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Interview: Old Dominion talk about their new album, the story behind their album cover and their hectic tour schedule

We caught up with the band on their tour bus last week in London.

Old Dominion
Credit: Sony Music

Old Dominion are without a doubt one of the favourite Country bands in the genre for UK Country music fans.

The five-piece – Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Brad Tursi, Geoff Sprung and Whit Sellers – made their first trip to the UK as part of C2C: Country to Country in 2016 and they’ve made the UK a regular part of their touring schedule. Ahead of the release of their self-titled third studio album, the band returned to the UK for another headline tour.

I caught up with them on their tour bus in London ahead of their Eventim Apollo show to talk about the new record, discuss the story behind the album cover, and to find out how they cope with such a gruelling tour schedule.

Welcome back to the UK guys! You can’t stay away from us. Every time you tour here the venues and the crowds get bigger and bigger…

Matthew: That’s what keeps us coming back! (laughs) If the crowds were getting smaller, we’d be like, ‘see ya!’ (laughs)

The UK seems to have really fallen in love with you guys. Things have just exploded since you made your first trip over here to play C2C back in 2016. What is it about UK fans that you love so much?

Matthew: Our music is resonating with them so that would be what we did anywhere. In the States there are cities that our music resonates in a stronger way so we go back to those. In the UK it’s the same thing, we came over here and discovered that there were untapped fans here and they loved our music so why wouldn’t we want to bring them our music? It’s been a unique opportunity to come over here and see first hand how our music is becoming global.

As soon as you guys play here, everyone wants to know when you’re coming back. Fans are hoping you’ll be part of C2C next year or that you’ve got another headline tour planned. That must be a great feeling?

Matthew: Yeah absolutely. I mean. People are talking about ya, it’s a good thing. We’ve spent many years with no one coming to see us play (laughs).

Old Dominion

Credit: Sony Music

That seems so hard to believe now…

Matthew: It’s not hard for us to believe it. (the whole band bursts into laughter).

The new record is a little looser and more soulful than your previous two. It pushes boundaries in some places too. What did you want to achieve with this record?

Matthew: There was never a written down goal to shoot for except for just an overall feeling that we wanted to capture, which was who we are as a group of musicians in this point in time. Not necessarily what’s on the radio and what we think’s gonna work on the radio. Just really what is the music that we can make. That’s we we did with the first session. We went in with no songs and we wrote music together. Make It Sweet is the first thing we wrote that day. It was all about just going as a group of five friends and seeing what we could create.

The release strategy for albums these days is a bit of a love and hate thing for me. It’s the trend now to put out a bunch of tracks ahead of the album, which I love but at the same time I can’t help but feel it ruins the mystique of the album a little bit. How do you guys feel about it?

Trevor: Yeah, I’m kind of with you. It’s a double-edged sword but we’ve had the album done and turned into label since the beginning in the year. As musicians we write a lot of songs and we were so ready to get the music out that it was nice to be able to get something out and not have to wait until October 25th to get it out.

The thing that surprises me most with this record is that you’re actually on the cover. You’ve avoided doing that for so long. Why now?

(the band breaks out into laughter).

Geoff: Because we took the perfect picture that describes us in one picture!

Matthew: Yeah that that photograph was an accident really. It was a spur of the moment thing. It looks so planned but it was literally a dressing room and we were backstage and we had to film something and we all crammed on that couch to film this little thing. It was so ridiculous that Trevor was like, ‘snap a picture real quick’ and he just went click, click, click and it was so funny that we were like, ‘oh just put that on the cover’.

I presume you’ve heard that some of your fans think it’s an ode to The Simpsons?

(a mixed reaction of surprise and nodding from the band).

Matthew: I’ve seen people tweet.

Brad: I have obviously not heard that one.

Trevor: I hadn’t heard that either. Maybe we should superimpose Maggie in there?

(laughter).

This feels like it would have been great social media content. You should have filmed a number of scenarios of you all running to the sofa and different things happen once you got there…

Matthew: We bought the sofa. It was in a dressing room so we bought it along with the painting that hangs alongside it. As soon as left and realised that was going to be the album cover we called the venue and said, ‘can we buy this?’ and they were like, ‘sure but it’s going to cost ya!’ (laughs)

So you can recreate it then? This is great news. People will be so happy!

Matthew: As ridiculous as it sounds, we walked into our production office the other day and our production manager is designing a road case for the couch (laughs).

Old Dominion

Credit: Sony Music

You’ve been playing songs from the new record on the road this year and actually you played some of them when you were here last year but we didn’t know they’d end up on the record at the time. How has the reaction been?

Matthew: It’s been amazing. I think that goes to what you said about the way we release the music. It’s giving it time to be out there a little bit more and allows us to play them in the set without it being a completely unknown song. A lot of these can be heard already. We were in Sweden and people were singing Midnight Mess Around. People already know the words.

Your tour schedule is pretty punishing and I see you’re on the road until August 2020…

Matthew: It’ll keep on going. That’s just the dates that have been released.

(the band laughs).

You’ve all got your lives outside the band so how do you cope with such a gruelling schedule:

Matthew: We complain to our management company a lot! (laughs).

It must be quite mentally gruelling as well as physically gruelling. What do you do to prepare to tour for the next year?

Trevor: I don’t know what you do to prepare.

Geoff: We’re just sort of in it man!

Trevor: I think it’s not about preparing. It’s just about trying to find balance, trying to weather the storm, trying to find one you do have that time off or it breaks, you rest and maximise that. That’s really all you can do.

Geoff: There was a point a couple of years ago when I started to realise that I had become a passenger, meaning when you’re out here you realise that you kind of hand off control of 75% to 90% of the schedule and your life. Once you relinquish that control and then focus on the things that you’re out to do like perform and meet the people that are interested your music, it’s freeing.

Trevor: Also never forget that a relatively short time ago nobody want to come see us. Nobody wanted to book us. It maybe tough and gruelling but it’s also very rewarding.

I’ve heard some artists say that they just don’t look at their schedule…

Matthew: Yeah it can be very stressful to look at the schedule (laughs).

Trevor: You know you have to be there so what’s the point of looking at it?

(laughter).

Is there anything else you’re hoping to fit in before Christmas or is it just all on this record and touring now?

Matthew: I think it’s pretty much going to be focused on that. We’re always writing but I think through to the end of the year it will be focused on getting this album out and keeping it successful, and touring to support it.

Old Dominion release their self-titled third album through Sony Music on 25th October 2019. You can pre-order now. Watch the lyric video for Midnight Mess Around below:

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