When Lady Antebellum concludes their Wheels Up Tour in Camden, New Jersey, next month, the show will mark the end of the touring cycle for the trio of Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. While the band will play a one-off date at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October, they’re committed to disappearing from the daily limelight.
“We’re going to step away for a little while,” Kelley tells Rolling Stone Country. “As a band, we’ve talked about wanting to get off the hamster wheel for a little bit and let the fans miss us for a second. We want to spend some time to write a record like we did for our first record. But it’s always been go, go, go, so we’ll try to get reinspired a little bit.”
Kelley, who recently celebrated a Number One as a songwriter with Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey,” says the group, who released their fifth album 747 in 2014, has vanquished any fear of losing momentum. And he’s comfortable with where the band currently resides in the country-music stratosphere.
“We can take some time off and not feel like we’re going to lose it all. We felt like that in the past, if we left off the throttle. So, yeah, we’re not quite as hot as we were around ‘Need You Now,’ but we realize the fans are there,” he says. “It’s all about the music, so we need to step away and make the best music we can. That’s the only way it’s going to sustain itself.”
Kelley is looking forward to writing for the next Lady A album, as well as for other artists. In addition to Rucker’s “Honey,” he scored a songwriting hit with “Do I” for Luke Bryan and has penned songs with David Nail and Hunter Hayes. He says working outside of the Lady Antebellum bubble is a chance for him to spread his wings.
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“Just being able to write a song that may not necessarily be a Lady Antebellum song, to put on a different hat. I love writing with other artists, I really do. Because you can try to guess what they would want to say, and how they would sing it,” he says.
In the end, though, Lady A’s break comes at the most unusual of times, according to Kelley: “The irony is we’re probably the happiest as a band we’ve ever been.”
Lady Antebellum will perform in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.