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Interview:
Lady Antebellum owns the night -- and more
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Lady Antebellum may well “Own The Night,” according to the title of the group’s third and latest album.

But the country trio clearly owns the Grammys, too.

In 2011, Lady Antebellum walked away with five Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for the single “Need You Now” and Best Country Album for the album of the same name. “Own the Night” took the latter award this year, too, which left category favorite Taylor Swift looking as stunned as group members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood.

“We were so shocked,” says Scott. “We thought without a doubt that it’s either Taylor’s or Jason Aldean’s. Their albums had just done amazing. So we were not expecting it and ... honestly, after last year, we were just thankful to be invited back and to have a nomination.

“But it made for a really fun night for us.”

The Grammys, of course, are just one mark of the success Lady Antebellum has enjoyed since its self-titled debut came out in 2008.

All three of the group’s albums have sold platinum or better. All three have also debuted at No. 1 on the country charts, while “Need You Now” and “Own the Night” also bowed atop the Billboard 200. The group has racked up 10 Top 20 country hits — the latest being “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” — and its trophy case is also loaded with tokens from the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association and Country Music Television.

The trio enjoys all of it, of course, but Haywood says the notoriety tends to act as a boot in Lady Antebellum’s butt rather than laurels to rest on.

“After the second or third Grammy (in 2010), I leaned over to Charles and Hillary and was like, ‘Guys, we have to clear out our schedule and WORK on this music now,’” Haywood recalls with a laugh. The 29-year-old moved to Nashville in 2005 with schoolmate Kelley, whose older brother is country singer Josh Kelley, and joined forces with Scott via MySpace the following year.

“For me, what the Grammys tell you is that it’s all about the music that comes out of that studio,” he said. “It’s not about the big press opportunities or the big television things. For us it’s just about the music, so we want to keep it that way.

“So literally two days later we were back in the studio at 10 a.m., recording, and we definitely cleared out the schedule and moved a couple of things when we got back so we could stay creative and really come up with something we feel great about.”

Scott, 25, who married drummer Chris Tyrrell in January, says this year’s Grammy had a similar impact.

“We so appreciate these awards and these accolades,” she notes. “They really do spur you on and inspire you and make you go, ‘OK, they were kind enough to vote for us to win. We need to work hard and earn it again.’ You look on your shelf and go, ‘OK, I need to really be inspired today.’

“This (Grammy) really inspires us to move forward with writing for the next record — which we’re already doing.”

The success, of course, generates great expectations for Lady Antebellum. But Haywood says he, Kelley and Scott have learned there’s a certain safety in numbers.

“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,” he explains. “I think we were more comfortable with the entire process this time because we’re more comfortable with each other. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before, in all honesty, personally and professionally. We’re closer friends, so having some of the success just makes you more comfortable, I think.

“I mean, if you turn it into pressure, I feel like you’re really going to come out with a forced-sounding project and something that’s going to be a waste of time. That’s the last thing we want to do.”

“Own The Night” has let Lady A take a bigger show on the road, however, with the group’s first arena headlining trek.

“It’s a lot more of an ordeal,” Scott acknowledges. “We realize just how expensive this stuff is and how lucky we were before to be opening up for all the headlining artists (Tim McGraw, Martina McBride) who would be so generous with their equipment. Now that we’re paying for it, it’s like, ‘Whoa! They were really nice.’

“We just wanted to build a show that made fans feel that we were continuing to grow this relationship with them and give all the fans — those in the inner circle and those out in the arena — a really unforgettable experience. We’re not going too far outside of who we are, but we take it all up a notch.”

Lady A is also certain that “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” won’t be the last single from “Own The Night”; though Scott says the group is “listening over and over to three different” choices for a follow-up. The trio expects to be on the road for the balance of the year, but it’s also about a dozen songs into its fourth album — though Scott says the Lady A may “take our time with this one” after feeling “Own The Night” was “kind of rushed a little bit” on the heels of “Need You Now.”

“You never know what’s going to happen when a record comes out, as far as what people respond to and what they like,” Haywood explains. “We feel like we’re homing in more on our sound and what our fans have liked from us and what we feel they’re going to like going forward. It’s great to go out and give it to them and have that confidence behind us.”

Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker and David Nail perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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