Fresh off the release of their self-titled EP, Trevor and Brad from Old Dominion sat down to share their insight on everything from the band’s current singles, the band’s sound, and more. The group has had a whirlwind year – their single “Shut Me Up” received 1.7 million Spotify streams alone, and are currently on tour with Chase Rice. Despite the band’s busy schedule, Brad and Trevor are extremely laid back, which speaks to Old Dominion’s relaxed nature.
This week is big for you, because you have a new song, “Break Up with Him,” hitting the airwaves on SiriusXM. Tell us a little bit about that single.
Brad: “Shut Me Up” is our current single out on regular radio, but SiriusXM, their schedule is a little bit different, so we’re ready for a new single on SiriusXM. On Monday [October 13th] we came out with “Break Up with Him.” That’s a song we actually wrote, all five of us in the band. A lot of times, we write songs with different people in town, or what not, but that was a combination of all five of us in the band. It’s a fun song. Goes over really well live. Especially with the ladies *laughs*. So we’re excited to put that out.
Moving back to the beginning, you all have been writing together for about 10 years now, and have a plethora of radio hits. Was forming a band always a goal throughout that time? When did you decide that you wanted to be Old Dominion and what led to that decision?
Trevor: You know a few of us, Matthew and Brad and I moved here to be songwriters, so we’ve been doing that for about 10 years. We’ve been playing together in some capacity or another for about, I’d say, 8 years or so. 8-9 years. Really it started out with Matthew doing his solo thing and playing with Geoff and Whit and really working on his solo thing. I was writing with Matt a lot just kinda jumping up for his live thing. Then it really started to materialize into a band some number of years ago – 7 or 8 years ago. So, there wasn’t really a specific point where we stopped and said, “okay, we’re Old Dominion now.” It sort of organically grew into the point where we developed a sound and sounded like a band, and wrote so many songs together that it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t just solo thing. We had a definitive sound, and we were a band. So, I’d say 7-8 years ago we recognized the fact that we were a band. Picked a name and started to go after it as a band.
What makes Old Dominion’s sound different as a band?
Brad: Well, you know, good question! *laughs* We all come from various musical backgrounds. I think all of us really grew up around rock music, so I think a lot of our stuff has more of a rock edge to it. We just try to express things lyrically. We can just tell when it’s one of our songs. It has a certain swagger to it that we might identify with, like “oh this sounds like Old Dominion.”
And that has all lead you to this current self-titled EP, released on Oct. 7! What was it like working with Shane McAnally on the EP?
Trevor: Working with Shane was great. We’ve been good friends, and co-writers and collaborators for a while, and so going into the studio with him was a pretty natural fit. The big thing is that we write all the songs, we play all the instruments. It’s really the band in the studio, so it’s really our sound, but Shane has such a good ear, and he helps define the sound. He immediately knows when something is right and when it’s not right. So putting his ear to what we already naturally do it helped refine the sound.
With five members, how do you balance everyone’s opinions when you’re working on projects, like your EP?
Brad: We have a written band agreement *laughs.* Certain decisions are majority vote. We all can get on the same page most of the time.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s the good thing is that we do get along, and I mean, sometimes we don’t agree, but there’s nobody with giant egos in the band. We all have a collective goal, so I think our vision is pretty much on the same level. If there’s ever a thing we disagree about, we talk it out, and if we have to take a band vote, we take a band vote. But actually, up to this point, there haven’t been any major issues that we’ve really disagreed on.
Brad: Yeah, if someone disagrees, like Trevor said, we talk about it. Even if one guy might be kind of on the fence, if four of the other guys are saying the other thing. It’s kind of like “alright, I guess we need trust the band there.”
Trevor: It’s four on one! *Laughs*
In terms of songwriting, do you write with the goal of writing an Old Dominion cut? Or do you aim for the goal of writing with someone else? How does that work for the band?
Trevor: I don’t think we ever sit down specifically to write an Old Dominion song. We write everyday when we’re in town. We write, between us, hundreds of songs. You know, when you sit down that day you just come up with ideas, and you try to come up a groove, and you just try to write the best song that you can write that day. It eventually shakes out. We go through all the songs we’ve written and maybe we work ‘em up with the band or maybe we demo them and see how they sound in the studio. Eventually we realize, “oh this might sound good for Old Dominion.” But no, we don’t ever sit down with the intention for writing it [for Old Dominion]. We just pick through all the songs we’ve written and shake it out from there and figure out what songs would be good for the band.
Brad: Sometimes we think a song is good for the band, and we work it up with the band, and it just doesn’t work out. And then other times, there might be a sleeper that we’re not really sure is for the band, but we play it, and all of a sudden it sounds great when we play it together. So no, we don’t ever sit down with the intention – we usually figure it out afterwards.
Since you guys have been together as a band for a long time, how has your songwriting evolved over the past several years?
Brad: I mean, I just think, like anything else, the more you do it, the more developed you become at the craft of songwriting. I can think five years ago, that I would be stuck at a point in the song – I’d never get past it – or it’d take me days, and the more you do it, the more you can navigate your way through a song and take it where it needs supposed to go. I just think the experience of writing makes you better.
Since you, and the other members of Old Dominion, do have a lot of songs on the radio, when was the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
Trevor: I think, “Neon,” by Chris Young was the first one that I heard. That was the first one that I’d recorded that was actually out as a single. As Old Dominion, I guess “Dirt on a Road” on SiriusXM. The Highway started playing “Dirt on a Road.” We actually had a little get together at my house one night, on the night the song came out. We were all kind of partying and having some drinks and had SiriusXM playing. It came on, and we cranked it up, and it was a pretty awesome feeling to not just have a song that you’ve written, but actually have it be our band. That was a pretty awesome feeling.
You just started the tour with Chase Rice. How is that going?
Brad: It’s going great! His band and his crew, they’re all great. I think because SiriusXM was such a big part of Chase’s breaking, and that’s where we’re played too, I feel like a lot of the fans recognize our songs… probably a lot of them have SriusXM. It’s just the perfect kind of crowd for us. We’re just excited and honored to be up there.
So with five guys in Old Dominion, plus Chase Rice what’s it like having all of those guys on the road? Do you have any crazy stories or fun plans on the road?
Brad: We just started, we’ve only had one weekend.
Trevor: We’ve only played a few shows with him so far. So as far as his tour, there’s nothing crazy that’s happened.
Brad: We’re just warming up!
Trevor: But we’ve done some cool stuff. Last weekend, we were in Boston and we got a chance to tour Fenway, so we did that together and walked all through Fenway park. I’m a big baseball fan, so that was pretty cool for me. Every town we go to, if we have some downtime, we try to find something cool in that town. We were out west last month and found some pretty cool things to do. Saw some landmarks and things like that. Yeah, I don’t have any crazy stories for you yet, but maybe check back in a couple months. I’m sure we’ll have some! *laughs*
Ending on some fun questions: If a song played evertime Old Dominion (so all five of you) walked into a room, what song would that be?
Trevor: *Laughs* That’s tough! Let’s see….Brad?
Brad: I’m trying to think of a silly song! Our bass player, Jeff, he’s always playing these crazy songs in the van. I’m trying to think of one of those. Maybe it would be by Tenacious D, “The Road.” Pretty good groove. Pretty funny song. *laughs*
If Old Dominion had a college-football style mascot, what would it be?
Trevor: It’d be a Kangaroo Butler.
That was a quick answer!
Trevor: I think that may actually end up being our official mascot – a Kangaroo Butler.
What’s the story behind that one?
Trevor: Man, it might take me a long time to explain. I mean we have a lot of down time in the van. *laughs* If you heard the things we talked about in the van, you might think we’re clinically insane. But I think that started out with imagining being so successful and so rich, at what point what do you end up doing with your money? What are some crazy things you’d do to spend it? Somebody threw out Kangaroo Butler. *Laughs* Of course after 30 minutes of beating it into the ground, I think somebody actually drew a little mascot of a Kangaroo butler.
If you could create your own Old Dominion signature drink, what would it be?
Brad: The perfect IPA.
What makes that IPA perfect?
Brad: It’d be hoppy, but it would have a little bit of citrus-y taste. *laughs*
Trevor: I was going to say Old Fashioned. But I guess we do drink IPAs more than we do Old Fashioned. I mean are Old Dominion, maybe it should be an Old Fashioned. Maybe we’ll need a band vote!