Love and Theft are starting fresh. The duo earned a No. 1 single with “Lonely Eyes,” but they Tell RollingStone that that success didn’t garantee them success. In fact, after their next two singles didn’t do well, RCA dropped Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson.
“That was in September, right when the song came off the chart,” Gunderson tells Rolling Stone Country. “RCA’s goal has always been to be a Number One label and they’re trying to build their empire. I think we were victims of that in a way.”
He said, ‘The airwaves are oversaturated with bro country right now. We did our best, but we had a hard time,'” says Liles, emphasizing that Love and Theft’s music was never of the bro variety. “Pretty much, it was like, ‘If you were bro country, you probably would have gotten played.’ He was just being honest.”
The worst part of losing their long-time label home is the loss of their music. All of Love and Theft’s previous albums, including the one yet-to-be-released are locked away at Sony.
“They want 13 grand a song, and we can’t re-record the songs, even if we wrote them. We have to wait five years,” explains Liles. “So that music is on a hard drive in a basement.”
“We’ve spent so many hours, weeks, months on that [music],” Gunderson says. “You pour your heart and soul into it, and they don’t have any idea how much time or work [went into it]. . .they just shelve it.”
Instead of sitting in the corner and sulking, the duo hit it hard, recording new music, the first of which is “Whiskey on My Breath.”
“It’s an alcoholic’s struggle. He’s comfortable with where he is, and it doesn’t matter about the rest of his life, but he doesn’t want to embarrass himself in front of Jesus,” says Liles. “His mindset is he knows he’s going to die one day, but even though he lost everything on this Earth, he’s not going to give up liquor. It’s that inner battle that an alcoholic faces. And it never resolves. It shows the darkness of being alone.”
The new album will be released through Red Distribution. The company helps release the album, but promotion will be up to the guys.
The goal was to sound more organic and showcase the harmonies and vocals. We took a different approach, and it ended up sounding more fresh than the other stuff we’ve done,” says Gunderson.
It shows that we can actually fucking sing,” says Liles. “I’m not bragging, it’s just the truth. That’s why we’re still around. That’s how we got a deal. We sang in people’s offices with our harmonies and came in with acoustic demos. With this album, we wanted to say, ‘Hey, these are our voices. This is why we’re still here.'”
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