On some levels. Every record is different. Early on, we felt a little bit of that pressure to come up with the goods and maintain our success. Part of that meant staying on the radio. We would always make the album we wanted to make, but if there wasn't a hit there, at the end of the day, we would have to keep working until we came up with that song that our management and our record company felt would keep us going. So there was a little bit of that in almost every case. So the pressure usually wouldn't come until the end.

Our last record, California 37, had us more concerned with staying relevant and staying on the radio. "Drive By" was one of the first songs written for that album, so in that case, a little bit of the pressure was off because we had the song right away. Now we can kind of do what we want. That's kind of nice. This new album that we're working on now is very different. It seems deeper to me and a little more adult. There's not a lot of talk about radio. This is the first record in some time where we're just trying to make the best record we can, and we're not going to worry about what the fans or the radio stations might think.

Yet doesn't that come with a risk?

There's no turning back for these guys.
There's no turning back for these guys.


Tortuga Festival, with Train, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, and others. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13, at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, A1A south of Sunrise Boulevard and north of Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $89 to $165 plus fees. Visit tortugamusicfestival.com.

It definitely does, but I think we're in a place where we can afford the risk. It's not like we're taking this record off or thinking we're going to phone this one in. I'm actually more excited about this record than I've been in a long time because it has nothing to do with anything other than good music. There's no radio pressure. There's no record company pressure. It's pretty much like when this record is ready, when we feel that it's great and it's done, we'll put it out. It's a nice way to work.

There always appears to be this conflict with a lot of artists, a divide between the need to appeal to a large audience and the desire to really express a deeper musicality, if you will. It sounds like that's something that concerns you.

Yes. It's definitely a balance that we've been fortunate to maintain. But remember — the songs that the masses hear are the radio songs. Those aren't necessarily what the band's all about. If you were to buy the whole record, you'll hear that. Of course, we hope that there's a song or two that radio plays. Otherwise nobody's even going to know the record even exists. But we're just as concerned about making the record we want to make at this point.

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