(Radio.com) You'll hear every country artist say it: their fans are their most important asset. They drive the enthusiasm for an artist's music, and then back that up with album and concert-ticket sales. So when an artist feels their fans are showing interest in new directions their music may be heading, they pay attention.
For Lady Antebellum, that fan enthusiasm is now leading them in new musical directions. Two recent singles of theirs in particular, "Downtown" and "Compass," showed the band shifting away from the mid-tempo ballads ("Need You Now," "Dancin' Away with My Heart") on which they'd built their career and testing the waters with more upbeat material. And according to Lady A vocalist Hillary Scott, fan response for that shift has been overwhelmingly positive.
"When we released Compass,' it was embraced so well," Scott told Radio.com during a phone conversation last week. "We could tell our fans were just wanting uptempo from us [and] not wanting another mid-tempo [song] or ballad. They wanted to see a different side of us."
The result of that is a shift toward higher-energy songs in their shows-and on record. The trio (Scott, Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood) is putting the finishing touches on a new album that is brimming with songs that have tempo and, as Scott describes it, a "fun" spirit. They're also working with a new producer, Nathan Chapman, who's best known for his work with Taylor Swift.
"Nathan saw things in the three of us as a band that we hadn't seen," Scott said. "And [he] gave us the confidence and permission to explore that, to be fun."
"Fun" is a word that comes up frequently in our conversation. It represents the bandmembers' ultimate goal of musical longevity. "If we're trying to be a successful touring act for years to come," Scott explained, "we need to have these high-energy moments throughout our show."
One of the last songs that Lady A wrote for their upcoming album is "Bartender" and as soon as they finished it, they knew it would make a great lead single for the new project. "Sometimes whenever you take a little bit of the pressure off is when you have a surprise show up," Scott said.
The bandmates wrote "Bartender" with veteran Nashville songwriter Rodney Clawson. "He's been a part of so many songs," Scott said, among them Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party," Tim McGraw's "Southern Girl" and Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky" and "Take a Little Ride."
Lyrically, "Bartender" is about drinking in the wake of a romantic split - familiar territory for Lady A, yet the song's attitude and spirit are vastly different than the group's best-known breakup song, "Need You Now." In "Bartender," the female protagonist is "not going to drown in her tears," Scott said enthusiastically. "She's going to go have fun with her friends, experience life, and make a new memory. And I love that." Read the full interview here.