Charles Kelley watched Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles release solo albums and learned a thing or two. The Sugarland duo are continuously hounded by rumors that they are breaking up (they aren’t). The Lady Antebellum frontman says the health of his full-time band is what’s allowing him to pursue this new creative venture.

“We’re in such a healthy spot, which is why I feel like I can do this now,” he tells Taste of Country. “If it was on shaky ground I might have been really terrified to do something like this, that it might break the band up.”

“Lady Antebellum is not breaking up," he furthers. "I don’t think we ever will break up.”

Kelley says he loves Bush’s solo album and thought “Trailer Hitch” was a great song. He has equal respect for Nettles, but recognizes the problems and obstacles they faced upon going solo. He’ll likely face similar perception issues, he says.

“It’s hard, because once you’re known for one thing, it’s hard for the listener to separate that,” he tells Taste of Country. Songs from his forthcoming EP will be grittier and more personal than what Lady A have cut recently. He’ll be able to more fully embrace his ‘70s soul influences, adding that he is definitely aiming for heavy radio airplay of “The Driver,” his debut single featuring Eric Paslay and Dierks Bentley. But the success of the project won’t be defined by a No. 1 hit.

“With this, if it doesn’t succeed to this crazy level, that’s okay, because it already kind of has fueled my juices again," Kelley admits. "I’m already thinking about the Lady Antebellum record from a much more artistic standpoint. It’s hard to not put commerce ahead of art when you’re in a band that’s that successful. This, I made music without an agenda.”

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