“I can tell you that where we are now as a band was never any part of our vision in the earliest days of the band,” Jon says. “At first, it was more a matter of getting to play some shows. Then we played bars with stages and were getting paid in more than just beer. From the outset, we just wanted to have fun, entertain our friends and graduate from college.”
By the time the members of the Eli Young Band had each completed their respective college pursuits, Jon says that each of them acknowledged that it still felt as though the band had some unfinished business. Rather than moving off to their respective new careers with a grateful look back at the fun the group afforded them while still in school, the band became their primary focus.
“We made our first record in a friend’s basement and sold it out of the back of a van. There was definitely a certain joy of ownership in those days. We were responsible for everything from packaging the CDs to booking the band and taking care of finances.”
And though the band remains involved in their day-to-day business affairs, having a record label in their corner combined with the relative luxury of touring on a bus (as opposed to a van) allows the group to focus on what they do best: make music.
“For a lot of different reasons, signing with a record label was probably one of the most responsible choices that we could have made as a band,” Jon says. “We were very fortunate because we had built something respectable in terms of a career on our own before we signed our contract. What really drew us to the Republic Nashville label was the fact that they weren’t looking to change the music that we were making. They let us be us as opposed to trying to make us into something we are not. They just take what we are doing and help make it bigger instead of trying to make it different,” Jon says.
Jon acknowledges that expectations were running high for the band with 10,000 Towns. The group’s previous record, 2011’s Life At Best, produced back-to-back chart topping singles with the double platinum hit “Crazy Girl” and the platinum-selling “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”
Although some groups might have crumbled under the pressure of following up the most commercially successful album of their career, Jon says that they instead used the pressure as a motivator to outdo themselves.
“The fact we were coming off a successful record with more than 4 million singles sold, we knew that people would be paying attention to the band a little more intently with this album. We felt relatively confident that if we made a great record with great songs that it would catch people’s attention but instead of trying to rush the process of songwriting, we took things slowly and took our time to make sure things were done right.
“Because of the band’s prior success, we had songs being pitched to us by some of the best writers in Nashville. That success really blessed us with the opportunity to make the record of our lives. Once ‘Drunk All Night’ started to do well at radio, it relieved any pressure that we might have been feeling in the time leading up to the release of the album,” Jon says.
Maintaining an annual show schedule that averages between 130 and 140 shows, it undoubtedly feels good for the Eli Young Band to be reaping the rewards of the seeds they sowed all those years ago in Texas.
While the business side can sometimes overtake the friendships that initially inspired any particular group of individuals to want to make music together, the Eli Young Band is more like a band of brothers at this point in their career.
“It has been the same four guys in this band making music for the last 14 years,” Jon says. “From making a living playing throughout Texas without any real radio support to arriving at where we are today, we are proud of what we have built from the ground up. And of course, it is thanks to our fans for making it all possible.”
What: Eli Young Band
When: Saturday May 31, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $45.99 (plus taxes and service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca