Country band Lonestar has been performing and recording for more than 25 years. Best remembered for the pop crossover love song Amazed, the band is back on the road with six Canadian dates in June, including a stop at London Music Hall on June 14.
The band’s lead guitarist Michael Britt checked in ahead of the tour to chat about Amazed and the killer album it comes from – Lonely Grill.
A cool milestone this year is that it’s the 20th anniversary of Amazed and Lonely Grill. That album and song really changed things for you guys?
We had success with some number one songs before that, but at the time when we made the Lonely Grill record, we were kind of afraid our career was over because John Rich just left the band, and we didn’t know if it was going to be as good without John. We had a brand-new producer with Dann Huff, and we were trying to make an album that might just make sure we were still relevant and still could be a band. Then it turned out having a huge a crossover to pop and was the number one song on The Hot 100, so that’s the reason we’re still around 25 years later. It was really just that one song because it was so big that people just never get tired of hearing that song even today.
When you guys were recording that album did it feel like it was going to be special?
I think we’re really excited to work with Dann. He hadn’t had a lot of production credits at that point. I was a huge fan of his just being a guitar player and being able to work with someone that just had this youthful king of vigor. He really had a great plan for this record, and it just felt like a team effort all the way around from the label to Dann. We were just all aboard, we are all in, trying to do something that would make everything not go away. It was a really fun record to make and I have fond memories of recording with Dann. He’s just such a cosmic professional with great ears and it was a lot of fun to make.
Where did you find Amazed?
It was just pitched to us and funny enough, that song has been pitched to different artist too. I think Blackhawk was one. Henry Paul once said that they turned down Amazed, and it happens to all of us. I think we passed on “God Bless The Broken Road” that Rascal Flatts had. When these big songwriters come up with these songs, they think are hits they pitch then to the biggest artists at the time. Sometimes there’s just too many songs for an artist to cut, so they just get passed around a little and that was when we got lucky enough to have Amazed. And honestly, it fits Richie’s vocal range perfectly. Richie is such a great singer. As far as range, he can really belt it, and he’s got a lot of feeling in his voice, so that song was just perfect for him. It was pitched to us at a song meeting at the label one day and we all loved it. It never left our pile of songs that we wanted to record.
I don’t know what was going on in the world is that time, but it was just it seemed like we were just getting a lot of great songs. When there are 12 people in the room listening, all 12 people can’t be wrong when everybody likes it. We knew it was a good song. We just didn’t know it was going to be that big. I don’t know if there’s any way anyone can tell it’s going to be that big. The singer on the demos was a guy named Bill Luther and he had this Rod Stewart kind of gravel in his voice. So just the demo alone was fantastic because he sounded great. So that it was just the matter of us trying to do the song justice after that demo.
Do you have any funny stories or memories from previous trips in Canada?
We love playing in Canada. I mean, we’ve done it over the years quite a few times. Every time we go to Canada it just seems like a good time. Our big thing on tour is to get food we can’t get at home. When we go to California, we get In and Out Burgers, when we go to the Northwest we get Taco Time, and we’ll go to Canada and get poutine and things like that. There’s also Tim Hortons donuts and the stuff that we can only get up there. That’s the big secret – we just tour to get food that we can’t get it home.
Some bands and musicians like to help out charities and causes. Is there any cause Lonestar or yourself support?
We’ve been involved with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for years and years, and we still do things for them. Anytime were asked to do anything for them we’ll go out of our way to do it. We’ve done lots of things with Wounded Warrior Project and there’s a group called the Adopt A Platoon where we would send care packages over to the troops when they’re deployed. We really don’t turn down any request to do charity stuff. We feel like we’ve been very fortunate and when people come to us, we do what we can to help them. Definitely St. Jude and Wounded Warrior have been the ones that we’ve done been the most for.
Is there any new music ahead for you guys?
We’ve been talking about it. I’m not sure what the final outcome is yet, but Richie’s written some new songs, and we’re just trying to figure out a way to do it. I don’t know how many more albums people want from us. It seems like people love our old songs more. We still put out new songs to keep things fresh and because we have something to say, but it’s getting really hard putting new songs and shows because we’ve had so many hits – and that’s probably a very good thing. I know we’re going to put at least one more, song because I know Richie has a song he’s itching to cut, but we’re not really sure if it’s going to be a full album, an E.P. or what we’re doing yet.