James Young of Eli Young Band talks Headlining Tour, Miranda Lambert, & “Turn It On

First, thank you for taking the time for an interview, we know you guys are busy so we really appreciate it.

No Thank you for taking the time.

You and the band recently announced a headlining winter tour, can you talk a little about that?

Yeah you know it’s fun. All summer we were out doing support, and we were doing some of our own gigs here and there. But it’s fun to kind of go back to playing some clubs and do our own headlining tour. We get to play all our music for 90 minutes plus so that is a lot of fun for us.

On your last tour and this current tour you were out with LOCASH who seem like really awesome guys. How fun was it to be on the road, and playing shows with them on that tour?

They are, they’re really cool dudes. We’ve gotten to know them over the years and it’s a good hang. Whenever you’re out on tour it’s fun to be with people that share your own methodology and going out and playing gigs and just having a lot of fun. So yeah it has been a great fit. 

Eli Young Band is one of those acts that has just built an incredibly loyal core fanbase. No matter where you play they turn up in large numbers. How does it feel to know you guys have gained that level of support and loyalty from fans in the country genre?

That’s where we started from, we started in Texas. We just kind of grew up with, luckily we were able to grow up with a really hardcore fanbase over time. They’ve been loyal to us since day one. It’s been amazing how they have continued to be there over every level of success we’ve had. We couldn’t do it without the fans, especially you know the core fans that have been there since day one.

When you guys first started out you opened some shows for Miranda lambert who also has a huge following and that had to have given you a lot of exposure and helps you with starting to build the fanbase you have now. How does it feel that now years later you are at the point in your career where you are having opening bands out on tour with you on tour with you who are gaining exposure from your large following? Does it feel full circle a bit?

It does, it’s really awesome. Miranda kind of put us on the radar when we first started. We met her producer Frank Liddell, and that’s how we wound up in Nashville and we ultimately ended up signing a record deal so yeah. It’s a lot of fun to have people with us, and watch them come out. That’s how we have met a lot of people along the way. We have been doing this now for around 15 years so we have seen a lot of artists come up and come around and it’s always fun. I wouldn’t necessarily take any credit for any artist but it is definitely fun to have them out.

What advice would you offer young country bands or artists just starting out maybe based on the experiences you and Eli Young Band have had in your career?

The music business has changed; the whole atmosphere has changed since we started. The one things that hasn’t changed I guess it that you have to go out there and play your music i front of fans. Cut your cheese and learn how to play in front of people. Always keep writing music and keep at your craft and try to write good songs. I don’t think that those things will ever change. 

You mentioned the music industry having changed a lot over the years. Do you think that social media has had an impact on that at all?

Oh yeah, totally. We started before Facebook and Twitter and everything else under the sun. So we have kind of had to retrofit that into our way of making music and getting it out to the fans. It’s an amazing time that we live in, where you can connect with your fans on a much more personal level now. You couldn’t say that 10 years or 20 years ago.  

The band released their EP Turn It On this past spring, which seems to have a different sound then your past music. What ways do you think your sound has grown since you guys first came together and what has influenced that?

Any band wants to grow their sound. You always want to be evolving and keeping up with the times. Yeah, that EP was kind of an experiment. We are looking forward to releasing a full length record this spring. We are really a full album band. We love to do records where we believe in every song, fro the first one all the way to the last. So we can’t wait to get an entire record out there. 

How has the fan reception been for Turn It On for both the EP and the single?

It’s been great. I think it was fun to do because we recorded the songs, and three months later we had it on iTunes. I think any project that you can get out there quickly is good. It just goes to show you in this day and age how quickly you can turn around music and get it out to the fans. I think that is something that they really appreciate.

You recently release a duet version of Andy Grammar’s hit song Honey I’m Good. How did this kind of cross genre collaboration come about and what was it like working with Andy Grammar?

Yeah we were in love with that song from the get-go, and the powers to be kind of mentioned ‘hey you know, Andy we would love to do a collaboration on that.’ So we flew to LA and cut it. It is a great song and Andy made a great trend with it. He is a really good dude. We had a lot of fun cutting that song and we still have a lot of fun performing it every time. 

What has he reaction been like for the song from your fans and has there been any feedback from Andy grammars fans on the joint version?

It’s been a great reaction on both sides. It really felt to us like a country song to begin with so once we cut it you know; I think we had a lot of new people that switched onto it. It has been really fun to play live because people know the song everywhere.  

What is the bands favorite thing about tour and their least favorite thing?

Our favorite thing about being on tour is being able to play our music for people. The best thing is when people sing your songs back to you everywhere you go. You can’t put a price on that. There is no better feeling in the world then having people sing your songs back to you. I would say that our least favorite thing about being on tour is just being away from our families.  

At this point in their career, your band has has multiple #1 singles. Is there any one that just stands out as being particularly special or meaningful for you individually or for the band as a whole?

I think “Crazy Girl” definitely. That song kicked the doors open for us nationally and put us on the radar all over the place. That song was our first #1 and still to this day is a song that is very special to us. We are very blessed to have cut that tune. 

How did you feel about this year’s winners at the cmas? Chris Stapleton with new artist, male vocalist and album of the year, Luke Bryan with entertainer of the year, or any of the others?

Well it’s funny because we have known Chris Stapelton for a long time and his music too. We have even cut some of his songs. It is pretty awesome to watch somebody sweep those categories. We know all about not being on the radio scene for a while, so it is pretty awesome to watch that happen as kind of a grassroots thing and that is kind of how he did it. And it is really awesome to watch that.  

If you and the others in the band weren’t musicians what would your jobs be?

Oh man, there was never really any kind of plan B for us. I think we would all still be doing music in some capacity. But maybe not, who really knows? We all started in college and right after college this who thing started happening. We have never really had to toy with the option of a plan B or what we would do instead of that.  

Do you have a favorite city or state to play in?

People ask that question all the time. Really, I’ll take it back to the fans. It really boils down to the crowd. The crowd makes the show. It doesn’t matter which venue you are playing or what city or state that you are in. The crowd makes the show when they come out and sing along. That is the heart of the show. What we take away from every show is the fans, them coming out and rocking out. 

What do you think about the kind of resurgence of country music in NY especially in the city? They have a radio station now finally. We were at your show at Terminal 5 and there was just a great crowd. How do you think having NY on board impacts the country genre?

Yes it is definitely good. We toured New York City long before they starting picking up country again. We knew they didn’t have a radio station and it kind of blew our minds. It is awesome that one is back there now. There are a lot of misplanted Texans in New York City too, so we can add them up as well! 

Is there anything the band would like to say to their fans?

We appreciate every single fan that has ever come out to a show, or has ever voted for us, or called a radio station to request one of our songs. We couldn’t do it without our fans or the fanbase. We love to come out and play live. That is how we started out, and it is how we still are today. We love to play for our fans. 

 

Interview by: Taylor Ostrick

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