Photo: Image Group LA/ABC/Getty Images
TrailBlazer Country Music Festival Lineup: Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley & More
The first edition of this guitar- and twang-filled festival set in the gorgeous New York Catskills—taking the place of the former Taste of Country Fest—will take happen on June 12-14
Today, the newly revamped and renamed TrailBlazer Festival—formerly Taste of Country Fest—announced the lineup for its country music and camping event, taking place in the New York Catskills on June 12-14, 2020. Past GRAMMY nominee Dierks Bentley, current Best Country Album nominee Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan will headline the three-day event.
HARDY, Jon Langston, Dylan Scott, Matt Stell, Cole Swindell and The Cadillac Three were also revealed on this first-round lineup, with more artists to be announced at a later date.
"We're happy to bring y'all a brand new festival experience at the same location you know & love. On the grounds of the former Taste of Country Music Festival we're bringing you two stages, 30+ artists and more," TrailBlazer says, via their homepage. Taste of Country was first launched in 2013 at the same location: Hunter Mountain Resort in Hunter, N.Y.
The name change follows an earlier purchase by Live Nation, who adds the event to their growing catalog of country-focused festivals, including Watershed in George, Wash., Faster Horses in Brooklyn, Mich., Seven Peaks in Buena Vista, Colo. and Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Tickets for TrailBlazer Fest go on sale next Friday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. ET; more info at TrailBlazerFest.com.
2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See Miley Cyrus, Ice Spice, Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini, & More Artists' Reactions
The 2024 GRAMMY nominations have been announced! Here’s how nominated artists from boygenius to Jelly Roll reacted on social media.
This afternoon, the highly anticipated 2024 GRAMMY nominations were announced, bringing loads of excitement to music enthusiasts.
After the announcements were made, nominated artists shared their reaction on social media. A series of appreciation posts flooded the timeline from the likes of first-time nominee Tyla, trend-charting rapper Coi Leray, country star Kelsea Ballerini, and more.
Dive into the social media celebration posts, while catching up on the full nominees list. Make sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMY awards on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live (8:00-11:30 PM, LIVE ET/5:00-8:30 PM, LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network and will stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).
"On My Mama" singer/songwriter Victoria Monét shared pre-nomination nerves last night, comparing the feeling to the anticipation of draft day. Little did she know, she'd be one of the most nominated artists of the year. She received six nominations in total: Record Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song.
Whew I am so nervous 😭😭😭 it feels like draft day— Victoria Monét (@VictoriaMonet) November 10, 2023
After Coil Leray found out she was nominated for Best Rap Performance for "Players" and Best Pop Dance Recording for her feature with David Guetta (“Baby Don't Hurt Me"), the rapper took to X, formerly known as Twitter: "Wow I'm really Grammy Nominated ? That's crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I'll brb."
Wow I’m really Grammy Nominated ? That’s crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I’ll brb. 😱— Coi (@coi_leray) November 10, 2023
Miley Cyrus specifically highlighted the women in the music industry, while celebrating her fans and team:
Congratulations to all of this years Grammy nominees. Watching women rule the music industry makes me proud. It’s fun to be nominated & exciting to win but having my music LOVED around the world is the real trophy.— Miley Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) November 10, 2023
To my Smilers - I celebrate YOU today. Your joy is my bliss.… pic.twitter.com/SSLjVAsOUY
Afrobeats star Davido's latest album Timeless was nominated for Best Global Album, while also receiving nominations for Best African Music Performance and Best Global Music Performance.
3 nominations at the Grammys!! Delay is not Denial!! 🏆🌎— Davido (@davido) November 10, 2023
Americana musician Jason Isbell thanked The Recording Academy for the Best Americana Performance, Best American Roots Song, and Best Americana Album nominations.
Dang alright thank you @RecordingAcad 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) November 10, 2023
Rising artist Tyla, whose song "Water" was nominated for Best African Music Performance, posted a series of tweets capturing her immense shock:
NO WAYSSSSSS— Tyla (@Tyllaaaaaaa) November 10, 2023
Atlanta based R&B singer-songwriter, Summer Walker, shouted out all the "lover girls/boys" after CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP was nominated for Best R&B Album.
Wow a Grammy nomination?? thank you to all my lover girls/boys— SUMMER WALKER (@IAMSUMMERWALKER) November 10, 2023
Country star Kelsea Ballerini shared a live-reaction video to her Best Country Album nomination.
Boygenius was nominated for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alt Music Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. The trio posted a photo of them hugging while staring at the TV displaying their nominations.
And despite writing GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated hits for the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Julia Michaels (respectively), songwriters Shane McAnally and Justin Tranter were both shocked their names were included in the Songwriter Of The Year category — proving that a GRAMMY nomination is always magical, no matter how many times it happens.
Photo: Jess Williams
Inside Charlie Worsham's 'Compadres': How His Friendships With Luke Combs, Lainey Wilson & More Birthed The Collab EP
Friends including Dierks Bentley, Elle King and Kip Moore join the journeyman singer, songwriter and guitar slinger on his latest bid for Nashville glory.
Country singer/songwriter Charlie Worsham didn't find immediate success after arriving in Nashville in the late aughts — but 15 years later, he couldn't be happier about his luck.
"One of the best gifts I could have ever had was a practice run at all this, where I shared the victories and the losses with this band of brothers," says Worsham, who is referring to his stint playing mandolin in KingBilly, which had a brief reality TV show but didn't set the charts on fire.
Since splitting in 2010, though, Worsham has become a Nashville long-hauler, a respected first-call known for his tasteful guitar and mandolin playing, smooth vocal delivery, and ace songwriting heard on an enviable collection of cuts. In case you need a reminder, visit his Spotify playlist "Sh!t I've Played On," which catalogs his appearances with marquee country stars like Eric Church, Luke Combs, Vince Gill, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.
But while his own albums, 2013's Rubberband and 2017's Beginning of Things, as well as his 2021 Sugarcane EP, have produced hits like "Could It Be" — which peaked at No. 13 on the Country Airplay chart and cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013 — solo success has largely eluded Worsham.
So, he kept his head down and did what he came to Nashville to do: make great music. He kept his spirits up by rallying friends like Brothers Osborne's John Osborne and The 400 Unit's Sadler Vaden to play his "Every Damn Monday" Nashville gigs celebrating the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Prince and others as fundraisers for his Follow Your Heart arts foundation. In 2022, he earned the ACM Award for Acoustic Guitar Player of the Year, and he is currently nominated for Musician of the Year at the 2023 CMA Awards, which will air on Nov. 8.
For his latest release, the five-song EP Compadres, he stacked the deck with five Nashville friends and collaborators — Combs, Lainey Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Elle King and Kip Moore — and the results are bearing fruit. A re-recording of "How I Learned to Pray," originally cut for Rubberband and now featuring Combs, has already eclipsed the original's Spotify streaming figures two-fold while inspiring more than 14,000 TikTok clips.
"When touring went away in 2020 for a minute, I just picked up more and more session work," Worsham says. "It had always been sort of my moonlighting gig that I loved to do, because the goal is always to play more music and that's one of the best ways to do it with the best players around. I started playing on more and more records and driving to those sessions going, Man, it's going to be a great day. But the one thing that can make it better is that this was my record, so thus began Compadres."
With the Jaren Johnson-produced EP in the can, though, Worsham realized Compadres shouldn't be a one-off event. He now intends to revisit the concept between proper albums, and there's no shortage of potential collaborators. All of which begs the question: Who might make those hypothetical sequels?
"One of the first friends I made in town was John Osborne — how do I not cut a song with him and TJ someday?" he says. "The last couple of times I saw Ashley McBryde, we were talking about our love of bluegrass and what side projects might come of that, and how can I not do a song with her at some point? It would be really cool to create a full-circle moment with Eric Church."
Worsham sat with Grammy.com to share the backstories from the five collaborations on Compadres.
"Creekwater Clear" feat. Elle King
The story of "Creekwater Clear" is that hero's journey of where you grow up in what you know is home, [but] you cross that threshold for a bigger world. You come back changed, but you now have this superpower of perspective. And as Elle has firmly planted her roots in country music, I see it as she's just being welcomed home. She's belonged here this whole time.
She's one of two people who came over to the house actually to sing the vocals. I remember she walked through the front door, my wife's there, and I'm sure if you listen closely you can probably hear [our son] Gabe in the background of her singing. But it's a perfect example of what Compadres represents in terms of not just where I am in music right now, but where I am in life — we're doing a lot of living, and Elle's right there with us sharing the joys and the struggles of parenthood and having a young kid, and doing that while traveling the world. Hers is one of my favorite Instagram accounts to see because it's always something fun that combines rock and roll and toddlers.
"Handful of Dust" feat. Lainey Wilson
I had a [co-]write booked with Lainey and I was really excited about it. She can sing, and she's got songs. "Things a Man Oughta Know" — that's one of those moments where the heart and the chart actually intersect, which is a hard thing to do.
The day before, I went for a run and put her record on and just played it on repeat. I started kicking myself on this run, like, How have I not been jamming this record? This reminds me of Rubberband, my first record. Not tooting my own horn or anything, just I know how much time I put into writing that first record and I thought, I can hear the 10,000 hours that went into this. I can hear that this is somebody who knows exactly who they are and exactly where they're from, and they are unapologetic in presenting themselves in an authentic way.
So I show up, we walk up to each other, and it was like we were finishing each other's sentences. I'm just going, "Lainey, I spent all day listening to your record. I'm blown away. I love it. I can't believe it reminds me of when I put out my first," and she's going, "When I first moved to town in my camper and Rubberband came out, it had this effect on me, too." You just sometimes never know when you're in the middle of something, the impact it has on other people.
I remember the first No. 1 I ever played on was Eric Church's "Like Jesus Does [from 2013's Chief]. But the record that moved me to town was Eric's [2006 debut album] Sinners Like Me. He didn't know me when that record came out, but then I got to know him later and tell him that part of my story and how his story inspired mine.
"How I Learned To Pray" feat. Luke Combs
I love to call it coinci-God, but first chance I had to really get to know Luke was down in Key West to write for what was going to be a bluegrass record that I'm crossing my fingers still gets made.
I gave him a head's up when I got there. I was like, "Man, I don't want to be rude, but there is one phone call that might come that I'm going to have to take." My wife Kristen and I were expecting our son Gabe at the time, and it was that point where we had told a handful of family members but we had yet to tell the bigger world, and we were waiting for the doctor to call to say whether we'd have a boy or a girl. He totally got it — at that point, I'm sure he and [his wife] Nicole were about to head down that same road, too, and thinking about starting a family.
[But] it wasn't while I was down there, it was on the flight home. I was on a layover in Atlanta and I wrote down the gate somewhere, I think it's A29, and my wife calls me: "I got the news, you want to wait until you get home?" It's like, "Baby, you know me, I can't wait." She tells me, and I'm bawling. The first person I text is Luke, and it wasn't much later they were expecting their first. Nothing teaches you how to pray like having a kid, so that song chose itself for us. And to this day, it's actually the highest-streaming song I've ever put out, and I never saw that coming.
"Kiss Like You Dance" feat. Kip Moore
The fall of 2014 was not my happiest season. I had a lot of stuff between the ears I was trying to figure out at that time. I was on tour with Kip, and he's a really perceptive dude. I think he knew I was struggling, and he made a point to look out for me that whole tour. And he just never quit calling and texting since that tour.
He had come to a gig I was playing at Station Inn [in Nashville], trying out new songs just for the heck of it. Kip was probably leaving for bus call later that night, so he came to the gig and we were catching up. I played that song, and later that night he texted me the universal signal for, Hey, you might have a hit on your hands, which is, "Hey man, are you going to cut that 'Kiss Like You Dance' song?" And I said, "I am now."
But it was going to be a while until I could record, so when Compadres started to form as a concept, I thought, How cool would it be if we could both cut this song? We're both a little older and wiser, and we have to pick our nights to go crazy and wild. We made a great video for it, which actually has a great cameo from one of my longest-standing compadres, John Osborne, but we're drinking sweet tea that looks like whisky in the video.
On the rare chance I am going to go have an all-nighter, I want Kip to be there, because the last real great [one] I remember was on tour with him in 2014. Somehow my bus ended up [being] the party bus. We had two nights in Chicago, and I think we had 30 people on a bus designed for 12. Let's just say I had to pay the cleaning fee for that.
"Things I Can't Control" feat. Dierks Bentley
At this point I've been spending the last couple of summers with Dierks, plus one of my funniest studio stories ever was from a Dierks session for Riser [in 2014]. To this day, I can't remember for sure if I'm playing mandolin on "Drunk on a Plane" or not.
Back when he was making that record, I was doing a string of dates with Vince Gill in his band, and Vince had a gig on a Sunday night in Milwaukee, and Dierks's session was on Monday. I thought, Well, if I can get an early flight in, I'll make the session. I wake up probably 3 in the morning. I get to the airport, get on the plane to Nashville, rest my eyes, fall asleep. I wake up in a panic because the plane isn't moving and it turns out there was a snow delay, and so I missed that day of the session with Dierks. Thankfully, he kept calling me back.
I don't remember if I overdubbed the mandolin after the fact, but now I play it in the show [as part of Dierks' band] and he gives me a chance to shine every night. He's like my older brother in country [music], and I continue to learn from him and be reminded of how important it is to have fun, and how important it is to treat people well and share your spotlight.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Mason Allen
Behind Old Dominion's No. 1 Hits: How Kenny Chesney, Food Poisoning & "Ballsy" Moves Created Their Funniest Memories
As Old Dominion's latest single "Memory Lane" continues climbing the charts, the country group's Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen look back on the memorable moments behind hits like "Break Up With Him" and "One Man Band."
Old Dominion never intended to be a band. Initially a friend group of aspiring songwriters in Nashville, they formed a collective in 2007 to showcase their individual songs. More than 15 years later, they've become one of country's biggest groups.
With seven No. 1s on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, Old Dominion have proven to have a knack for writing catchy songs. But they don't need stats to show their skill — whether it's the clever juxtapositions of "Written in the Sand" or the bittersweet metaphors of their most recent single "Memory Lane," their songwriting is as charming as it is thought-provoking. Match that with their earworm melodies, and it's almost hard to believe they never thought "this band thing" would take off.
"It took us a while to have confidence in what we were doing, and to make our priority when we sit down to write music [that] we're writing for us," frontman Matthew Ramsey says. "We knew what we were trying to achieve, but then our fans sort of showed us what we are — and that is, a joyous, very genuine thing. And that's what's grown."
The name of their 2023 tour embodies that sentiment: No Bad Vibes. That's also indicative of the energy Ramsey and bandmate Trevor Rosen brought when they sat down with GRAMMY.com, reflecting on their biggest songs with nothing but joy.
Just before Old Dominion released their latest project, the eight track EP Memory Lane — which Rosen teases "is part of a bigger project coming pretty soon" — the pair shared the hilarious and heartfelt memories behind the band's most beloved songs.
"Break Up with Him" (2015)
Rosen: "Break Up With Him" was our first No. 1, it brought us to the proverbial dance. A vivid memory of writing that song: We were playing at a Kohl's company picnic for like 500 bucks in the middle of, what was it, Ohio?
Ramsey: They had hired us to play a, like, lunchtime company picnic. [Laughs.]
Rosen: Most of the people there didn't know who we were or particularly care, but the memorable part of this day was, we were soundchecking, and just started noodling that groove to "Break Up With Him." We just thought it sounded cool, and I think I held my phone up and recorded a snippet of it.
We were driving in the little Ford Econoline van to get to the next gig that night, and it seemed like everyone was asleep. I was on the back bench not yet asleep, and I saw Matt's head pop up over the bench to see if I was awake. He was like, "I was thinking about that song we started writing today… I had this idea for a one-sided phone conversation."
For the next hour, maybe, he just threw out [ideas] like, "Hey, girl, what's up?" And we're whispering because we don't want to wake anybody else in the van up, and we're just like, cracking each other up with these little one-liners. I think we had all the verses and the hook written by the time we got to the next town.
Ramsey: We were at the musicians union in Nashville kind of working that song out, playing it through, and I remember we called Shane [McAnally], and we're like, "You have to come hear this song." We played it for him and he was just like, "What is this?"
At that point, we were very much active in the songwriting world. We were still getting cuts and having hits on the radio with other people, and pitching essentially everything we wrote. That was the first song that we were like, "Don't let anybody hear this. This one is ours."
Rosen: That helped define that sort of clever, sarcastic fun side of us that maybe we hadn't shown as much up to that point — we had shown more of the rock side, and the good songwriting side. I think we realized right away, "Oh, we can shock people into listening to us and show off that side of us." I think it helped define what we were as a band.
"Song for Another Time" (2016)
Ramsey: The moment that stands out for me is when we first played it at a soundcheck as a band. It was written on the road, and we pitched it to Kenny [Chesney], and Kenny said, "This is great, but you should record it."
Rosen: It was [maybe] a polite way to turn the song down. [Laughs.]
Ramsey: That was the beginning of the level of care that he has for us, and the influence he has on us. He is invested in our career, and that was the first moment that he sort of showed that.
We hadn't even thought of ["Song For Another Time"] in that light yet, because in our minds, we were done recording the album. So there was no sense in even considering it yet, because at that point, who knows what's gonna happen with our career.
We were soundchecking to a big empty stadium and we thought, Well, if [Kenny] says we should record it, let's just try and play it and see what it feels like. And, you know, something about a giant PA system and a stadium — the light bulbs were going off. We came off the stage and back onto the bus after the soundcheck, and called our manager and said, "Hey, we need to fly home and record one more song." We flew home, we recorded that one song, and then we flew back out onto tour.
Rosen: The fact that we were able to squeeze that in was kind of crazy. I also remember, we were in Seattle when it went No. 1. We were in this little bar called The Hideout, Matthew and I and our tour manager at the time, Tommy Garris. They had this cool thing where if you order a drink you got a Polaroid picture with it. So we ordered a drink, and they took a Polaroid of us holding up the No. 1 sign.
"No Such Thing as a Broken Heart" (2017)
Ramsey: That song has become one our favorite moments in the set, just because it's such a different feel. And that was one of the first times where we felt comfortable showing our hearts a little bit, and not just trying to craft a plain ol' hit song. It kind of stemmed from our discussions after the Pulse shooting in Orlando.
That song is always going to be relevant. We're always going to have these opportunities to use that song for good. And I always say before we play it, that's the song that we bring to sing with you, not to you. Because I truly feel like there's power in those words.
We were playing in Virginia Beach, and there was again, unfortunately, another shooting that day, just miles down the road, some police officers were killed. So we went on stage that night, and it was kind of a heavy vibe. I spoke to the crowd and said, "This is what this is for. This is why we felt like writing the song, and so here we are. Together, let's try and create some sort of healing if we can."
When the song is over, we always sing that chorus again with the crowd as loud as possible, and it always is this magical moment — you can just feel everybody take a breath.
Rosen: On the lighter side, we played it on the ACM Awards one year. Before we went on, Matthew was joking around, and instead of [singing] "You can't keep the ground from shaking," he was like, [sings] "You can't keep Luke Bryan from shaking." Luke was the host, and he heard it, and he goes — what did he say?
Ramsey: He said, "You don't have a hair on your ass if you don't say that on the TV show." So we did.
After we walked off stage, he was backstage waiting on us, and he was like a kid that had just won the Little League World Series.
"Written in the Sand" (2017)
Rosen: It's one of my favorite songs that we've put out. I remember the day we wrote it. You had written down "stars or the sand." It was like, "That's a really cool juxtaposition." It was fun to sit there and try to come up with the metaphors and be our clever selves.
For some reason when we first recorded that, I wasn't thinking, "This is a single." And the first time we had a good mix of it pulled up in the studio, I remember the moment sitting on the couch and listening going, Wait a second, this is a giant hit song.
Ramsey: I like where we are right now with that song. Because in the live element, we've taken it and expanded it quite a bit. Up until now, in this tour, I don't think we've really showcased our musicianship, and shown what a true band we are. We picked that song to start doing that with, so now there's an extended version, and we just kind of let Brad do his thing, show his capabilities on the guitar. There's a lot of really cool full-band moments in it.
This song kind of defined our relationship with our label, too. Because when we were making the first record, there was no label head — the person who was there when we got signed ended up getting fired. So we made our whole first album just kind of on our own. So when it came time to make the second album, we just operated like we did on the first one. We didn't tell anybody anything, we didn't send any songs.
They sort of knew what we were doing, but that song was written sort of late in the game, and they started seeing the title pop up on the cut list, and they started asking us, "We haven't approved this song, what's going on?" We just kept going, "You'll hear it when it's done, it's great." We turned it in, and they were like, "Oh, wow, that is great." I think they gained a lot of trust in us. And now, they just leave us alone. [Laughs.]
"Hotel Key" (2018)
Ramsey: When we were on tour with [Kenny] this past summer, a lot of his crew, for the entire year, unbeknownst to us — people like to throw hotel keys up on the stage, and they collected all the hotel keys for the entire tour without telling us. Then on the last show, they handed them out to the crowd, and they were like, "When the second chorus starts, everybody throw 'em." So we hit the second chorus and it just starts raining hotel keys.
Lots of times people hold 'em up and I'll grab 'em. Sometimes I'll just shove them in my pocket or whatever, and there was one time I did that, and we finished the show, and we were walking off stage, and one of our crew members comes running up to me. He was like, "Hey, that person you took their hotel key, they accidentally handed you their driver's license." I looked in my pocket, and sure enough, I had this driver's license.
I [also] remember a funny story about the video. The director got food poisoning during filming. The poor guy was, between takes, going around the side of the bus and like, losing it, and then coming back and finishing. After we wrapped up the shooting of the video — which was probably like, 2:30 in the morning — he had to go to the ER to get fluid because he was throwing up the entire time.
Rosen: That's committing to the bit.
"Make It Sweet" (2018)
Ramsey: This was, quite frankly, born out of us being unprepared. We had booked studio time, but we hadn't talked about what we wanted to record, we hadn't shared songs with each other. We had no clue what direction we wanted to go for that third album — we always have ideas, but to go into the studio with no song is pretty ballsy.
Rosen: When you book a studio, usually, it's expensive, so you go in with songs and you know what you're going to do. We booked the studio with no plan. So it's a little bit more pressure, because if you don't end up writing a good song that day, then you just wasted a lot of money. But we wrote ["Make It Sweet"] and recorded it all right there in the same day.
Ramsey: I had some notes in my phone. You've seen you've seen the, like, T-shirts and bumper stickers and stuff that say, "Take the trip," or "Eat the cake," you know? It was that kind of idea that I had — and I did have "Life is short, make it sweet" written down in that [note].
We were sort of playing, and I remember, off the top of my head, just saying, "I know it's a drag, I know it's a grind" — I was just sort of going. And I looked over at Brad, and Brad goes, "Keep going! Yes, whatever you're doing, do it more!"
Rosen: The other memorable thing about that song was filming the video. We filmed it in Malibu and had an expensive location on this hillside overlooking the ocean. It was supposed to be this beautiful view, but this morning [there] was just a ton of fog — I mean, you couldn't see two feet in front of your face. At one point, you could tell everyone was starting to get a little uptight. It seemed like [it] might be a total bust.
After a couple hours, it finally started to settle, and it settled a little bit below the hill, and it was like we were in the clouds. It turned out to be something you could never do on purpose. It was just one of the most memorable days and most beautiful shots.
Ramsey: We still have [the guitar I throw in the video], and amazingly it was not broken. They went down the hill and got it, and it was basically in tune still!
It was a free guitar that they had sent us for the video, so we were like, "Okay, let's just toss it." We've used it since then — we were like, "Wow, that thing's tough!"
"One Man Band" (2019)
Ramsey: That's a career song for us. We just never saw that song [getting] as big as it got. Before it was a single, we played it in Chicago — it was our first arena show. We decided to play that song, and it was such a huge response. You play new songs all the time, and you get a good enough response, usually. But we played that song, and it was very obvious that that needed to be the next single.
Rosen: They were captive, first of all — it was like, you're playing a ballad, and they're all just hanging on every word. And then when you hit the end of the chorus, everyone cheers. And it's like, that just doesn't happen usually.
Ramsey: The video of that one was never supposed to be the video. It was just our videographer, Mason Allen, was filming rehearsal that day. We were just practicing, and he caught a bunch of footage of it, and we put it up because we needed something out there while we figured out what the video was going to be. But the views were just going through the roof, and we were like, "Why would we mess with that? It seems to be doing just fine!" And it ends up getting nominated for Video Of The Year [at the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards], when it was just rehearsal.
Rosen: We won the [ACM] award that year for Song Of The Year. That was a big award for us, because we started out as songwriters first.
Ramsey: [When we played] Red Rocks [Amphitheatre in Colorado], ["I'll Be" singer] Edwin McCain was there. He was texting me videos a couple days after, and he was like, "What an insane song, and what an insane thing." He's got one of the biggest songs ever, and he's like, in awe of that song. He was even going like, "Man, f— you guys for writing that song." [Laughs.]
"Memory Lane" (2023)
Ramsey: The thing I'm loving right now is the live performance of that song. It's a similar thing to "One Man Band" in that, from the moment it was out and we added it to the set, we start it and as soon as the first line hits, it's the biggest, like, wall of sound of people singing that first line.
I remember the first time it happened, I was like Oh, damn, we got something here. This does not happen. It was way early in the life of that song for that to be happening, so I started to get real confident in the fact that we had a really great song.
Rosen: That song reminded me to follow what we like the best. We have a lot of other songs that we've recorded that I felt like were hits, and there were a couple that I thought maybe were safer choices, but I knew "Memory Lane" was the first one I wanted to listen to when I got in the car. And you don't always pick that one as the single, so I was glad that we went with that one. If we love it, we've been right — that's usually served us well, that our fans and people in general like it.
"I Should Have Married You" (2023)
Ramsey: We're just so lucky, because people like what we do. It's a really fun time in our careers where we're like, Whatever, let's play the new one, you know people are gonna like it!
A couple of years ago, we were in Canada on a day off, and I just started making this little beat, and recorded that piano progression, and then I had it saved forever. I was constantly listening to it and trying to come up with some sort of idea for it, and I couldn't ever land on anything.
I brought it up in the studio, and everybody loves the feel of it. We started going through the title, and I had this idea: sort of a mad song, that was more like, "You would have made me look like an idiot, I would have married you." And that didn't really feel right until somebody said, "What if it was I should have married you?' and everybody's like, 'Oh, what is that?'"
"Some Horses" (2023)
Ramsey: That one's the only song that we've ever recorded that we didn't write. We weren't searching for songs, it just presented itself at the right time and we felt the need to record it.
Shane and Matt Jenkins are both writers on that song, and those guys were part of our group before any of us had anything. We were all friends, we were all broke, we were all trying to figure out how to do this songwriting thing, and we played just countless writer's rounds, trading songs with each other. And that song, over a decade ago, was one that they would play a lot, and we just loved from the first time we heard it.
Trevor and I were talking about the old days and songs that we loved [when] we were on the bus, and we texted Matt Jenkins, "Do you have the demo for 'Some Horses'?" We weren't even thinking about recording it, we just wanted to be fans of it again.
The way they wrote it, it was in the third person and it was about a woman — "she races, she runs." And then one morning, I was at home before I went to the studio, and I picked up my guitar and started playing it. But I changed it all to first person, and just identified with it very deeply.
Shane was in the studio that day, and I was like, "Hey, let me just run something by you guys" — I hadn't talked to Shane about it or anything. I started playing it, and he was, in his very Shane way, was like, "What are you doing right now? Stop it!" He wasn't expecting it, and it's an emotional thing. And I think he identified with it, too, in the way that I had changed the words.
It's an outside song, but we're so close to those guys, and they're so ingrained in the story of this band, that it doesn't really feel like an outside song. Those are our dear, dear friends, and they've been part of this journey the entire time. The creation of this band, and the sound that we create, and the songs that we put out, their fingerprints are all over it. So this was just a different way that their fingerprints are on it.