For Kristian Bush, coming back together with Jennifer Nettles as Sugarland was like coming home. The two reunited for the first time since their hiatus in 2012 at the 2017 CMA Awards and not long after came the debut of their first single in five years, “Still the Same.” Bush admits that at first, he and Nettles were unsure of which direction they wanted to take the song in, stalling on ideas before finally deciding to give fans a window into their current mindset.
“It was comfortable because it’s someone you know. Then, it was exciting because the mystery of the years in between,” Bush describes to Sounds Like Nashville of the energy in the room when they sat down to write “Still the Same.” “She’s like, ‘how about we write about what we’re in the middle of?’ The song kind of unfolds as we asked each other questions in a row like, ‘Where do we start?’ Right here.”
When they got together in the writing room for the first time in several years, it brought a sense of comfort as opposed to a feeling unfamiliarity. While the forward-thinking single “Still the Same” puts forth the idea that they still embody the same values that made them one of the most treasured acts in the genre, they’ve incorporated an element into the song that allows fans to see them through an even more personal lens.
“In a lot of ways, I think fans are able to hear into our relationship, which we never talk about much,” Bush explains. “It was just a given because you knew us long after we already knew each other, so hearing us navigate coming back together is actually in the song. I think that’s cool; it’s also the truth, so it’s very convenient.”
Not long after the twosome ignited excitement amongst their fanbase with their appearance at the CMAs, they announced an official reunion that includes a 2018 album and tour across the country. But the power of music is what brought the duo back to each other, putting that at the forefront as they forged ahead on the new project. “The only thing we did before the awards, we sat down and tried to write a song because that’s always what this band was. It was based on sitting down and writing songs,” Bush says of “Still the Same,” which embodies the sense of authenticity fans have come to love while still offering them something new. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, we still got it.’”
Sugarland’s new album Bigger drops on June 8.