No End In Sight For Success Of Texas Country Rockers
By STEWART SMITH
It's been a heck of a year for the Eli Young Band.
Last August, the Texas country quartet released "Life At Best," their most successful album to date, had the album's single, "Crazy Girl," reach platinum status and they've just completed a tour with Dierks Bentley and are prepping for a new tour with Rascal Flatts.
The band will arrive in town next week when it headlines the 2012 Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala. Drummer Chris Thompson spoke exclusively with the
Tyler Morning Telegraph
about the band's recent exploits and what's on the horizon for them.
Thompson said that while the experience of going on national (or even international, in the case of their Australian tour with Tim McGraw) is amazing, it's quite a change from their roots of playing around Texas and essentially being the headliners of their shows.
"It's great to get in front of these huge crowds and play these huge rooms. There's so much energy in those rooms. We've been out headlining our own shows for the better part of six years, so sometimes we miss getting in a bar or getting in a club and getting right there with the audience and the fans," he said. "So this is like a new step for us, and we're hoping that one of these days we'll be the headliner at these arena shows. Hopefully this is the path to doing that."
The band's growing success is undeniable, though, especially in relation to their Texas country contemporaries. Having a hit single with lots of radio play has certainly helped their profile rise, but a big part of their appeal to audiences comes from the fact that they're a genuine band, Thompson said, something of a rarity in a musical landscape that seems to favor individual singular artists over groups.
"People like that we're a band. There are four guys and it's always been the same four of us. It's the same four guys on the CD, the same four guys on the post and on the stage. There's kind of been a lack of that in music recently," he said. "When we grew up, you had your favorite band. You might've had your favorite member, like the singer or even the drummer, but it was a whole package and that was how we always saw things."
As a band they, of course, have creative differences and clash at various points throughout the creative process, but it ultimately strengthens the band rather than divides it, Thompson said.
"We'll have arguments all the time, but I think that really helps shape our sound," he said. "All four of us would make records in different ways, but it's the coming together and compromise and sharing of ideas that really creates the sound."
The results are in the music, of course, with their last record, "Life At Best," being what Thompson feels is their most accomplished work to date.
"There was so much passion and so much work that went into that record. I think when we finished that record, we finally felt like we had finally accomplished what we had been trying to do since we started making records. There was a lot of little things we had gotten to try in the studio because we didn't have time or money and it really felt like, and still feels like, our first record where you're hearing the Eli Young Band exactly how we want you to hear the Eli Young Band."
It's also the band's most personal.
"There's a big, big timeline of our lives represented on that record," Thompson said. "The songs on there were written basically over the past 10 years. There was some stuff that was written 10 years ago, there was some stuff that was written a month before we went into the studio, stuff that was finished in the studio and everything in between."
This year's gala will be the second Cattle Barons event the band has played. Thompson said he and the rest of the guys are happy to have a role in helping to raise cancer awareness.
"All four of us (have experience dealing with cancer)," Thompson said. "At this point, we get to live sort of an indulgent life and you can get caught up in the fans and record sales and all that stuff and you can really lose yourself in all of that. Doing events like this reminds you of the struggles that everyone goes through."
Thompson will be joined by his bandmates, frontman Mike Eli, guitarist James Young and bassist Jon Jones on Saturday, June 9 at the 2012 Cattle Barons Gala.