Tim McGraw, Faith Hill Take on Las Vegas

They Discuss New Soul2Soul Shows With CMT Hot 20 Countdown

Fans of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have hit the jackpot, now that the country superstars have reunited for a series of Soul2Soul shows at the Venetian Las Vegas.

“We wanted to tour again for a while, and it’s always a long space between our tours,” McGraw told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “It’s because when both of us are working it’s really tough with our daughters. But what made this so appealing and so perfect is to be able to play a small venue like this and be so close to the audience and be intimate and do a limited engagement at one spot. So we could fly in and out and be home and still do the things that we need to do during the school year.”

In this interview with producer Terry Bumgarner, the country couple discuss the benefits of playing a small theater, building the set list to reflect their career together and battling the butterflies before a big show.

Editor’s Note: Watch Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on the debut of CMT Hot 20 Countdown on Saturday (Jan. 5) at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT.

CMT: What does this small theater allow you to do that you can’t do in a big arena?

Hill: Just the intimacy is pretty extraordinary and the closeness with the audience. We talked a little bit, which was a lot of fun. I don’t know, it just feels so …

McGraw: Connected. There’s a connectedness that you get. There’s always a symbiotic relationship with the audience that goes on when you’re performing. But when you’re in this close of proximity there’s such an emotional connection that you can get, that sometimes you don’t get to connect with on all levels when you’re in an arena or a stadium. … Some of this stuff, there’s no way you could carry on tour. It just wouldn’t last. It wouldn’t hold up night after night and loading and unloading in your trailer. So you get to do some incredible stuff and get to create a bigness in a small room like this that still maintains an intimate feel.

You get, in Vegas, a slightly different crowd. Some of them are your hardcore fans. Some are not your hardcore fans. Does that affect way you perform?

Hill: I don’t think it changes how we perform. We just want to put on an amazing show — that is basically kind of the philosophy in any place that we play. It definitely is a little different at times, but last night they were pretty crazy.

McGraw: Especially the 7 o’clock show because they’re pretty drunk at that time. My own philosophy is the drunker you get, the better we sound.

Hill: It does make you work a little harder, but then you have to realize where we are and then they just really want to listen.

McGraw: I don’t think you’re expecting them to be dancing in the aisles like that, although that is nice occasionally, and they do do that, but we tried to accrue a show that has a great art to it. There are moments where you can sit back and listen and times when you can really have a good time and jump around and dance. But I think that this theater sort of lends itself to a great listening environment and that’s what we try to do with this show.

You’ve said “Tim and Faith” is like another artist, like a third artist. And this show together really reflects that. It’s not 45 minutes of Tim and 45 minutes of Faith, then some songs together. You have really paced this out to make it the two of you.

McGraw: Yeah I think we really do look at it with her career, my career. … I mean, I’m touring this summer. I toured last summer. I’ll tour next summer. But we really look at this as a different act. We don’t look at this as her act or my act. Really it stands on its own when we perform together, and we try to look at it that way and build a show around it that way. Even when we’re doing our individual songs, we build them in a way that reflects that we’re doing this show together. When we’re performing together, we never look at it as Tim’s show or Faith’s show. It’s always a third thing.

You think Vegas and at least I think Elvis . What’s it like to follow in the footsteps of every great performer who has played here at one point or another?

Hill: Vegas is a place that is the spot to be — again. It was at a time and then it kind of went away for a little bit. And I think now it is definitely a point of destination for sure. The entertainment here is mind-blowing and the things you can accomplish on the stages here, it makes it exciting and creative and it’s cool.

Faith, since it has been a while since you toured regularly, were there any butterflies in the beginning? Or did you just walk out and it felt natural again?

Hill: No, I definitely get butterflies, more than I’d like to before I go onstage. But once I’m out here and it’s going, the show’s moving, I’m with the band, I get to stand next to this good-looking man, it goes away pretty quickly — but it comes back. I love it. I love performing onstage, and I have missed it, so that’s another reason this has been such a remarkable time together.

McGraw: But it’s a lot of work to build the show, and it’s a lot of work to rehearse and get everything the way you want it.

Hill: And you have that panic where you think, “This is not gonna happen. … There’s no way we’re gonna pull this off.”

McGraw: Yeah. But we got through our first night. … You sort of get jaded and you don’t think about what you’re doing, so much as just doing it. And last night, I lay down after I got through the show and I thought, you know, this is pretty cool to be able to do this and be able to stand up there every night with my wife and sing songs. We’ve had such long careers and great careers individually and together, and we’re very fortunate to be able to do something like this and do it together.