Early indications are that Lady Antebellum can expect a big first week, and beyond, for its third album, "Own the Night." But the country group is taking nothing for granted, according to Dave Haywood.
"You never quite know what's going to happen when the record comes out, as far as what people respond to and what they like," Haywood tells Billboard.com. "We put a couple (of songs) out on iTunes already, and the response so far feels great. The couple that we put out feel great, so I think that's the ultimate test for us."
"Just the Kiss," the first single from "Own the Night" -- which comes out Tuesday -- hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has already gone platinum. Its successor, "We Owned the Night," is currently at No. 21 on the country survey and climbing.
"We feel like we've got some good opportunities come up," Haywood notes. "More than anything we're just ready to get some new stuff out there. It hasn't been terribly long, I guess, but in reality, for us, we wrote a handful of these songs almost two years ago, so we've had them for awhile and can't wait to get them out there."
There are, he acknowledges, some high expectations facing Lady Antebellum after two multi-platinum albums -- 2008's self-titled debut and 2010's "Need You Now," which debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Country Albums charts and won five Grammy Awards. But Haywood says he and bandmates Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley use a group gestalt to get through the pressures.
"One of the biggest benefits of being in a group is having each other to make sure we don't go down that road where we let the pressure affect us," Haywood explains. "We were recording this album when we went out to Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards, and that was a crazy night and such a surreal moment for us. But literally two days later we were back in the studio at 10 a.m. recording, and we didn't let (the Grammys) do anything but give us an affirmation that what we are doing is working. So we try not to let any of...the pressures from pop and pop radio and all that stuff that happened when 'Need You Now' started to cross over... affect us. For us it's just about the music, and we want to keep it that way."
The trio isn't wasting any time getting that music out on the road. The group will perform Tuesday on NBC's "Today," Friday on both "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and Sept. 25 on "CBS Sunday Morning." Lady Antebellum will also make its "Saturday Night Live" debut on Oct. 1. "We couldn't be more excited," Haywood says. "Growing up watching that show, for me, was kind of the litmus test of watching a band and saying, 'Man, they've made it.' We're excited to represent country music on that show."
The Own The Night 2011 Tour, meanwhile, kicks off Nov. 11 in Knoxville, Tenn., and Haywood says Lady Antebellum is already working on the show's look and production.
"This is kind of our first time, actually, to do all this," he notes, "so it's a whole new part of the brain we haven't used where you're looking at the way the stage is designed and the lighting and all these kind of features of the show. It's a wild thing, but we love it. It's fun to get to build this stuff that's kind of based around the music we write, so it's a really cool feeling."