King Calaway to Release New Song That Zac Brown Co-Wrote and Produced

Zac Brown is producing country group King Calaway, and group says Brown is really funny and shouted a lot

ZBB/KC story They perform tonight at Nissan Stadium. it hasn't been announced yet and the song comes out at 11 p.m. You can listen at the link. photo credit is: Photo courtesy of BBR Music Group
King Calaway. Photo: courtesy BBR Music Group

When Zac Brown Band takes the stage at Nissan Stadium Thursday night during CMA Music Fest, the band will do so with special guests – fellow country band King Calaway. Singer Zac Brown has had a close relationship with King Calaway drummer Chris Deaton for years and recently took a greater interest in the harmony-driven four-piece group.

"I recognized the talent this young group has and when we started working in the studio, so much more unfolded," says Brown, 43. "I believe in these guys. When [producer] Keith Stegall bet on me and helped me make my first album, that was the launch of my career. I believe this track can do the same for them, and it's great to be able to give back."

Brown co-wrote and produced King Calaway's reflective and repentant new single "When I Get Home," which comes out at 11 p.m. CT tonight. Written by Brown, Jonathan Singleton and Ben Simonetti, the song pairs King Calaway's distinct vocal harmonies with their exemplary musicianship for a song that swells with authenticity and emotion as it both breaks hearts and ushers hope. Brown will perform the song with King Calaway in Nissan Stadium.

"We love this song," says King Calaway singer Simon Dumas, 26. "It's very storytelling, and it feels like another step in a good direction for us in terms of the maturity we're going for."

King Calaway burst onto the country music scene in early 2019 with its debut single "World For Two" and has since metamorphized into a sophisticated act with an organic-yet-worldly point of view.

Brown's relationship with Deaton dates before that. The drummer grew up near Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee, but moved in with Brown after graduating high school.

"He kind of took me under his wing," Deaton, 29, says. "That's the beginning of our relationship, but I hadn't seen Zac in about three years."

Brown found a live King Calaway performance, then reached out and asked to hear more of their music.

"He said, 'Hey, big fan. I'd love to meet with the guys," Deaton recalls. "We all got in a room together and gelled really well. We just have a lot of the same interests with the harmonies and the band. He was just all in, and I think we were, too."

King Calway met Brown in Nashville at his Southern Ground Studio, where Brown picked up an acoustic guitar and played "When I Get Home." He told them that he had written the song but didn't know if they would like it. But he thought it could be cool.

"Like they say in Nashville if a song translates with just someone singing with an instrument without all the bells and whistles and that's enough to carry the song, it has to be special," Dumas says. "We were so into this song and the storytelling of redemption. I think so many of us have like experienced that 'you've messed up and at this point, I'm just like praying.'"

Under Brown's skilled direction, the men put their spin on "When I Get Home" for a result they feel is the next step in their career. But it wasn't always easy. Band members say that Brown pushed them in ways they didn't expect -- to revisit their harmony profile and dig deeper into their musicianship.

Dumas says Brown "shouted at me a lot" and pushed them to play chords they haven't strummed in a decade.

"That's just in the best way possible," Dumas says. "He's really, really, really funny, and it was all in good banter."

The singer compared working with Brown to math homework on occasion – "I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm just going to do what I think."

"I didn't fully know what he needed me to do differently," Dumas says. "If we would like stop, and he's like, 'Wait, no, do it like this.' In my head, I'm like, 'I thought I just did.' Again, he knew what he was trying to get out of the vocal take, and we were just trusting his vision on that."

Chad Michael Jervis, 27, who shares lead vocals with Dumas, called the experience "incredible."

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"He really pushed all of us hard when we were recording either leads or harmonies to get the correct phrasing and melody," he says. "He has that experience, and he knows what he's doing when it comes to vocals. I feel like he got some of our best vocal takes ever. He really got the best out of us."

Dumas is stunned at the result. The track is primarily driven by acoustic guitar, and he admits his surprise at how big it sounds.

"It still has this sense of grandeur," he says.

Brown couldn't be more pleased.

"I really love producing people with the talent and the hustle to make it out there," he says. "This is an exceptional group of guys. I'm very proud of what we have written and made. There is lots to come from King Calaway."

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