by Kate Willis & Keely Bancroft
TC: first album came out a couple of years ago and your latest album Happy Endings this Autumn. What does it feel like now?
OD: You know we are a moderately successful country band…are we still moderately successful? Yes I’m going to stick with that. We still have plenty of work to do we want to be as big as we can be. It feels great, very validating and we’re proud to be where we are at.
TC: This is the first time you’ve been back since the after party at C2C which is the first time most of us had heard of you. Were you surprised that we knew your songs?
OD: Yeah, you think we are bigger than we are ha ha!
TC: You do realise that a lot of the fans tonight are there for you guys?
OD: No, we don’t realise that. You’re wondering why we didn’t just come over and play ? We are completely oblivious to that. We have no clue what’s it’s like over here because the one time we were here was that festival. We have no perception.
TC: There’s people queuing already and they’re queuing for you guys.
OD: It’s gonna be an amazing night then. It will give us a shot of energy!
TC: There’s a lot of guys going just for you not TR.
OD: That’s great it took us a long time to get guy fans in the states. The first song ‘break up with him’ is not exactly a guy song.
TC: Neither is ‘shoe shopping’! But maybe for the guys it’s the guitar riffs that get them hooked ?
OD: Ah, the rock bit rather than the pop bit and the black leather jackets.
OD: I would have had mine on but my suitcase didn’t make it (Trevor).
TC: At leads it’s your suitcase and not your guitar.
OD: I like your shirt, it’s beautiful did you coordinate it with the wall? We didn’t see you at first then you popped out! (to Keely).
TC: How were the CMAs?
OD: It was fun, I feel like this year was the first year I had fun. There’s so much leading up to it. It felt like we belonged there this year, we knew more people, it was a lot of fun.
TC: Who was the person you thought ‘oh my goodness there’s…. ‘
OD: This year we were sitting quite close to Garth Brooks. On the way out I talked to him and my Dad was there way up in the stands and he said to me ‘what did you say to Garth?’ ‘I just said ‘what’s up?’ Ha ha. I was sitting behind the two tallest people there, it was insane; Charles Kelley and Alan Jackson. I watched the whole show leaning whichever way they weren’t.
TC: I was going to ask if with the quick turnaround from the CMAs to here you wake up wondering which city you’re in. But it’s a bit self explanatory as Brad has just woken up and Whit is probably asleep somewhere?
OD: That’s why they have the town printed on top of the set list.
TC: Your schedules quite gruelling isn’t it?
OD: Its great though, it’s a good thing it means we are working.
TC: Matt you’ve just won an ASCAP award for your songwriting, how was that?
OD Matt: Totally unexpected , I had no clue, they called me about a week before to tell me that I was getting it. I did not see it coming. But that’s what we moved to town to do, to be Songwriters.
TC: Do you intend to keep writing songs and some you’ll earmark for the band and others for other artists?
OD: We will keep doing that we’ve made a living out of doing that. We write songs all the time and we can’t record them all. We definitely hold on to the ones that we think fit us the best and the others to other artists. Brads got the Luke Bryan song at the moment ‘light it up’, Trevor’s got Kelseas album, so hopefully we will continue to write songs for others as well.
TC: How does it work then? How does Luke Bryan end up going ‘yep, I’ll record that’.
OD Brad: That one I actually wrote with Luke, we sat down to write for our publishing companies and we wrote that song together. Actually, you know it takes a few times to make a record, it can take two or three times to record it but he didn’t record it the first time, he didn’t record it the second time so I just thought he’s not actually going to record it. Then the last time we were together he recorded it.
TC: How does it work writing with other people do you say ‘I thought about writing about such and such, what do you think? Then someone says I’ve got this melody or riff?
OD: Exactly, or sometimes somebody will play something and you’ll go ‘oh that makes me think about this title.. that I wrote down two months ago.
TC: It’s quite organic, you’re not sitting in a workshop?
OD: It can be awkward the first time, especially if it’s someone you’ve never met, it’s like dating. You sit there and talk a while, then it’s like ‘ well, you got any ideas?’ That’s why I don’t like writing with someone I don’t know.
TC: That’s what Mo Pitney said he prefers to write with people he knows really well because it’s such a personal thing.
OD: It can be kind weird but there’s lots of writers in Nashville I’d like to write with, but it’s much easier writing with someone you have chemistry with as you feel freer and not afraid to say the dumbest thing. Sometimes the best ideas come from goofing off. You sometimes make up a joke song and think that melody is actually kind cool. Then someone says did you just say ‘blah blah blah?’ ‘No I didn’t but that sounds cool. You do need to feel free in the room and have that chemistry.
TC: It’s easier to get your music out there now with social media.
OD: Its still hard to get your music on the radio. You can make an album in your bedroom, it’s a cool time for music and people can express themselves very easily that way.
TC: What about the new album? What’s the title about?
OD: Everyone loves happy endings. It came from the album song “so you go’ we were on a boat in Key West with 60 different radio people. We were explaining every song on the album and talking about them. We got to the end of that song and it’s kind of unclear as whether or not it’s a happy ending or not, it leaves it open ended. We got in to a discussion about whether or not it was a happy ending, everyone was drunk, making jokes saying ‘happy ending this’, ‘happy ending that’, we needed an album title like now, the record company had given us a deadline. We were joking about making it ‘Happy Endings’, we were told we don’t care what it’s called just call it something. So ‘Happy Endings’ it is!
TC: Where did the idea for the embroidery on the album come from?
OD: That was from, Whit actually saw a cross stitch of Walter White from Breaking Bad, we were looking at it and thought it would be cool to do something like that.
TC: You don’t like it being of yourselves do you?
OD: Not really, no. It’s cooler to have a piece of visual art to go along with the music. People can find out what we look like if they want to. You have to come to the show to find out what we look like!
TC: What are your musical influences ?
OD: Across the board between five of us, we listen to everything, rock, pop, the radio itself. I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan (Matt), Brad likes the Alman Brothers, Guns and Roses, it’s kind of everything. My dad listened to everything and I got to soak it all up. It all leads it to what we do. That’s what makes us sound what we sound like. We all p,aged in rock bands but we were all country music fans to, so there’s no real specific one thing that we love, we just love good songs so we just wanted to learn how to write a good song, whatever that meant. Didn’t really pigeon hole it. I think that’s why our own albums sound the way they do. They cross a lot of spectrums as far as genre goes.
TC: They really do, the last song “Can’t get you” sounds like a Foo Fighters song.
OD: That’s why we really wanted to put that song on there, it’s really rocky.
TC: Are you playing that tonight.
OD: we don’t know we don’t know our set list yet. But it’s great to play that song, we’ve been playing it a long time. It almost made the first album. The crowds are catching on to the song and we can feel the energy so it’s cool to play it. It’s hard to sing along to it sometimes, especially if we start too fast!
TC: Are there any British musicians that you admire?
OD: Oh yeah, Rolling Stones, The Who. I listened to The Who a lot in high school. I wasn’t a big Beatles person until the last few years. They weren’t my go to band but the last couple of years I’ve really enjoyed digging in to their catalogue. Funny thing is I didn’t really know who was from here and who was from the US, it’s just good music.
TC: It must be quite hard as so many sing with American accents now. Some British bands sing in an American accent which I find strange.
OD: You get that in Nashville. A singer from Maine starts singing in a ‘Country’ accent. It’s odd.
OD: We just listen to the music and if it’s cool, it’s cool. We don’t question where they’re from.
TC: What’s your take on the ‘it’s not country’ debate?
OD: It’s a silly argument, personally. It never ceases to amaze me when someone says ‘ oh I don’t like them they’re not country’ so you absolutely can’t like this because it doesn’t fit in the specific guidelines you have for country music? You either like the piece of music or you don’t. Its the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. There were a lot of people saying that about Garth Brooks back in the day. Its like loving a piece of pizza then someone says, we don’t call it that it isn’t pizza. You either like it or you don’t. Garth Brooks used to get it all the time, now he’s the countriest guy in the genre. It’s so silly.
TC: Do you change your set list according to the vibe or the crowd once your on stage?
OD: Yes, we were in New Jersey recently, a great crowd, when we started out we used to play a lot of songs we had written for other artists just to play songs that were familiar with the crowd. We still do that, but it used to be a much bigger part if he show. We now only play a couple of songs. But that night it definitely felt like ‘our’ crowd. They knew the new stuff, so we pulled out some old stuff and bumped up the new songs. It was great.
TC: They’ll know the new ones tonight, even the shoe shopping riff. What’s the story behind that song?
OD: I was shoe shopping! Ha ha ! In Nordstrom Chicago in the shoe Department. There were lots of women trying on shoes. I mean they were all, Every where looking in the mirror, checking each other out. It was just a scene. I said to myself, all these ladies shoes … I’ve got to write this down. I didn’t know what the song would be about.
TC: I bet you had to look up all the names of the Shoes, you didn’t know then all dud you?
OD: Oh, I’m a shoe guy, ha ha…we all like shoes, we don’t have a shoe problem necessarily…
TC: What did you learn from touring with Kenny Chesney?
OD: You don’t operate at the level he operates without knowing what your doing. We just kept our eyes open the whole time. From the way he treats us, the first of five bands, we were nobody but were treated so well. That’s how you build a good reputation and vibe all around. We learnt how to treat people working with us, working for us and we learnt how to treat our fans, how to interact with them, how to build a set. Every time we play our set, watch his then say, damn we need to change our set. We definitely learnt how to put on shows. He’s great at everything. We are going to play all our songs double time tonight so we can get both albums in under 45 mins.