To quote a Dixie Chicks song, Natalie Maines has “been a longtime gone.” The fearless frontwoman for the female country band — which, before they hit it big, were frequent performers at Sue Ellen’s — has her first solo disc, seven years after Taking the Long Wayand its unapologetic single “Not Ready to Make Nice” in response to the singer’s political dig at then-President George W. Bush. Maines goes her own way for her new CD, Mother, which we reviewed here. Now our Chris Azzopardi follows that up with this interview, where Maines reveals why she went rock (country “seemed so fake”), how being disowned — and her new short hair — made her feel closer to the gay community and whether now — a decade after her Bush outburst — she’s ready to make nice.
Dallas Voice: You’re sporting that punkish ’do; before, with the Dixie Chicks, it was the long, blond locks. Maines: I know. Well, with the Chicks, I definitely felt like I was playing dress up a bit — but I liked it!
Are you conscious of your look and how it represents the music? With two kids, there’s not enough time in the day to spend on what I look like; this is a much easier look. And it fits my personality more. I had short hair growing up, and it always felt right for me.
Has the short hair scored you more lesbian cred? [Laughs] I barely leave my house, [but] maybe. But the lesbians liked me already! Yeah, this is definitely a lesbianish haircut I’ve got going on. I don’t mind. I love Rachel Maddow. She would be my lesbian girl crush.
Why Rachel? She’s hot! And she’s smart and beautiful … and I like her hair.
I could see it working out between you two. Yeah, I think that would work. I don’t know if my husband or her girlfriend would think so.
You’ve always had a really loyal gay fan base, even before you publicly chastised George W. Bush. How do you explain your connection with gay fans? We had some very costume-y, over-the-top looks that the gays do appreciate. [Laughs] But after the controversy, I feel like there was even more of a connection, and that’s just because we both know how it feels to be hated just for who we are — not for doing anything, bothering anyone, murdering anyone or being arrested. Just for being us. Apparently, that’s not good in some people’s eyes. But also, too, to just continue being and let other people get used to it — learning to be OK with yourself and just putting it out there, and people can either like you or not, but it’s really on them.
Were you noticing more support from the gay community at shows after the incident? Yeah. And we would get lots of emails, and a lot of the community would come right up and say, “I love that you did this. I didn’t listen to your music before, but after this, I went and bought every record.” However it was that they showed their support, I definitely felt it.