One of the most successful touring acts of the last decade, the Zac Brown Band is making a stop — and its last on the Out in the Middle Tour — at Chase Field on Saturday, November 19.
Coy Bowles, who plays guitar and keys for the decorated country band, says the tour has been exactly what the band has needed coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This tour has been going really, really well,” Bowles says. “It’s pretty cathartic, and there has been a lot going on in the world, so not getting to play music for a considerable amount of time and then jumping back into a really well-designed, well-thought-out tour (has been great).”
Bowles says those attending can expect a concert that really features three different acts. In addition, Phoenix specifically has always been a rewarding stopping point for the Zac Brown Band. The group is looking forward to being here.
“It’s been feeling really good,” he says. “When you leave, you’re like, ‘Wow, that was a lot of music. We gave everybody what they came and showed up for.’ So, it’s been really cool. It’s exciting to get to take that to all these different cities, and Phoenix has always been great to us.
“We’ve always had great shows out there.”
If Bowles had to pick a favorite track that he and the rest of the band have performed on the tour, he says the answer is easily the title track for the band’s latest album — “The Comeback.”
“When we were recording that song in the studio, it was really kind of an anthem of what it’s going to be like for everything to come back around,” he says. “There’s a certain arm hair raising up, back in the neck, whatever it is, that happens when we play that song.
For Bowles, the track “paints a picture of what we just went through and where we’re at now.” He is grateful to be able to be back playing live onstage with the rest of the Zac Brown Band, and “The Comeback” just encapsulates that feeling of gratitude.
“It’s really hard not to let it all sink in,” he says. “It’s really hard not to just go, ‘Wow, man, I’m really grateful to be able to be with my friends again onstage and make music.’”
Getting to perform at baseball fields is a sticking point for the Zac Brown Band. The Georgia natives are made up of “diehard” Atlanta Braves fans, so getting to go on tour and play at baseball fields, such as Chase Field, is something the band really enjoys doing and has almost a “majestic” feel to it. In the past, the group has performed at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Truist Park in Atlanta and Fenway Park in Boston — where they currently hold the record for most consecutive sold out shows.
“When we go play these baseball fields … it’s almost like wearing a superhero cape or something,” Bowles says. “Being able to be a part of what you are so into, there’s this super majestic part about the stadiums. Whether they’re old like Fenway or Wrigley or they’re new, there’s just something about the way the grass is laid out, the way the field is set up, that it has a certain vibe to it. You wouldn’t think it would be really good for music necessarily, but it does allow for a very chill, relaxing night for music in the way of the baseball fields are laid out.”
“There’s just a certain kind of center of America, pastime experience that you get — it comes along with being in the baseball fields and playing shows,” he adds.
To date, the group has won three Grammy Awards, sold more than 30 million singles and 9 million albums, amassed over 10 billion catalog streams, and achieved 16 No. 1 radio singles. And while Bowles knows the band has released some incredibly special work, “The Comeback,” he says, may be the band’s best work to date.
“I remember leaving the studio and driving back home to Atlanta from Nashville and just going, ‘Wow, this might be the best album we’ve ever recorded,’” Bowles says. “Something is going to happen because there’s just too much energy bound into this music and in this collection of songs for it not to.”
Speaking of awards, Bowles says he and the rest of the band try not to get too caught up in it all. While they are always beyond grateful for the recognition, the group remains humble and focued on the “why.”
“Being awarded or nominated by your peers or by an organization or an academy for the work that you’ve done is incredible,” Bowles says. “It can help validate the idea that, ‘Wow, this has been great.’ But I do kind of go back on the sense that if you’re doing that for that reason, then your sense of being your true artist might be slightly off in the first place.
“It’s by no means being arrogant in that way. It feels really good to be nominated. It feels really good to be to receive the awards and the accolades and things like that, but that’s not really why we do it.”
As far as fitting into the rest of the band’s catalogue goes, Bowles says, “The Comeback” feels similar to the albums “You Get What You Give” and “Uncaged,” but just more “seasoned.”
To boot, he says Zac Brown, the Zac Brown Band’s frontman, sounds as good now as he ever has.
“We’re older now, we’ve got kids kind of thing, but we still have that magic exists within us collaborating with each other and whatnot,” Bowles says. “We decided that we were going to do things in a similar recording style that we had done before — let it (the music) be the band, not try to get into a lot of overdubbing and stuff like that. Try to let it be raw in the band.
“There’s something about being someone who’s in the prime of their life … and I think Zac’s voice sounds as good on this album as it ever has.”
The band released “The Comeback (Deluxe)” back on September 30, and it features Blake Shelton, James Taylor (who is Brown’s biggest influence), Cody Johnson and Ingrid Andress. Despite the deluxe album featuring some huge names, Bowles says the Zac Brown Band remains who they were when they released “The Foundation” back in 2008 — “Georgia boys who love music.”
“If you were to have told me when I was 16 or 17, playing in my bedroom at my mom and dad’s house loud as hell, that I was going to be playing baseball fields and touring around and all that stuff, I would have told you are crazy,” he says.
Zac Brown Band w/Sam Hunt and Robert Randolph Band
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, November 19
WHERE: Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix
COST: Tickets start at $30