Zac Brown Band Interview Part 2: John Driskell Hopkins Says Band Will Always Break the Rules and Push the Limits
When you’re putting together new albums like ‘Uncaged,’ do you make a conscious effort to include songs that are going to appeal to fans that are a little more mainstream?
Yeah, we certainly know where we eat. We wanna keep it clean where we eat. If we find that we have songs that lend themselves to a certain radio sound, than we’ll nurture those for country radio a little bit. The great thing about this band is that it doesn’t matter what we play, it always sounds like us. I feel like our personality really comes through even if we’re doing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’
What you’re talking about is really evident on the new album. For instance, a song like ‘Overnight,’ which we had to listen to two or three times before we realized that’s an R&B song. It’s not country at all, but it works!
Yeah [laughs]. There’s lots of songs like that where we’re pushing the envelope and sometimes you’re not sure yourself. ‘Maybe that’s gonna work, maybe it’s not,’ but everyone seems to like it. Things like that are kind of what help you grow as a musician and as an artist on a national stage. If you can keep it fresh like that, then people don’t always know what to expect. You can bring a lot of joy to the show.
We want to ask you a Johnny Cash question. We hope you’ve seen ‘Walk the Line.’ A quote from the movie goes, “If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song, one song people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth…” What song would you sing?
That’s tough because if you’re asking me, about me, than it’s probably one of my songs … Shoot I never really thought of it in those terms, but I would probably say … (pauses to consider) I’ve got a new one that I’m kinda embracing called ‘I Will Lay Me Down.’ It’s gonna be on my solo record. So as a writer in that circumstance I think that would be the most appropriate tune for me to reflect on my life and the family and the joy of living.
If it were a Zac Brown Band, I think it would probably be ‘Day That I Die’ (from ‘Uncaged’) which is an awesome uplifting tune about that same kind of legacy. I think what Sun Records was implying is, ‘What do you want everybody else to hear, if you have one song, what would you wanna show the world?’ In terms of the Zac Brown Band I’d wanna show the world ‘Goodbye in Her Eyes.’ I think everybody needs to be a part of that. It’s one of my favorites. It really moves me a lot.