means anything to you and what are your plans to do next after your European tour...after it's all over this time.
MARTIE: When are the CCMAs?
REPORTER: They're on September 8th.
MARTIE: We're going to be in Europe. I don't think we've ever been to a CCMA award show and we would love to come 'cause we have a feeling we won't be booed (laughter). Every award show we've been booed on since March 10th. So no we would love to...we'd be honored.
EMILY: I don't think we would spend as much time as we do in Canada if it wasn't important to us. Since the very beginning, ever since Wide Open Spaces, we've always felt like this was an imprtant territory for us to conquer.
MARTIE: And people always scared us going into Canada. They always said 'Well the audience is going to be really well educated on their music and they're going to be very polite and clap very politely but don't expect a big uproarious crowd' and this is where I had my first stage rusher. In Canada. I don't know if it was in Toronto. I don't know where it was but I had my first stage rusher and I'm very proud of that fact. That myth about Canadian audiences is just wrong. And this was one of the loudest crowds we've had. I had to keep turning down my ears on my pack because the audience was so loud. It was really really fun.
REPORTER: And what's next?
NATALIE: We like to take that big year off. That's kind of our cycle. Take a lot of time off, be with family and start being creative and start trying to think of what we're going to do next. It takes a little while to rejuvenate but it won't take as long this time to feel inspired. I feel pretty inspired.
REPORTER: Your dad played with you on the Kodak theatre "An Evening With The Dixie Chicks." Does he pop into the tour at all or when is he going to be one of your background musicians in the future?
NATALIE: He played on the Kodak. He helped...he co-produced this album with us and he played in Austin with us and then he's come out and recorded a few shows. We asked him to be on the tour and he said no. He likes to produce and be in the studio and he has other bands that he has commitments to so we would love to have him out. He's awesome.
REPORTER: I happened to be sitting right in front of your technician who handed you a second bow towards the end of tonight's show. Do you rip up numerous bows? Is that a typical evening to go through more than one bow?
MARTIE: Not like that. This one just almost exploded on me. I was extra fired up tonight and I think I was playing a little harder than normal but he's always right there with the next one.
REPORTER: Why were you so fired up?
MARTIE: I don't know. I was just...we've had a day off and I was just really into it tonight.
REPORTER: I'm curious just because you have such a large band with you and you threw in some covers tonight. Mississippi was nice to hear. I'm wondering what's involved in putting together covers for you and how much input do you like to get from the band cause there's a lot (unintelligible) and what goes on. what kind of dialogue do you have with your musicians.
EMILY: Well, Mississippi is the only one that we haven't recorded and kind of had a template for with the band. Especially this year, I think we trust the band a lot as far as just their arranging skills. With three of us we kind of come to the table with how I think we hear things and we kind of lead the way. We were just talking last night with the band about how tasteful they were and not always did we let them vary from what's on the album. That's kind of a starting point and based on what they're playing you just kind of let them go off and do different things. I felt very comfortable with this band taking liberties just because they're all such great musicians and they do the righteous thing with the song. that's a great comfort zone. I think this is probably the best band we've had. Ever.
NATALIE: David Grissom who's the band leader...we got him because he's more of a rock and roller guitar player and we wanted to sort of change up the sound of some of the older stuff since we've been touring it for so long. So we really told him feel free to rock this out and change the solos and do whatever you want to do on the old material because we want it to sound fresh.
REPORTER: Do you see a lot of them coming on the next record to record.
NATALIE: I don't know. you never know.
REPORTER: I was just wondering...I think up here in Canada we all thought you guys had a clear grasp of reality based on what you were saying down there. You're mentioning tonight about media hype versus what reality is and that's one thing. Isn't this like a remake for you guys because you cancelled once already because we had some SARS thing going on in Toronto. I was just wondering what your personal feelings are about that. Do you feel that you got some disinformation about that and what was the process that led you to cancel your first appearence here?
NATALIE: Well it was pretty much just the liability of traveling with over 100 people and being responsible for them and their health and we sort of did a survey and got a consensus that everyone just wanted to sort of wait it out a little bit just for their own safety and what they were comfortable with.
MARTIE: And also it was in the middle of the tour and if we had come over across the border and got stuck in quarantine or something like that it could have affected a lot more shows.
EMILY: We didn't cancel. We postponed.
REPORTER: Would you be affected with quarantine if you came up here?
MARTIE: Our manager and people who advise us...we want to do the show every night so we were fighting to do the show but you've kind of got your advisors telling you what can happen. So sometimes we listen to those people. We don't very often because we're so strongheaded. After a lot of meetings...we really agonized over it and felt like at least we were coming back and giving them the show we wanted to give them the first time.
REPORTER: I was wondering if I could ask Natalie during the year off she would  like to take if you'd be interested in doing any advocacy work for the American Civil Liberties Union or public service announcements or doing anything like that to work on the free speech issues that seem near and dear to you.
NATALIE: Yeah definitely. In my time off and as individuals we all agree that we can do our own things politically. We don't want to do them necessarily as a band but we joined with Rock The Vote and it's sort of sad how few people vote in our country and so we just feel it's really important for people to have a voice and use that. I went to the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham Alabama and just watching and remembering what people struggled...the struggles that they went through and all the suffering that they did to allow African-Americans the right to vote. When you see how few actually do now it just really saddened me. So we just are focusing on the voting issue but we're all very political and try and be well read so we'll see what happens. I am giving my 'Dare To Be Free' t-shirt to it the first Amendment Museum.
EMILY: It's the Constitution Museum.
NATALIE: It's the museum for the Constitution. They want my shirt so I'm going to give it to them.
REPORTER: To what extent do you honestly think that freedom of speech is imperiled in the United States or threatened. Is it a serious issue?
MARTIE: I think people think they believe in freedom of speech but they don't realize that in order to believe in it you have to exercise tolerance. You can't just believe in it when people agree with you. So I think that's the biggest lesson we learned. And that's what people forget. So I hope this does a's really small in perspective but I hope this small incident does make people think about that. That you've got to have tolerance for all people..people of all colors, all opinions.
NATALIE: But I think when it became a freedom of speech issue is when you get banned at a corporate level and the media consolidation is a real problem People kept saying that we were just whining about freedom of speech because these consequences happened as far as record sales and people not playing us and that wasn't it at all. It felt very un-American and confusing to see an entire media corporation put a mandatory ban on your music because you do not think the way that they think and so that is when freedom of speech is in jeopardy.

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