Mike Eli, James Young, Chris Thompson and Jon Jones are the 4 talented guys that make up the Eli Young Band. With a recent Song of the Year win at the ACM Awards for “Crazy Girl,” another hit single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” racking up radio airplay, and a touring gig with Mr. Dierks Bentley the band is pretty much on fire. CMTT caught up with the guys fresh off the stage as they kicked off Stagecoach, California’s biggest country music festival. At about 90 degrees outside we figured the guys would be beat from the heat, but as they reminded us this was nothing to them, as they are from Texas. We sat down and got a chance to talk to them about how they all got together, their career highs and what else they think 2012 will hold for them. They also enjoyed answering some fan questions and trying their hand at CMTT’s 10 Quick Quirky Questions.
How did the 4 of you guys get started?
Mike: We were students at the university of north Texas. Jon, Chris and James met in 98 and they started jamming together just in a friends garage making music. I came to school in 99 and was James’ roommate.
Chris: Jon and I were roommates and Mike and James started playing acoustic in town and after about a semester together they decided they needed a drummer and a bass player and they knew us. The first show we played as a band they were doing originals and covers and Jon and I got up and we played like 3 songs together. Something just felt right.
James: Then we just started writing music, and its kind of like once we started writing songs and people were saying that song is good, we were like alright…!!
Mike: The 4 of us had the bug since we were kids. We wanted to make music…and we slowly started to figure out that we had something.
Chris: We started writing and making records. We put out our second independent record, “Level” in 2005, which had “When it Rains” on it which started to get radio play around the country sort of randomly. After several years it led to us getting our record deal, then we released “When it Rains” nationally, and then “Always the Love Songs” which kind of put us on the national scene, and then “Crazy Girl” came along and here we are!
As you discussed you guys have been together for a long time making music, but it seems like the last couple of years things have just exploded. What have been some “I can’t believe this is happening to us” moments you guys have had??
Mike: One of them was winning the ACM award. I know all 4 of us had dreamed of that moment. That’s definitely been personally, and career wise one of the biggest moments we have ever had.
Chris: There has also been a lot of cool TV firsts we have had too. We got to do The Tonight Show 2 times, David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel 2 times. Just growing up watching all that stuff on TV it’s kind of cool to say we’ve done that!
James: Having a number one single. “Crazy Girl” was just a game a changer for us. It went gold, then platinum…. it’s crazy!
What does the rest of 2012 look like for you guys?
Mike: Well, our single right now is “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and when we recorded this album I think we felt like this was going to be a really special song for us mainly because we feel like our dreams are coming true. We get to make music for a living, which is something a lot of people dream about. We don’t ever take that for granted. When we decided to record that song we really felt like it told that story to everyone and I think that hopefully there are people out there that because they hear that song they will follow their dreams.
James: We are on tour right now with Dierks Bentley, and then we go out with Rascal Flatts this summer!
Chris: Yeah, it’s Little Big Town, Edens Edge, us and Rascal Flatts for 4 months all over the country! All bands…it’s going to be great.
Would you change anything in your path of how you got to where you are today?
Mike: I think changing things can be a dangerous road to go on. I think we have been really happy with the decisions we have made.
James: I think the way we started was kind of grass roots. Being we are from Texas, there is a big regional scene and lots of clubs. We got to go out and play shows and hone our craft of writing songs and performing. We have also built up an amazing friendship and brotherhood between the 4 of us over the last 12 years. Then when some success started coming we were already strong.
Chris: Hindsight is 20/20. You can always say, oh we should have done this, or we should have done that, but the fact is we are here today.
Mike: Maybe during some of those early shows, if I could go back and tell myself anything I would tell myself to enjoy the moment.
What’s the most memorable thing a fan has given to you or said to you?
Mike: There is a little girl Abby, she has muscular dystrophy. She wrote down the lyrics to “Crazy Girl” and framed it and designed it. To see someone so young going through so much and for her to give us a gift like that is pretty special. We do a lot with St. Jude and when we go there the kids will color something and give it to us and it’s pretty awesome. Those are the best things.
James: We also hear that “Crazy Girl” is someone’s first dance at their wedding, which is cool, and sometimes people even tattoo lyrics on their body. It’s like…wow that’s permanent (laughing), but also very flattering!
10 QUICK QUIRKY QUESTIONS WITH THE ELI YOUNG BAND
1. If you could be anyone for a day who would it be and why?
Mike: Bruce Springsteen…because he is the coolest. I have seen him live so many times, and he always walks on stage with such confidence and charisma.
2. Sweet or Salty?
Sweet (They all agree)
3. What is the last song or album that you downloaded?
Mike: Lee Brice’s new record, “Hard 2 Love”
Chris: Eric Church’s “Chief”
4. When you looked at yourself the mirror this morning what was the first thing you thought?
James: I’m getting old
Chris: It’s too early
Mike: I need to go to the gym
5. What is one word that you say a lot?
6. If you could pick one person to tour with whom would it be?
Mike: That’s a hard one, we all draw inspiration from so many people…Tom Petty would be incredible, and in the country world, Keith Urban.
Chris: Jason Aldean.
7. Who has influenced you most in your personal life?
Mike: Our parents. All four of us have been very lucky to have parents that support this way of life.
8. Who has influenced you most in your musical life?
James: For me I would say Stevie Ray Vaughan and other guitar gods like Van Halen and Joe Perry
9. If your house were on fire what one item would make sure to grab before running for safety?
Our ACM Award (They all agree and they said if this included people, they would be sure to grab their wives!)
10. Would you ever participate in a reality TV show? If yes, which one would you sign up for?
Chris: “Bands on the Run”
James: Maybe the “Amazing Race.” Sometimes we feel like we are on that being in constant motion! We would be like an old married couple and create some good drama on T.V (laughing)!!
Want to know more about the Eli Young Band or see where you can catch them on tour? www.eliyoungband.com