News Column

Lady Antebellum continues to push for that big sound

August 21, 2014

By Kellie B. Gormly, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Aug. 21--If you like Lady Antebellum's hit "Bartender," just wait until you get the new "747" album, set to release Sept. 30, says Dave Haywood, one-third of the trio that is coming to the First Niagara Pavilion for an Aug. 23 concert.

"It's been really exciting," says Haywood, who plays piano, guitar and mandolin and sings backing vocals. "Bartender," one of the band's fastest-chart-rising songs, "has been doing really great for us since it came out," he says.

"It's got a big sound to it," Haywood says. "It's fun, and I think that's a great taste of what's going to come with the rest of the project."

Lady Antebellum's fifth studio album, "747" offers the same fun, along with the power and grandness that inspired the jumbo-jet name, Haywood says.

The band worked with Nathan Chapman, known mostly for his work with Taylor Swift, to co-produce the 11-song album for Capitol Records Nashville.

"Our intent with this project was to really pack as much energy into one album as (we) could," Haywood says. "I think for us, we wanted to make a conscious effort to push ourselves. We were always trying to find how we make these songs sound as big as we can, as high-energy as we can, as infectious as we can."

The new album's title track especially captures the intensity of the album. It's "the song that kind of comes smack at you like a plane or a freight train," says Haywood, a Georgia native who now, like the other band members, lives in Nashville.

Lady Antebellum members -- Haywood, along with front lady Hillary Scott and vocalist-guitarist Charles Kelley -- wrote six of the album's songs, but fans might not realize just how many songs they write overall.

"(We) write like crazy," Haywood says, adding that often, after finishing up a concert, the trio will work on song ideas until 2 a.m. They wrote 35 to 40 potential songs just for this album and have a stockpile of tunes in song storage.

"You kind of just write, and you read what you've written and think you can continue to improve," Haywood says."That's just in our bones or our nature, what we love doing."

At meet-and-greet events, band members hear story after story from fans about how certain songs touched them, he says.

Some of Lady Antebellum's biggest hits, in addition to "Need You Now," include "Our Kind of Love," "I Run to You" and "Love Don't Live Here."

"We pour everything we have lyrically, emotionally ... into our songs," Haywood says. "I think that's what's special about country music: These songs are real life. And that's what people relate to."

Lady Antebellum, who came upon their name after posing for a publicity photo in front of an antebellum-era house in Franklin, Tenn., is among country acts on the rise.

Like Luke Bryan, the Zac Brown Band and Jason Aldean, the band began in the mid-2000s with moderate success; then, in 2010, they became A-list sensations that qualified them to headline shows at First Niagara Pavilion, Heinz Field and PNC Park.

Haywood pinpoints 2010 as the band's turning point, when the second studio album, "Need You Now" came out and the megahit title track spent several weeks at No. 1.

"It catapulted us to a larger audience in a shorter amount of time," he says. "The awareness in that record really launched us to be able to see big audiences and crowds. What I feel so proud about is that I feel like we've really been able to maintain that."

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7824 or


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