After first making a name for themselves in the Texas market, country quartet Eli Young Band has seen their star grow over the past 12 months. They watched as "Crazy Girl" climbed the top of the Country Songs chart and were voted by country radio programmers onto the prestigious New Faces Show at the 2012 Country Radio Seminar. Now "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," their current single from 2011 album "Life At Best," is making its way up the charts.
"It's amazing," says singer-guitarist Mike Eli. "Being a band like we are, and doing it the way we did with the grassroots following and going out and playing shows for the last ten years, the New Faces thing is incredible. The fact they voted for us to play the show is a huge honor that they believed on us enough to put us on."
Drummer Chris Thompson echoes those sentiments: "We spent so much of last year spending time working that relationship with radio last year, it feels like we're accepted. It's a great feeling."
Watching "Crazy Girl" slowly climb to the top of the Top Country Songs chart was a once-in-a-lifetime memory, according to bassist Jon Jones. "Really, it was a dream come true for us," he says. "We've been putting songs out in one form or another for a few years, and there was a special feeling when it got top ten. Then, when it made it to No. 5, we all said we would be happy with that. When we found out it made it all the way to No. 1, it was great. We realized what a team it takes - not just the four of us, but the whole team around us to make it happen. It was a big win for a lot of people," he says, alluding to the promotional team at Republic Nashville, the band's label.
However, there was one minor downside to the group's first rise to the top: Eli says that, due to the band's tight schedule, he wasn't able to tune in to one of the weekly radio countdowns of country songs and hear Bob Kingsley or Kix Brooks announce their song as the week's most popular. "I was bummed out," he admits. "I didn't get to listen, as we were out on the road. But, you want to hear the countdown show the week you were number one."
What lies ahead for the group next? Guitarist James Young says that the band remains busy - a good problem to have. "We go to Australia in March with Tim [McGraw] and Faith [Hill]. Then, we do another leg with Dierks Bentley. We were incredibly flattered that he asked us back. Then, after that, we are on the road all summer with Rascal Flatts on the American Band Tour. From what we hear, it's the first time that everyone on the tour is vocal groups or bands."
As the group plots a busy 2012, one long-standing question remains, which the group poked fun at during their introduction video at the New Faces Show: who is Eli Young? Actually, the band's name is a composite of the last names of members Mike Eli and James Young, who figures the band won't be able to outrun that question for awhile. "I have a feeling that for a long time, there will always be someone coming up to us, asking which one of you is Eli Young, but as we have more success, that question is being asked less," he says with a smile. "That's nice, because we can focus on other questions than answer the question 'Who is Eli?'."