Lady Antebellum backstage: Whiskey and ping pong

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(CBS News) - Less than five years ago, musical trio Lady Antebellum was playing a gig at a gas station in Wisc., to kick off deer hunting season. Sunday, they head into Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards with five nominations, including album of the year and best vocal group.

Web extra: Lady Antebellum - crazy tour bus stories
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They're currently playing to packed arenas on a world tour behind their new album, "We Own the Night."

What's it like to sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles? "This is the ultimate, like, "OK, we're really doing it. We've made it," said Hillary Scott. Scott and Kelley share lead singing duties. "Our own fans in the thousands are coming out to see us every night you know?"

While Lady Antebellum's onstage show is huge, backstage Scott, Kelley and Dave Haywood keep things simple by playing ping pong and drinking whiskey.

Haywood said, "This is our rock star pre-show ritual right here."

Kelly added, "Whiskey and ping pong, so it's like a paradox."

That's especially the case now that it takes 10 semi trucks to haul their show.

CBS News first met up with Lady Antebellum last summer in Nashville for "CBS Sunday Morning."

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The group was putting the finishing touches on their new album. Their recording studio is just a couple miles away from the Nashville bar where they performed together for the very first time in 2006. They sang a song that night that would become their first hit, "Love Don't Live Here."

Their 2007 self-titled debut album went double platinum. But it was a song called "Need You Now" on their second album that changed their lives forever. The song is about a drunk dial to a former flame. It is the most downloaded country song of all time and has made the group international superstars. It is also a song they almost decided not to record.

(Watch Charlie Rose sing "Need You Now" on "CBS This Morning" in the video below.)

Haywood recalled, "We liked it but I mean if you would have said this songs gonna go around the world and take you around the world we never would have thought that."

The three members of "Lady A," as their fans call them, are clearly enjoying the perks of fame with their fully stocked backstage bar and a luxurious tour bus that is miles from how they used to roll when out on the road.

"We went in RVs, we'd just drive, stay in a Motel 6, share a room with Hillary," Haywood said. "Me, Charles, and Hillary would be in one room together. All share a bathroom and everything."

The group has won 7 Grammys and is nominated for five more Academy of Country Music Awards this weekend. They will also perform on the show.

When asked if it all feels like it's happened quickly, Scott said, "In ways (it has). It's, 'Gosh, this is still brand new, but then in other ways, it's like, 'I can't believe we're getting used to walking red carpets.'"

Watch Ben Tracy's full report on Lady Antebellum in the video above.

  • Ben Tracy

    Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C.