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Charles Kelley Says Lady Antebellum Became ‘a Machine’ Before Their Break

Charles Kelley on Lady Antebellum's hiatus
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

While Lady Antebellum are taking a well-deserved break, all three of the trio’s members are working on some fun projects: Charles Kelley recently released a solo album, The Driver, Hillary Scott is working on a gospel album with her family, and Dave Haywood has been writing and producing. For some groups, such a situation might signal the end of their time together, but Kelley says that he hopes his and his bandmates’ time apart will help their work together in the future.

“Hopefully it will lead to a little bit of a reinvention with Lady A, or at least a reinvigoration,” Kelley told The Boot and other media at a recent event. “We kind of had it last year, but it was almost a little forced, the reinvigoration. It was like, we knew we wanted to get out there and work hard and do it, but I still don’t think we quite believed it.

“… [We want to] get back to what we love to cut,” Kelley continues. “It’s so hard to do, when you do have success, and it becomes a machine. There’s definitely been some songs in the past that we’ve put out and it was purely us going, ‘Okay, we think radio will play this. We think this will be a hit. This will be big for the show,’ and all this stuff. But it’s like, do you really believe in it?”

Releasing songs such as “Leaving Nashville” and the The Driver’s Grammy-nominated title track has reminded Kelley of why he embarked on a music career in the first place.

“I never want to cut music ever again that I’m just kind of into, because we definitely didn’t do that in the beginning,” Kelley concedes. “We’ve become so successful that it’s become a machine: There’s a lot of people relying on you. You’ve got 100 people out on the road and working for you. You want to stay at the top.

“To me, the best music always comes when, it sounds cliche, but you just try to block out the noise and try to not have any pressure with it and take your time,” he adds. “And that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this.”

Not that Lady Antebellum is ever far from its members’ minds. The trio will perform at a few fairs and festivals this summer, before hopefully hitting the studio in the fall.

“We’ve got a lot of people on salary and stuff, so we’re like, ‘Alright. This is a business,'” Kelley explains. “We’ll probably gear up and at least start cutting some stuff in the fall, as a band, but we’re just giving ourselves the luxury of time. We’re not going anywhere. We stay in touch as much as we always have, and we try to write when we can.

” … We already got a bunch of stuff on the books, and they’re both writing a bunch with different people,” he continues. “We’re trying to get ourselves out of the routine of writing with the same people all together: Let’s write some together, let’s write some separate, and then we’re going to try to get back together with all that we’ve done, collectively and separately, and try to decide where we want to go musically and creatively. All of it.”

The break has been inspiring for both Scott and Haywood as well, which makes Kelley eager to see what happens when they finally reunite.

“Hillary’s [gospel album] is phenomenal, by the way. She played me a couple songs that she had. She’s even gotten the confidence back, too, and the desire to really work hard,” Kelley notes. “Dave’s in the studio with this new trio. Everybody feels like, ‘Okay, we needed this.’ And when we come back, we’re going to be so excited to start again, and it will be kind of new and fresh. We will have missed each other for a while, and we’ll take our time.

“There’s no deadline …,” Kelley adds. “We’re not going to put it out until it’s ready.”

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