Alabama may be headlining the Georgia National Fair this weekend as the event’s throwback selection, but the legendary country band is currently celebrating the September release of “Southern Drawl,” it’s first album of original songs since 2001’s “When It All Goes South.”
Musician and founding member Jeff Cook talked with The Telegraph about the album and what he loves most about the South.
Q: How’s the new album doing?
A: The album was officially released on the 18th, and it was No. 2 last week (on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart). We checked sales, and it was only beat out by a few thousand copies. ... It’s amazing, just an amazing reception.
Q: Why do you think the album has been so well received?
A: I don’t know the reason, but I’m proud it’s happening that way.
Q: What inspired you to put out this album, and why now?
A: I just got tired of playing “Tennessee River.” (laughing) We just felt it was time to just put (the album) out on the table. Time to see what people thought about it.
Q: How would you describe “Southern Drawl”?
A: It’s got some newer sounding stuff on it. You know, music is constantly changing. We think we’re a little different, but we didn’t want to just completely abandon the old sound. The album’s harmonies are reminiscent of the old Alabama, but the song I think most depicts Alabama is “American Farmer.”
Q: How has the process of making music changed for you over the years?
A: It can’t help but change. Advances in electronics, behind the scenes recording, as well as the songs themselves. The technology changes, and creativity just goes on and on.
Q: When I think of Alabama, I think of songs you can sing along with.
A: Yes, most defiantly. It’s basic, simple stuff. We’re simple people. The “common man” kind of thing. Play a tune on the guitar, play a tune on the fiddle or the piano, it just goes together in a unique way for us. I can’t explain it. If I could, I’d bottle it and go home and sit on the porch.
Q: What do you like about being in the South?
A: People can understand us when we talk to them. (laughing) I went to New York a couple weeks ago, and I thought I was going to have to get an interpreter. We had the northern folks up there singing, “We drive trucks, we drink beer; we shoot whiskey and hunt deer” along with the rest of us. It’s good time music. I don’t think geography has much to do with it.
Q: In 100 years, when people look back on Alabama, what do you want them to remember?
A: I just don’t want to be forgotten. I look at some of the legends and the great people I’ve gotten to play with that aren’t with us anymore, and I think we’ve contributed a lot to the business. I didn’t used to think that until people kept telling me. We’ve made Artist of the Decade and then Country Group of the Century. That’s my favorite award, because we won’t be around to see who takes our place.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10
Where: Reaves Arena, Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, Perry
Information: www.georgianationalfair.com/concerts; 478-987-3247