Lady Antebellum are only four years old, yet they’re one of the biggest groups in the world right now, winning both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys for the delicious Need You Now. Looking to bring the UK up to speed with their crossover country sound, the band landed in London last week to play a one-off gig and promote their new album Own The Night. We caught up with Charles, Dave and Hilary to talk music, love, Nashville and that song…
Your new album Own The Night came out last month and I read you just locked yourself away to make it in a studio – how did that work out?
Charles: “We carved out a little more time for this record – there was a bit more expectation going into this one from our fans and our label. I feel like we honed in on our sound on this one – our songwriting got a little more personal.”
Charles: “Tapping into areas of our lives and exposing how we’ve felt in situations. Dancing Away With My Heart for instance – I still recall times when I’ve felt like that. As a rule of thumb, if we all relate to it we assume our fans will too.”
New single Just A Kiss is an example of that too – does that come from experience? Are you take-it-slow kinda people?
Charles: “When it’s right, of course! We’ve all been in spots like on Need You Now or Looking For A Good Time, but when I met my wife I had a natural restraint and I wanted to slow the pace – and I don’t mean just physically. I just wanted to make sure that everything was right.”
Hilary: “I just got engaged and that song was inspired by the past year of my life. It’s a really exciting time but the beginning of any relationship is fragile, so if you think it might be special you want to take your time to make sure you’re on the same page.”
You’ve said before that writing’s group therapy for you – was it still that way for the third album?
Dave: “It was. We were on the road touring all last summer, so when we got some downtime we’d kick around some ideas. We’ve always got ideas in the works and we’re pleased our creativity hasn’t dried up.”
So you’re not kicking back now – you’ve written Need You Now and then that’s it?
Dave: “Not quite yet – we’ve still got a few albums in us yet.”
I really love the blend of male and female vocals on your tracks – is this something you had in mind from the beginning?
Charles: “When we first met we were just writing together – we had no intention to start a group. But then it started showing itself as we sang together, doing it from male and female perspectives and doing harmony. Now it’s something we try to put on most of our songs.”
So if you’d scored a couple of writing hits with other artists, you might never have become Lady Antebellum?
Dave: “I never really thought about that, but it’s true. Charles and I were writing together, then when we heard Hilary we wanted to write for her as we thought she was going to be huge. Then the three of us started writing together and it just clicked.”
Charles: “It would have been easier though wouldn’t it? Sit at home writing, go to the mailbox and get your cheque, watch Tim and Brad sing them out…”
Hillary – you had two unsuccessful attempts at American Idol – what do you think of those series as they progress?
Hilary: “I’m a huge fan of those shows but it just wasn’t my story. I’d do it again in a heartbeat though – it’s like going to camp for a week but sleeping on concrete…”
Charles: “Sounds awful…”
You never went down that route?
Charles: “No – but who’s to say if I’d been kicking around Nashville for a few years more that I wouldn’t have? We’ve been fortunate that I didn’t have to. Concrete’s not my thing.”
You’ve scored a ton of awards, especially for Need You Now which won Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year at this year’s Grammys – two of five gongs you took home…
Hilary: “Every award show is different, but you feel very humble and very loved when you win – even being nominated for a Grammy is amazing. We were overwhelmed by the success of Need You Now – it’s a song that’s connected in a way we never could have predicted. The awards are amazing and they keep us focused on proving that we deserve them.”
Charles: “Trying to prove we do at any rate. We were nominated for six Grammys, so we had our fingers crossed for one – but to win five was unbelievable, especially Song Of The Year which is across all genres and the one that all songwriters want to win. And that song changed our lives, so we love it.”
You’re from Nashville – if I was going to Nashville, where should I go for a good night out?
Charles: “Downtown – go to Tootsies which is really famous. And then head to the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Hilary: “The bar we got started in is 3rd and Lindsley which is where singer-songwriters perform – that’s where to go for original songs.”
I might not have been paying attention, but I haven’t seen you guys in as many Stetsons and rhinestones – do you shun the country style?
Charles: “It’s not really our style. There are so many variations of country artists in the spectrum right now from George Strait to Taylor Swift and that’s great. Yes we’re from the south, but we didn’t grow up in cowboy hats and it’s not really us.”
So we won’t see you in rhinestones anytime soon?
Hilary: “Maybe for our tenth album – me in rhinestones, the boys in plaid.”
Lady Antebellum’s album Own The Night is out now. They hope to tour the UK next year.