The Indigo Girls talk streaming concert, film based on their songs, doc on their career

The Indigo Girls - Amy Ray (left) and Emily Saliers - perform during rehearsal for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular in Boston, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Credit: AP

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The Indigo Girls - Amy Ray (left) and Emily Saliers - perform during rehearsal for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular in Boston, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Credit: AP

Emily Saliers: ‘We don’t consider ourselves a legacy band. We’re a working band.’

Unlike say, Simon and Garfunkel or Tears for Fears, the Indigo Girls have never broken up. The beloved harmony-infused Georgia duo has been together consistently over 35 years.

“We are so close,” said Emily Saliers of her duo partner Amy Ray in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We grew up together. We have a lot of respect for each other. We’ve just worked it out. We also respect each other’s autonomy.”

They have consistently released studio albums, the latest being 2020′s “Look Long,” while also pursuing their own side projects. In 2022, they remain super busy.

The pandemic has kept their regular band, some of whom live in Europe, from getting back together. So they are currently touring the country as an acoustic trio with their long-time violinist Lyris Hung. Their next stop will be at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park in Atlanta June 9.

And they have a special 90-minute concert film coming out on streaming service Veeps at 9 p.m. May 8 called “Look Long: Together,” available for rental for $17.99. It was a way to get the band back together remotely. Each band member taped their parts separately while Ray and Saliers did their work in Georgia. Guest stars and friends like Becky Warren, Tomi Martin, Trina Meade and Lucy Wainwright Roche contribute vocals as well.

They explain the origin of some of their classic songs and reveal bits of their home life. Ray, who lives in the north Georgia mountains, showed off a fancy treehouse in her backyard she built during the pandemic. Saliers, who lives not far from where she grew up in Decatur, gives her dogs and her expansive collection of guitars a lot of love.

“It’s a combo concert and conversation,” Ray said.

Among the songs they play include classics like “Moment of Forgiveness,” “Kid Fears,” “Get Out the Map” and “Ghost” as well as more recent cuts such as “The Rise of the Black Messiah” and “When We Were Writers.”

“It was a lot of work,” Saliers said, noting it took 18 months to edit it and make sure it sounded good. “We hope for a big turnout.”

Saliers had a breakthrough case of COVID-19 last August and had to cancel a few tour dates. Earlier this month, she caught a bronchial infection that Ray also got and the pair had to push back a few dates in Texas. “Bronchitis is something wicked but it’s not COVID,” Saliers said. “I feel bad postponing the shows but I’d feel worse singing badly during shows.”

She spoke to the AJC the day after the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s early draft opinion that would overturn Roe. vs. Wade. “It’s very frightening,” she said. “Honestly, I’m glad my wife is Canadian. It gets to a point where you feel like you’re not welcome and you don’t know your own country. How can we stay in a place like this? For me, it’s a dark time.”

Music, of course, is her solace, her sanctuary. On some dates this year, they are pairing with other big-name artists like Brandi Carlile and Sarah McLachlan. At Chastain, a venue they have played numerous times, they are joined by Rickie Lee Jones, one of their childhood heroines. Both fell in love with Jones’ 1981 album “Pirates” as teenagers.

“We’re so excited,” Saliers said. “She just rocked our worlds so deeply with her storytelling and her writing. She’s a compelling unique artist. Having her play with us in our hometown just blows me away.”

She hopes they can do a collaboration on stage but that is not something they’ve talked about yet. “She is her own bird,” Saliers said. “Flies her own way.”

The Indigo Girls also appeared on “Ellen” this past Monday in a pre-taped segment playing their seminal 1989 classic “Closer to Fine” and 1992′s pensive “Ghost.” It was the first time in several years they had performed on a talk show since working the late-night circuit hosted by David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien during their late 1980s/1990s heyday.

DeGeneres specifically requested them to appear in her final weeks on her long-time syndicated show, which is ending this year.

“She chose us and picked the songs,” Saliers said. “She’s an icon for queer rights, comedy and television. When we were rehearsing, she came up behind us singing ‘Closer to Fine’ with us.”

They are both excited about an upcoming fantastical musical film called “Glitter & Doom” based on their songs.

“I haven’t yet seen a rough cut,” Ray said. “But the script is amazing. There is a lot of magical realism. And they didn’t just use our songs. They mashed them up. We’re happy it’s something unconventional.”

They also agreed to co-write a song for the closing credits, which they have yet to do. Saliers said they’ve only written two songs together to date: one during the pandemic and another ages ago with (R.E.M. frontman) Michael Stipe.

“We normally write separately,” Ray said, “because we have completely different vocabularies. It’s really our time to have own our creativity. We also enjoy editing each other’s songs.”

Following in the footsteps of iconic female artists such as Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette and Linda Ronstadt, the Indigo Girls will be the focus of an upcoming documentary. Saliers said they had rejected previous offers to do a doc but ultimately said yes to Alexandria Brombach. They were impressed with Brombach’s Sundance award-winning documentary “On Her Shoulders” about a woman who survived atrocities committed by ISIS.

“She’s fearless and a badass,” Ray said.

Ray was really good about chronicling and saving Indigo Girls memorabilia over the years, which she happily handed over to Brombach. Their long-time manager Russell Carter also kept plenty of clippings and video. “She digitized everything,” Ray said. “It would have taken me forever to do that myself.”

Not that the duo is anywhere near retirement.

“We don’t consider ourselves a legacy band,” Saliers said. “We’re a working band. We’re just very fortunate to have this long trajectory.”

Of the current song from the latest album,, Ray said the ballad “Look Long” and Saliers’ wistful autobiographical “Country Radio” have struck a chord on streaming services. Both will be on the setlist when they come to Chastain along with “(Expletive) Kickin’,” Ray’s delightful ode to her country upbringing, which has been their opening number so far this tour.

“What’s funny is Emily cusses a lot more than I do,” Ray mused.

Ray said the new cuts are getting good reaction so far from audiences that tend to prefer the classics. “They are all going really well,” she said. “You’d normally feel a little dip of energy with the new songs but that’s not happening.”


WHERE TO WATCH

“Live Long: Together,” available at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 8 on Veeps.com for $17.99

WHERE TO SEE

Indigo Girls

8 p.m. Thursday, June 9

$17-$77

Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park

4469 Stella Dr NW, Atlanta, GA

www.livenation.com

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