Lady Antebellum Talk Life Changes Behind New Music: ‘We’re Growing Up’
The members of country music trio Lady Antebellum have experienced quite a few life changes since releasing their last record in 2017. Now on the other side of a transitional period, those events have influenced the creative process for their next album; they're refreshed and ready to move forward.
"I feel like we all know ourselves and each other better. That only comes with age and being willing to look at yourself in the mirror honestly," Hillary Scott shared during a media event for the band's new single, "What If I Never Get Over You." "I think that’s showing itself in the songwriting process and the songs that we’re gravitating towards and choosing to record and make our own."
After releasing six LPs with Capitol Nashville -- Lady Antebellum's label home since the start of their career -- Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood signed to Big Machine Label Group in 2018. "We feel refreshed in a way artistically that we haven’t in a long time," Scott admits of the switch.
"[Big Machine] said something to us early on in this process that will forever be one of the most freeing things I’ve ever heard when it comes to going in to create an album: They said, 'You think about the commercial appeal of your music. You’re huge pop music fans. But go make the record that you’re gonna be proud for the rest of your life that you made,'" Scott recalls. "'At the end of the day, we want you, as your label partner, to lay your heads on a pillow at night and be so unbelievably proud of the record that you’re making.'"
Along with Lady A's label switch came the opportunity to work with a new producer: the legendary Dann Huff. The trio says collaborating with him has been a blast.
"The talent is just unreal. I love that if he has a vision for something, he can make it happen," says Haywood. "It’s just fascinating to watch him work and watch him do that."
Adds Kelley, "It’s making me really confident too that he’s not just phoning this in. He’s treating this like a big art piece for him and his career and his catalog as well. He’s just got such great ideas."
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Another major change that Lady Antebellum have welcomed into their lives is their growing families. In early 2018, Scott gave birth to twin girls, Emory and Betsy, after openly dealing with a miscarriage; the singer and her husband, Chris Tyrrell, went from a family of three -- they already had one daughter, Eisele -- to a family of five. Scott says she was inspired and back in the routine of writing with her collaborators when her two youngest daughters were just eight weeks old.
Haywood, too, welcomed a second child, daughter Lillie, in December of 2017, with his wife Kelli. Kelley and his wife Cassie have a young son as well, meaning all three Lady A members are navigating the territory of parenthood while balancing a career in music.
"We’re bringing 10-plus more years of life into the process, so it’s familiar and cozy. It feels so comfortable, but it’s also fresh because we are in the middle of talking about what it’s like to be parents to toddlers. My little girl is starting kindergarten, and we have babies that are keeping us up at night," Scott says. "All those things are working their way into the music as well."
"I think there’s a lot of that on the record," Kelley continues. "On the flip side, we feel like our fans are such a diverse group of fans that we don’t want to just pigeonhole ourselves into a spot that’s, like, songs about babies. I think, as storytellers, it’s fun to put yourself in places as well."
In addition, Kelley has dealt with some personal transformations that were difficult at the time but brought him out on the other side feeling lighter. He confronted his drinking habits with help from his wife and his bandmates.
"It [was] a little dark moment there for us as a band, and even me and my wife. It felt like I was going through this mini mid-life crisis of, 'Is this it? Is this what we’re doing?'" Kelley confesses. "I always want to chase something new, and [I'm] just learning to step back and enjoy the current and not always wish for something more."
After having a "come-to-Jesus" moment, Kelley says he's rediscovered his spiritual side, too. He hopes his experience will inspire fans who may be feeling lost.
"It was very therapeutic to actually talk about it and put that in a song. I sent that one to my dad, and he said he cried because he’s been praying for me for the longest time to find God again and really get that connection, and it means a lot to him, and I hope maybe when some fans hear that, Kelley adds. "I was very stubborn with that concept a lot."
All in all, Lady Antebellum are simply rolling with the punches of life. "We’re growing up," Scott says.
"Our music is growing, and we’re evolving in front of the world," she adds. "There’s definitely been hits and misses, and us just trying to navigate how to stay creatively true to ourselves in the process, and it’s been pretty vulnerable."
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