Love and Theft Invite Fans Into Their ‘World’
For a group with only one song released to country radio so far, Love and Theft sure do have a rabid fan base. When The Boot took to our Twitter page to announce we were interviewing the hot new trio, the response from our followers was overwhelming. So many of you "tweeted" back to us or emailed us with suggested questions, that we decided to let you take the reins. When we sat down with Love and Theft's Brian Bandas, Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles at Nashville's Audio Productions studios, we presented your questions instead of our own. Read below as the guys talk about what you want to hear -- everything from personal favorites on their brand-new album, 'World Wide Open,' to personal insights into their love lives.
Sarah and Ashley ask: "How many tattoos do each of you have?
Brian: I have one. I drew it myself, and I waited a while to get it because i wanted to make sure I had something nobody else had. It's a combination of a cross and a treble clef sign, because my faith and my music are the two most important things in my life.
Stephen: I've got five, and then I've got my right half-sleeve, which is a bunch of tattoos together. All of mine have meanings, because I will never put something on my body unless it's something that really means something to me. On my left forearm, this is the first one I ever got -- it's this old, vintage-style dove. It's the first logo of the first church my dad ever pastored down in Florida, and a guy from church actually drew it. It represents the Holy Spirit and peace.
Eric: I have six. I think my favorite is the one around my left arm. It's my life Bible verse -- Romans 12:2: 'Don't conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' Growing up, my dad gave me the life verse so, it's pretty special.
From Twitter, @Charliefor2008 asks: "Stephen, what did you think when you first heard that Taylor Swift wrote the song, 'Hey Stephen,' about you?"
Stephen: I hadn't heard it yet, so she told me about the song. But she didn't say like, 'I wrote a nice song about you,' so I'm just thinking, 'What did I do?' [laughs] Because she doesn't really write very many nice songs about guys. So I was very relieved when it turned out to be a nice song, and it's actually one of the nicest things anybody's ever done for me.
Heather asks: "What's the story behind the name Love and Theft?"
Stephen: The name Love and Theft actually originated from a book, and Bob Dylan got the name from the book for his 2001 album, 'Love and Theft.' We couldn't figure out a name, so Brian came up with the idea. He was going through some discographies, and he threw that out there and we were like, 'That's it!' That was way better than some of the other names we had ... which were the Vinyl Sons and the 84s.
Eric: Some of the other names Brian had come up with! [laughs]
Stephen: He finally redeemed himself! [laughs] We love Bob Dylan. He's one of the greatest songwriters ever to walk on the earth. And it feels like it fits our style of music.
Gail asks: "Does Bob Dylan know about you guys?"
Stephen: I would put money on it that he does, because I bet someone from his label said something about it. I get stuff about Bob Dylan all the time on my Google Alerts [for] Love and Theft.
Brian: We hope that he knows it's supposed to be a respectful deference -- a tribute to somebody we admire.
Stephen: But he can't really say anything because he took the name from a book!
Brian: He's incredibly intimidating though.
Stephen: We're trying to be best friends with him, but we're not sure he wants to be best our best friend. But we would love to do a [CMT] 'Crossroads' with him.
From Twitter, @musicsnob asks: "What's the story behind your first single, 'Runaway'?"
Stephen: The writing story is pretty funny. Our friend Rob Blacklidge, he's a very emotional person. We have a Love and Theft softball team that we play on called the Theftheads.
Brian: Let's not lie about it, we're good. Disputed champions this year.
Stephen: Disputed? It's just champions.
Brian: They said we cheated. They said the kind of bat we had wasn't legal.
Stephen: Yeah, haters. So, he [Rob] was really down about something. So we're like, 'Let's go write with him, cheer him up and hang out.' So we go to his house in Nashville, start drinking coffee and writing this song. And it's actually the first song I've ever written geeked out on coffee! [laughs] It was a really fun writing experience; it progressed very quickly. The R-rated version is actually, I sat on the toilet seat and yelled out lines while they were in the other room, because I couldn't stop thinking! That's how I work when I'm on a project.
Brian: Especially when you're in your 'office' like that. [laughs]
Eric: And let's be clear, he pees sitting down.
Brian: The song itself means a lot to us because of the story and how it parallels our lives. We all knew that we needed to be pursuing music, and we all picked up and left where we were in pursuit of something better. Everybody's got that thing that they know, 'Man, this is what I need to be doing,' but something's holding them back. This song is about that breaking point -- 'Today's the day, I'm going to take my life into my own hands and make this happen.'
Stephen: And we were all kind of runaways from our hometown. We dropped out of college and moved here to pursue our dreams. That's one reason why we were really hoping it would be our first single.
From Twitter, @Tasteofheaven asks: "If you could tour with anyone of any genre who would it be?"
Brian: Rolling Stones for me.
Stephen: [laughing] Sorry, I got lost on that 'Taste of Heaven!' [laughs] Um, can it be Elvis Presley?
Eric: If it can be someone dead or alive, The Beatles.
Sarah asks: "How do you feel when you perform and your audience is singing your songs back to you?"
Eric: It's really been amazing. The past four or five shows, we've seen people actually singing songs other than just 'Runaway,' which means they went out and either got the CD or listen online. We just look at it as, 'Wow, that's our song? Really, you're singing it?' It's pretty cool.
Brian: That's why we all got into it. We were all moved and excited by that same thing and decided we want to do that for other people.
Stephen: And we still get excited about other people's music! I just got George Strait's new album.
Brian: We were just listening to it on the way here. What was that really nice song? 'Where Have I Been All My Life?' .. Stephen hears that a lot: 'Where have YOU been all my life?'
Rachel asks: "What has been your biggest career moment so far?"
Brian: The first time we played the Opry. That was huge. And the 'Runaway' video shoot. I was on cloud-9 that whole day.
Eric: And today we got to see our CD for the first time, which was incredible.
Stephen: If you like that kind of thing -- music and CDs and stuff. [laughs]
From Twitter, @xoxoleash asks: "Do you guys ever fight?"
Brian: No, not in any significant way. Even if we have disagreements, we tend to be able to talk things out pretty easy.
Eric: Think about how you fight with your best friend -- it's not like a brother-sister thing where you just bicker all the time. But if you have a problem with your best friend, you talk about it and it gets resolved really quickly.
Linda asks a few rapid fire questions:
"Who's the loudest?"
Eric: Stephen, by far.
Stephen: Yeah, I am.
"Who is the messiest?"
Brian: Me? Have you seen Stephen's bedroom?
Stephen: You guys better not see my bedroom, because I've got padlocks on it! We're not really home, so let's be honest -- I pay my sister to clean my room, because I'm never there and if I am there, that's the last thing I want to do!
Brian: He gives his allowance to his sister. [laughs]
"Who's the biggest flirt with your female fans?"
Eric and Stephen (in unison): Brian!!! [laughs]
Val asks: "Have you come across any creepy or obsessive fans yet?"
Brian: A few, yes.
Stephen: But they're still pushing our music, and they're helping us out.
Brian: That's what's tough about it -- you have to draw some lines. They're still fans of our music, they're just not recognizing some boundaries.
Stephen: We're pretty cool, we're just people like everybody else. But when someone might be outside your house, that's when you know it's a little too far.
Margie asks: "What's the strangest thing a fan has asked you to sign?"
Stephen: A baby! We signed a baby in California. I mean, we didn't sign her skin, we signed her diaper.
Eric: She just held out her baby and was like, 'Will you sign my baby?'
Vick asks: "When was the first time you were recognized?"
Stephen: A Kenny Chesney concert in San Francisco. It was weird because I was just hanging out, walking around, having a couple drinks and meeting people, and everywhere I went people were coming up to me [saying] 'Oh, Love and Theft! Let's take a picture!' That was pretty cool. I'd never experienced anything like that.
Eric: I was at the mall shopping for a new bathing suit, and these two little boys and their mom walked by. The two kids were like, 'I think that guy's in Love and Theft!' I kept shopping and smiled. And then the mom came back later and asked if I was, and then they took a picture.
Stephen: Was the mom hot? [laughs]
Brian: You guys are really inappropriate sometimes.
Lindsay, Kate, Mary, Stacey, Laurin, Lisa and about 100 other (mainly female) fans all want to know: "Who has a girlfriend and who is single?"
Brian: Eric's the only one who has a girlfriend.
Eric: I don't have a girlfriend. I have a fiancée. I'm engaged.
Brian: He's way in love. It's almost annoying!
Laura asks: "Who are your closest friends in the country music industry?"
Brian, Eric and Stephen (in unison): Chris Young!
Stephen: Chris Young, that's our man! And Sarah Buxton, Bucky Covington, Whitney Duncan, Mark Miller from Sawyer Brown -- he's our manager [and] a really good friend of ours. Before we had budget for a bus, he let us use his bus. And Brian broke something in the back.
Brian: I did not break anything in the back!
Stephen: Defensive! [laughs]
Eric: Taylor Swift is a pretty good friend, too.
Brian: Can't overlook Tay Tay.
Emel asks: "I once drove 600 miles to go see Love and Theft. What is one band you would drive 600 miles to go see in concert?"
Stephen: I would drive that far to see the Eagles if I knew I had a ticket.
Eric: I'd drive that far to see Prince, U2, the Stones ... or Keith Urban. I would drive a long way to see Keith.
John Collins asks: "Is it true that Stephen's friend hit him in the head with a hammer as a child by accident?"
Stephen: Oh my gosh, are you serious? How does he know that story?! This is a crazy story -- I could've died. I don't know how John Collins knows this story, but it's pretty interesting. I was probably 10 years old, and I always looked up to this guy named Carl. His brother, Christophe, was my best friend growing up. Behind my house was a tree fort and there was like a bunch of land ... Well there's this one annoying girl in the neighborhood -- we went to the tree fort one day and all of her stuff was there. We were like, 'Aw, no way. We're getting rid of this stuff. Let's bury it!' So we were burying her stuff, but I'm standing right behind the guy and he's got one of those things that's like a mining tool or something -- a pick axe. And I'm standing behind him like an idiot, and the sharp end comes and hits me right in the forehead! I lost my balance and started walking straight to the house. And his brother, Carl, who was my big role model, walks out and goes, 'Stephen dude, you're bleeding!' And I started crying ... Great question, John Collins.
We'll leave you with one last question that dozens of your fans asked: What are your tour plans for the rest of the year?
Eric: This fall, we're gonna tour with Jason Aldean. After that, we really have no clue.
Thanks, guys. This has been a lot of fun!
Brian: I'm sad that it's over. I want to keep talking!
Stephen: TheBoot.com for life! [laughs] We're totally friends for life now.
Brian: So go get our CD!