June 12, 2006 12:00 PM

Last August pop star Michelle Branch gave birth to daughter Owen, her first child with her bass player husband, Teddy Landau, 41. Now she’s taking on another new role: country singer. Branch, 22, and her best friend, Jessica Harp, 24, teamed up as the Wreckers for a new album, Stand Still, Look Pretty. As they get ready to hit the road with Rascal Flatts (with Teddy, Owen and nanny in tow on the bus), the pair chatted with PEOPLE’s Eileen Finan.

How did you two meet?

Harp: We had mutual fans e-mailing, saying that we sounded alike.

Branch: Handfuls of people would go, “Hey, have you heard of Jessica Harp? You should check her out.”

Harp: Michelle was on her first radio tour [in 2000] and came through Kansas City, where I’m from. The second that we met we pretty much felt like we knew each other.

Branch: One of the weird things was I have a small music note tattooed on my left shoulder and she has a music note tattoo on her shoulder, so we were like, “Oooh, how strange!”

And you were tight from then on?

Branch: Yeah, just a few weeks after that I invited her to come with us on our bus. We were having so much fun. So she ended up staying and staying.

Harp: And staying and staying….

Branch: It was sort of like Almost Famous—we kidnapped her!

Why are you called the Wreckers?

Branch: Before I was married, Jess and I would always laugh about these horrible relationships we’d find ourselves in. I dated a credit-card stealer once.

Harp: I dated this guy for about a year and found out that he was married and had a baby.

Branch: So we started saying, “We’re home wreckers without knowing it.” We felt horrible.

Michelle, did Jess approve of Teddy when you two started dating?

Branch: My relationship had a very rocky start. My parents hated the idea—and now love him, of course. My dad never wanted me to be with a musician. I mean, how unrealistic is that? I’m not going to fall for an accountant! And when he found out he was closer in age to my husband than I was, he got very nervous. And even the record label wasn’t sure: “Do we really want Michelle in a serious relationship?” So Jess was the one person I could turn to.

Harp: There was a time when it was like me and one or two other people who were supportive of it.

Branch: You and your parents, actually! But I don’t think when Teddy proposed to me I told you. Did I tell you?

Harp (laughing): You told me more than that, buddy! I knew everything two seconds after it happened!

What’s it like on the road together?

Branch: We’re on one bus. The band has to go on a different bus—I don’t think they want to be woken up a few times a night to a crying baby.

Harp: We were watching Baby Einstein on the bus one day and Teddy goes, “I remember when it used to be the Playboy Channel and now we’re watching Baby Einstein. My, how things have changed!”

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