Right before an intimate Chicago radio show on Blarney Island — right between Grass Lake and Fox Lake — on Sunday night (August 11), the women of Runaway June sat down with CMT.com to a) buy our own drinks and b) talk about what it’s been like to be out on tour with Carrie Underwood and Maddie & Tae.
While Underwood’s Cry Pretty tour is on a bit of a summer vacation, Runaway June’s Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne talked about what they’ve learned from her so far, and what they’re looking forward to when the tour starts back up in September.
When first piqued Underwood’s interest in Runaway June:
“She’s been on to us since we released ’Lipstick” in 2016. She has been in our corner for years. So when we heard she was taking us on out on the road, that was the ultimate vote of confidence for us, especially from her.”
What they have learned from her so far:
“Everything. What is she not good at? We’re just like, ’Teach us your tricks.’ She shows up to everything. At that stage in your career, she doesn’t need to be at everything. But she is an overachiever in every way and in the best way. She never half asses anything. Even at sound check, it’s like it’s a real show. It’s so impressive. And watching her on the road with Mike and their boys, it shows us that it’s possible. We wonder, ’Can we have real relationships? Can we have kids?’ She has shown us it’s doable. That’s been so great for all of us to see. Nothing has ever been handed to Carrie Underwood.”
Lessons they have learned from Maddie & Tae:
All three of us have become like sisters and best friends. But with them, they have truly been best friends forever, and they’re truly enjoying what they’re doing on stage. They really are like that in real life. And just like Carrie, they have an incredible work ethic. Despite their ups and downs in their career, they’ve stayed true to who they are musically. It’s really admirable. And it shows in their new music: it’s progressive and it’s grown up. That takes a lot of guts.”
All about the all-girl medley they do with Underwood at every show:
“We go out back out to the stage after our set and Maddie & Tae’s set, and we all sing a medley that’s about ten songs long. Carrie put together this incredible list, from Tammy Wynette to Shania Twain. We do all these iconic songs — from decades and decades of country music — and the crowd goes crazy.” At most stops so far, that list has included “Stand by Your Man,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “9 to 5,” “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain,” “She’s in Love with the Boy,” “Independence Day,” “Wild One,” “Why Haven’t I Heard from You,” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” from Wynette, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, and Twain, respectively.
The band’s everyone’s-invited pre-show ritual:
“On the Carrie tour, we don’t have any kind of official pre-show ceremony. But we all do this pow-wow together with our hands in the center of the circle, with our band, our crew, and anyone and everyone who might be walking by. Like Carrie and Maddie and Tae. Everyone. Each person has a chance to shout out something on the count of three. Sometimes we’ll shout out the number of the show, and hearing those numbers add up feels amazing,”
How they’ve heard Underwood explain her decision to bring all women on tour:
“It has been such a vote of confidence. Carrie said, ’I didn’t really think about it like that, I just thought these are the acts that will put on a kick-ass show.’ That’s the point here. These are the artists she thought were ready for this. And it shows, because we’re playing to almost the full arena. But that’s really just a huge testament to Carrie. Her fans know she’s gonna put on an amazing show, from start to finish.”
Before they joined Underwood on the arena tour, they’d been everywhere, man:
“We played as solo artists, and so we’d end up at places like the Tootsies Orchid Lounge at the Nashville airport, and then we did shows in radio conference rooms and at coffee shops. We have played for a lot of empty seats. And that helps to know we’re not the only ones who are doing it. All those gigs have taught us how to navigate whatever might go wrong.”