Forget about the curse that sometimes crushes winners of the best new artist Grammy. Country act Zac Brown Band is clearly on a roll.
The band continues its hot streak with a new album, "Uncaged," the followup to 2010's "You Get What You Give."
"Uncaged" recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 234,000 copies its first week and topping recent first-week sales from flashier names such as Usher and Chris Brown. It's the best sales week ever for Zac Brown Band, and the second biggest sales week of the year for a country act, following Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away."
Zac Brown Band's Coy Bowles (guitar, keyboards) says the band never let any extra pressure creep in after winning best new artist in 2010.
"I think the only pressure comes from the outside. We never think about it when we're around each other. We never think about how many awards we've won," he says. "We just want to make the best music we can."
"It has been a whirlwind," Bowles says of all the success that has come the band's way, "and it can get to you. But when we get around each other it disappears. Nothing has changed with us. We just hang out, hop on the bus, drink beers and write songs, every night."
The fruits of all that writing labor come to fruition on "Uncaged," a diverse album featuring contributions from Trombone Shorty and Amos Lee.
Bowles describes "Uncaged" as "the most cohesive Zac Brown album we've ever done and the best we've ever done.
"The songwriting took a step up. And there were a couple of genres we've never touched on before. ... We listen to so many different types of music, so it's easy for us to play a different genre or style and it be true to what we do."
The song "Overnight," featuring Trombone Shorty, represents a departure for Zac Brown Band. "That's more of an R&B tune. We've never done an R&B tune before. It's out of the norm for a country band to do a song that sounds like something Usher would do," Bowles says. "But most of us listened to Marvin Gaye our whole lives, so it's fitting."
Another game-changer for the band is the title track, a "Southern rock thing that definitely pushes the boundaries. It goes in and out of different time signatures."
The title "Uncaged" represents the band's desire to try new styles of music.
"It's about breaking free of any categorization. We can be whatever we want to be. We can be a country band if we need to be. We can be a rock band if we need to be."
Zac Brown Band is unleashing "Uncaged" on fans with its current tour. Bowles says the show is the band's finest yet.
"Everything is important to us, but the tour is probably one of the most important things we have because we've always been a live touring band. The tour is like our bread and butter. You don't really get to experience the band unless you see us live."
Adds Bowles, "the first part of the tour, we were really working out exactly how it was going to go. Now we're in full motion, and not having to think about it too much besides entertaining as much as we can."