How Chip and Joanna Gaines Asked Their Best Friends to Star in the First Show for Magnolia Network
Chip and Joanna have been friends with Abner and Amanda Ramirez of Johnnyswim for over five years now, and expect to be lifelong friends
When Chip and Joanna Gaines started brainstorming ideas for their upcoming television network, they knew exactly who deserved their own TV show: their good friends — and favorite band — Abner and Amanda Ramirez of Johnnyswim.
In October 2019, they announced that the Ramirezes would star in Magnolia Network’s first series, Home on the Road, which follows the married couple as they tour North America with their band, plus son Joaquin, now 5, and daughter Luna, now 1, in tow.
Though the premiere of the series has been pushed back along with the launch of Magnolia Network due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., footage from the forthcoming series will air on Sunday, April 26 as part of Chip and Joanna’s four-hour preview special “Magnolia Presents: A Look Back & A Look Ahead” on the DIY Network.
Ahead of the special, the musical couple chatted with PEOPLE about their experience filming the first season of Home on the Road, and what fans can expect of the Chip and Jo–produced series
To start, they made one thing clear: Shooting the series was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done, but they wouldn’t change it for the world — because they were lucky enough to have the Gaineses’ tell their story.
“Because touring is the foundation of our life, it took an intimate relationship like the one we have with Chip and Jo to trust the team to come in, put cameras in our faces, and let our life now become a performance,” Abner says of their decision to do the series.
“Me and Chip talked for the first time when they found out they were getting a network, and he said, ‘Man, I was just wondering if you guys would trust us to make a show with you about this crazy thing that you guys do: making music and making a life together while making babies,’” he continued.
“We said yes, and here we are!” says Amanda, whose mother is the late Donna Summer.
The Ramirez and Gaines families became fast friends after Joanna asked them if they would come perform on the first season of their HGTV show Fixer Upper, as a surprise for Chip’s birthday.
“At that point, we had never watched the show, so we were like, ‘No, we’re good, we’re on tour. We don’t really have time to go around and do all these things,’” Amanda recalls. “And then we went home for Thanksgiving to Abner’s mom’s house, and she was like, ‘You have to watch this show. You’re going to love this show, love these people.’ And, all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s the couple that asked us to come perform!’”
“His mom has never asked us for anything, but she was like, ‘Whatever they say, do it. For me, just do it,’ Amanda continues. “So we did, and as soon as we started talking to them, we knew that they were kindred spirits.”
Soon, the couples became “like family,” and the Ramirezes knew that they had found lifelong friends. Their song “Home” became the theme song for Fixer Upper, and Chip famously revealed that his one-year-old son, Crew, was conceived after an “ever romantic” Johnnyswim concert in Waco.
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When Abner and Amanda first agreed to do the series with Chip and Jo, their two kids, Joaquin and Luna, traveled with them to every single one of their shows on the band’s tour bus. But just one week before they started filming, they found out that Amanda was pregnant with their third child — their daughter Paloma, who was born in November 2019.
“On top of the difficulty of touring all the time, raising kids and filming in a tiny tour bus, we also decided to get pregnant at the beginning,” Amanda says. “So, we just decided to throw in a very exhausted pregnant woman who needs to snack and pee every 40 minutes or so. That definitely added a new twist to the show, and you also get to watch me get larger as this whole thing happens!” she says with a laugh.
“Oh, man. They saw us telling our managers for the first time, they have us telling our family and the band… We captured a lot,” Abner says.
But as entertaining as they think the show will be for viewers, the couple also hope that it will be inspiring for many as well.
“We really believe that what we do is kind of crazy. We’re not just a married couple where one of us tours — it’s our whole family,” says Abner. “People always ask us how we do it, and I think this show will give them the answer.”
“I hope that what people see is that you can love what you do, and you can bring your kids along,” Amanda says. “You can bring your family. You can bring your spouse. You can bring people you love along with the dreams that you have, and not sacrifice one for the other.”
She continues: “It might take more time, it might require a lot more patience and a little bit more fine tuning, but you can do it. And I hope that with this show people feel like they can continue to pursue the things that they’re passionate about and still find purpose in family.”
During COVID-19, the couple also came up with a unique way to connect with fans with their Songs With Strangers initiative. Each week during self-isolation, Abner and Amanda randomly select a stranger on Instagram live. Then in one day, they write, record, produce, and release a song together.
“I look forward to it every week,” says Abner. “It’s the wildest creative endeavor we’ve ever done. It’s amazing, if I do say so myself. It’s freaking amazing.” Adds Amanda:
“One thing, other than the music, which is obviously super special … getting to meet these people that start off as completely random people, complete strangers, and you end up feeling like you know them by the end of the day.”
Chip and Joanna first announced that they’d launch their own network in November 2018, just over a year after revealing they would end Fixer Upper following its fifth season, and seven months after the show’s bittersweet finale. Magnolia Network was created in partnership with HGTV’s parent company, Discovery Inc., and will take over the channel that’s currently DIY Network, which will shutter, a representative for Discovery confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.
The four-hour preview special, “Magnolia Presents: A Look Back & A Look Ahead” premieres Sunday, April 26 at 5 p.m. EDT on the DIY Network.