Don't Call Eli Young Band "Bro-Country," Please

Photo by Brian Lazzaro
If you're looking for the most successful act to come out of Texas this decade, you might point your eyes toward Denton. With minimal drama or much attention outside their own rabid fan base, the Eli Young Band has modestly racked up enough record sales and music-biz karma that they're now one of country music's biggest groups, with a clutch of No. 1 singles including the recent "Drunk Last Night."

The four good-looking guys in their early thirties have ridden down-to-earth charm, ringing guitars and an unerring ear for melodies from East Texas college bars to NFL stadiums like Reliant, where tonight EYB will make their third RodeoHouston appearance. Realistic takes on romance and slice-of-life sincerity are the twin threads running from early singles like "Always the Love Songs," "When It Rains" and "Jet Black and Jealous" through the blockbusters "Crazy Girl" -- Billboard's No. 1 country song of 2011 -- and its Grammy-nominated, almost-as-successful follow-up "Even If It Breaks Your Heart."

In other words, EYB is the antithesis of the chest-thumping, outlaw-posturing, patience-trying strain of country music now known as "bro-country." And as diplomatically as he can possibly put it, drummer Chris Thompson admits as much.

REWIND: Eli Young Band at House of Blues, 2/1/2013

"I think there's an interesting trend in country music on the radio right now, and I'm happy that my band in particular has never been a band to follow trends," he says. "We can stand on our own two feet musically, and be proud of every song we've ever recorded in our entire catalog. [We] know our direction without having to chase a trend."

But, Thompson says, EYB is not averse to writing about something like a pickup truck so long as it suits the song; that just doesn't happen very often. Asked to choose a pickup-truck song from the EYB catalog, Thompson had to reach all the way back to "Small Town Kid," from one of their independent albums, 2005's Level. Since then, "we try to never write the same song twice," Thompson says.

But that's not to say they wouldn't mention pickups again under the right circumstance, he adds.

"I think there's always a lot of songs about pickup trucks in country music," offers Thompson. "Country music is about real life, the stories and all that that we all experience. Pickup trucks happen to be a part of that. I think you could write songs all day about pickup trucks, but as long as you write a good one, I want to hear it on the radio."

Story continues on the next page.

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