The Chicks Will Incorporate Social Causes into Upcoming Summer Tour: 'We're Not Going to Hold Back'

The Chicks open up to PEOPLE about their upcoming North American tour, bringing family members on the road, and performing "There's Your Trouble" for the first time in over 20 years

the chicks
The Chicks. Photo: Nadine Ljewere

The Chicks' upcoming North American summer tour — which you can buy tickets to for a $25 flat rate through May 10 as part of Live Nation's Concert Week special — will be a family affair.

For the first time ever, lead singer Natalie Maines' son Slade and fiddler Martie Maguire's daughter Eva — who's also banjoist Emily Strayer's niece — are joining the country musicians' touring band as a drummer and string player, respectively.

"He's very practiced, very well-rehearsed, better than any of the rest of us when we showed up," Maines, 47, tells PEOPLE of her 21-year-old son with a laugh. "He's got his first real job. Thank God."

All three members' kids, while they won't be officially performing, will come out to different shows along the tour, and other relatives will join as well — and be put to work. "We've got a niece that's going to be interning," says Maguire, 52. "She's a music major at UCLA."

Performing alongside family on stage is not only exciting for The Chicks, but it evokes "sentimental" feelings of nostalgia for Maines, whose father Lloyd long toured with the group — after introducing his daughter to Maguire and Strayer and helping create the band lineup fans have known since their 1997 debut as the Dixie Chicks.

"I used to get that feeling when I would look back and see my dad playing with us, especially when we were on stage with James Taylor," Maines recalls. "I could barely get through a song without crying, it was so sentimental."

The Dixie Chicks
The Chicks. Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

In addition to new band members, The Chicks have a slew of new songs to perform live. Since the band last toured five years ago, they released their first album in nearly 15 years, 2020's Gaslighter, to critical acclaim and a No. 1 position on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

"We'll rotate different songs [from Gaslighter], but if you come to more than one show, you'll maybe get to see that whole album performed," Maines teases. "That's for the fans, but it's also for us because we work so long and hard on the record, a lot of the payoff is getting to play them live."

Of course, you'll also hear classic The Chicks songs like "Wide Open Spaces" and "Goodbye Earl" plus some unexpected deep cuts unique to each show's setlist — including one hit Maines has avoided playing for quite some time.

"We're going to play a fun game where we have six songs that coordinate with dice, and we'll roll the dice on stage and play whatever song," she explains. "One song that was our first No. 1 that we haven't played in over 20 years because I don't care for it is 'There's Your Trouble,' and [it's] in the six songs, so we will be playing 'There's Your Trouble' for the first time in over 20 years."

Kicking off June 14 at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights, Missouri, the tour will see The Chicks play iconic stages from the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre through August. Two and a half decades into their hit-filled career, large outdoor venues are standard play for the band, though they haven't forgotten their teeth-cutting days performing at nightclubs in the Houston, Texas suburbs.

Looking back on the early shows, before the creation of their 1998 debut Wide Open Spaces, Maines remembers struggling to memorize the lyrics to Maguire and Strayer's preexisting Dixie Chicks songs. "I had a big, huge art pad that I wrote the first three words of every line in because I had to learn 25 songs in a week," she details. "Martie was so nervous and I was like, 'Oh, we got this, this is a no-brainer.' I was ridiculously confident and would just take my big pad, turn the page, and entertain the folks."

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Maines is so comfortable with the lyrics these days, she's already planning hobbies to pursue during downtime on the road. "I'm planning on coordinating a rockhounding tour that correlates with our music tour, and I hopefully will be rockhounding every day," she says.

"You say it like the people know what this is, Natalie," quips Emily.

"People should know! I hunt rocks and agates… It's as geeky probably as metal detecting, which I could get into," she explains. "I polish rocks. I have a whole cabbing machine. I'm a little crazy for rocks."

A lot has changed about The Chicks' approach to touring over the years, like their penchant for incorporating socially conscious elements into their performances — which is to be expected from the band known for their outspoken onstage nature. After partnering with organizations Planned Parenthood and Proclaim Justice on their previous DCX MMXVI World Tour, the trio will work with non-profit REVERB on this tour to promote sustainability and raise awareness for environmental issues.

Dixie Chicks
The Chicks. Robin Harper

"It's a natural extension of who we are and what we care about," Strayer says of the decision to promote social causes on the road, "and so it seems to make sense at our show with our fans, that they would want to see that aspect of us."

According to Maines, the upcoming concerts will also feature politically-focused aspects both already ingrained in their song lyrics as well as specially created for onstage visuals. "I'm very outspoken and opinionated to begin with, but I think there is a responsibility there," says the vocalist. "We don't like to get on a soapbox or preach, but we're not going to hold back."

But don't expect the concerts to be serious all the way through. The Chicks have missed touring, and they're ready to have a blast with fans and each other. "Something that's never changed is just, we have so much fun. We're silly, and we're just very natural and us on stage," says Maguire. "We naturally have fun together and have a friendship. That's always been there, and you see that in the shows."

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