Alabama Talk ‘Southern Drawl': ‘You Start Wondering If You’re Still Relevant or Not’
There's nothing like Alabama's harmonies, and fans are eagerly anticipating Southern Drawl, the trio's newest record. But it took a while for lead singer Randy Owen, guitarist Jeff Cook and bassist Teddy Gentry to get back into the groove of the industry -- their first album of new music since 2001 -- and they admit they were unsure of what to expect.
Their break of over a decade made the artists wonder if, in fact, fans would respond positively to a new album. Thankfully (and, of course), they didn't need to worry.
"Getting out here and touring like we have for a few years, seeing the response from the crowd, selling the tickets that we are, we realized there's still a lot of fan interest and support out there," says Gentry to Rolling Stone. "When you're away from it for 11 or 12 years, you start wondering if you're still relevant or not. But I think after getting back out there, one step led to another."
They announced Southern Drawl at the end of July and have revealed several songs to country fans. It is, they say, different than what they've recorded previously. “Country music when we took our vacation is not the same country it is today,” Cook tells USA Today. “For people who knew the original Alabama, it’s going to be a little different to their ears.”
And this time around, Alabama recorded it in a budget-friendly manner -- something they didn't need to think about at their peak.
"We had a deadline for this one," Gentry explains. "That was one of the things we got used to in the 80s and 90s: we'd have an unlimited budget. We never had anybody say, 'You're on the clock. You gotta be through in an hour-and-a-half.' That was tough on this album ... But to me, we're doing the same thing and taking the same approach as we did in the 80s and 90s, where you work hard to find the very best songs you can, and try to make a great record out of a great song."
Their new single, "Wasn't Through Loving You Yet" was eagerly received, and the 13-track album also features a collaboration with Alison Krauss, a literal foot-stomp-inducing "Footstompin' Music" and several songs comparable to their classic hits like "Song of the South" and "Mountain Music." The track "American Farmer" was inspired by a bumper sticker reading "No Farms No Food" and "One on One" includes some spoken word.
One song in particular, "This Ain't Just a Song," excites the band a whole lot.
"It's amazing to me; almost everybody we've talked to has picked out that song," says Gentry. "The first time I played it for Randy, we talked about how it's kind of an inside, songwriter's song. We were a little skeptical about whether it was ready for prime time, but we thought, 'It's such a cool song, we’ve gotta give it a shot.' And I think our fans will get it, too."
Is Alabama still relevant? Absolutely. Southern Drawl will drop on Sept. 18, 2015 and is available for pre-order on iTunes.
10 Essential Albums for Your Country Music Education