Tension aside, the Civil Wars score No. 1 album

Joy Williams and John Paul White of the Civil Wars performing in 2012.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Who said a little band drama would hurt record sales? Despite not touring -- or even speaking to one another -- the Civil Wars have earned their first No. 1 album.

The Grammy-winning folk duo’s self-titled sophomore album sold 116,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The follow-up to 2011’s “Barton Hollow,” which debuted at No. 10, might be a hit for Nashville singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White, but the album’s success comes at time when tensions between the duo are so high they aren’t promoting the album together, let alone speaking to each other, according to Williams.


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In November the Civil Wars -- who were in the midst of a European tour after they broke out with a Grammy win and hit with Taylor Swift -- announced they had canceled all of their upcoming live gigs, including a trek to Australia and New Zealand scheduled for this year. The new album was recorded last fall.

“We sincerely apologize for the canceling of all of our tour dates. It is something we deeply regret,” White and Williams wrote in a statement. “However, due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time.”

Although the two haven’t performed together to promote the album, White has made appearances in support of the music documentary “Muscle Shoals,” and Williams has been giving interviews. The duo did issue separate thank-you messages to their fans for supporting the album.

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In a lengthy chat with Entertainment Weekly, Williams opened up about the rumors swirling over their falling out, admitted she’s still not on speaking terms with White and discussed the tension that fuels the new album.

As for what really happened between them? Williams said she was “still trying to figure it out too.”

“Looking back, I feel like John Paul and I — over time it became apparent that we both wanted different things,” Williams told EW. “That fleshed out in a professional way, and when that happens, it can feel really personal as well. And then that cycle can continue until hard decisions have to be made in terms of taking a break in the hope of recalibrating and gaining perspective. That’s what this hiatus is.”

Last year the duo nabbed Grammys for country duo/group performance and folk album for its first full-length, “Barton Hollow.”

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