Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley says the country trio definitely experienced some second-album jitters while making the just-released "Need You Now," which has been pegged for a likely No. 1 debut on next week's Billboard 200 chart.
"I think we definitely put a lot of pressure on ourselves with the success of the first (self-titled 2008) record, that we wanted to make one that surpassed it," Kelley tells Billboard.com. "We definitely don't want to get into...the sophomore slump. We want to be doing this for a long time and also live up to the expectations of some of the awards we've been lucky to get, the CMAs and stuff."
Lady Antebellum most recently won a pair of Country Music Association Awards for Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year ("I Run to You"). It's rolling into this weekend's Grammy Awards with two nominations -- Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by Duo or Group with Vocals, both also for "I Run to You." The trio is also performing on Sunday's telecast, and Kelley says he and bandmates Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood are hopeful to bring home some trophies this year after going 0-for-2 at the 2009 ceremony.
"It feels like a lot of people in the music industry and Nashville in particular are backing us and basically giving their stamp of approval, and we want to make them proud," Kelley notes. "We feel a lot of support. It's just nice to know there's a lot of people rallying around us."
"Need You Now" was well set up for success with its first single, the album's title track, which spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Country Songs chart, peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and has been certified platinum -- and, Kelley says, generated some additional pressure on Lady Antebellum. "We definitely felt that the rest of the album had to live up to that," he explains. "On the flip side, though, it was nice to know we have at least one hit song off the record."
"American Honey," "Need You Now's" second single, currently sits at No. 20 on the Country Songs chart and has entered the Hot 100 at No. 97.
Lady Antebellum hits the road on Feb. 5 at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, then joins Tim McGraw's tour on Feb. 11, which will last until mid-June. Kelley says the group is "gonna try to up our production a little bit. We feel like there's obviously a lot more people aware of who we are, so they're probably going to expect a little more out of us now. We do, too, so it'll be a nice next step up for us."