Chun’s Reef is one of Oahu’s most popular surf spots. Do you have to win the Academy of Country Music’s Song of the Year award to get it all to yourself, like you did in the “All I Want To Do” video?
You have to be up at 6 a.m. and have like 12 people fending everybody off. [Laughs] Everybody was extremely polite; I wish people were like that everywhere.
What did the people of Hawaii think of Sugarland bringing a little bit of country — and cowboy hats — to their tropical paradise?
Yeah, who knew a cowboy hat would work so well on Oahu? I wondered if they wanted me to wear a different hat [for the music video] because, you know, we were at the beach! It’s a pretty fun song. If you were walking by, you might not know that it’s country. You’d think, “Oh wow, that’s some fun music.” They’re big country music fans in Hawaii, and everybody there is so warm. What a great place on the earth and what kind people! There were people at every turn who were welcoming to us.
Are there similarities between country and Hawaiian music?
There’s something extremely communal about a couple of voices singing together, and there’s something really powerful about them being in harmony. It almost feels like all of a sudden you belong. You feel like, “Wow, that fits!” It’s almost like a puzzle piece. And I think that’s what’s wonderful about Hawaiian music, and I also think that’s one of the things that we’re very attracted to in the tradition of country music. It’s beautiful.
Did you learn how to surf while you were there?
We did. Jennifer [Nettles — the other half of Sugarland] learned to surf a couple of months before, and she came back raving about it. I’ve always wanted to, and I got my nerve up, and I am just in love. It was pretty amazing. I love the egalitarianism of it — there were guys out there who were like 55, and there was a kid about 6 years old. [Surfing] has a relationship to music. It kind of brings everybody back to one thing, and it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do.
Is listening to Sugarland a bit like traveling to an island?
As writers and performers, Jennifer and I create worlds so you can get lost in your headphones. We try to provide a place for you to escape to.
Every time I hear “Keep You” and “All I Want to Do,” the songs you filmed videos for on Oahu, I feel like I’m in Hawaii now.
Well good, good, good! Well then, our job here is complete.
LISTEN online at umgnashville.com. There you’ll find song samples from Sugarland’s most recent CD — Love On The Inside (2008) — as well as video clips, downloads, tour schedule and much more.