Old Dominion Interview: Matt Ramsey Talks Music, Touring and the Good and Bad of Fame
Life is good for Old Dominion: Late last year, the five-man group released their debut album, Meat and Candy, which landed in the Top 5 on the country charts. The record’s first single, “Break Up With Him,” hit No. 1, and the band is currently watching their newest single, “Snapback,” rapidly climb the charts. Plus, after spending last summer on the road with Kenny Chesney, on Chesney’s The Big Revival Tour, they’ve been invited back out with the country superstar, for his 2016 Spread the Love Tour.
One year ago (almost exactly!), The Boot spoke with Old Dominion’s lead singer, Matt Ramsey, and bass player, Geoff Sprung, about the (at the time still very new) band’s background, past hits for other artists and massive summer tour plans. Three hundred and some days later, Ramsey fills us in on the group’s growing success and newest music … and explains the best and worst parts of being one of country music’s rising stars.
Were you surprised by the success of Meat and Candy?
We felt really confident in it. I think we were surprised by ourselves. But when it was done, we were very proud of it. We knew it was good, but you never know how people will connect with it. We just knew that we were proud of it, and if people didn’t like it, then there was nothing we could do about it, because it was the best we could do. It was a very validating feeling that people were listening to it and buying the whole album and singing it.
You were busy touring before the album came out. How did your live show change after Meat and Candy was released?
That was a big surprise to us, because [the crowds] were singing songs that are on the album that aren’t on the radio. It was pretty evident when the album came out that people were listening to the whole album. That definitely took us off our guard. We’re still trying to figure out how to deal with it.
Were you worried about which song to release after the success of “Break Up With Him”?
There was a little pressure, yeah. But we felt like every song on the album we were proud of. We know where we want to go, and we just have to take the right steps to get there, and we felt like “Snapback” was the right next one to go with, and the response was pretty incredible. They’ve been playing the crap out of it.
It has to have been a huge adjustment, going from being relatively unknown to one of the hottest acts in country music in the span of a few months.
The best part is, we’re out touring and working. It is hard to be away from my family, and that’s the worst part; to leave our kids behind is tough. But we go out here, we see evidence every night that it’s working, and it’s changing our lives; it’s changing our families lives. At least for an hour and a half, two hours, every night, we’re impacting other people’s lives and hopefully giving them a good time and giving them a break from their normal pace. It’s very validating to come out and see that. Especially with your friends. You build something together, and it’s working.
Have you started to think about your sophomore album at all?
We haven’t really started putting anything together. We’re writing all the time, and we’re listening to songs all the time — songs that didn’t make this album that we still love. We’re definitely trying to lock things down, but there hasn’t been any official planning yet.
How do you feel about joining Kenny Chesney on the road again this year?
It’s unreal. It’s something we never expected. To be asked to go on tour with him the first time, we thought somebody was joking with us; we thought they were kidding. But to be asked out a second time — he doesn’t do that, and we don’t take that lightly, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to step up our game and bring it to a new level.
Did playing with Chesney change how you perform?
Our set definitely changed. We spent a few days in Nashville working on our new set. We learned a lot from him, watching him, learning how to put together a set and keep moving. We’re trying to take what we learned and apply it to our set. It’s pretty evident we learned a lot [based on] our set now. It will be a little more relaxed.
We also have a longer set this year. We can show off a little more. Plus, people will know who we are. At the beginning of last year, nobody knew who we were. Now we have a hit, and hopefully another one by the time we go out, so people will know us a little more.