Looking at the cover of the Dixie Chicks' smash major label debut, Wide Open Spaces, it's hard not to huff, "How cute, Country Spice Girls." Three attractive, stylin' young blondes strolling confidently along a sidewalk, two with sleeveless tops and big smiles and the third wearing a black suit and a Posh-worthy little smirk. All behind the name "Dixie Chicks." 'Nuff said, right?
Ah, but witness the Chicks in action, and you'll eat those words. If country ain't your bag, by the time sisters Emily Erwin and Martie Seidel storm their way through their first banjo and fiddle leads and new-Chick-on-the-block Natalie Maines belts out her first chorus of rockin' honky tonk, it may well be.
So as their platinum-certified album continues its stint on the charts and a third single chases after their infectious No. 1 Country hit "There's Your Trouble," check that skepticism at the door and lend an ear to Ms. Maines. Or Country Posh, if you must.
Before you climbed on board, Emily and Martie had been playing as the Dixie Chicks with a different singer for six years. How did you enter the picture?
Well, my dad [famed Texas producer and steel guitarist Lloyd Maines] played on a couple of their albums, but my mom had listened to their music more than I did. When I went to see them live, I was blown away by how well they could play their instruments. And about a month later they called and wanted me to sing a demo of 'You Were Mine.' When we did the demo, I had no idea that it was an audition for me until Martie started asking questions like, 'Would you ever be interested in singing country music? Would you be interested in moving to Dallas?' (Laughs) And they called me about a week after the demo was done and asked if I could drop out of school and move to Dallas and learn thirty songs in four days and do my first gig with them. And I did it. Looking back I see how brave Martie and Emily were to do this. When you go back and listen to what they were doing three years ago, you see how much it has changed. So I respect them a lot that they just handed over this baby that they had had for six years and trusted me to take it to where it is now.
Is it true that you said, 'I'll join your band, but I ain't wearing that cowgirl crap'?
Yeah (laughs). I was telling my mom that I got the job, and she said 'Are you going to wear what they wear?' And I said, 'No, but I'll deal with that when I get there.' And we did a photo-shoot the day after I arrived, and they didn't bring their cowgirl clothes -- they brought jeans and tops and stuff. Still we didn't have a lot of style, but they didn't bring their petticoats and rhinestones. I did wear some satin shirts, though. I had to get my way over a gradual process.
You promised to get little chicken feet tattooed on the top of your feet every time you hit No. 1 or went gold. Do you regret that yet?
We have our gold party tomorrow -- so I'm really nervous about that. We were going to get one for the gold album, one for going No. 1 in Canada, and one for going No. 1 in the United States. But we decided to just do it for the single. So if the single is the No. 1 single, then we'll just get one, even if it's in Canada. But even the tattoo artist was trying to talk us out of getting them on our feet because of the pain, so that's scary. But we've already told everyone we're doing it, and we're Chicks of our word.
As a veteran of the music business, what type of advice did your father give you before you recorded the album?
Just to stay true to the music, and to stay true to Texas. The Texas music industry is very honest. You don't compromise things when it has to do with your soul or your belief. I think that's why we have the album that we have -- we stuck to our guns about a lot of stuff. We were ready to put up our dukes with Sony, and it turned out we didn't have to at all. They were sort of laughing at us because we thought they'd say we couldn't play on the album, and they were saying 'Well of course you can play on the album, that's why we're signing you -- because you *can* play on your album.'
What has been your favorite Dixie Chick moment to date?
The coolest so far was I woke up one morning and I'm watching the Today Show, and you know how the guy tells the weather outside in New York City and all those people hold up signs saying hi to their friends or where they're from? This huge, homemade posterboard sign said 'The Dixie Chicks Love Matt and Katie.' And I started screaming my head off. I called Martie and woke her up, and I was freaking out because that meant so much to us. Those people could have written anything on that sign -- I mean why not write their own names or say hi to their friends? The fact that they would use their one chance on television to advertise for us was amazing to me. It was like we had made it at that point.
Not to burst your bubble, but are you sure they were promoting you and not some college sorority?
Well, I don't know. I don't think so. I mean, maybe they were, but I don't want to know that (laughs).