Old Dominion release anticipated fourth album ‘Time, Tequila and Therapy’

Nashville five-piece Old Dominion’s new album title finds them exploring three key elements which all neatly link together – ‘Time, Tequila and Therapy’. Time; a commodity we’re all slave to, saw the band converge into a studio for three weeks to write and record the album from the ground up. Tequila; a distilled beverage that can help open new doors of experimentation in the studio, they later tell me. Therapy; a means of treatment for remediation or in this case relationships – healing from them and moving on. “That’s a lyric from a song called ‘No Hard Feelings’, frontman Matthew Ramsey explains. “We sort of realised that [it] sort of did create a great little synopsis of the album and our mindset at the time. You know, the state of the world and how they were feeling. It sort of raised its hand as the obvious choice for the title of the album.” 

Two years since their last self-titled full-length effort, Old Dominion have evolved their sound in ‘Time, Tequila and Therapy’ to match their collective musical strengths. Speaking about their single ‘I Was On A Boat That Day,’ the band’s multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen discusses how this stays close to their notable lyrical style. “What we try to do is that balance of the happy and the sad,” he says. “To take a sad lyric and put a happy beat or vice versa. I think that’s one of the things that we try to do with that song. Also when we wrote it, it was so fun to write, so fun to sing, that when we walked upstairs to the studio to record it, we were like, ‘let’s just get loose and have fun,’ so what we did was we drank some Tequila before we went in and played it. I don’t know how many takes – it wasn’t very many takes, but we were all cocking about like, ‘Alright well, should I play this? I might do this? I can play this drum beat.’ Finally, Matt goes, ‘let’s just play it, what are you going to do Brad? Let’s just play it – one, two,’ and he just counted it out and we just played whatever came out so there was that looseness and playfulness that I think shows on the recording.”

The single’s video sees the band play the track on a boat with a party on the lower deck, leading to some jet-ski rides and a stunning sunset. An energetic performance, the song finds itself personifying the band’s collective personalities. “The thing I love about this song is that it shows the side of us that barely gets shown but is actually the most dominant part of our personalities,” Matt says. “We’re goofy guys; we laugh a lot and we joke around a lot, and we smile a lot. Unless you come to our show you may not know that. Maybe the photographs of us don’t show that. We’re trying to look all tough and cool for a band photo but the real photo is of us laughing before that. I think this song shows our personality in a big way and helps marry the live us and the recorded us a little bit better.” He continues, “‘I Want To Live In A House With You Forever’ is kind of silly too but that is a big side of us; but there’s also a big side of us that cares about delivering a great song.” 

With other singles including ‘Hawaii’ and ‘All I Know About Girls’ making waves amongst new and existing fans alike, the band are looking forward to showcasing the tracks across the globe soon. “I love travelling,” Trevor says. “I mean we’ve been over to the UK and Australia and these different places, but it’s such a great opportunity to see the world and to see that your music makes it across the world now. I would play everywhere.” Speaking further about travelling and its influence on creativity, Matt explains, “The more that you can soak up the human experience is going to influence you in some way. I don’t know if we can put our finger on something that was like, ‘ah the one time we were in Australia, it made us write this song,’ but I think the more exposure you have to the world and people and seeing really that people on that side of the ocean are the same and have the same emotions and concerns as people on this side of the ocean. The more you can soak that up, the more it’s going to filter into your creativity.” 

Filtering and fostering this creativity into a decisive fourth album sees Old Dominion at the height of their creative powers. As five individually successful songwriters in their own right, the band found themselves holed up in a studio for three solid weeks during 2020. Speaking about the impact of the pandemic and how this influenced the creation of the record, Matt explains that it had its challenges. “It was difficult, you know. It was scary and challenging for sure, to go through that. We luckily survived and you know, obviously created an album during that time and now get to go back out there in the world and do what we love to do with a bigger sense of gratitude.” Trevor injects, “because of the pandemic we had some time that we had never had, and we always wanted to just go into the studio with no preconceived notions, no songs stocked up and see what we could create, sort of the old school way. So that was our only goal, to see what we would create together by taking three weeks and just immersing ourselves in it and living it. That was how it started; we didn’t even set out to make the whole album, we just wanted to see what would happen if we tried that. So the fact that the creativity flowed and we ended up with thirteen songs and a whole album, was a complete surprise and a bonus.” 

Citing these three weeks as an experiment, it was a chance for the five-piece to focus on their creative process which was notably different than previous, Matt explains. “Usually we do write on the road – right here in Nashville, but that was the whole experiment: to go in, write them and record them all in the same shot. We would start in the morning, write the song down in the basement with acoustic guitars and get it to a place where it was somewhere between eighty percent and a hundred percent done. Then we would go up into the studio and bring it to life in its full form.” The band’s bassist Geoff Sprung notes, “things were a little more relaxed like Matthew was saying. Normally we do these recordings in little chunks where we have songs that have been written ahead of time and so it’s really kind of aggressive. You get in the studio very focused, knock the music out and make the best thing you can and then get out. So this was like we got to settle in after the first day or two of getting used to the environment. It did give you time to sort of sit with a song maybe you recorded four days prior and go, ‘you know what, let me try something – let me hop in there, pull that back up, let me see if we can do something or add this or change this.’ So it was a great chance to experiment.” 

This experimentation has also led the band’s growth as friends and as creators. “It was great then and it’s even greater now,” lead guitarist Brad Tursi says. Matt continues, “the fact that we’re four albums in tells you that we’ve done pretty well I think. If we didn’t I think we wouldn’t make it this far. You know, we’ve known each other for so, so long and I think Geoff mentioned the other day that he and Whit have been playing together in some way, shape or form for probably twenty years. So we were really good friends before we were even a band in this form. It’s pretty much friends and a band and that’s how we work so well together.” Collaboration between members was at the core of the recording process for ‘Time, Tequila and Therapy,’ with all five adding their own spin on the tracks. “Generally in the past, Matthew, Brad and I had publishing deals in town and sort of really studied for many years doing the Nashville thing and trying to write hit songs for other people,” Trevor explains. “It was really geared toward that sort of thing. It’s not the first time that all five have written songs together, we’ve actually had a couple of hits that we all wrote together, but this was the first time that we’d made the whole album with all five of us in the same room from point of conception to a song to the finished product. I think it really informed the album in a huge way.” Matt continues, “we’ve been the primary writers for a while but to have Geoff and Whit in the room for every song from the ground up, they get a better sense of what we’re creating so when it’s time for them to really put their footprint on it, they know the genesis of the whole thing. That’s not always the case when we write a song, and I’m sure Whit doesn’t even know what the thing’s about half of the time.” Whit Sellers, the band’s drummer, injects, “Usually don’t.” [All Laugh] 

With deep cuts from the record including ‘Lonely Side of Town’ featuring “The Empress of Soul” Miss Gladys Knight, it was also a chance for the guys to collaborate further. “It was really an amazing moment for us to experience and the way it sort of fell into place,” Matt says. “It was a very natural thing that happened and we were listening to the song after we had written and recorded it, and thought it would be really cool to have someone like her on it. We mentioned her name and then someone pointed out that she actually lived in Nashville, North Carolina, which is where we were. We were like, “what? She lives here?” and the Studio Manager said, ‘yeah, really good friends with her – I can call her and ask her if you want?’

and we said, ‘yes, please do’ and she did and Gladys shockingly knew who we were and agreed to be on it. It all fell right into place and couldn’t have planned it any better.” Adding her soft, soulful voice to the track adds an emotional pull which links to the theme of the track. Matt tells me, “a lot of people have that person too that maybe it wasn’t meant to be forever. But it’s that person that you always kind of know that you’ll end up going back to at some point. Or you know that you would accept back in at some point even if it was wrong, or there’s just a love there or a space in your heart that is occupied forever for that person.” 

Old Dominion’s new album ‘Time, Tequila and Therapy’ is out now. The band are currently on tour in the US until December 2021.

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