Earlier this month, Darius Rucker rejoined Hootie & the Blowfish for the group’s 12th annual Homegrown concert, a benefit for schoolchildren in and around Rucker’s Charleston, South Carolina, hometown. On August 25th, Rucker will revisit that homegrown theme when he releases his latest single, “Homegrown Honey.” Written with Nathan Chapman and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, the song is the first taste of Rucker’s upcoming fourth country album, which he’s currently recording in Nashville.
“When I get off the phone with you, I’m going right into the studio,” Rucker tells Rolling Stone Country. “We have written like 60 songs for this record, which is way too many. We’ll sit down and decide which 12 or 15 we want to cut. We’ve already cut six or seven.”
One of them being “Homegrown Honey.” Rucker says the up-tempo tune is a bit of a departure. “It’s a little different for me. It’s not one of those family songs — it’s really a country party song,” he says. “It’s talking about some country girl who lives in New York City. It’s got hooks galore.”
Rucker is working once again with producer Frank Rogers, who has been at the console since Rucker’s 2008 solo debut Learn to Live.
“Frank does great Darius records,” raves Rucker, who rarely enters the studio intentionally trying to do something sonically unique. “I can’t go in to record with the attitude that I want to sound different. It’s all about the songs for me. I want great songs. And if we have great songs, then Frank is the genius and does what he does.”
As such, country cuts like “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” Rucker’s first country Number One single, “Alright” and “Come Back Song” fit comfortably alongside his work with Hootie & the Blowfish. During Hootie shows this year, he and the band even performed some of his country material.
“We did ‘Alright’ and ‘Come Back Song’ together. We just learn it and do it,” he says, adding that Hootie mates Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld welcome Rucker’s solo songs warmly into their set.
Still, the Nineties supergroup’s catalog is vast.
“Hootie has so many songs,” says Rucker, “so people love it when we play one of the country songs, but they also love it when we play ‘Let Her Cry.'”