I was fortunate to interview Little Big Town back in 2012 for Billboard when their single “Pontoon” was about to hit No. 1. They were as delightful to speak with as you’d imagine and this year I got the chance to sit down with Little Big Town again in our studio in New York as well as attend their album release show for their latest album, Pain Killer. With their first single off the release being called “Day Drinking,” I had to ask them what alcoholic beverage best describes their latest release.
Kimberly Schlapman doesn’t miss a beat. “Fireball!” she asserts, as her three bandmates nod their heads in approval.
Karen Fairchild then asks Kimberly if she has ever tasted the cinnamon-flavored whiskey. “No, but maybe I will,” she jokes.
Meanwhile, Phillip Sweet, who began the interview by singing Taylor Swift‘s “Out of the Woods,” says that Fireball “packs a punch and it’s sweet,” just like Pain Killer.
Karen, on the other hand, likens the new album to an Old Fashioned because “it has a bit of a vintage throwback to it, but it’s strong.”
One of the standout tracks on the album is “Girl Crush,” where Karen takes the lead and sings of how she has a crush of sorts on the object of an ex’s affection.
“I want to taste her lips, yeah ’cause they taste like you/ I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume/ I want her long blonde hair/ I want her magic touch/ Yeah, ’cause maybe then you’d want me just as much,” she sings.
“It’s written like a good old country jealousy story,” she explains. “I think we’ve all felt that, where we’ve lost a relationship and been rejected and we look at, ‘What did he want that I didn’t have?’ I think it’s a really easy thing to relate to, and yet you’ve never heard it said in that way.”
Other highlights on the album include “Save Your Sin,” which Phillip likens to a garage band rocking out. For this track Kimberly is on lead vocals, and as Phillip explains, “her voice went to a new place that we’ve not heard her do much of in the past.”
Her secret to getting that guttural growl on the song? Fireball whiskey.
While Kimberly admitted during our interview that she’d never tasted Fireball, that all changed the following night during their album release show. After the band notices a fan holding Fireball in the front row, she remarks, “I get crazy when we talk about Fireball,” confessing that she has never actually tried it. At first, despite prompts from fans to take a swig of it, she refuses. “I can’t do that in public! My mama might see.”
Not wanting to upset fans, though, her defense soon changes. “As far as I know, my mama’s not here tonight,” she says, then she takes a swig. “I feel it. This is kinda like moonshine. Don’t y’all tell my mama, now. I will deny it. I will lie to my mama.”
Catching up with her backstage after the show, I had to ask: Now that she just tried Fireball, does she still liken Pain Killer to the whiskey?
“Yes,” she says as she grabs my hand with a big grin. “It burned all the way down.”
Read more of my interview with Little Big Town at Radio.com.