DIARY - 3 MARCH 2008 - SUGARLAND INTERVIEW
- FROM ATLANTA TO VEGAS
time you find you want to leave her bed for mine, why don't you stay?"
- Stay - Jennifer Nettles.
in TV series Las Vegas, written the theme song for Good Morning America
and had an ice cream named after them.
But Sugarland lead singer Jennifer Nettles hasn't yet been approached
by tabloid TV show, Cheaters, to use her cheating song Stay.
"No, they haven't approached me," Nettles, 33, told Nu Country
TV in a call from the Atlanta studio where Sugarland recorded its third
"God, is there a show called Cheaters? There is so much stuff on
TV I can't believe they have. Wow - how about that."
Nettles wrote Stay from the perspective of one of the guilt filled
cheaters who urged her companion to stay with his betrothed.
As a huge hit it was a lucrative jangle of the eternal triangle - a staple
of the country genre.
But Nettles is not awaiting a call from Cheaters.
She and her performing partner Kristian Bush, 37, had a cameo on NBC TV
show Las Vegas screened here on the Seven Network - as Sugarland.
We played ourselves but I had one speaking line to one of the male
principals, says Nettles who was born in Douglas in rural south-east
Georgia and raised by her teacher mother in suburban Decatur in Atlanta.
pretty nervous - it's pretty hard to be yourself in a situation like that.
We were the house band. It's harder to be yourself than act the character."
The time spent to shoot the scene was also demanding.
"TV is a whole different beast," Nettles added.
"If you think the music industry is hurry up and wait, try TV. It
was a totally different rhythm to what we're used to - it was an experience."
formed in Atlanta in 2003, has sold more than four million albums
since it debuted as a trio.
Nettles fronted Georgian groups Soulminer's Daughter and the Jennifer
Nettles Band after being reared on gospel.
Multi-instrumentalist singer and mandolinist Bush also recorded and
toured with folk duo Billy Pilgrim before he, Nettles and Kristen
Hall formed Sugarland.
Bush wrote Small Town Jericho and radio-rooted Tennessee about
his East Tennessee roots after growing up near Knoxville at Sevierville
- the little town that was also the home of Dolly Parton and her clan.
But co-founder Hall, now 46, reportedly quit the band to pursue a
songwriting career after the trio soared the charts with debut disc
Twice The Speed Of Life in 2004.
Hall was co-writer of finale song Sugarland on their second album
Enjoy The Ride in 2006.
She also penned Soft Place To Land on Louisiana born recent Australian
tourist Mary Gauthier's latest album Between Daylight And Dark.
Now, on the eve of releasing the first single from its third album in
April, Sugarland is making a whirlwind tour of Australia.
Nettles and Bush front their seven-piece band that plays the CMC Rocks
The Snowy Country & Roots Festival on March 14 and 15 and the Fremantle
west coast blues and roots festival on March 16.
Sugarland also performs an intimate showcase at the Northcote Social Club
on March 18 and Oxford Arts Factory in Darlinghurst, Sydney, on March
everybody's dreaming big, oh, everybody's just getting by/ that's how
it goes in everyday America/ a little town and a great big life."
- Everyday America - Jennifer Nettles-Kristian Bush-Lisa Carver
is using TV as an international springboard because of paucity of country
music on mainstream metropolitan radio in Australia.
They hope to enjoy TV exposure with similar success to the U.S.
The band's U.S. TV task was a little easier - revamping its song Everyday
America as the theme song for Good Morning America.
"They had originally come to us and asked if we could write a theme
song for the show," Nettles explained.
"We said we already had it so we changed from Everyday America
to Good Morning America in the chorus."
Sugarland has also won wide international exposure on CMT in the U.S.
and Europe and here on CMC and Nu Country TV for its video clips.
"Yes, there was a steamy shower scene in Want To," Nettles quipped.
"It was the first time we had done it in that way - in a character
plot. We had gone outside of being more than a performance video. It was
the first time we had to dive in where acting is concerned. Stay was also
pretty powerful. People say are you acting or is that you? Part of you
is in there - sure, there is part of you that is acting and being a character."
AND BON JOVI
also broadened its audience by doing a bluegrass version of the Beyonce
hit Irreplaceable on the recent American Music Awards.
"That was our idea," Nettles said.
"You know we have done that song on our shows in that way for
months - it has been out on YouTube and she had seen it through our
publishers. She really liked it and said why don't we do it together.
We said that would be great - it was such a fun thing to do in that
way and have her come and do it. It was really neat. We like to take
songs by other artists and turn them around and give them a new arrangement
so people can see them in a new light - we try to pack in a couple
of surprises with covers of that nature."
Nettles also expanded audiences and won a Grammy for her duet with
Jon Bon Jovi on Who Says You Can't Go Home.
great to do a collaboration when it's done right," Nettles explained.
"That song was such a pleasant surprise - when you go into something
like that you don't know how it's going to be accepted. It was accepted
and did really well. One of the perks of that sort of collaboration you
get in front of their audience and they get in front of yours. At the
end of the day people like good music. It's what I call the IPOD generation.
People would have everything on their MP3 players from Beyonce to Sugarland
to Missy Elliott to Johnny Cash. It's less about lifestyle than it used
to be. It's more about having a broad taste."
Nettles was singing for Soulminer's Daughter when her music first graced
TV - her song Story of Your Bones was used in the Dawson's Creek
But the Georgian singer confessed she had never seen the episode that
featured her song.
"They contacted us and wanted to licence my song," says Nettles
who wrote the tune about her then husband Todd Van Sickles whom she divorced
in March of 2007.
"He was a nightclub owner in Atlanta."
minutes left to throw me together/ for Mr Right now, not Mr Forever."
- Settlin' - Jennifer Nettles-Kristian Bush-Tim Owens.
confessed the ruptured romance provided fertile fodder for the new
album on which she and Bush co-wrote all the songs and produced with
Byron Gallimore with whom they worked on Enjoy The Ride.
"Divorce can be a catalyst absolutely," Nettles revealed.
"Any time you go through loss to that degree, anyone who has
gone through a divorce can attest to that. It's so difficult and so
painful. Sure, your heart is broken but what happens after that is
that heart breaking leads to a lot more space within your heart for
other things to come in for compassion. There are definitely things
on this record that are inspired by both the pain and the beauty of
going through and then surviving such a loss."
that the rigors of the road put strain on her marriage.
on the road is hard on any relationship," she added.
"People are really lucky if they can find someone in this job and
possibly acting that can understand not only the passion for it but the
demand and the commitment to it as well that one that is not intimidated."
Nettles drew a contrast with expatriate Australians.
"Look at the case of the big export here of Keith Urban and Nicole
Kidman who I call Australia's Elvis And Priscilla," she explained.
"They are so super famous over here and there and have obviously
found each other - that's an example of how a relationship can be when
you understand each other's job in that way. That comes to mind - he's
a wonderful performer and a great songwriter - his show is wonderful.
I would love to do a show there with him
ON THE COUNTY LINE
a place I like to go/ cherry bombs and cherry wine/ just past the Texaco/
down on the county line." - County Line - Jennifer Nettles-Kristian
eight of the 11 originals songs - including the two hits Baby Girl
and Something More - on debut disc Twice The Speed Of Life.
She and Bush also co-wrote all 11 songs on Enjoy The Ride.
This time around Nettles and Bush co-wrote all the recorded songs with
a diverse cast of writers.
"We have written all the songs on the new album - had a hand in all
of them," Nettles revealed.
"That's one of the things we enjoy doing - it's our craft as artists.
We're super excited about it.
So is Fall Into Me - one of the new songs being road tested - on
"We don't know yet. We're so into the process of recording. It's
our last day here in the studio.
We don't know what will be the singles and what makes the final album.
We're just finishing up - we have hunches here and there. A lot of these
songs deal with love and I don't mean just in the romantic sense - in
the universal sense. Some are sexy - some about love lost. There are also
songs about self-love - these are more personal than political. People
find songs that might be political or social comment that speaks to them.
If that's their interpretation that's fine. At the end of the day we try
to connect with personal stories with the human emotion."
and Bush's co-writers include Bobby Pinson who wrote Want To
on their previous disc.
"Bobby co-wrote several songs," Nettles admitted.
"We also wrote seven songs with Tim Owens and wrote with Jeff
But the biggest surprise is a session with veteran singer-songwriter
Whispering Bill Anderson.
"We wrote a song with him called Joey," Nettles revealed.
"It's so interesting - the theme of that song is a teen tragedy.
Remember back in the fifties there was a trend to have teen tragedies
like Last Kiss. It ended up the song we did with Bill Anderson
is a modern take on that subject - it was pretty interesting.
He has a
tendency to be very dark - it's Country Gothic. So for this song to turn
out the way it did I was very pleased - we wrote it with him in Nashville
in our hotel room. It was really organic. A lot of times songwriters have
an idea they want to pitch to. He came with an open palate. We took the
story line from there. Someone finishes up dead. It's a mixture of Concrete
Blonde and REM. It has an alt sort of sound, like the late eighties."
Sugarland had the luxury of recording the album in Atlanta.
"We made the album here in Atlanta at home," Nettles added.
"We were recording for the whole month of February. It's great to
be able to go to work and then come home and sleep in your own bed - a
real luxury. It's the longest I have been home in three years."
A SCOOP OF TEXAN CITY AND ICE CREAM
I was sixteen, going on seventeen/ I didn't know much of anything/ living
the American Dream/ down in Sugarland." - Sugarland - Kristian
Bush-Kristen Hall-Vanessa Olivarez.
huge success of Sugarland has resulted in them twice playing in the Ford
Bend county city that they took their name from.
Sugar Land - two words - is a city (population 80,000 approx) 20 miles
south west of Houston on the Gulf Coast - that was built on the thriving
"We have played there twice," Nettles recalled.
"We performed on the steps of city hall and met the mayor and played
for the people there.
They called it Sugarland Day - Sugarland in Sugar Land. But they didn't
give us the keys to the city but I think they should have."
But the duo is proud that their success also prompted an ice cream in
Atlanta - capital of their home state.
"For about a year we had an ice cream named after us - the Sugarland
Swirl," Nettles added.
"It was an ice cream company here out of Atlanta - Jake's Ice Cream.
We got to create the flavours to honour our first record release. We even
had a chance to make white chocolate one of our flavours."
CLICK HERE for a previous
interview with Jennifer Nettles in the Diary on February 19, 2006.
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