Coy Bowles is at home in Atlanta, finishing a balancing act of finishing a solo album while prepping his home for a new baby.
“My wife is seven months pregnant,” he says. “I’m trying to stay healthy, eat well, exercise.”
Not just because Bowles has an incoming member of the family and a new record to promote — he’s also preparing to head out on the road for a series of stadium shows with Zac Brown Band. The guitarist/keyboardist has been with the band since Zac and guys were in high school, gathering additional members, albums and “Chicken Fried” everything along the way, the Grammy winners have come a long way and have learned to value their down time.
Bowles, for one, is working on his third book — “Amy Giggles” and “Will Powers” were his first two. He chats the band’s next album, how he fell into children’s lit and why it’s not so hard to fill guest spots on the road.
What made you start writing children’s books?
My goal for writing them was to give teachers something to use. I know the world’s a little more politically correct than it was when I was growing up. I taught guitar lessons for a long time, and there’s something beautiful about the relationship that happens between teachers and students. I think there’s a disconnect with some of the authoritarian and disciplinary measures teachers have now. These books are a way for teachers to connect with kids about character traits I think are important — like work ethic and being part of a community, or just being nice and having common courtesy and respect for other people. That’s a common core for these books.
What was the inspiration for the stories? Was it your own childhood?
I wrote this one about when you get sick for Random House. It’s a silly story about how kids get freaked out when they’re sick or the first time you have the flu and you’re on the couch like, “What’s going on with my body?” But it’s also for kids who are in the hospital for a long time.
My mother had this incident, where she was in the hospital for a significant amount of time. I spent weeks and weeks there and I saw what it’s like to live in a hospital waiting for someone to get well. I wrote that book while I was there. It’s about having hope during tough times and illness.
Let’s talk about this tour and playing these enormous venues. What’s the pressure like for you as a band at this point in your career to bring huge production to shows?
We always try to something cool, maybe invite a special guest out, but in terms of our set and show, we try to make the focus the music and make sure it’s playing to our audience. Especially in Fenway and those stadium shows, those are our biggest all year, and we step it up on the stage. I don’t think we’re going to be bringing any dancers out — [laughs] not saying that we never will — but we’ll talk about doing cool covers or old songs we haven’t done in a long time, or calling up a buddy to come play with us.
How easy is that guest spot to fill?
Well, if you call someone and ask if they want to play Fenway, it’s not the hokey-pokey bar down the street, so pretty easy.
You guys are known for doing a fair amount of work while you’re on the road. What’s up for this tour — will you be recording? Writing?
Yeah, we’re writing this new album right now. It’s going extremely well. The songs are really, really happening and we’re stoked to get in the studio at the end of this year or first of next year. That’s all just complete speculation as far as timing goes, but there’s a vibe that we’re excited to lay this one down.
Do you think this next album will have the same vibe as “Jekyll + Hyde” did?
I don’t know, man. I can’t say for sure. We’ll expand in certain directions but there’s the talk of, “Let’s do a really bad ass Zac Brown Band album and sound like what we sound like.” I know we sound like a lot of different stuff, I think by doing “Jekyll + Hyde,” we found out our edges, and this new album is going to the center of who we are.