When I talked to Kristian Bush about his new solo single "Trailer Hitch," Jennifer Nettles hadn't even heard it.
After a decade of being one-half of Sugarland, he didn't even bounce the idea or the melody or the lyrics off his right-hand girl? That makes the song a solo project down to its very core.
"We decided early on that if I was to participate in her record, then it wouldn't be a solo record," Bush said. "If I wrote anything on it, produced anything, suggested anything, talked about it in any way, then immediately, that is an energy that would've made it a Sugarland record. So we decided not to. We've agreed not to collaborate on each other's solo projects."
"Trailer Hitch" officially hits country radio stations Monday (July 28), but a handful of stations started playing it early. And after years of hearing Nettles sing the songs they'd written, Bush said it has been a little unsettling to hear his own voice come through the radio.
"You have to pinch yourself when you hear a song you've written on the radio," he said. "So then hearing myself on the radio had a little special sauce on that. It's unsettling in the way that you hear your own voice on your voicemail message. You don't recognize yourself. At first, I was like, 'Who is that? Oh, that's me?' It's uniquely strange."
However, there's nothing strange at all about the song. "I don't know why everybody wanna die rich" is part of the hook. For an up-tempo tune, that's a pretty sensitive question to ask.
And as Bush explained, it's a song that just tells the truth.
"Country music is typically not just about Saturday night," he said. "It's about Sunday morning. So it's not just about what you did but about what happened the next day -- the regrets and joy and consequences of the night before. I try to keep Sunday in the songs.
"Country songs need to tell the truth. I wanna pick songs that can be the beginning of our conversation. A lot like how 'Baby Girl' had to be at the beginning of our Sugarland conversation. It couldn't be the fourth single because it's the story of a girl who wants to succeed but hasn't, and she's telling you what would happen if she did. That was a first song. And this song is my first song."