Faith Hill’s most uncomfortable disguise?
Are Tim McGraw and Bruce Springsteen thinking about a collaboration?
The first couple of country music shared their thoughts during a roundtable discussion Friday with four Las Vegas writers during a Q&A in a suite at The Venetian, where they perform their "Soul2Soul" show.
The interview was conducted by Cindy Reed of Seven Magazine, John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun and Mike Weatherford and Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Roundtable: What’s your biggest surprise about having a residency in Las Vegas?
Faith Hill: We just have had a great time, we have had a really, really good time. The fact that we have been able to fly in and out has been pretty extraordinary. We just come in on Friday and leave Sunday you know so it’s been amazing.
Tim McGraw: The food, too. Some of the best meals we’ve had here. I was going to say the drunk crowd of the second show, but the last weekend the first crowd must have been wasted because they had a great time.
FH: The crowds have been really, really great.
R: Who has showed up at a show that you never expected and maybe came back stage?
FH: We’ve had a lot of really good…
TM: Yeah we pretty much know who’s going to be here.
R: You had Seinfeld here?
TM: No, Springsteen.
R: Did they come backstage and chat with you guys?
FH: Yes. We’re friends and…
TM: We’ve known those guys for a long time. The great thing about it is having your friends come out and support you.
FH: That has been the biggest thing…
TM: That has been the coolest thing. Reba (McEntire) came by and just having friends come by.
FH: Friends from back home have traveled with us and it’s been a lot of fun to bring them from Nashville here, it’s just been that.
TM: But other than that, nobody. (Laugh)
R: Maybe you see more of each other here when you’re doing this show than touring?
TM: We are on stage more — for stage, for sure. ‘Cause before when we did it, it was just a few songs together, you know her show and my show and this is really integrated and that’s what’s been fun for us is you know, instead of just, you know, you’ve got the couple of songs. We are always looking forward to getting back together throughout the show and singing together and that’s always very, very, I guess, anticipatory for me.
TM: Yeah, is that a word?
FH: It sounds like one.
R: When you guys are coming in and out of the city have you at all gained a feel for what the city is like and do you have an inclination to move around more than you are able to?
FH: Well, we have been to Vegas many, many times and we’ve never been able to stay here for more than a couple days at a time, but we have been all over the city doing a bunch of things.
TM: We did a lot of Christmas shopping before Christmas.
FH: We did and that was a lifesaver.
TM: Great, great Christmas shopping.
FH: It was a lifesaver.
R: Have you seen any shows that have particularly impressed?
TM: We haven’t had time to see the shows
FH: Yeah, because we come in and come out. The weekend we were rehearsing, who did we go see — Celine? Or was that before we started?
TM: It was before we started.
FH: Yeah that show is amazing. The girls have seen “O” and absolutely love that show.
TM: Yeah, the girls go see shows; they haven’t seen ours yet.
R: Is there a bit in your show that gets the biggest fan reaction?
FH: I think the time that we sit down and talk to the audience has been the most fun for us as well.
TM: It’s also the most nerve-racking.
FH: It’s always spontaneous because you never know what we are going to talk about.
TM: You never know what we are going to talk about, and, I mean, there’s a few things that you sort of know you have a little bit of a guideline, but then it gets off tangent sometimes and then sometimes you know how when you’re talking to people, for us we’re talking to the audience and you run out of something to say and there’s that pregnant pause there. Those are the scary parts but so far it’s been awesome. You know the great thing about being married is when we have those moments together one sort of takes off with it.
FH: Yeah. The other one fills in where one leaves off.
R: Is that like the Q&A segment?
TM: It’s like, but it’s not really a Q&A.
FH: It’s not really a Q&A.
TM: We started out with a Q&A but it got a little awkward just because you have to look at the cards and we just decided to just sort of just sit down and talk. And sing a few songs that we like.
FH: Right, because so many things are more spontaneous that way and it felt, yeah, we just like the spontaneity of that moment. It’s a small space and we can hear most everyone when they yell out a question and it’s something that we would never be able to do in another setting and we just want to take advantage of it, and we tried it that way one night and thought this is how we need to do this.
TM: Yeah, there’s no way to do this in an arena or stadium or something.
FH: No, no way. So that has been the most fun for us and I think probably the fans as well.
R: Has that changed since the first weekend? Because the first weekend I definitely got the sense that this is the part where they are the most out on the diving board over the deep end.
TM: Yeah, it’s changed. Certainly got more comfortable for us.
FH: Yeah, and we don’t ask questions; we talk and we just kind of find things to discuss.
TM: She’s usually worried about what I am going to say.
R: Or wear white socks?
TM: No socks.
FH: Yeah, yeah (unintelligible) — no socks on. It was traumatic.
TM: Now you’ve discovered that I’m hip.
FH: I have. I have seen in magazines, yes, that the guys are not wearing socks these days.
TM: I tried to tell you — I’m above the curve always.
R: Besides the show, what do the kids love most about Vegas?
TM: Our room. I mean they could just stay up there forever and order room service.
FH: Well I think, too, just the environment that’s backstage with the dressing rooms and they have a little room that’s their own hang-out spot. It’s just kind of a cool environment. Its fun, its energetic, lots of activities. Good energy.
TM: I’ll tell you what’s not been a surprise, but I’ll tell you what’s been so awesome, is the staff and the people at the hotel, The Venetian. They’ve just been unbelievable.
FH: They’re just extraordinary. They’re spoiling us rotten.
TM: Yeah, they’re taking care of us big time.
FH: Big time!
TM: We didn’t know what we were stepping into and that’s been really something that’s just… I mean every time we leave here we go home and talk about just how great they are here.
R: Do you have to get on the exercise bike every so often with the food here?
FH: Everyday. Today was hard though because I really just wanted to do nothing but had to do it.
R: At the press conference you talked more about how it was a moment in time and you were going to try to appreciate it because you never thought you’d do it again, and I know you’re cranking up the whole thing again with the album and tour and doing the whole thing again. But now you’re kind of having second thoughts?
TM: I don’t think that far ahead. I can’t think that far ahead especially with what’s going on right now. Like you said, there’s an album coming out and she’ll have an album soon and my tour, so I just can’t think that far ahead.
R: Well, is the ACM, you know, the second show that they always had, is that in any way related to you doing these shows here?
TM: No, that’s Lifting Lives (inintelligible) charity and they asked me to do this show for the ACM Lifting Lives Charity Foundation to help put this show together, so we are sort of taking over for that night and inviting a bunch of friends and we’re going to have just a big concert.
R: Have you thought of tinkering with the set list at all, moving songs in and out?
TM: We’ve thought about it, but you know what? it flows so well and the audience seems to … the problem is you want to capture as many highlights as you can and we both have a lot of records and have been doing this for a long time and you’re never going to get all of the songs that everybody wants to hear. I mean, you can’t do that on a tour where you’re playing two or three hours. You can’t do that.
FH: Yeah. We’ve tried to choose the ones that have always been the biggest requests from us as artists. It’s tough, though, but they still feel very new and fresh because we, this is our fourth weekend and we have six more to go. That’s going to fly by.
TM: What we try to do is, because the room is such an intimate room and the stage design and the design of the room too, all those things are such big factors in this room and that sort of setting that you see all that stuff as a spectator when you come in. It’s not like you can get lost in a stadium that’s all generic and looks the same so it has a certain feel to it, so when we tried to put this show together we wanted to really put a show together and the songs and the way they flowed to fit all of that. To fit the space, to fit the environment so I think it’s tough to tinker with that because we put so much time and effort into making sure the songs and the settings and the lighting and everything was just right for that room.
R: That was a collective effort right?
FH: Oh yeah.
R: Was there something that was particularly difficult not to include because the pace wasn’t right?
TM: I think “Angry All The Time” for me was one that was difficult to …
FH: Yeah. That’s one of my favorites for you to lose.
TM: It’s such a downer. I didn’t feel like it was the right environment to do that in. That’s probably one of my favorite records we’ve ever done together.
FH: Yeah, it’s really a great record. It’s hard, you know, we’ve had mostly ballads.
TM: That was a big consideration too. Putting it together with us singing together is you know all we’ve recorded are ballads together.
FH: Not consciously; it just the way it’s worked out.
TM: Yeah, love songs.
R: Are there any challenges/rewards to changing your style to play a smaller venue?
FH: Well, I think it was a challenge for us to first see ourselves in this environment together. You know, I’ve played rooms like this over the years and I have no problem talking to the audience because I’m a talker.
TM: I don’t talk. (Laugh)
FH: He doesn’t talk. I think it was … that became one of the things that became so intriguing to us. It’s just a totally different thing from out of left field that we have never considered doing together. It became, it was like a mission. You know we were going to figure out how we could make this work and then once we started working on it, just started to evolve into this thing that’s really enjoyable for both of us. You know it’s rewarding, it’s enjoyable, we get to spend 90 minutes together. It goes by so fast. It really has. That’s been another thing that’s been surprising.
TM: Yeah, it goes by really fast. But you know, I like playing all. I like playing stadiums, I like playing arenas and I like playing the big outdoor venues. But there’s something special about playing a small room like this. Something that keeps you engaged. I mean not that you’re not engaged anywhere else but sometimes there’s, when it’s enmass like that it sort of has something that carries itself a little bit. There’s such an intimacy here that it’s just something that always keeps you plugged in with the audience and you can see people. You know you look out there and you can see 12, 15, 20 rows back and you can see that they’re absorbing the show and it’s not just about this sort of conducive environment when there’s 30,000 people out there that sort of feeds off their energy. There an energy that works between you know a few people that’s special.
FH: Keeps you very present.
R: What’s the craziest reaction you’ve got giving a guitar away?
TM: The last show.
FH: Last weekend. The last show of last weekend.
TM: Yeah, she was crazy.
FH: By far.
TM: Scared me a little bit.
FM: Out of her mind. It was great.
T: But it’s cool, it’s cool to see that because there’s just such a reaction to it, such a shock to it. It’s cool to be able to do that.
R: Have you guys ever been in a situation where you just wanted to go out and you wore disguises out?
TM: Faith did — you did one time.
FH: Yes, I have. I’ve done it a couple times.
R: What do you look like? Baseball cap or?
FH: I can’t say. (Laugh) I couldn’t do a baseball cap anymore because I’m always in a baseball cap so that’s not unusual.
TM: I think its harder for her to not be noticed but I don’t get noticed because I put a ball cap on and everybody’s used to seeing the whole uniform kind of thing so. But when we’re together is when it’s tough because it’s like you can sort of go "ah maybe" or (unintelligible).
R: Faith, can you maybe say where it was you did that?
FH: I don’t … it was a couple places but Disneyland was one of the ones that comes to mind first because remember I had this wig on…
TM: And it was hot…
FH: It was so hot. I was absolutely dying and so all the pictures of the kids and Tim and I … I’m sitting there just please (unintelligible) get out of here. I had really, really dark hair.
R: What about a memorable compliment either from a fan or a fellow performer, celebrity that you can really remember?
TM: Tony Bennett. I’ll tell you what Tony Bennett told you. He said that you’re like the female Frank Sinatra. I thought that was pretty damn cool.
FH: Pretty cool.
TM: Nobody’s ever said anything like that to me. Nobody’s ever called me the female Frank Sinatra.
FH: That would have been pretty memorable! That’s funny. He has so many.
TM: I do?
TM: Well, tell me some.
FH: People just talk about just being on stage with you. The one that … I mean everyone always talks about Tim’s presence on stage, but until you’re on stage with him it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. I remember when, right after you did that film with Gwyneth Paltrow, you guys were asked to do this song together and you came out and sang with her. And she’s an actor so she’s able to transform into many different things, but I remember after you guys sang together you came out on stage and she was standing there and you started to sing and I remember the look on her face was like, she was out of, she could not believe the energy that she was putting forth from the stage. And we had spent a lot of personal time together and we all knew each other really well and worked together as actors, she had great respect for him as an actor, but to be on stage with Tim is just you know there’s just no comparison.
FH: She came off stage and she was just white and she goes “My God, I have never felt that before in my life. I can not believe the energy that came off of this guy.” You know when you know someone it’s a huge compliment. I mean there’s many of them but …
TM: Well, you don’t have to stop …
R: In case we don’t get to talk to you before that ACM show, Gwyneth, Tony Bennett, are those the kind of names under the “friends?”
TM: Oh, I don’t want to nail anybody down to whose going to do it but we are going to have some cool people for sure. It’s going to be a cool show.
R: If you plan to extend your residency would you have any planned changes/improvements for performances here in Las Vegas?
TM: Oh, that’s too far down the road. That’s past the first question.
FH: Yeah, that’s not on the radar for sure.
R: Collaborations. Who would you like to, on your bucket list, collaborate with?
FH: Oh wow.
R: Tony Bennett seems to be doing a lot of …
FH: Yeah, I did a song with Tony. Tim did a song with Tony as well, Mr. Bennett. That was an amazing experience. Oh my gosh …
TM: Mavis Staples, Aretha …
FH: I’ve actually sung with Aretha.
TM: You did sing with Aretha.
FH: But it would be amazing to do something gospel with Mavis and Aretha.
TM: That would be cool.
FH: Like a gospel hour, like church for 30 minutes or something; a show would be amazing. That would be a good one.
TM: I’ve been able to sing with some great people throughout my career but Springsteen would be at the top of my list.
R: I’d tell you to write a song call “Springsteen” but someone’s already done that.
TM: It’s a great song too, great record. One of my favorite records last year.
FH: Thank you, it’s been fun here.
–Norm Clarke, Vegas Confidential