Zac Brown Band haven't exactly been quiet since the 2012 release of their last album, Uncaged. But as the titular frontman tells Rolling Stone Country, the group is gearing up for a busy 2015, entering the studio this week to begin arranging their as-yet-untitled new album in preparation for a release sometime next year.
"We start arranging this week and then the next two-and-a-half months, all we're doing is recording," Brown tells Rolling Stone Country. "We've got 18 strong songs that we've whittled down and gotten ready. But you never know; one might pop up and get done right before [we start recording]."
Asked to describe how the band's music has changed since the release of Uncaged and last year's The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1, Brown demurred on specifics, but noted the band's maturation in recent years. "We're all continuing to grow up and get better as musicians and the chemistry as a band continues to deepen," says the musician. "Our boundaries have dissolved and we're going to still do things that are somewhat familiar that people like, but we're also going to stretch out and take chances beyond what we've done before. Some people are going to be really surprised."
Brown points to one new song titled "Beautiful Drug" as a step in this new direction. "Believe it or not, it's about a girl," says Brown. "But she's the guy's beautiful drug. I think that'll be a big crossover tune for us."
On November 11th, Zac Brown Band will release Greatest Hits So Far…, a compilation of the band's first 14 singles ranging from "Chicken Fried," a song originally recorded in 2003 that the band re-recorded for 2008's The Foundation, to last year's "Sweet Annie," the fourth single from Uncaged.
But as Brown notes, the compilation functions as much as "a placeholder" until the new album, as a reminder of the band's past success. For now, Zac Brown Band is fully focused on their Uncaged follow-up, having spent the past two years working on the new LP. "We spent a lot of time getting [the songs] all down and ready to go, so when we go into the studio to record, it's all business," Brown says. "We're not in there necessarily creating; we're in there executing what we've been working on these last few years to create."