It's fair to say that The Civil Wars have had a pretty successful 12 months. After singer-songwriters John Paul White and Joy Williams met in 2008, they went on to form a duo and record their debut album Barton Hollow.
Since releasing the disc in the States in February 2011, the pair caught the eye of Adele who quickly snapped them up as her support act. A year of touring and a peak of number ten on the US Billboard 200 then saw them pick up two Grammy Awards last month.
With the album being released in the UK this week, Digital Spy caught up with John Paul and Joy to speak about their ongoing success, their recent collaboration with Taylor Swift and what we can expect from their follow-up.
Congratulations on the Grammy Award wins - you're now officially a Grammy Award-winning act!
Joy: "(laughs) If you keep saying that I'm going to fall over!"
John Paul: "It sounds so pretentious. It sounds like I should stop listening to our record!"
Joy: "I didn't know you even did listen to our record!"
Have the wins sunk in yet?
John Paul: "It feels like it was an out-of-body experience. I keep wondering if it actually happened as I'm back home emptying the trash and cleaning the bathroom!"
Joy: "I think it might hit us a little bit more when they arrive. You get the Grammy handed to you, but they've not actually been inscribed. So the win is a total high and then as soon as you turn the corner it's taken off ready to be given to the next presenter. We're not complaining and we're glad to have a few coming in the mail soon!"
You've also recently premiered your new collaboration with Taylor Swift 'Safe & Sound' for The Hunger Games soundtrack - how have you found the response?
Joy: "The response has been really positive overall. John Paul and I are fans of the books and we're really looking forward to the movie coming out. The collaboration basically consisted of a text and a phone call and us realising that we were in the same city at the same time."
You co-wrote the track with Taylor - what is she like to work with?
John Paul: "Taylor is great. Joy and I had done a lot of songwriting before we met each other so we have done a lot of co-writing with other people, but since we've met each other we've pretty much been exclusive co-writers with each other. So it's been a while since we've let somebody else in. But we just walked into the room and it just fell out like we had done it a million times before, so that was a very happy surprise."
What can you tell us about your other Hunger Games track 'Kingdom Come'?
John Paul: "Joy and I have read all the books and are big fans so we had a firm grasp about what we wanted to go after. We had the imagery in our head of rapid motion and the chase and so we had that energy in the back of our minds when we wrote the song. We're really proud of it."
Did you base it solely on the books or were you allowed a preview of the movie?
Joy: "We did not get a preview of the movie, but I would have enjoyed one! The books were all we really needed because they're written in such a colourful, descriptive way that we could concoct a world of our own that could be well fleshed-out."
John Paul: "We tried to make it where it could exist on its own too so it wouldn't be so specific to the movie."
You've had a lot of success in the last 12 months, how are you handling it all?
Joy: "It's definitely been a surreal experience, though not releasing a record is unfamiliar to us because we have in previous solo careers. What has been unique about it is the response. We began to set out to make music quite selfishly. We tried to make music to please other people in prior experience and weren't really happy with the results.
"So when John Paul and I set out to make the record we set out the criteria of asking, 'Do we love this? Are we proud of this?' So having followed our own noses and to have the response we've had has been a beautiful surprise."
John Paul: "I'm really anxious to see how it connects in the UK."
Have you started to think about album number two yet?
John Paul: "I don't know how much we've thought about the next album as a concept with production and everything, but we have written some new material. We can't not write and that's regardless as to whether there's another record waiting for us or not. When we were over in the UK as part of the Adele tour and she had her vocal problems, we had some downtime and so we wrote some new songs then. We wrote about nine or ten songs and we'll write a bunch more and then get to the core of what the next record's going to be."
Was there anything in the UK that inspired your songwriting?
Joy: "I think writing on the road in any capacity gives you a different scope of the world, which is always inspiring. John Paul and I love the UK and so I definitely think we were inspired. Some of those days we had off were in that beautiful and classic London fog and rain that made it perfect for strumming a guitar and chasing the muse."
John Paul: "We were especially inspired by the landscape and the architecture."
Will the tour be as stripped-back as the album?
John Paul: "We like having fun and we definitely play more with the dark than the light when it comes to subject matter. As you've probably guessed we're a bunch of smart asses and we try to let that show in our shows! We love for people to talk back at us and for it to be more like a rock show than for people to just sit there."
The Civil Wars' debut album Barton Hollow is out now.
Watch the music video for The Civil Wars' 'Poison & Wine' below: