Nashville’s Old Dominion are one of the hottest country bands on the scene right now. After only two albums and 10 hit singles, the band is currently on the road on their second world-wide headlining stint. With their third album ready for release this fall, Old Dominion makes its second stop in Southwestern Ontario in the last two months when it headlines BX93 Country Night at Start.ca Rocks The Park in London on Wednesday, July 10. They were in our area in June for a visit to Caesars Windsor.
Frontman and lead singer Matthew Ramsey checked in with 519 ahead of their London show.
In May you guys released the single Some People Do and it sounds like a very personal and soul searching song. What was the inspiration for that one?
I mean, that was pretty much it. We kind of fell on that title that day by accident. It was actually the second song we wrote that day. I was getting ready to leave and I said, “Some people do,” just in my regular conversation, I forget what we were even talking about, and Thomas Rhett said that’s actually a cool title, Some People Do. And he started playing the piano, and then we just started basically apologizing in song form. And it became very emotional, and I think a lot of people were finding out, have been to that point in their life where they realize, things can still happen.
I’ve heard the new album seems a little more emotional and vulnerable all around. Why the change?
I think that it wasn’t a conscious choice, really. It’s just how we are evolving as writers and artists, and maybe we’re feeling a little more comfortable, taking down a few walls as people, and sharing that with our audience, and the more we do that, I think we get positive responses from that, and so we’re willing to do it a little bit more just naturally its just coming to us that way.
All the work you guys have done has paid off. You’ve added a couple more number one hits to your arsenal. Was there anything you guys did that made this new album a little more special than the others?
I think, the thing that probably did the most is that we took our time. I think the second album was made very fast. That album was made, did a couple of overdubs and things but for the most part that album was made in four days. And with this one, we took our time in the studio and the first session that we went in for, we didn’t even have any songs that we wanted to record. So that’s when we wrote Make It Sweet at the studio. And so that just sort of set the tone. I was like let’s take our time, let’s be very deliberate about every sound that we make and every lyric that we put out there, so we are very proud of the final product.
The new single, One Man Band, it’s rising up the charts here in Canada, so how did that song come about?
That one is doing pretty good for us. That was another title that just kind of came out of somebody’s mouth, somebody… a radio person was on the bus and they said something about a one man band, and when they left, I looked at Brad and said we need to write One Man Band. And he said, “What?” I said, “Yeah, like a love song, like you don’t wanna be, I don’t want to be alone.
Later that night, we were actually on stage getting ready to go on and our intro is playing and everything and we were singing it into our phones while we were supposed to be walking out on the stage. Thomas said we better get on stage, and then we finished it later on the road with our friend Josh Osborne, who came out on the road with us, so we finished it later with him.
In the song One Man Band, you talk a little bit about hotel trashing at one point. So, I have to ask, have you ever trashed a hotel before?
No, we have not. It’s funny, I was talking about that the other day with somebody and they brought that up and I think that is more of a reference on the band side of things. There are two sides to that. That on the band side of things, it’s like a rock and roll cliché type of, getting drunk, throwing the TV out the window type of thing. And then on the love side perspective, it was more of a sexual reference of tearing up the bed in a hotel room.
Like you said, there is that relationship side and the band side. So, with the band side, there is some truth about wanting to be in a band rather than a solo artist as well. Is that something truly how you feel?
We’ve talked about that a lot with each other as a band. It’s a fun job, but it’s also hard and there are a lot of decisions and a lot of pressure and it would be really hard to be alone doing all of that. At least we have each other to bounce ideas off of and to check each other’s egos and to do things like that. So, we always say that we can’t imagine what it’s like to be a solo artist out there doing this. We would not want to be in that boat. We would rather be in it together.
It’s been two years since Happy Ending. I bet you can’t wait for the new album to come out?
Yes, we are ready for it to come out. We’d put it out tomorrow if we could.
So, all in all, it’s been a fairly quick rise for you guys as a band. Has it felt that fast to you?
No, not at all. Because we’ve been a band for almost 13 years now. So, we’ve been working at this for a very long time. Really the last four years have been very successful, but it took quite a long time for us to get to that point. So, we recognized that once a song got on the radio, it really did pave a big way for us really fast as we achieved a lot in those four years. But, the time leading up to that, we certain played to no one, for longer than we played to an audience.
With the hits and the tours, it inevitably comes to separation from family at times. How do you handle that separation?
It’s difficult, obviously, but luckily with modern technology there is FaceTime and things like that. We try to bring out families as much as we can, so it’s not the easiest and definitely not our favorite part of the job, but we try to make it work.
Do they get to come with you during the Summer?
Some, not a lot though. We have kids and they are getting to the point where they have their own lives and their own circle of friends that they want to do things with… every once in a while we can bring them out for a week or so.
Is Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion different than Matthew the husband and father?
Sure, in some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. They sort of blend together. There’s parts of me as a father and family man that I’m not willing to share with the audience, because that’s private and I want to hold on to that. But, there’s probably parts of me on stage that are exaggerated, but they’re still all parts of me and I don’t think if an audience would see the private side of me they would be surprised and I don’t think my family is surprised by anything I do on stage. So mostly it’s just a matter of what I decide to share or not.
Before Old Dominion, you had success as a song writer. Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, just to name a couple that you have written for. Do you still continue to write for others or is it strictly all for Old Dominion now?
No, we all still write for others occasionally. We get lucky. We just had a hit on Michael Ray, his latest song that went to number one, The One That Got Away, was the song that Trevor and I wrote. And I’ve actually got a couple of irons in the fire now. I’m sure the other guys do too. We’re still writing songs and some of them land with other artists and some of them land with us.
I want to ask about Save It For A Rainy Day. That’s become a very popular part of the Old Dominion show, do you think it would have been an Old Dominion tune if it wasn’t a massive hit for Kenny Chesney?
I’d say, it’s a pretty good chance, yeah, it’s a song that we love playing. It never had a chance to be an Old Dominion song, but it is such a part of our story and Kenny is such a part of our story because we toured with him for three years. He was a great mentor for us and a great friend to us. That song rose to the top of the charts while we were on tour with him and we’d go out and sing it with him. So it felt like our song and his song all at the same time. But I think that a big reason why that stuck with us and it’s a big part of our live show.
How did that song come about?
That song was me and Brad and our late friend, Andrew Dorff, who has since passed away. We wrote it at 9:00 in the morning. Sometimes we would schedule two writes back in the day. With Andrew, we would always write at nine in the morning, just until our second write, which would start at 11:00am. So we easily use that time to kind of finish up a song we haven’t completed or start a new idea. And that morning, I got that idea for that song, just as I was headed to write. I just sort of showed up and I said, “Hey, check this out.” And I sang the first part of the chorus to them and they were like, “Oh, man. That’s great!” And then we finished that song in about 45 minutes. It was really fast; we just kind of spit that one out. And, it was like, “Wow, that was cool!”
At that time, Brad use to make little homemade demos and I kept telling him, “Man, this sounds like a Kenny Chesney song. You should make a demo for it.” He kept putting it off and putting it off. And then finally one day I said, “Dude, do you want to send Kenny Chesney that or not?” And he’s like, “Okay, okay. I’ll make one.” So he made one and it never happens that way. It happened so perfectly and I sent it on. I had never really met Kenny at that point. The next thing I know I get a phone call saying, “Hey, Kenny Chesney is going to call you.” And he called and we talked about the song. We changed a few lines to make it fit him a little bit more and the next thing you know it’s a big hit.