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The Civil Wars Interview: War of the Roses : RadioPotato

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

The Civil Wars Interview: War of the Roses


Back in my early blogging days , I interviewed singer/songwriter Matthew Mayfield.  He recommended a duo that I needed to listen to called The Civil Wars and wrote it on my interview notebook (incidentally, he also recommended Thrice, a rock band out of Birmingham).

Out of nowhere, a brilliant new video called “Poison & Wine” had spread like wildfire over the Internet.  When I first saw it on YouTube, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the almost uncomfortable intimacy between this couple.  Their lulling vocals had intertwined into beautiful harmonies.

Joined together through a random pairing, solo Nashville pop artist, Joy Williams was put together with Alabama-bred  rock-country artist John Paul White. The result was a newly formed duo called The Civil Wars that alluded to the tension and restraint that a couple feels in a relationship.  Immediately, TCW had explosive chemistry and had become an overnight sensation thanks to an immediate placement on Grey’s Anatomy.  In fact, the duo found out they were going to be on Grey’s Anatomy which was to air on 11/12/09 and scrambled over the weekend to quickly shoot and publish this breathtaking video for “Poison & Wine” in time for the Grey’s Anatomy broadcast:

The word-of-mouth on this duo is turning into a cacophony of praise for their passion, tension, and longing in their perfectly paired voices.   This duo relies on the simplicity of their two vocals, guitar, maybe piano and a kickdrum which equates to a deafening quiet that is paralleled by few.

Civil Wars Interview – Nashville 2/10/2010

Something about their music begs more questions about where all that tension and pain came from. It’s so raw. La douleur exquise! In fact, it’s so compelling that I set up (read: stalked them for) an interview with Joy and John Paul to get those questions answered.  You’re welcome, audience.

Off I went to Nashville again for my investigative reporting.  Are they a couple? Do they fight? Aren’t they married but not to each other? Do they have the answers to how to make all relationships work? (well, I tried)

We met at Ugly Mugs Cafe in East Nashville on a snowy morning in February for me to find out.

There were a few interesting highlights:

  • John Paul hums all the time.
  • Joy and John Paul are married – but not to each other
  • The Civil Wars tease each other…a lot
  • They finish each others’ sentences
  • Joy Williams’ love affair with Oscar Maier is in the interview
  • Learn about their musical influences as well as their experiences writing together
  • As always, the 5 Little Known Facts
  • Most important question: WHO is the real star of The Civil Wars???

Fittingly, the interview was set-up at a coffeehouse so the background noise becomes…charming! As always, the full interview is posted on the Podcast section and this 5-minute clip will give you the Cliff’s Notes version.

PLAY INTERVIEW –> Civil Wars Interview with Joy Williams and John Paul White

Joy Williams and John Paul White were the most gracious of people to interview.  Joy was exceptionally warm and thoughtful and John Paul was kind, funny, and very open.  According to their growing fan-base, including Eddie Owen of Eddie’s Attic, their live shows are dramatically breathtaking and intimate.

The Civil Wars Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Download


About the author

Allison Hare wrote 138 articles on this blog.

A modern-day dame with a bionic ear for discovering emerging artists and a penchant for live shows. Admitted radio junkie



6 Responses to “The Civil Wars Interview: War of the Roses”
  1. Jillian says:

    Allison–loved your interview! I went right away and downloaded their live album at Eddie’s Attic, and I can’t wait to see them March 18! I loved seeing Joy Williams at Ten out of Tenn, so I am excited to see her perform more songs with The Civil Wars.

  2. brandon says:

    Cool! I actually just interviewed The Civil Wars too. Well… twitter interview. Twinterview?

    Here it is: http://bit.ly/hhBfMg


  3. Scott B says:

    Found your site from Tina J/Brett H – very cool. Thanks for more info on Civil Wars – heard of them through Jason Isbell’s Tweets and now am hooked.

  4. Allison Rizk says:

    Scott, thank you so much for the comment. I agree! The Civil Wars are the real deal and I’m glad you are enjoying it-

  5. Alexa says:

    I rarely comment on stuff online unless I really feel moved but I just HAD to write my own review on this.
    I just found them out today by chance on some Christian blog and I was absolutely…taken aback. There is not a lot of well real though out beautiful music these days. The lyrics are overused and the same theme but this…just something about it was soo relaxing and meditative and I FELT their emotions in the music. I’ve already began downloading their songs and Poison & Wine was the first video and song of theirs that I heard.

    I feel for their spouses though! Of course I know you need trust in a relationship but, when I first saw these two I immediately thought they were a couple as they walked together so gracefully and naturally. As their spouse I’d always be scared they’d have feelings for each other which, I have a feeling somewhere they have some kind of special place for one another. But again,
    this duo is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

    I will now be promoting them on my Facebook, Twitter, and LIVE video broadcast. 🙂


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] 5.  “To Whom It May Concern” – The Civil Wars. After seeing The Civil Wars perform live at Eddie’s Attic this month. Joy Williams and John Paul White’s new song “To Whom It May Concern” had such sweet sorrow and hope, you could hear a pin drop.  My home girl, Freddie Eberlein captured it on video.  Sometimes there are no words to describe how your heart feels…and The Civil Wars marry such poignant lyrics with an infectious hook that is masterful brilliance (lyrics below). For more on breakout duo The Civil Wars, click here. […]

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