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Zac Brown Band teams with country megastars

Rising group works with Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney

Brian T. Atkinson

Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give" brims with swagger ("Whiskey's Gone") and sway (the recent Grammy-winning Alan Jackson duet "As She's Walking Away"). The skyrocketing sextet supports the album Sunday at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

Coming soon: overseas summer dates with the Kings of Leon. "We're super stoked," guitarist Coy Bowles says. "We got to hang out with (Kings of Leon) after the Grammys. They're good country guys who also happen to be killer rock and roll guys."

American-Statesman: Describe winning your first Grammy (Zac Brown Band won last year's Best New Artist award).

Coy Bowles: The first Grammy was very, very overwhelming. To be able to be a part of a group of musicians who are nominated and to win is the highest honor, especially since the Grammys are the supreme of all music awards.

Is it inspiring or intimidating to set a pace with consecutive wins?

Competition and creativity don't go hand in hand in the least bit. It's a big honor, but I think getting too caught up in awards can pull you away from your creativity. Me personally, I go in, accept the award, feel really appreciative and honored, and then move on to the next creative thing I want to do.

How was working with Alan Jackson?

Oh, he's awesome, man. He's a man of very few words, but you can tell he's very passionate and focused. He's been around in the industry a long time. A lot of the guys in the band are from small towns in Georgia (like Jackson), so there was that kind of kinship knowing we all grew up in similar places and could relate to each other. He really likes us. I think (we) remind him of when he was younger.

How did you approach recording the new album?

We basically isolated ourselves from everybody for five or six days down in Florida in a beach house and arranged and finished writing the album. That was really, really hip because we were away from everybody and could really focus. We got to be patient and focus on music.

Was there much improvisation? Say, in 'Who Knows.'

The solo section evolves more than the actual song does. The solo section goes all over the place, man. I have a degree from Georgia State University studying jazz, so I spent a lot of my life listening to jazz records and studying improvisation. Having that in a successful band like this is a dream come true. You get to play in front of a lot of people and be creative on the spot.

What's most challenging about playing stadium-sized shows?

We just did these shows with Kenny Chesney in Tampa. He has a catwalk. It was funky, man. It's vulnerable and overwhelming to step in front of 60,000 people and say, "We hope you like our songs." But we've been doing it long enough that we have the ability to sock it to the crowd.

You have been touring a lot.

Yeah, we've spent the last three or four years on a bus with each other just going all over the place, away from what we knew and getting experience. We pushed ourselves to the edge, doing as many shows as we could. It's kind of like the time of our lives.

Zac Brown Band