Little Big Town on No Lead Singer: 'It Worked for the Beatles'
Little Big Town on No Lead Singer: 'It Worked for the Beatles'

"We just have to pinch ourselves everyday," band says of No. 1 album

Back in 2002, Little Big Town released their debut album for Monument Records. It barely made a ripple in the country music landscape at the time, charting a pair of singles that made it no further than No. 33 ("Don't Waste My Time"). What does member Karen Fairchild hear when she listens to that first album?

"I hear elements of us in there, but I think we were still trying to figure out who we are, and how to capture what we do live in a show," she tells Billboard. "We really hadn't been together that long. I think it was a case of almost getting there, but not quite getting to the sound that everybody knows now."

Of course, Little Big Town was and is a little different. Unlike most country vocal groups before them, there was no one lead singer. "We were the only game in town with both girls and guys, and we didn't want to pick one singer," relates Fairchild, "because it worked for the Beatles, and it worked for Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, so why couldn't it work in country music? We just stuck to our guns on that, and eventually it worked, it just took a while."

It's currently working better than it ever has for one of the most talented acts in Nashville. Their current album, "Tornado," spent its' first three weeks of release atop the Billboard Country Albums chart, their "Pontoon" single became their very first number one hit, and they tallied a trio of nominations for the upcoming CMA Awards. Fairchild admits it all seems like a blur. "It's been an unreal past few weeks. We just have to pinch ourselves everyday. It's fun to wake up and see all the good things that are happening every morning. We're just having a ball."

She smiled when she recalled getting the news that "Pontoon" had sailed to the top of the singles chart. "We were on the road with Rascal Flatts, and Gary, Joe Don, and Jay were having a Saturday football grill-out party. We were all wandering around the grounds watching some football, hanging out with the kids, when we got a text from our manager saying 'You are just a few hours away from your first number one record. We're 99% sure. Of course, you're so happy. It was such a great milestone for the band. We're glad to have No. 4 and No. 5 records, and be up there, but to finally get that number one slot feels really good."

Fairchild is quick to give producer Jay Joyce credit for the success they have received with their new music. "Jay is a great moderator of what feels good. He lets his heart guide him. We really don't over think things. If we're in the studio tracking a song like 'Pontoon,' and we've done it a few times and it feels good, that's it. He says 'Let's move on.' There's no reason to keep going if the vibe is right. There's a lot of fun, and a lot of spontaneity, and I think our fans can hear it on the album."

Their fans, some of whom have been there all along, are also basking in the success that the group is enjoying, says Karen. "I think they revel in it, because they have been a part of it. The ones that have been with us since the beginning - who bought that very first record, and there were only a handful who did, they've watched us grow, and their faces just light up. It's fun. We're doing it all together."

The group has just released the title cut to radio as the second single from the album.