Lady Antebellum Celebrate ‘Sweeter Times’ on New Album
And oh how the lives of Dave, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley have changed. Since forming in 2006, the country trio have seen platinum sales of their career-skyrocketing, self-titled debut album, which was the first project in history by a new group to debut at the top of the country albums charts. They are the reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year and are hoping to add two Grammy awards to their trophy case this month, as they are twice nominated and are set to perform on the Jan. 31 Grammy telecast.
Lady Antebellum are keeping their momentum going with 'Need You Now,' the title track of which was the group's fastest-rising hit, landing at No. 1 -- their second time on top of the country singles charts. And on this second CD, Dave, Hillary and Charles claim co-producer credits, putting even more of a personal touch on their music.
The Boot sat down with the three best friends in our studio to talk about their long-awaited new album. We also chat with Charles about married life and get the scoop on Dave and Hillary's dating lives. And we confront all three with a little rumor we heard from a pretty reliable source.
While 'American Honey' is burning up the country charts right now, pop radio has caught on to 'Need You Now.' When you were writing that song, did you intend for it to have crossover appeal?
Charles Kelley: I don't think so. When we were choosing songs for the record, we just had a really rough demo of it -- just acoustic and vocals. We hadn't worked out all the harmonies yet ... We had no idea what we had on our hands. So the fact that pop radio is embracing it -- even though we had no intentions of that -- it's exciting to reach a broader audience.
We heard y'all have had fun watching YouTube videos of fans performing the song, in lots of different genres!
Hillary Scott: There was this one guy who played the saxophone, which was really cool. We actually posted it on our website. I was blown away, no pun intended!
Charles: It's always fun to see little kids singing it, too. Especially the "I'm a little drunk" [line]. I always get the biggest kick out of it. It's my guilty pleasure. My wife thinks I'm a narcissist, but I just think it's hilarious going on YouTube and seeing these covers. There are so many of them -- literally hundreds! It's flattering.
This song is gaining you a whole lot of new fans, who may not necessarily be country fans.
Hillary: 'Need You Now' is a universal subject matter. It's something that not just country fans, not just pop fans -- everybody's been there. And the production was a little left of center.
Charles: It lends itself to all genres. Not all songs that we cut would work on pop, but this one seems like it.
Hillary: And that's great if we can raise more awareness to the genre that we are so proud to be a part of. That's the ultimate compliment, because there is great music in the country music genre, and more people need to hear it!
Did anyone from your own lives come to mind when you heard the lyrics to 'American Honey' for the first time?
Dave Haywood: Charles and I grew up in Georgia, going to South Carolina to the beach on a lot of family vacations. So we go back to that place, and that's the kind of message we want to have with that song -- when we get caught up in the craziness of our lives and jobs, to have a song that helps you remember the sweeter times. Having those relationships are what's important in life.
Hillary: It took me back to my grandparents. My parents traveled a lot, so my grandparents practically raised me. My grandmother and I really bonded in the kitchen. She's this amazing southern cook, and I would always help her -- whether it was cracking eggs or stirring the green beans. It takes me back there.
'Hello World' is such a beautiful song that talks about seeing God's miracles in life. What was the last thing you saw that made you remember that God is here?
Charles: I can put myself in that spot, in the car, just sitting there in traffic absolutely about to explode and all of a sudden you look over and see something as innocent and cute as a child with chocolate on her face. And you go, "I needed that, in that moment, to relax and remind myself that life is still sweet."
You co-produced this album -- your first time doing so. But there's a guy who says he deserves some credit, too -- Charles' brother Josh Kelley. He said in his interview with The Boot, "Dave learned how to produce by sitting in on my Pro-Tools sessions and stealing my techniques."
Dave: That's 100% true. Me and Charles sat there and watched Josh produce all this stuff, and we soaked it all up. So when we were in the studio with Paul [Worley], there was a lot of stuff that we knew. We had enough knowledge to push a few buttons and turn a few knobs! As songwriters, this was the next step for us. When we write the songs, we envision them as big, stadium songs. So to be in the studio and be able to control that, bring that vision to Paul Worley, who listened to everything we said ...
Hillary: But yes, Josh, you get the credit!
Do all three of you have to agree on a song 100% before it goes on an album, or do you do a little compromising here and there?
Charles: We definitely have to, on everything. We try to all be 100% behind every decision we make, and luckily it's worked out so far. And if someone's on the fence, you state your case and obviously come to a compromise. But we've been really fortunate, especially when it comes to music. We know what the record is missing, and certain songs we'll say, "That's great and may be a hit song but can we save it?"
Hillary: Because it's too similar to this one ...
Charles: And we don't want three heartbreak songs. We want to balance out a record.
Hillary: We don't want people thinking I'm really going through a rough time with all the heartbreak songs.
Charles: Hillary writes a lot of depressing songs, and she's the sweetest, most happy person I've ever met!
Hillary: I'm not bi-polar.
When we posted on our Twitter page that we were interviewing you, several female fans tweeted back, wanting us to ask if Dave is single. So, Dave?
Hillary: Oh, snap!
Charles: Dave's very single!
Dave: And Hillary is very single as well!
Charles: So underneath the screen, if you could just flash his ...
Hillary: 1-800-CAL-DAVE ... with one L.
Dave: I thought you were going to say that they thought y'all [Hillary and Charles] were together.
Dave: He's married.
Hillary: He liked it a
nd he put a ring on it.
Charles, how has marriage changed your career?
Charles: Well, Dave now is the most eligible bachelor in Lady Antebellum. [laughs] That's what he told me the day I got married: "Look who just became the most eligible bachelor in Lady A!" [laughs] But from a songwriting standpoint ... 'When You Got a Good Thing' and 'Something About a Woman' were definitely inspired from where I am right now ... It gives us something else to sing about. Hillary prepared me a lot for marriage, so it was good. I'm just in a great place right now. To be able to share this with them and then also get off the road after a long run of shows and have someone to come home to is nice.
Hillary, our Twitter followers had a question for you, too: Since you've been both recently, is it more fun being blond or brunette?
Hillary: That's a good question! I've changed quite often. I kinda went a little red this time, actually! Brunette -- that's my natural color. And I liked being blond; it was fun for a little while. But this feels more like me.
Who are some of your celebrity crushes?
Dave: Oh, I do like Sloan.
Dave: And Teri Hatcher.
Charles: Teri Hatcher?
Dave: She's always been the queen.
Charles: Dave, the cougar chaser. I like it! [laughs]
Hillary, are the guys protective of you when it comes to dating?
Hillary: They are. Charles always fusses with me when I say this, because he says, "I never get the calls to go out." But Dave and I will go out together in Nashville with some of our other friends, and I'm his wingwoman and he's my wingman. But they are extremely protective. They want to make sure whoever the guy is has good intentions. And they're good judges of character, which is a good thing because I have a tendency to fall really fast.
Charles: She does. And we need no more broken hearts!
Dave: But we do need a third record, though ...
Charles: We do! So go ahead, bring on the heartache.
You're about to head out on Tim McGraw's Southern Voice tour. Did you know that his daughter convinced him to invite you out?
Hillary: Yeah, we owe Gracie McGraw a really good gift!
Charles: We got to meet her for the first time when we opened up for Keith Urban. Tim and Faith [Hill] came with the girls, and we got to meet them ... I'm glad we made a good impression!
Hillary: She has her daddy wrapped, obviously. And we appreciate that!
Before you tour with Tim, you have a huge gig in Los Angeles -- performing on the Grammy Awards! Where were you when you got the call presenting you with a coveted slot on the show?
Hillary: We were in Jamaica, doing an event with Darius Rucker. Charles was golfing, and Dave and I were out snorkeling. He gave me such a hard time -- he was like, "You're bringing your phone out on this boat?"
Dave: I was like, "You better have some good news coming if you bring that thing."
Hillary: I looked at my phone after we got out of the ocean, and I had an email from our manager saying, "Congratulations! Y'all are performing on the Grammys." And I was like, "Aren't you glad I brought my phone out?"
Charles: And we do not take that lightly. It is a giant opportunity, especially being a country act. And to have Zac Brown and Taylor Swift performing, too, it's going to be a great night for country.