Sugarland ‘Still the Same’ Despite Personal Changes, Shifts in Country Music
For the first time in five years, Sugarland have new music to play. After deciding to go on hiatus in 2012 in order to pursue their solo projects and -- hopefully -- come back together refreshed and inspired, the country duo is back with a bounty of new music. Like their fans, they're riding high on the energy of their latest batch of songs.
"It's awesome. I just wanna play "Lean It on Back" eight times and get high or something," Kristian Bush, one half of the duo, joked with The Boot and other media outlets at a recent press event.
For her part, Jennifer Nettles adds that the kind of experimentation within the country format that Sugarland have always been interested in playing around with has gained more mainstream traction during the years that the duo was on a break, especially in terms of mixing in more elements of pop and hip-hop.
"We smile -- in a very humble way! -- when we think about the rap in "Stuck Like Glue,"" Nettles shares, referring to the group's 2010 single. "At the time, it was so scandalous [to have a rap in a country song], and now there's Sam Hunt ... The margins we used to play in, boy, have they widened. We are just having a ball."
Nettles goes on to say that adding elements of rap into her vocal performances feels, to the duo, like a natural extension of Sugarland's style: "Look, I'm from South Georgia, so I've got a lot of back in my beat. I prefer it to be so far back that it walks in tomorrow," she quips. "I love rap music. So, for me, a lot of that phrasing comes naturally."
However, there is one major element of Sugarland's music that hasn't changed: Bush and Nettles agree that the dynamic between them as songwriters and performers is just as fun, and just as symbiotic, as ever. That's because their creative bond is larger than the sum of its parts, they explain.
"I think one of the gifts of taking this space to do things as artists individually is that we found in doing that that there are things we can do as Sugarland that we cannot do on our own, and there are things we can do on our own that we cannot do as Sugarland," Nettles says. "The beautiful thing about creative energy, and creative partnership, is that, if it is in its highest form, I believe it is bigger that you might think when you look at it on paper."
In fact, the biggest change the duo has noticed is not a musical shift, but a personal one: "Jennifer's a mom now," Bush points out. "Parenting screws with your priorities in the best possible way. So we have conversations that we didn't have before. I had kids at the beginning of all of this, but mine are teenagers now. I think mine could actually babysit for hers."
Adds Nettles, "That's what we're hoping for [during the tour] this summer."
Sugarland's brand-new album, Bigger, drops Friday (June 8). They are currently on the road for their Still the Same Tour.
More New Albums Coming in 2018