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Lady Antebellum savoring their return to the road
Some bands take a break from the road to recharge their batteries and kick back from the all the touring madness.
For country music powerhouse Lady Antebellum, their very happy “break” from touring — due to the birth of lead vocalist Hillary Scott’s daughter last summer — was anything but a vacation. Band members Dave Haywood (vocals, guitar, piano) and Charles Kelley (lead vocals) returned to the recording studio (later joined by Scott) to do what they love most: make music.
Not that they didn’t’ have SOME down time, says Kelley.
“We had 6 or 7 months off the road comin’ at us,” Kelley said during a recent phone conversation from the studio where the band is recording “a whole bunch of new songs.” “But we had been [touring] hard for 7 or 8 years without more than two or three weeks off. So to have a few months off, I did stop and take a breath for a little while. I went to Italy with my wife, played some golf. [Laughs] Had a little life outside work. On the flip side, it made me realize how much I miss music and touring and how much I love it. It’s just a crazy rush to be out on that stage again. We live for that feeling. We missed our fans so much.”
Known for megahits such as “Lookin’ for a Good Time,” “I Run to You” “American Honey” and “Our Kind of Love,” the Grammy-winning trio’s maternity break meant the postponement of their fall 2013 tour behind their fourth studio album, “Golden.” The album’s two breakout singles — “Downtown” reached the top spot on the Country Airplay chart, while “Goodbye Town” peaked at No. 11, but Kelley says the album lacked the fun, uptempo rocker that their fans had become used to.
The break was, well, a “golden” opportunity for the band; they went back in the studio to record three new songs for “Golden Deluxe,” a special edition of its predecessor, which includes five bonus tracks and their most recent hit, the hugely catchy and uptempo rocker “Compass.”
“’Golden’ was for me, my favorite record we ever made,” Kelley said. “I mean ‘Downtown’ was a complete left turn from anything we’d done before. We wanted to make that whole album more organic. We wanted to push our sound. But there wasn’t really any true upbeat songs that our fans were used to. So we went back in and recorded ‘Compass’ and [the mid-tempo] ‘And the Radio Played.’”
The strategy worked. Kelley says the new tour is a rockin’ love fest.
“We’ve always been much more of a contemporary country band,” he said. “This last album was much more organic and stripped down. We’ve done the heartbreak stuff a lot, so we want to show a different side of the band. But we needed that really fun, kickin’ song for the live shows. So the show now is basically everybody up and on their feet the whole time. We’ve got the ballads but we’ve also got the really rockin’ uptempo songs that get people excited and singing along.”
The current tour, which kicked off Jan. 10 in Peoria, features Kip Moore and recent Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves.
“[Kacey} is just awesome," Kelley said. Shes' this great sinter-songwriter. She and Kip are both having great succcess. Gives you an idea of what's happening in country music today. We couldn't be three more different types of country [on the same bill].”
And no surprise, Kelley says the trio is busy writing their next album and heading into the studio every break they get from the current tour to lay down tracks.
“Our shows don’t start till 9 at night in some places, so we’ve got all day, might as well write songs and record songs,” Kelley said with a laugh. “We’re trying to record as much as we can and work with our label on when and how to put it out there.”
With Kacey Musgraves, Kip Moore
7 p.m. Feb. 26
Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont