By Jason SchneiderAt this moment the Civil Wars do not exist, despite the Americana duo's highly anticipated self-titled sophomore album hitting stores this week. Their current hiatus is a scenario no one other than members Joy Williams and John Paul White could have anticipated, given the worldwide acceptance they attained following their 2011 full-length debut, Barton Hollow, but as Williams disclosed in a recent Exclaim! interview, the two are in the midst of what she refers to as "internal discord" and is hopeful that a reconciliation will occur at some point.
Barton Hollow's success led to touring with Adele, recording the track "Safe & Sound" with Taylor Swift for The Hunger Games soundtrack and two Grammy Awards, but late in 2012, shortly after finishing The Civil Wars, Williams and White announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus. In fact, Williams says she and White are still not on speaking terms.
"It's incredibly uncomfortable," she says of the current situation. "I've shed many tears about it. There's moments when I've been angry, and there's moments when I've looked back and wished I'd gone about things in a different way from my end. I feel like I'm learning a lot in the process."
Still, she stands behind the songs on the new album, saying that listeners should try to appreciate them without being distracted by any of the personal strife between she and White.
"I really believe [the album] merits an opportunity to be heard," she says. "If we had made a record that neither of us were proud of, we would not have put it out. I keep saying this is an opportunity to grow wiser and kinder and become an even stronger band for going through this. It's not as if anything is determined at this time. A deep breath was needed."
As for what it will take for her and White to work together again, Williams says she is willing to take the first step.
"I can't really give a definitive answer out of respect for John Paul, but for me it wouldn't take that much. If I knew the answer to how this could all get sewn back together, I think I would have already done it. I'm trying to figure it out myself. I'm very much in the process of it, and feeling it all. There are days when I feel hopeless and discouraged, and days when I feel strength and tons of hope that I'll find clarity."