10 Questions with ... Lady Antebellum
November 2, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1. Please tell us how you all met and formed Lady Antebellum?
DAVE: Charles & I moved to Nashville in 2006 and he randomly met Hillary out one night and invited her to write with us. We were living at his brother's house (Josh Kelley). We spent that summer writing what mostly because our debut album. Josh invited us to open for him at 3rd & Lindsley and we used that opportunity to showcase some of the songs we had written - really for Hillary, who was pursuing a solo career. It became pretty evident there was something special in us performing together and it just evolved quickly from there.
2. What is the significance of the name "Lady Antebellum?" Please tell us how you came up with this name?
CHARLES: This is my fault! We were trying to come up with a really cool band name, and after several epic fails, we were taking some photos in front of old Antebellum-style homes in Franklin, TN and that word just stuck with us. I called Hillary & Dave and suggested "Lady Antebellum" and they agreed with me, thinking if we ever got a record deal that we would have to change it.
3. Please tell us about the experience you had the first time you all sang together and you realized that your voices blended so well together? How do you structure your harmonies? And what was the first song you ever sang together?
HILLARY: The first song we wrote together is called "All We'd Ever Need". Before we got together, Charles sang in a much higher voice, but once we started writing demoing those early songs, it fit better in his lower register, then Dave added his harmony. We really came across it accidentally.
4. Your biggest hits seem to either be about romance or loss of love. Now that everyone is married and there are two children in the family, how does that affect your songwriting?
CHARLES: We're all in a happy place personally and are fortunate to be able to take our families out on the road with us as much as possible. But, we draw inspiration from a lot of different places. We've all been in love and had relationships in the past that didn't work. We just try to write what we know about and have lived through.
5. You usually write new material on the road. How did touring inspire your writing for the new project?
DAVE: Ever since our first tour, we would sit around during the day jamming with our band guys backstage. We find ourselves to be most creative when we're on the road, and we're always stockpiling songs for the next project. Sometimes inspiration will come from a guitar riff, or a phrase or idea someone comes up with. We also bring out other writers almost every weekend and they'll come with several ideas.
6. For your new album "747", you decided to bring in a new producer and work with Nathan Campbell. What led to the change?
HILLARY: We are always looking for new ways to challenge ourselves creatively. On the last album, we would have never written a song like "Downtown" and singing it created a whole new challenge that helped me grow vocally. We were ready to try a new creative team to build on the sound we built over the years, but give it a different twist of energy.
7. You've scored nine #1's on the Country charts. Is achieving that #1 chart position still important to you?
CHARLES: We always want to record songs that resonate with the fans, whether we write them or not. But, it's an incredible feeling when one connects in such a big way and makes it all the way to #1. We spend a lot of time playing songs for programmers long before we release them to get a sense of what they think their listeners will gravitate toward.
8. Taylor Swift just declared her latest project all pop. You've had crossover success, have you ever flirted with the idea of making a record targeted for the pop audience?
DAVE: We're country artists at heart and will always make country records. Anymore it seems fans listen to a variety of genres each influences the other. We just make records that inspire us and love when they reach a larger audience.
9. You actively work international markets like Canada and the U.K. How do your fans respond to your music differently in other countries?
CHARLES: It's always interesting to see what international audiences respond to. The UK fans, in particular, are incredible students of music - they know the lyrics to every song on every album. The last time we toured Europe we were playing an album track and the whole room was singing it at the top of their lungs. We just stood back and took it in. But, we have invested a lot of time developing Canada, UK, Australia and a few other markets. This album is the first time we've released different singles the different countries. It's been a great way to test different songs at the same time.
10. Charles, your brother Josh Kelley has had some success as a songwriter and performer as well. Please tell us how you influenced each other musically when you were growing up, and how you have helped each other navigate the business side of things?
CHARLES: Josh & I are less than 2 years apart in age and we grew up listening to a lot of the same music. If it weren't for him living in Nashville, I don't know that Dave & I would have moved here when we did. I'm such a huge fan of his voice and his writing style, and we bounce a lot of things off each other creatively.
11. You've hinted at your fourth headline tour coming up next year. What can we expect next time around?
HILLARY: We are so excited about next year's tour. There are two other acts joining us who we are all really big fans of musically, and personally. It was really important to us to put together a package of acts who music was complimentary so it felt like a comprehensive night of music, not just three back-to-back sets. The creative will be the same way...stay tuned!
12. You have collaborated with artists outside the Country genre like Maroon 5, Stevie Nicks, etc. Are there any others on your wish list?
DAVE: There are so many. We all love what Sam Smith is doing right now. It would be great to sing with a Country legend like Vince Gill at some point.
13. With more than 2 million Twitter followers and nearly 12 million Facebook friends, how do you stay engaged with such a large social media fan base?
HILLARY: I first became a fan of Charles' voice through his brother's MySpace page, so connecting through social media has always been a part of our adult lives. Years ago we created a Webisode Wednesday series and for 300 weeks put together some kind of video of what we were doing to share with our fans. Content is so instantaneous now, so we try to capture what we're doing and share it as quickly as possible. We let our team post marketing messages and then we each post personal things as well.
14. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
CHARLES: We each have such different influences. I love classic rock...Tom Petty and guys like that, but love Vince Gill too. Hillary leans toward females from Aretha Franklin to Trisha Yearwood. Dave...and all of us...are big fans of harmonic bands like the Eagles.
15. What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
DAVE: We will usually record bits & pieces into our phone when something comes to us. We also have a small rig in the back of our bus and will record something if the mood strikes and save it for later when we're looking for ideas.
16. How are you using new music technologies to record music and in your personal life?
HILLARY: We're on a group text together and send everything from song ideas, news, favorite restaurants, set lists, etc to each other. There is a mobile recording studio in the back of Charles & Dave's bus and we can write a song in the morning and have the demo recorded by lunch, and then email it out immediately. It has helped us be a lot more efficient in the studio.
17. Why is this lifestyle (recording, singing, traveling) one that you're willing to follow?
CHARLES: There was never a backup plan. Music is our life and even if we had not made it as artists, we would have been songwriters.
18. Who are some of the new artists who inspire you?
DAVE: Sam Hunt...we love what he is doing right now. It's great to see artists from Nashville have success in other formats, like Meghan Trainor. Sam Smith is unbelievable.
19. Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians?
HILLARY: Never follow trends. Authenticity always lasts.
20. What is the one truth that has always remained constant throughout your career?
CHARLES: You have to love what you do and wake up every morning inspired, and create balance between work and personal life.
What do you do in your spare time?
CHARLES: I like to golf as much as I can...it's a great way to clear the mind, and you usually learn a lot about what's going on in the business or around town.
How do you balance your family life?
DAVE: It's always a challenge, but we make sure and commit certain blocks of time off and holidays where we can, and bring our families with us when we can't.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
HILLARY: Our families. We're all fortunate to have really supportive parents & siblings.
Favorite city to visit:
CHARLES: New York - so many great places to eat. It's hard to not get inspired by a city with so much energy. London is always amazing to visit also.