Interview: Old Dominion Open Up About Their Debut Album, Songwriting and Fame
After making a splash with their single "Break Up With Him" and their debut EP, Old Dominion are preparing to release their debut album, Meat and Candy, on Nov. 6 -- but the band is no stranger to hearing their songs on the radio, on records and in concert.
Collectively, lead singer Matthew Ramsey, guitarist / keyboard player Trevor Rosen, drummer Whit Sellers, bassist Geoff Sprung and guitarist Brad Tursi have written songs for and played, both in the studio and live, with everyone from Kenny Chesney and Craig Morgan to Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan. Thanks to the buzz surrounding them, the relatively new country quintet signed a deal with RCA Records in February and landed a coveted spot as one of Chesney’s 2015 The Big Revival Tour openers.
Meat and Candy, which includes 11 tracks written or co-written by at least one of the five Old Dominion guys, is available for pre-order Amazon and iTunes. The Boot sat down with the band to talk about their new project, today's country music and how they really feel about becoming so well known.
How did you come up with this album's title, Meat and Candy?
Whit Sellers: There’s lots of songs on there that are fun, sing-a-long, catchy songs, and then there are others that have a bit more meat to it. It sounds worse than it is; it’s not that clever actually.
Matthew Ramsey: We literally were having the conversation, and someone just said, "There’s a lot of candy songs. Just kind of balance it out with the meat."
Why did you choose songwriter Shane McAnally to produce the record?
Ramsey: We’ve been friends with Shane since before he was even "hit songwriter Shane McAnally." We were just hanging out one day, having coffee, talking about maybe recording some stuff and what kind of producers we’d want to use. He was our friend, so we were talking about it with him, and it was just kind of, a lightbulb went off, like "Wait a minute, you know what we do, and you write these songs with us."
We had done some demo sessions with him, of course, and just loved how he was in the studio. We could see how well he works: He’s very meticulous. And he knows us, and he’s like a member of the band, so it was a natural fit.
How did you come up with the idea for the "Break Up With Him" music video?
Ramsey: That was just out of being on our bus, talking about what we would want out of a video and how much we didn’t want to do the "standard country video" and how much we loved the movie Back to the Future. Back to the Future is always coming up in our conversations, and we’re always quoting that movie, and we’re all big fans. It was just a natural fit, and it fit the song.
Trevor Rosen: They want you to be in the video, performing, and we’re like, "How are we going to do that and not be cheesy?" We didn’t want to do the standard thing, and that’s perfect because we could be the band, and we’re there, performing.
Old Dominion have a lot of eclectic sounds in their music. What draws you to the country genre?
Ramsey: I think it’s the songwriting. We all love songwriting, the songs. Country is a format where you can focus on that a little more, focus on the words more than just the beat or groove. I think we all love that aspect.
Sellers: Whatever we listened to growing up, it funnels its way into what we do. We’re just trying to write whatever we think is cool. We don’t try to put it into any particular genre.
Geoff Sprung: I think that’s the key: We don’t set out to make it sound different or use these influences. Like Whit said, we’re just trying to make the coolest sound we can make. We’re just lucky enough that the genre's opened up the last few years, to where we fit in.
Ramsey: That may end up p--sing some traditionalists off at some point.
You earned a lot of news fans this summer, opening for Kenny Chesney on his 2015 The Big Revival Tour. How does it feel to suddenly be so well known?
Ramsey: Most of it feels weird, because we’re just not used to that. We had been on tour all summer, and when we left Nashville at the beginning of the summer, no one knew really who we were. And then when we came back, after being gone all summer, and we played Whiskey Jam ... We’re used to going to Whiskey Jam and seeing all our friends and hanging out, but this time, we would have to stop our conversations to take pictures with people. So it was a little weird being in Nashville and being recognized by fans.
Sprung: To have those two worlds come together for the first time was kind of bizarre.
Do you think fame has changed you at all?
Ramsey: I don’t think so ... What time is my massage?
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