Natalie Maines: A Passion for Music and Equality

Maines, who says she hates politics but is drawn to causes, including LGBT rights, talks about the feelings that go into her activism and her debut solo album, Mother.



She had already started recording the album, produced by Maines and her friend Ben Harper at his Los Angeles studio, when she heard Roger Waters perform “Mother” in concert. “It just hit me that I’ve got to do that song,” she says. “Lover You Should Have Come Over” reminded her of the early days of her relationship with her husband, actor Adrian Pasdar. The Vedder song wound up on her album because she loved Ukelele Songs and listened to it daily for a while. On what she hopes listeners will take away from Mother, she says, “I just hope they all really enjoy it.”

Maines may tour in support of the album, and she has some appearances scheduled this summer with the Dixie Chicks, who haven’t recorded together in a few years. They’ll be part of an all-star concert May 16 in Austin, benefiting PBS station KLRU, home of the Austin City Limits music show. They also will appear at some festivals in Canada later this summer. “We’ve done shows here and there together over the years,” says Maines. She doesn’t expect they’ll be in the recording studio together in the near future, however; for one thing, with Maines living in Los Angeles and Maguire and Robison in Texas, it makes the logistics a bit challenging.

Maines recently said she has no regrets about her criticism of George W. Bush and the Iraq war, which resulted in a huge backlash from some of the Chicks’ more conservative fans. Until then, Maines says, she hadn’t seen the country-music world as particularly conservative, but her statements were met with the type of right-wing reaction one might associate with the ultraconservative stereotype. “I think it’s about the fan base,” she says now.

Neither that nor her distaste for the political process has put her off speaking her mind. Causes important to her include global poverty relief, gun regulations, mental health, and prison reform. And, most definitely, LGBT rights, and she finds one of this cause’s best advocates to be a provocative but progressive talk-show host. “I’m a big listener of Howard Stern,” she says. “He gives the best pro-gay rant I’ve ever heard.”

She’s encouraged by recent advances on marriage equality and other LGBT concerns. “The tide is turning quickly,” she says, adding that it’s being helped by people coming out earlier in life than ever. One simple statement seems to sum up her political consciousness: “Equality is important to me.”

Mother, released by Columbia Records, is in stores today. Find more info here, and watch a video of “Free Life” below.

Tags: Music