Nashville’s Lady Antebellum are huge stars in the US but hardly known over here – but that could all be about to change. Their single Need You Now went top 20 and their album of the same name is packed with upbeat country tracks that define them. We caught up with co-lead vocalist Hillary Scott to discuss the band’s hopes on cracking the UK, their new tour and how she was rejected twice by American Idol…
Hi Hillary – how long have you been in London?
“We got here a couple of days ago. I’ve been on the London Eye and was that American girl with a map on the corner of the street and not a clue where I was going…”
You just finished touring with Tim McGraw in Toronto recently – did you enjoy it?
“Canada has been really good to us and it was a wonderful show – the last of the tour so a little bitter-sweet too. But after the crazy year we’ve had, the tour was actually relaxing!”
Being on tour for such a long time – do you feel like you know your bandmates well now?
“Yes – and it’s not just Charles and Dave (her bandmates). I travel with around 14 guys, so when it comes time for me to settle down with my husband I can handle anything now!”
Your new album Need You Now came out this year – tell me a bit about the process of making it…
“Being our second record it’s meant to be more pressured, but we had more time to do this one than the first. Plus, we know each other better now, we’re older and have lived more.”
So your sound’s evolving?
“Absolutely – we took more chances with this album and it’s more lyrically raw – to say in a song ‘it’s a quarter after one I’m a little drunk and I need you now’ is very real – we’ve all been in relationships and we want to connect with our fans on that level of honesty.”
I love the blend of male and female vocals on the tracks – is harmonising with Charles something you find easy to do?
“Both my parents are in the music business and I was raised doing family harmony – so I’ve always thought that music was harmony-driven and it’s what we think as a band. Plus, having a male and female lead vocal means we can cover love and life from a male and female perspective.”
Country music isn’t the huge deal over here that it is in the US – do you have some favourite UK bands in other genres?
“I love Coldplay and we’ve recently done a cover of Radiohead’s High & Dry – it’ll be in our live shows. Plus, being 24 I also remember when the boyband craze hit so I also loved Take That and Westlife. Oh, and Kylie Minogue!”
Your mum’s a country singer – does she give you advice?
“She does but it’s pretty simple – drink enough water and get enough rest! I’m just thankful that I can call my mum and talk to her and she understands how I’m feeling.”
Is it true you had two unsuccessful attempts at American Idol?
“It is! I tried out twice in 2005 but didn’t make it past the first round. I’d never done an audition before and people point at you and say ‘sing!’ It was disheartening but as I’m proof of, it’s not the only way.”
You performed on the American Idol results show earlier this year – was that a sweet moment and did you share your story with the judges?
“It was the most validating experience ever! But no, I didn’t tell the judges as we pre-recorded the track – but we were on Ellen just afterwards so we told her the story then.”
You’re from Nashville – do you take some inspiration from a place that has such a rich musical history?
“Absolutely – there’s so much talent there and it’s not just country music – Paramore and Kings Of Leon came from there too. I’m born and raised there so find it really exciting – thousands of people move there every year to pursue music so any bar you walk into you’ll hear great live music.”
What are your hopes in the UK?
“We’re just looking to build here and get to know the fans. After the one-off show we have a 35-date tour in America, so I think early 2011 is the earliest it’ll happen but it will happen!”
What’s the most-played song on your MP3 player?
“Katy Perry – Teenage Dreams. I love California Gurls but this is better – undeniably a smash!”
If you could be the lovechild of any two pop stars, which two would you choose?
“Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor – I’m a huge fan of both.”