We sat down to chat with the members of Wilson Phillips about all of the above and more...
Carnie, you recently underwent a second weight loss surgery. What made you decide to do it?
"Of course the biggest driving force is for health reasons. You know, for someone like me, who's been so open about my struggle with weight and what I've been through, it would be uncharacteristic of me to not talk about it in the public eye. I don't want to hide anything - there is nothing to hide. I look at this as taking control of my health and taking control back that I wasn't feeling for a few years. I'm really proud that I did it, I'm grateful that I did it. It's hard work every day. I'm changing all of my daily habits and mostly what I'm eating, but the fact that I get the sensation of being full again - I needed help in that area and I got it. It's working and I'm thrilled."
You are premiering your first reality series, The Wilson Phillips Project, on Sunday (April 8). What made you want to document your lives at this point in your career?
Chynna: "First of all, it was not our idea to do a reality show, and when it was presented to us, we had a little bit of reservation at first because everything is very exposed in your life. We think it's a great kind of tool for us to put ourselves out there again, to let people get a sneak peek into who we are as people and not just hear our voices as singers, but the way we speak and the relationship between us as partners. We like to call it a docu-drama, not a reality series. It softens it a little bit."
Did you feel the pressure during shooting? Did it cause extra drama?
Chynna: "You know what, it caused a little extra drama!"
Carnie: "It's not even the actual scene or whatever's going on, it's getting ready for it or being on time. It's the details - you have to be somewhere, you have to get the outfit and you don't know what's going on. It's getting there - I've got kids and am trying to do carpool and then still get to a scene on time! It's hard."
Will we see a bit more of your personal lives or is the focus more on your music and your new tour?
Wendy: "You know what? When we signed up, we agreed to have our families peripherally in the show, but we don't want to over-expose our kids. That's off limit - they're in it but to a certain degree. My husband doesn't want much to do with it, honestly, He's like, 'It's your thing. You don't come to work with me, so that's the way it is'. We want to protect our children, most of all. We don't want to embarrass them."
What challenges can we expect to see you face as a band on the show?
Carnie: "When you film a reality show, it's so jumbled. They shoot episodes in all orders! On my grandmother's grave, I have no f**king clue what's happening when. It's one big jumbled mess. Not in terms of the content but the order. I just know that when we're on the road, there's always some kind of drama because we get lost on the tour bus, our manager told us the wrong hours it took to get to the venue, so we missed our soundcheck. It's this thing where problems occur when you travel because you can't help it. We had to do our make-up on the bus, which was funny. It's stuff like that - it seems silly but it's fun to watch."
Chynna: "When you have three women, there's always drama. Also, even though we all eat healthy, we have a different diet. It's kind of funny! The girls will suggest a restaurant but I have to cook all of my own meals. It gets crazy."
Speaking of which, how do you stay healthy on the road?
Chynna: "It's not easy. Definitely it's been a real thorn in my side having to take care of myself physically while on the road. I have really strong feelings about what I'll eat and what I won't eat. I'm not a primadonna at all, I just take a lot of pride in making sure I'm eating organic foods and am combining food properly. To some people it's a little obnoxious, but I take it really seriously and it's something that unfortunately affects other people's lives and causes some trouble sometimes. I bring a steamer on the road. I steam my baked potatoes and my vegetables and my chicken."
Carnie: "It's a pain in the ass! No, I'm kidding."
What's your most convincing argument for getting people to tune in?
Chynna: "Try to have a sense of humour when you watch it! It's not as intensive as it looks. It's a little more wholesome than most reality shows. You don't really feel like you need to take a shower after it. You don't feel dirty and disgusting. But there's definitely drama. There are definitely moments where you might be on pins and needles, wondering what's going to happen next. We're enjoying it much more than we expected to, that's for sure."
How have you changed since first starting your career?
Chynna: "We've grown up a lot since our debut record 20 years ago. We're completely different women and the three of us interact with each other in a way that is so much more healthy and productive. We immediately look for a solution now instead of just fighting over something where we're shaking our tail and nothing's getting accomplished or resolved. Now, we always ask, what is the solution? How can we make this better and all of us feel respected and honoured? It's not always easy - it's easier said than done - but we really aspire to try our hardest to respect one another and find a solution."
Wendy: "The communication is a lot clearer now. We try not to let things fester too long. If there's something we disagree on, we communicate much better with each other and that always resolves our problem, so that's good."
As a group, you've undergone quite a lot of changes when it comes to your look. Are there any you really regret?
Wendy: "If you look back at 1990, first of all, our eyebrows? They were very dark and really pointed. And you know, the big hair. Some of the jackets we wore were a little frumpy, but overall I think we had good style and were well put together."
Chynna: "I'm never going back to the short hair! I know never say never, but I love my long hair. I'm never going back again!"
Carnie: "I was looking at a picture of us - I had the bangs with the bob and the blazer. I was one of the first people to wear a Richard Tyler suit - Janet Jackson and I were the first to get fitted. I remember walking down the boardwalks and thinking, you know, fashion! And I was plump, so that was fun. I've always liked our fashion. The only thing I didn't like was when I was in that lingerie for that 'You Won't See Me Cry' video. That didn't seem natural to me. I wasn't comfortable with any of us or the way we were dressed for that. I can be a lady - surprise!"
Would you let your kids get into showbiz? Have any of them expressed an interest?
Chynna: "[Carnie's daughter] Lola and [my daughter] Brooke want to be on a Disney channel show, like, today. They're both good dancers and singers, so I know they would love that. But my mum didn't let me into a professional career until I was 18 and I feel that is a very important thing to instil, at least for me in my child. I feel like she's too young to make her own decisions so I don't want to make decisions for her that are going to impact her for a lifetime. I'd rather her be 18 and make her own decisions, and then she can't blame me!"
Carnie: "If my 7-year-old said to me, 'Mommy, I want to start acting' or 'I want to sing', I would let her do whatever she wants. I feel a little bit differently. She goes to a school that really focuses on academics, which I think is great, but it also gives creative freedom. She's expressive - and she's got the gift to do harmonies. She's been doing that since she was 3 years old... I have recordings of us harmonizing on my iPhone and she's not Mozart, but it's impressive."
You have a new album out now, and you got Mama Cass's daughter Owen to collaborate with you on a cover of The Mamas and the Papas' 'Dedicated to the One I Love'. How did that come about?
Chynna: "Carnie and Wendy thought about it for a while and then they presented it to me and I didn't think it was a great idea. But I thought about it and a few days later I realised we had to do it. It's just so important. First of all, Mama Cass and Owen basically have the same exact voice. It is uncanny how much she sounds like her mother! That one part on 'Dedicated' - no-one can sing it like Mama Cass, except for Owen and we all burst into tears when she was recording it."
Carnie: "You know how much it meant to her. She is extremely protective about her mother and her mother's image. If you research and look around, Cass Elliott fans are hardcore - it's hardcore s**t. They love her and praise her and there's nobody like her. Owen clings to that, because that's what's left. Her mother's not here, and it just means so much to her. We knew that, and she's also our dear friend for our whole lives, so the combination of that in the studio, that's what made us emotional."
There's such a big library of songs to cover, how did you choose which ones to take on for the new album?
Carnie: "I wanted to make it a double album but they said no, because it costs too much money and with the economy... there's just not enough room!"
Chynna: "We tried to do songs that everyone knew, the big ones that people know, but we also wanted to do songs that were important to us, like 'Got a Feeling' by Mamas and the Papas. It's more of an obscure song, but it's so beautiful. We loved recording that."
Being 22 years removed from the debut album, are there songs you've grown apart from? Are there ones that resonate more with you?
Wendy: "It feels exactly the same when we sing these songs on tour. It almost feels like it was yesterday, but it was 22 years ago. I think it means so much to us, we're just more grateful now to be up there. We're kind of in awe of what we've accomplished. It's a nice feeling."
Carnie: "Also, we were never a touring band - we did tour for six weeks with Richard Marx, but we did more promotional visits. Now we go on stage and actually do these shows. To see the audience mouth the words and sing along with us and to get to show off the vocals - 'cos it's one big harmony fest - is something we didn't experience before. It was always so rushed - perform your song, go to the next radio station and kiss someone else's ass. I'm not kidding. It seems like now, because there's so little opportunity, you can grab what's there. The business is so different that I really think the perspective has changed on both ends. The people who are behind the scenes and the people who are the artists, I don't know. I feel like there's more appreciation. "
What does music mean to you? What significance does it have in your life?
Chynna: "Music in general holds a deep and profound place in our hearts. We feel like so many of our parents' emotions were put to music and then in turn, we put our own emotions and feelings to music and then we were able to share that with people and they were able to apply that to their own struggles and things that they were going through in their lives. Music is universal - it's a universal language. Even if you don't understand the lyrics, you can still be moved by a melody, an instrument. We're so grateful to be in a business where you can touch so many different people on so many different levels. To have the opportunity to sing our parents' music and to give that music to a whole new generation is an honour."
You were in Bridesmaids and that really brought 'Hold On' back to popularity. Does that nostalgia ever feel limiting or annoying?
Chynna: "That song is an anthem and has helped so many people, and for that, we've been so humbled just knowing how many people it's touched. We don't get tired of people saying, 'Oh, you've helped us get through such a difficult time' - whether it's a divorce, the loss of a child or they were suicidal. You have no idea of the stories we hear. The list is endless. So it's really cool to know that your music has been so impactful on someone else's life. Everyone can hold on for just one more day. If the song was 'hold on for one more week', people would say, 'I don't know if I can do a whole week, but I can do 24 hours!'"
Carnie: "We remember the message of 'Hold On' - and other songs that we've written, too - that have that feeling of young love and that strong sentiment. We remember people saying that to us 20, 21 years ago, but now so many years later, it's happening again. That just goes to show you the power of a strong melody and words that people can relate to. It's so great to see it the second time around."
Wendy: "It's the gift that keeps on giving, because as long as someone's still getting something from it, it gives back to us and it's great."
How strong of a friendship is there between you?
Chynna: "We have a deep and profound love and respect for one another. Even though we don't get along perfectly, no bands do. We do our best to understand one another. I have a lot of respect for Carnie - she has such an incredible ear for music and she comes up with great hooks. I trust her whole-heartedly with our arrangements - and also Rob, her husband. And I really respect Wendy and the way she approaches each song. She does it with such integrity. She takes her vocals so seriously and wants to do it just right. She's an amazing songwriter."
Carnie: "I respect that Chynna has a lot of innovative ideas and is a spontaneous person. She brings the spontaneous , you-never-know-what's-going-to-happen fun feeling. She teaches me not to take it so seriously. They call me a control freak and I am but I'm trying to figure out what I'm so afraid of. We appreciate each other for our similarities, our differences and what each of us bring to the table."
The Wilson Phillips Project premieres Sunday, April 8 on the TV Guide Network. Their new album, Dedicated, is now in stores.
Watch Wilson Phillips' video for 'Hold On' below: