As the Indigo Girls hit the road to support their new album, "Beauty Queen Sister," the Georgia duo is already plotting an ambitious new idea for performing in 2012.
"We're going to do some symphony shows," Emily Saliers tells Billboard.com. "None of the details are worked out yet, but it's on the back burner and we'll bounce ideas around as we get time and maybe start to do them next summer. I'm excited by the thought of it. The most important thing is to get good arrangements and hire the right person who knows how to do that, then get the orchestra to learn the stuff. I think it's going to be super fun."
Listen to "Making Promises," Off "Beauty Queen Sister"
While they're waiting -- and plotting -- Saliers and Amy Ray will be pushing "Beauty Queen Sister," their 14th studio album and a reunion with producer Peter Collins, who also worked with the duo on 1992's "Rites of Passage" and 1994's "Swamp Ophelia." "He did some of our formative records, so it was really great to be back in the studio with him," Saliers says. "He's got a great ear for placing things. There's nothing superfluous going on, nothing stacked up just for the sake of it." And that, she acknowledges, is a bit of a change from their previous collaborations.
"Oh, back in the day we used to insist on stacking things up, when we had time to kill and huge budgets to work with," Saliers says with a laugh. "Now we like the discipline of having everything in its proper space, sonically. We made the album in about two and a half weeks. Decisions were made without a lot of belaboring. That translates to an immediacy that I find appealing."
Saliers says that the writing for "Beauty Queen Sister" also finds her and Ray in a more confident place than they've been at other times during their 26 years working together. "I think we have faith we've reached a point in writing where we can write good songs our fans will appreciate and enjoy, and that we feel good about," she says. "There's always a bit of insecurity when you're writing; I like to play mine for my girlfriend and family and friends and get a response even before I play them to Amy sometimes. But we do have faith in our abilities as writers."
And, Saliers adds, "I like the more mature songs better because I don't write many songs anymore where 10 years down the line I go, 'Man, I wish I had changed that line...' You just keep driving to do something that doesn't just repeat yourself."
Saliers says she and Ray were also surprised to hear about R.E.M.'s recently announced decision to bring the band to an end. All four of the group's members appeared on 1989's "Indigo Girls" album -- Michael Stipe sang on "Kid Fears" -- and R.E.M. took the Indigo Girls on tour with them that year. "We're so thankful for that," Saliers says. "At the time we were like, 'Oh, my God...,' but it worked out really well. They've done so much that's so awesome and been around for so long. They were a real change-the-face-of-music kind of band. I'm just grateful they had the run they did and had such an impact."