Co-lead singer Charles Kelley talks about the tour arriving here Friday.
Q Why did you postpone the start of the tour two months, from fall to winter?
A To give us a little more time to get the production bowed in and have some more new music and give Hillary [Scott, the other lead singer] more time to get settled in with her baby [born in July]. I think it did us a lot of good. I think the fans were craving some more fun and up-tempo material from us, and we could sense that ourselves. Seven, eight years into this, the fans are either going to tune out or you’re going to have to show them something different.
Q Talk about “Compass,” your current single, for which you worked with Stargate, the team behind hits for Rihanna and Beyoncé. It has almost a Mumford & Sons-like vibe with banjo, fiddle and anthemic choruses.
A We’re trying to mix it up a little bit. We always like to take left turns. “Downtown” [a 2013 single] sounded like nothing we’ve ever done. “Compass,” the same thing. It’s just to find great songs. And to not repeat ourselves. But you don’t want to push it too far. Your fans expect a certain kind of feel. But within those parameters, we can certainly try to find something cool. Stargate wrote the song and cut the demo. We completely re-cut the track. It just felt like a great country song to us.
Q Jennifer Nettles just stepped away from Sugarland for a solo album. Have you considered a similar move?
A No. That would only happen if we weren’t enjoying being onstage together. This time off showed us how much we miss being with each other up there, singing these hits. If I was on my own, I can’t imagine not being able to sing “American Honey” ’cause it’s a Hillary lead. It’s just not on our radar.