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Interview with Little Big Town

Little Big Town is an American country music vocal group. Founded in 1998, the group has comprised the same four members since its inception: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. The quartet’s musical style relies heavily on four-part vocal harmonies, with all four members alternating as lead singers. Westbrook and Sweet also play rhythm guitar.

Ch.L.: Country Music has many new fans in Europe , who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who’se never seen or heard you before.

L.B.T.:  (KF) We are a southern-influenced harmony acoustic rhythm band – a lot of diversity in there! Obviously the harmony is a feature of the band, the four voices together are the driving force in the music that we do. We’ve been greatly influenced by Southern Californian American harmony bands of the, 70s like Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Eagles, and a country band called Alabama – but we took off on our own path. We love the acoustic guitar to drive the songs because that’s what we write the music on, so it’s really about that, and the four voices starting the tracks off.

Ch.L.: How did you choose the title for the album „The Reason Why“, is there a story behind it?

L.B.T.:  (PS) There’s a song on the album called that and towards the end of the record making process that was the one that came to life. The title itself just had multiple layered meanings for us. ‘The reason why’ we‘ve been a band for 12 years and keep doing this is the music – and that’s what always continues to motivates and inspires us and it felt like the right title to call this record. I was basically the journey we’d been on and up to this point we we’re at a really good place in our lives – and this one just seemed to want to be called that.

Ch.L.: Please tell us about the songs on your album.

L.B.T.:  (JW) – They’re all fantastic! I think that the cool thing about this record for us is that we really wanted to dive into some things we love musically and that we maybe hadn’t done yet on a record. They range from a 6/8 stone cold country ballad called ‘you can’t have everything’ which Kimberley sings that I guess is one of the more country things we’ve done, to a really modern song called ‘kiss good bye’ with these soaring vocals. I think if we’re to say anything it’s the diversity of this record we’re most proud of, for instance I really think you get the picture even more so of the types of music we’ve been influenced by and the music that we love.

Ch.L.: What’s the difference between your last CD and „The Reason Why“?

L.B.T.: (KS) We set out to do several things differently this time. On this record we wanted to have the same Little Big Town sound that fans would recognize but we wanted to evolve a bit and not make the same record again. We did things differently all the way from the sonic sound of the record to the aesthetics of the studio – when recording we changed the furniture all around in there to make it different – this is the third record we made in there with our producer Wayne Kirkpatrick so we wanted it to feel fresh and not like we were doing the same thing over again. We challenged ourselves to put the vocals more out front this time. We turned down the instruments a little more than we usually do and the vocals stand out a little bit more and we’re really proud of that accomplishment and I think we’ve been really successful at that and we were very hard on ourselves on this record. Song wise we were very careful about the songs that we wrote and we put on the record and the ones that we chose from other song writers and we worked very, very hard and I think we hit our mark that we were striving for.

Ch.L.: Your current single „Little White Church“ is being played by radio. What do you thing is special about this song that makes people what to hear it?

L.B.T.: (KF) It makes people laugh and dance and people want to have a good time right now. It’s a kind of funny little song about a reluctant groom and a kind of ticked off bride and sort of delivering the ultimatum of get right with this right or I’m out of here. During the live show we watched the girls go crazy on this song and wave their fists in the air and go to their boyfriends ‘like, yeah, come on, give me the ring’..I think it sounds a little bit different for us and yet familiar and that was the goal.
(KS) There’s a lot of energy in this one – when we sing it loud the crowd comes to life and it is great to have them singing along with us.

Ch.L.: What will your next single be?

L.B.T.: We’re probably going to put out ‘kiss goodbye’ which is track 3 on the record. This song –which we didn’t write unfortunately – it’s one of those songs that speaks to a lot of different situations in life – there are so many situations and times in our lives that we have to let go of things that we love and have been holding onto tightly – we know a love that’s lost, you can lose someone to death or your daughter growing up and leaving home. There have been so many people who’ve talked about what this song has meant to them and it just speaks about all of that and it’s a very real emotion that we all experience through our lives. The big soaring chorus really showcases what we really do best, and that’s what’s really exciting about the song.

Ch.L.: Who do you look up musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

L.B.T.: (KS) We were influenced by so many bands growing up – California harmony bands like the Mamas and the Papas all the way to the Eagles and Alabama. The harmonies have always drawn us into music and we all grew up signing harmony with our families, so it’s just something that comes really natural for us.
(KF) Our roots run deep musically not just with the influences for us but we have that from our families – all of us grew up singing harmony with our families and we didn’t really find that out about each other until we became a band and we were talking one day about how we grew up singing with our brothers and sisters or our moms and dads – we all had that in common so I guess that’s why the harmony came so naturally for the four of us.

Ch L: How did you meet?

L.B.T.: Kimberley and Karen went to college together in Birmingham, Alabama. Karen moved to Nashville first then Kimberley joined her and they started brainstorming.
‘We were really good friends and thought what can we do together that would be unique and different and harmony driven and so we had this crazy idea to do a Mamas and Papas country version – with a different harmony structure but that kind of configuration of voices – that hadn’t really been done in country music here in the States. We thought that would be interesting and we set out to find the right chemistry with guys to put the band together. That was in 1999 when we finally came together with Phillip and Jimi and the four of us formed the band. (KF).

Ch.L.: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

L.B.T.:  (PS) We have a web site We have a brand new site launched so there’s lots of fun things to do to drive the community and to drive interaction between fans. Also lots of music clips and video clips, touring news and information, reviews – it’s a way to connect with people out there.
(JW) You can build your own profile and things like that – its kind of similar to the facebook format. There’s a lot of stuff to do on there.

Christian Lamitschka ( )

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