Little Big Town's Journey: A True Reflection of Real Life
By Janelle Landauer
"We're really excited about some of the things that we've been writing. Things about road life and how sweet the journey's been... We still just want it to be a true reflection of real life. And, there are good days and bad days and I think the writing shows that."
The country music quartet, Little Big Town consists of two men (Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet) and two women (Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Roads) - all of whom take lead lines on different songs often making them one of the most unique bands in country music. "We put several of us, different ones in the vocal booths singing, trying to figure out what key is best and who should sing it and eventually we just land on it," says Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town. "We always agree - like okay Kimberly should sing this and here's why. There's never any ego involved or arguing or that kind of stuff. We are looking for the best performance and the best storyteller - whoever that might be for a particular song."
Little Big Town's debut single from their album The Road To Here - "Boondocks" - shot the group into the spotlight and onto the charts and in the process, they were dubbed another "overnight" success in Nashville. But, the reality is, they have been plugging away hoping for some kind of success for several years now. They ended up signing on with a few different labels and even released their debut self-titled album on Sony Monument in 2002. The album didn't take off like they had anticipated and they ended up going their separate ways from the label. "The first record that we did just wasn't a true reflection of the band," recalls Fairchild. "We intended it to be and at the time so did the label that we were on but we just didn't get there for various reasons but now, we know who we are..."
In 2005, Little Big Town refocused and really began their musical journey all over again with the release of their sophomore album - The Road To Here. Though it was their second album release, the album marked their debut from their new label, Equity Music Group. All it took was just that one song - "Boondocks" - for them to start receiving the attention that had avoided them previously but that this project really deserved. They followed up to their top-10 single "Boondocks" with a top-5 single - "Bring It On Home," and then went on to release "Good As Gone" and now "A Little More You" - which is currently in the Top 25 on the charts and climbing rapidly. The video for "A Little More You" which can be seen on CMT and GAC now, is one of Fairchild's favorite videos that the band has shot so far. She explains, "The video was shot down on a ranch in Central Florida, outside of Sarasota. They had all these natural springs, which is what you're seeing in the video. We spent all day there... That was the nicest, easiest, most relaxing and fun video we've ever done."
The entire buzz surrounding The Road To Here and their recent hit singles left little doubt just how talented this group is and the amount of success that was sure to follow. They were nominated for a handful of awards in 2006, including two CMA nominations and two GRAMMY nominations, one of which was for Country Album of the Year. "That's something that you always dream of - getting nominated for awards, and for a Grammy because that's the entire music industry giving you props for what you've done," says Fairchild. Though they didn't pick up any of the awards in 2006, they did, however win the Top New Duo or Group award at the ACM Awards last month in Las Vegas, proving that success on an independent label is far from limited.
After 4 hit singles, a Grammy-nominated platinum album, an ACM Award and more fans than they could have asked for, Little Big Town is gearing up for their next project which they are in the process of recording now. They are hoping for the new CD to be released in the fall, but no release date has been confirmed. "We're about 8 songs in and still writing," notes Fairchild. "We're really excited about some of the things that we've been writing. Things about road life and how sweet the journey's been and definitely more serious somber things... We still just want it to be a true reflection of real life. And, there are good days and bad days and I think the writing shows that.
It may have taken them awhile to get to where they are today, but the journey for Little Big Town has been sweet and rewarding not only in their music careers, but also in their personal lives. Band mates Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild tied the knot in late May of last year. Kimberly Roads and longtime friend Stephen Schlapman wed in November and are expecting their first child later this year. And, Phillip Sweet married Rebecca Arthur in March of this year. The progression of the band reflects on their many changes over the past couple years and their upcoming material will show this. "I'd say the record is definitely a cousin to The Road To Here - yet there's some growth and evolution that I think makes a lot of sense" says Fairchild. "I think we've just matured and understand better who we are as a band."
"We've accomplished more this last year than I would have ever dreamed," adds Fairchild. "We want to work really hard and keep it all going and make music that the country fans want to hear. The fans are the ones that demanded to hear "Boondocks" on the radio and wanted to see the video on the video channels. We just could not be more grateful and we're going to do our best to not let them down and keep giving them music that they can sing along to. It's all been so good, it's hard to imagine it getting any better, but we're going to give it our best shot... that's for sure!"