A coffee with Old Dominion

Old Dominion have been bubbling under the surface of Nashville for a good while now. Writing songs for other people has raised their profile, while their debut EP got rave notices in 2014. Now they’ve a full length record out, Meat And Candy, and a ubiquitous showing at C2C Country To Country in London. We caught up with frontman Matthew for a quick chat.

Hey Matthew, can you introduce the band?
Sure. Trevor Rosen plays keys and guitar, Whit Sellers plays drums, Geoff Sprung plays bass, Brad Tursi plays lead guitar, and I’m Matthew Ramsey and I play guitar and sing.

How did you guys come together?
Geoff, Brad, Whit and myself all knew each other in Virginia and played all the same clubs. Sometimes in the same bands. We each moved to Nashville separately which is where we met Trevor. We started playing shows around Nashville for fun and to showcase the songs we were writing. Then we’d travel a little to make a little extra money. Next thing we knew we were a real touring band.

Did you get involved in the songwriters rounds that seem so fruitful in Nashville?
Absolutely. We still play those. Brad and I just played one a few weeks ago.

How tough is it to make that breakthrough in Nashville?
It’s so tough, I still can’t believe we did it. And I think that’s the way anyone feels that actually makes it through. There are no shortcuts. You just have to dig in and accept the fact that you probably aren’t going to make it, but never give up at the same time.

What with the influx of musicians from around the US trying to make it there now, how do you think Nashville is changing?
The city itself is changing. Historic studios and publishing houses are being replaced by condos. It’s really sad. But in the end it’s all about the people. The music community is full of amazing people. It’s a competitive business but everyone is very supportive. It’s very unique in that way and I don’t think that will change.

You released your debut album last year in the US, how would you describe it?
We like to say we are a rock band that plays country songs. We pride ourselves on the writing. We really take great care when writing songs to make sure we are saying exactly what we want to say. And then the same goes for the parts we play once we lay them down. But there is something for everyone on this album. It’s fun and sad and everything in between. It’s meat AND candy.

And what is the recording process like for you guys? Do you have it nailed down and regimented, or are you free and easy in the studio?
We were touring so heavily when making this record, there wasn’t much time. A lot of the background vocals and some overdubs were actually done in dressing rooms and hotel rooms all over America. Hopefully the on the next album, we can take a little more time.

What had you been listening to that influenced the new record?
I think pretty much everything we listened to as kids found its way on this album. Rock, pop, country, R&B - it’s all there.

You’ve been really successful writing for other people, can you pinpoint a song (or songs) that you’re proudest of?
I personally, and I know Brad is too, am very proud of Save It For A Rainy Day. It was just an easy and fun song to write and every time I hear it, it makes me smile. And it has that effect on people when we play it too. We got to play it on stage with Kenny Chesney. Hearing an entire stadium sing that song with us was very powerful.

And how does writing for other differ from writing for yourselves?
There really is no difference. We never set out to write a specific type of song. We just want to write the best song we can. Sometimes it finds its way to another artist and sometimes we keep it…and sometimes it sucks and no one ever hears it!

What can you tell us about the single ‘Break Up For Him’, and its cool video?
Break Up With Him is the only song the 5 of us wrote all together. The video was so fun to make. We love Back To The Future. We quote that movie all the time. It was just too perfect of an idea for this song. And once we found out we could get a DeLorean - we knew it was gonna be good.

Which are your favourite songs on the record?
That’s a tough one. Right now I’m gonna say We Got It Right is my favourite. But that could change tomorrow.

So with your first record out now you must be excited for 2016. How do you see it playing out for you?
It’s gonna be a big year for us. The second single is doing great. We are back on tour with Kenny. We are looking forward to taking this thing to the next level.

Can you tell us who we should be listening to? Another artist that we might not know but that you love?
We are so not cool. We always find out about stuff way too late. Although, I would say, if you like a song, find out who wrote it and dig into that persons music. I’ve found a lot of great stuff that way.

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
How about “What kind of tequila would you like when you get here?” A: Don Julio 1942

Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Just a little sugar please.

Old Dominion's record is out now and available wherever you buy your music.

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