True to their rebellious ― and politically charged ― spirit, the Dixie Chicks “needed to get mad again” before they felt ready to head into the studio.
On Monday, the country pop trio dropped by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to kick off a new musical era. Due out May 1, “Gaslighter” is the band’s eighth album and their first full-length release since 2006’s “Taking the Long Way.”
In the intervening years, members Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison have been primarily focused on motherhood and touring, though they’ve also made a few guest appearances on tunes by Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.
The hiatus, they said, also offered a chance to regroup after having been “canceled.” In 2003, Maines ignited a media firestorm at a London concert when she criticized then-President George W. Bush on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The singer-songwriter’s remarks famously got the band blacklisted from country radio. But in hindsight, the band said, the 17-year-old controversy seems almost quaint compared to the political sensitivities now seen across social media.
“What I said back then would not even be a thing today because it was really mild compared to what people say today,” Maines told DeGeneres Monday. “On the one hand, everyone has this platform where they can say whatever they want to say. But on the other hand, this platform can move really quickly and ruin people’s lives.”
Maquire quipped, “Imagine what she would say now.”
Later in the show, the Dixie Chicks performed the title track from “Gaslighter,” which was co-written and produced by Jack Antonoff.
Despite the political overtones of its title, “Gaslighter” was actually inspired by the demise of Maines’ relationship with “Heroes” actor Adrian Pasdar in 2017.
“When I started getting a divorce, I had a lot to say,” Maines told the “Spiritualgasm” podcast last year. “Songwriting is really hard for me, and I think for many years I didn’t want to analyze my life or my relationship.”
“And then when my relationship fell apart, so I had a lot to say,” she added. “Our last album was the most personal and autobiographical we’d ever been. And then this one is 10 times that.”