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Court Yard Hounds: (almost) a new Dixie Chicks album!

The Dixie Chicks’ Emily Robinson and Martie Maguire talk about their new side project

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Emily, you’re essentially the lead singer in this band. How does that feel?
Robison I feel confident about our music. The scariest thing is stepping away from the Chicks’ shadow. I was always the quiet one, Martie was the nice one, and Natalie [Maines] was the feisty one. This is kind of freeing.
Maguire She’s getting a really big lead-singer head.
Robison Yeah, right.
Maguire I’ve been in a band with my sister since she was 10 and I was 13, and I’m just now getting to know her. There was always the other person between us. We’re face-to-face now, which is neat.

So how did this side project happen?
Robison I think we did need a year off, but then I started to get bored. So I started writing more. I was going to pitch the songs [to other artists], and Martie was like, ”Don’t pitch them. I’ll kill you.”
Maguire I didn’t think we were going to have a band. I thought, When Natalie’s ready to work, she’s gonna love these songs. We just wanted to make new music. And I don’t think she’s ready yet.

The Dixie Chicks’ upcoming mini-tour with the Eagles — is that happening because Natalie got jealous?
Maguire [Laughs] I think it’s because the Eagles called.

Emily, you wrote many of these songs while going through a divorce [from singer Charlie Robison]. How do you feel about exposing such personal material?
Robison There’s only about 70 percent that’s really me, so I leave that up for interpretation. I could deny any one thing at any time.
Maguire You were very kind. I don’t see any bashing.

Will mainstream-country radio play it?
Robison We’ve gotten to a place where we would be honored by whoever plays it, but going back and having dinner at Hooters with radio programmers — I don’t see us doing that.

What’s the dream for this project?
Robison I would be happy to tour and have a musical outlet when the Chicks aren’t happening. Really, I just want to be in a great band.
Maguire And get the security of knowing there’s something we can always do. Almost like a retirement plan.
Robison This is our 401(k). [Both crack up.]