In 2003, the Chicks faced intense backlash after lead singer Natalie Maines made a comment onstage in London about being "ashamed" to share their home state of Texas with then-President George W. Bush. The trio found themselves the subject of death threats, watched people literally steamroll their albums, and went from the top of the country music pile to outcasts "banned" from radio.

In a new interview, Maines — who was just 28 years old at the time — says the fallout from that night left her "want[ing] to bury my head in the sand." She describes the time as "an emotional whirlwind," explaining that the reactions to her words left her feeling unsafe at home.

"I had to move. That was one thing from the controversy, I didn’t feel safe living in the center of Austin anymore because people knew where I lived," Maines tells Bustle. "So I moved 40 minutes outside of Austin."

About one month later, the Chicks — Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer — were interviewed by Diane Sawyer, with Maines making what she now calls "a half-ass apology," saying at the time that her remark came from a place of frustration over the United States' impending invasion of Iraq.

"I would tell my 28-year old-self, 'Make no apologies ... Don't do that. Do not cry on Diane Sawyer. Wait another week before you do this interview because you're too raw,'" the country star now reflects. If "the controversy," as Maines calls it, had happened in 2020, she thinks the interview never would have happened.

"I think I would have just been able to tell everyone to f--k off and get on with more important things," Maines explains. "Now you don't have to go on Diane Sawyer to tell the world [what you want to say], you can just do it in a tweet or Instagram post or whatever."

The Chicks released one more album, 2006's Grammy-winning Taking the Long Way, before mostly disappearing from the spotlight for about a decade. They began touring again, first in Europe and Canada and then in the United States, in the mid-2010s. On Friday (July 17), they will release their first album in 14 years, Gaslighter.

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