Zac Brown Band on Direction of New Album: ‘I’d Rather Not Have a Label At All’

Is it country? Is it pop? Zac Brown doesn't want to put any labels on it.

Written by Lauren Laffer
Zac Brown Band on Direction of New Album: ‘I’d Rather Not Have a Label At All’
Zac Brown Band; Photo credit: Diego Pernia

The newest chapter of the Zac Brown Band’s musical legacy will be an exploratory one as the band continues to grow and shift over the years. Using the mysticism behind the great horned owl as the inspiration for both their music and their tour, the group will dive deeper than ever and expand upon an already varied collection of art.

The jumping off point is a song called “Someone I Used To Know.” With the release of the song came a coinciding video that shows a man’s development from football star to Army veteran to blue collar worker and as he reflects on the person he used to be when times get tough. The four-and-a-half-minute clip concludes with bandleader and namesake Zac Brown admitting his own struggles with growth, only to realize that facing those changes is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

“‘Someone I Used To Know’ is a touchpoint to remind people that they don’t have to be alone and what they feel, they’re not alone because pain and depression doesn’t discriminate,” he says at the close of the clip. “This song is me facing that part of myself, of where I want to go and not where I’ve been. I would encourage people that when they feel… they have a need or they have a voice that’s telling them to face something, it’s a sign of strength to ask for help and to face the things that are really hard. And that’s what defines you – overcoming those things.”

**WARNING: This video is NSFW.**

As his message closes, the screen flashes with the note, “You don’t have to go through this alone. Share your story and #spreadhope.”

“That song is really personal to me,” Brown shared during a recent interview with Billboard. “I had an awakening last year and just wanted to dedicate my time to all the things that really add value to my life and analyze the things that didn’t. It’s a song born out of strength and born out of being something better than you were; getting to reinvent yourself. That’s something we all can relate to and some people can hopefully use.”

“Someone I Used To Know” is just a jumping off point for the band when it came to writing and recording some deeply personal messages. Brown admits that upon writing them, he never thought they’d actually make it into the studio for recording.


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“There’s some really personal songs on the record and some other ones that are pretty heavy. Then there’s some other ones that aren’t. There’s some songs that are so personal and so real that some of them I couldn’t even imagine having to play six months ago when we were writing them. There’s some songs that we wrote and perform that still just tear me up,” he explained.

While the songs show a more intimate side of the singer and his band of brothers, the production behind the tunes is a far cry from the much more traditional sounding Welcome Home, which the band released in 2017. When asked if the album would steer in a more pop direction, Brown admitted that he didn’t want to label the music at all.

“This is going to be a really good exploratory record — there’s a lot of rhythmic elements added to what we would normally play onstage, and then there’s going to be stuff that’s really stripped-down and real,” he shared. “It’ll be a good mixture of everything.”


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We’ve been working on something awesome and can’t wait to share it with you guys this summer! #TheOwlTour

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Brown continued, “We’re working with some of the best pop producers ever on this album, and it’s going to have their influence on it. There’s a lot of diversity on this album, as there is on all of our records — with the exception of [2017’s] Welcome Home. We kind of went back to more acoustic [style on that album], but this album’s not that. This one is more exploratory in different ways, but still has stuff that’s down the middle.”

While the band knows in what direction the new project will be, specific and public details regarding the record are still scarce. No word yet on when nailed down details will arrive. In the meantime, fans can grab their tickets for the Zac Brown Band’s highly-anticipated The Owl Tour.

For a full list of The Owl Tour dates, click here.