Country superstars Little Big Town did a neat job crossing into the music world's multigenre consciousness via the Grammy-winning summer anthem "Pontoon" in 2012, a song that celebrated the joys of coozies, catchin' rays, and mmmmmmm...motorboatin'.
How to follow that success up? Why, release a song called "Day Drinking," which swaps out the theoretical lake/river for a patio and umbrella, but basically espouses the same idea: Lazy-day enjoyment with a little liquid fun thrown in.
Did the band have any worries that fans might think they're being a little redundant? "No, we had no problem with that at all," says singer Karen Fairchild with a laugh. "We like writing music and making music that makes people feel good."
LBT themselves exude an infectious sense of good humor and genuine friendliness, rare to find in an outfit that's had the same four members over its more than 15 years together. However, it's not libations that have smoothed their path; just simple good chemistry through their history.
"I just think we’re really good friends," says the band's Jimi Westbrook. "We try to be respectful of each other and that seems to have worked."
It has worked well, indeed. The group is poised to release their sixth album, Pain Killer, on October 21. Although the title of the set might suggest the party vibe is a bit of a theme throughout, LBT note that that isn't the case.
"We address a lot of different subjects," Westbrook explains. "A lot of different times when people are sad they want to listen to sad music, or they want to listen to something that means something to them and helps them heal. So, we were thinking of it in that way as well."
"The whole record I think will surprise people, really," is Kimberly Schlapman's opinion, while Fairchild adds, "There’s some rocking stuff on there, really bold...it's kind of a brave record. It’s the next step for the band for sure."
"if we went back to 2005 in a space machine or whatever you call ‘em and listen to [us] today – we’d be excited," smiles Schlapman.
Phillp Sweet opines that the group has grown consistently more aggressive – in a good way – since releasing their debut record. "The records have gotten bolder and more unapologetic in whatever emotion we take – whichever road we happen to go down," he explains. "It just keeps getting more and more so."
Whatever steps they have taken over the years have unfailingly proved to be correct ones for LBT, who first found themselves nominated for awards back in 2006 and took the road all the way to their Grammy win in 2013. This fall, the quartet will be joining Blake Shelton as advisors on the newest season of "The Voice," ("We had a blast," the band enthuses of their taping. "Blake is the best") further sealing their path as a crossover success story.
"Man, we’ve been blessed,"states Westbrook with a grin. "We’ve been able to do a lot of really cool things and be a part of some really amazing collaborations with people that we love and admire. All of that has made tthese past few years incredible."
Nothing pain-ful about it? Not if you ask any of the band members. "We just love what we do," says Sweet. It really is that simple.
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- Karen Fairchild