Everything We Know About Zac Brown Band’s New Album, ‘Jekyll + Hyde’
After hearing two of the record's tracks, "Homegrown" and "Heavy Is the Head," it's safe to say that fans can expect the band's signature sound, as well as something a little different, playing into the disc's title. The following is what we know so far about Jekyll + Hyde.
The Title + Album Artwork
ZBB's new record bears the title of Jekyll + Hyde, a phrase made famous by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote a novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, first published in 1886. The story follows a London-based lawyer who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde, focusing on the fight of good vs. evil and split personalities.
“We wanted the Jekyll + Hyde thing to be subtle,” Brown explains of the album's cover. “We thought about doing the warped face on one side and regular face on the other, but it was too on-the-nose. So we got one of the best rock photographers of all time, Danny Clinch, to shoot the video, and one of his guys came up with the two colored eyes. I’ve had a lot of compliments on it.”
The Release Date
Jekyll + Hyde is set to be released on April 28, 2015. It is available for pre-order on the Zac Brown Band’s website.
When the Zac Brown Band began their studio work, Brown said the project would take two and a half months.
"We’ve got 18 strong songs that we’ve whittled down and gotten ready," he said at the time. "But you never know; one might pop up and get done right before [we start recording].”
The band's first single from the record, "Homegrown," was released in January. Its chorus -- "I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t / Homegrown" -- celebrates the simple gifts in life: "some good friends that live down the street," "a good-looking woman with her arms 'round me" and "a small town where it feels like home."
ZBB performed "Heavy Is the Head" on Saturday Night Live in March and gave fans an exciting look into a new sound. The rock-influenced tune features Chris Cornell and blends heavy, fuzzy guitars and a fun fiddle sound, and it earned a Top 5 spot on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Songs chart.
In late April, the band shared another of the album's songs, "Loving You Easy." Brown has also revealed some information about the song "Beautiful Drug," saying, "Believe it or not, it's about a girl. But she's the guy's beautiful drug. I think that'll be a big crossover tune for us."
“Every record we do, we do one song we didn’t write,” Brown explains. “This is that song. It was written by Jason Isbell, it was on a record he did 10 years ago, and it floored me. I just wanted to show the world this song, do it our way, and I arranged a version of “Taps” in the middle of the song. I’ve been to military funerals, and when they played “Taps,” it just killed me.
“This song is about a young soldier who got blown up by an IED, and he’s going home in his dress blues,” Brown continues. “Just the way this song is written, how American it is, is incredible. Jewel sang harmony on that song."
Jekyll + Hyde Track Listing:
1. “Beautiful Drug”
2. “Loving You Easy”
5. “Mango Tree” (feat. Sara Bareilles)
6. “Heavy Is the Head” (feat. Chris Cornell)
9. “Tomorrow Never Comes”
10. “One Day”
11. “Dress Blues”
12. “Young and Wild”
14. “I’ll Be Your Man (Song for a Daughter)”
16. “Tomorrow Never Comes” (acoustic version)
It's been three years since the release of ZBB's Uncaged, and Jekyll + Hyde will be their fourth major-label studio record.
"We’re all continuing to grow up and get better as musicians, and the chemistry as a band continues to deepen,” Brown tells Rolling Stone. “Our boundaries have dissolved, and we’re going to still do things that are somewhat familiar that people like, but we’re also going to stretch out and take chances beyond what we've done before. Some people are going to be really surprised.
“We spent a lot of time getting [the songs] all down and ready to go, so when we go into the studio to record, it’s all business,” he adds. “We’re not in there necessarily creating; we’re in there executing what we’ve been working on these last few years to create.”
Fans of the band's more "country" sound should be prepared to expect the unexpected.
“I think you’ve got the best of what people would expect from our other records, and we’ve even gone deeper down the rabbit hole on some songs to make new music and new avenues,” Brown says. ”We always push the boundaries on the styles we put on a record. On our last record, we had a straight R&B song. We’ve gone further on this album, where we have a Big Band song, kind of a Sinatra-type song; we have a couple songs that have electronic music on them. We’ve got a couple rock songs, maybe a little heavier than what we’ve done. So the title Jekyll & Hyde really covers the breadth of the record.
"... There’s a lot to discover on this album, there’s a lot to absorb," he adds, "so I hope people who love to dig every drop of a song will dig into it.”
Jekyll + Hyde is the the first album that ZBB recorded when they weren’t on the road.
“Over the last seven or eight years, there’s been a violent growth around us, having five kids, the growth of all my businesses, and touring, just figuring out and getting settled in. So now, we had the ability to unplug for a few months,” Brown explains. “This time, I feel like this is the most important record we’ve ever made. I wanted to make a new partnership for this record. I think we’ve got a lot to prove. I want to get better every year. That’s the love for it. I want it to translate, and I’m willing to do the hard work to get it there.”
In promotion of Jekyll + Hyde, ZBB will be touring throughout the summer. The trek kicks off on May 1, at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, and runs through mid-September, with a final stop scheduled for Sept. 19, at the Kaaboo Music & Arts Festival in Del Mar, Calif. Other tour destinations include Boston's Fenway Park, Chicago's Wrigley Field, Detroit's Comerica Park, Charlotte, N.C.'s PNC Music Pavilion and Washington, D.C.'s Nationals Park, among many others.
See Zac Brown's Yearbook Picture!