Zac Brown Band have never colored inside country’s lines, with their musical crayons flailing wildest on the brand-new Jekyll + Hyde, released this week. The album sees the eclectic eight-piece venturing into rock, soul, jazz, gospel, folk, dance and even a little gospel, reggae and metal.
The track that arguably dives deepest into hard-rock territory is “Heavy Is the Head,” featuring Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame. The song was released in early March as the album’s second single — but to rock radio, rather than country. (The song’s release came the same week Cornell and Zac Brown Band performed it on Saturday Night Live.) Jekyll + Hyde‘s first single, “Homegrown,” would hit Number One on the country charts just a few weeks later. And when “Heavy Is the Head” followed suit this week over on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Songs chart, Zac Brown Band became only the second act in the publication’s history to top both that rock radio-based chart and its Country Airplay chart, which the group has done with 11 songs.
Bon Jovi were the first and only other act to achieve that feat — and with another cross-genre collaboration, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with Jennifer Nettles. The New Jersey rockers’ country chart-topper joins two Number Ones on the Mainstream Rock tally.
Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll + Hyde LP marks the first project born of a unique partnership between Brown’s own Southern Ground record label, Big Machine Label Group, John Varvatos Records and Republic Records. The band boss insists that his now supersized team is 100 percent behind his creative, genre-defiant vision.
“What I’ve always loved is to try things and take chances that other people are scared to do,” Brown tells Rolling Stone Country. “We’ve got a team of visionary people and people who’ve proven they can be successful in their own way, by breaking the rules of what is normal.”