Zac Brown Band Builds Solid 'Foundation'
Zac Brown Band Builds Solid 'Foundation'

It's shaping up to be a big summer for the roots-country act Zac Brown Band. Their Atlantic Records debut "The Foundation" has now been certified gold by the RIAA, for shipping over 500,000 units to retail. Based on the strength of the singles "Chicken Fried" and "Whatever It Is," along with a heavy touring schedule, "The Foundation" has sold 432,000 copies according to Nielson Soundscan.

With that in mind, the Atlanta, Georgia based group wants to keep pushing forward. "We're always marveled at the success of everything," Brown tells Billboard.com. "But it doesn't mean its time to let up. It's been 13 years to the beginning, and now we really got to dig in and keep writing, making the live show as good as we can, and improve as individual musicians."

Brown says that the success of "The Foundation" has enabled the group to make their live show more expansive; they've been able to tap into country audiences as well as college crowds and wants to further cement a presence in their stage show down the road. "It's going to allow us to tour more professionally and have the help we need out on the road," Brown says. "Ultimately, we're striving for a great video and light show to go along with the live show. The sales of the record has helped us tremendously towards that goal."

The group has also been busy working on new material, with 40 new songs written and "over 20" recorded. "We still got probably another week's worth to do on those songs," Brown says. "But we essentially got our next record in the can. But if you come out and see us, a 90 minute or 2 hour show, we pretty much do that next record live. We've been crafting those songs, arranging them, and trying them out live." While their next studio record wouldn't be out until 2010, Brown also hopes to have a live record out later this year.

Furthering their success, the Zac Brown Band was recently nominated for "Best New Group" by The Academy of Country Music as well as "Breakthrough Video of the Year" and "Group Video of the Year" for CMT's 2009 Award show on June 17.

"Competition being put into music is a very weird thing," he says. "It's an honor to be nominated, but it's still very weird. It's like making love a competition: how much you love your wife compared to other people. It's important for people to be recognized for their achievements, it's really hard for me to get my head around it."

The next single slated for this year will be the breezy album opener "Toes." The group is currently mixing up headlining club dates with opening slots for Keith Urban. They're also slated to play Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Austin City Limits Music Festival.