Posted by: Amy | June 8, 2010

Interview with Eli Young Band at the Country Throwdown Tour, Charlotte, NC

Photo Courtesy of Eli Young Band

Eli Young Band got their start at the University of North Texas in 2000 when Mike Eli and James Young began playing acoustic shows around town. They were soon joined by friends Chris Thompson and Jon Jones. Since their college days, they have played thousands of shows around Texas, and more recently, across the entire country. They were invited to be the opening act on Gary Allan’s Get Off on the Pain tour last fall. Following their success on Gary’s tour, the guys were asked to join the Country Throwdown Tour lineup. Rachel and I were fortunate enough to spend some time talking to them prior to their set at the Charlotte Throwdown show.

We began by discussing the guys’ favorite thing to do on the Throwdown tour once their set is over. They like to venture out to the lawn seating and anonymously move through the crowd and get fans’ reactions to the tour and to the band’s show. Mike shared a particularly funny story about a couple of girls that he met at the tour stop in Cincinnati, OH. “I was talking to these two girls. You know, I was in a ball cap and sunglasses and shorts and was asking them who they came to see. They said, ‘Well, we came to see the Eli Young Band and that’s it.'” Jon chimed in, “Eventually they got back around to asking why he (Mike) came. After like five minutes!” Mike continued, “Yeah. So I said, ‘Well, I’m in a band. We played earlier.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry we missed y’all. We got here right in enough time to see Eli Young play and we’ve just been out here hanging out. So, I’m sorry if we missed your show. What band are you in?’ And I’m like, ‘The Eli Young Band.'” The girls of course freaked out and it resulted in a great story for them and for the band!

Continuing on the theme of fan interaction, we discussed the band’s frequent use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to stay in contact with their fans. They have also hosted several live chats with fans on Ustream. They enjoy the interaction with fans and realize that the fans appreciate having a more personal connection with them. Throughout the Throwdown Tour, the band is hiding red USB bracelets that contain unreleased EYB songs and can be presented at their merchandise booth for a free t-shirt. One blue bracelet is also hidden at each date. Along with the perks of the red bracelet, the blue one entitles the finder to VIP backstage passes for the show. Fans were first notified about the existence of these bracelets through the band’s Twitter page. At the Charlotte show, the band was signing autographs in the Rockstar Energy Drink tent and the first fan in line noticed the blue bracelet “hidden” on Mike’s wrist and credited Twitter with knowing what it was. The band feels that they have reached a broader audience because of social media. Drummer Chris Thompson described the relationship with their online fans as “a secret life” that the rest of the fans aren’t aware of.

During the three day break between the tour’s stop in Noblesville, IN and the Charlotte show, the band rented rehearsal space and spent time writing and recording new songs. The band was excited to have the time to get back to the basics of writing and rehearsing without the normal distractions of being on the road. They like that their record label has given them the freedom to be creative. The record label president actually encouraged them to rent the rehearsal space and to be creative so that they can get the material they want make the best album that they can possibly make. Even with writing new music and having half of the new album recorded, they are not sure when new music will be released. They are hoping for some time early next year. Because the band’s fans demanded that “Guinevere” be released as a single, the timing for new music is up in the air. It’s a good problem to have as fans have really connected with “Guinevere.” James pointed out that social media played a huge part in gauging the fans’ interest in the song and getting instant feedback on everything that the band does.

Unfortunately because of the timing of some of the other interviews that we had scheduled after we talked to EYB, we missed their set. That was probably the only bummer of the day. But, we were able to hear their set in the press trailer and it sounded as if the fans were really enjoying the show. I wish that there were another Throwdown date nearby so that we could go check out all of the artists that we missed!

If you’re in Nashville during CMA Fest, be sure the check out the guys’ show on the Riverfront Stage on Friday, June 11 from 1:30-2:00. You will definitely want to see their show if you haven’t seen them before. And, if you have already seen them, I know that you’re dying to see them again!

Thank you to Mike, James, Jon and Chris for taking time out of their day to talk to us and thanks to Melanie for setting up the interview!

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