Lady Antebellum on Staying True to Their Roots: ‘Country Is Who We Are’

Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum
Austin Hargrave

Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum photographed at The Rosewall in Nashville on August 26, 2014.

Lady Antebellum is trying something new. The trio (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood) has risen to the top of Nashville's ranks thanks to its country-pop blend, winning the record and song of the year Grammys in 2011 for the title track to its second LP, Need You Now. For its sixth album, 747 -- released Sept. 30 on Capitol Nashville and projected by industry forecasters to sell 70,000 units in its first week -- Lady A replaced longtime producer Paul Worley with Nathan Chapman, known for his work with Taylor Swift. Chapman's other star client may have fully abandoned country for pop, but he didn't lead Lady A in the same direction, as evidenced by the banjo plucks on the Country Airplay chart-topper "Bartender." 747 was also one of the act's fastest-recorded albums -- no easy task, as Scott had her first daughter in July 2013.

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How did Hillary having a baby affect the recording of 747?

Scott:They were so unbelievably understanding of my schedule. They never put me on a guilt trip or made me feel like I wasn't doing my part.

Kelley: We had the time to get away a little bit when she had the baby, to kind of go recommit ourselves as a band and what we need to do.

Haywood: We've been reinspired. With family on the way, it's like you approach things [differently]. We're really fighting hard [for] it again.


How are the songs from the new album doing on tour?

Kelley: "Freestyle" has gone over huge for us.

Lady Antebellum: The Billboard Shoot

Haywood: People put it up [on YouTube] and talk about it after the show. We're loving the energy.

Kelley: They can kind of sense this is a different Lady Antebellum.

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747 is a country album, but like some of your past work, it's also rooted in pop. Would you ever consider yourselves a pop band?

Kelley: We have come to realize that country is always going to be...

Scott: Our home.

Kelley: Country music is American music: It's got all these elements of other genres, but it's still all about the songwriting.

Scott: Country music, the environment that it brings, the lifestyle it lends itself to -- everything about it is who we are. Our relationships in every part of the business, [they're] just so personal. With radio, with journalists, with everybody -- it's really special.

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Kelley: If we were a pop act, I'd be afraid every next single would be so stressful, because it's like if you don't keep having single, single, single, you're done. In country, we can have a single that may not do as well as the last one and they're still with us. Country music has become so popular [because] there is this neglected pop-rock sound.

Haywood: You can't find that anywhere else.

Kelley: I don't want to sound mean, but it's almost like maybe some pop acts don't understand how harmony works. They're like, "Let's sing together," and they literally sing the same parts. [Other genres are] so beat-driven. Country is just an escape from that. It's like, if I hear another damn dubstep beat...

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of Billboard.