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.
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.