Sugarland is returning to Sugar Land.
That is, the band is coming back to the city.
It will be the second time the city’s namesake country music band will perform here. The last time they performed on the steps of the newly constructed City Hall in Town Square.
“We actually got the keys to the city,” recalled Kristian Bush, half of the Sugarland duo, along with Jennifer Nettles.
On July 21, nearly 14 years later, they will perform in the city’s newest concert venue.
In a phone interview with the Fort Bend Star, Bush recalled how the band got its iconic name.
“Whenever you’re trying to name a band, there’s always a precarious couple of weeks when you’re throwing names around,” he said.
As he was forming the band in 2002, he was conducting auditions.
“One of the women auditioning was actually from Sugar Land and I thought, ‘oh my god, wherever that is, I want to be from there,” he said.
Bush went home that night and wrote a song about Sugar Land. He performed it for his bandmates and they agreed that the name worked.
“I think of your town as a magical place,” Bush said.
When asked how he felt about returning to Sugar Land, the enthusiasm bubbled up in his voice.
“It’s feels awesome; it’s fantastic,” he said. “Houston is a place that has been a big part of our music.”
Bush explained that coming from Georgia he could relate to all the Texas musicians who were outsiders like him trying to make it big in Nashville. He said Texans in particular have always been big supporters of their music and vice versa.
Not only is this a journey back to Sugar Land for Bush, but it is a journey back to Sugarland as well. Although they never really disbanded, he and Nettles took a hiatus from 2012 to 2017. Last year they got back into the studio and recorded their new album “Bigger.”
“For us it’s always been about the art,” Bush said. “If the commerce follows it, great.”
He said the creative expression is what drives them, as they co-wrote nearly every song on the album.
“Sugarland by definition is a product of our creative relationship,” he said.
He said he enjoys seeing how the layers of writing, playing music, and singing come together.
“The creative process like this one is magic,” he said.
The collaboration came naturally for Nettles and Bush.
“We recorded it in four days,” Bush said. “We wrote it in nine days.”
Of the 11 songs on “Bigger,” only one was written by someone else. Taylor Swift pitched the song “Babe” to them.
Bush said when Swift heard Sugarland was making music again, “she flipped out.” She pitched the song through a mutual friend.
“She was a fan of what we are doing,” Bush said.
Bush and Nettles sat on it for a while before including it.
Bush said each of their albums tell a story and he didn’t want to use it if it didn’t fit the album.
“We make things that fit. We’re telling stories that will last for 15 years or more,” he said.
Bush said doing this album allowed for “an amazing kind of expression.” He explained that he noticed his children were soaking up everything they heard but did not really understand the world around them.
“How do I explain the world to my kids,” he said. “Preaching and yelling at a kid doesn’t do anything, but engaging in conversation does.”
He hopes the music on “Bigger” will open up avenues of conversation and understanding. In the meantime, the new Sugarland tour is now under way and arrives here July 21.