The Eli Young Band are poised to release their brand new collection, "10,000 Towns," on Tuesday (March 4). After the success of their last album, 2011's "Life At Best" (as well as the chart topping successes "Crazy Girl" and "Even If It Breaks Your Heart"), member Jon Jones knows that a lot of people will be watching very carefully to see how the band follows up that project, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think there was a different level of expectation on this record from the outside world, because there have been some successful songs from the last record," he tells The 615. "For us, we always set the bar high, and that's no different on this record. It's nice that everyone else is setting the bar as high. There is a little bit of anticipation to see what everyone else is going to think about this record."
The set's first single, "Drunk Last Night," recently peaked at the top of the Country Airplay chart, and they've just started working their latest, "Dust," to radio. Jones says the track is where they feel they pushed the envelope just a bit.
"That was the last song we recorded for the record. We had a practice space in town to try to figure out what songs we wanted to do for the last session. (Producer) Justin Niebank came in and said ‘Dust' - let's just go for it. I think we've got what we need on this record. Let's just unleash it, and let it be a drivin' rockin' song. I think because he gave us that freedom, it came out being very special. We weren't looking for it to become a single. We were looking for a fun song to play live."
A more romantic side of the band can be found on "Angel Like You," which Mike Eli says was drawn from real-life inspiration.
"That is one of my favorites on the record. I know it came from a very genuine place. I wrote that song for my wife, and I think that some of the stuff we came up with lyrically on that tune made it special. It feels very organic and broken down, when it comes to the production of it. The guitar solo on that track is one of my favorites that James (Young) has ever played."
Quite possibly the breakout track from the album is the powerful "Prayer For The Road," which the band describes here.
Young says the pressure was on to make 10,000 Towns the best it could be, and he feels the band met the challenge head on. "This record was a different dynamic because I felt like we were challenged to cut the best songs on the record, and to play our best. We personally challenged ourselves even harder to make this record the best we could. It was also fun. We changed studios, and added a new producer. It's always good to change it up. I think it brought a crisper sound to this album."
Justin Niebank was added as a producer on the set, alongside of Frank Liddell – who also co-produced Life At Best. (The band also co-produced.) Jones says that Liddell is a valuable member of the team.
"We would have a hard time making the record without him. I think for a long time, we were getting pitched songs that people would say ‘Here's your next ‘Crazy Girl,' or ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart,' and Frank would come in with something from totally out of left field that set the stage for the record. He just loves finding great songs that are a little bit different. I think that's a common thread that if you listen to albums he has been a part of, and those songs that are a little bit left of center, that's Frank Liddell."
The Eli Young Band will be spending a lot of time on the road this spring with Darius Rucker and David Nail. Jones says they are looking forward to it.
"We've got to know Darius quite a bit over the past few years. We started out right as he started to make the transition into being a country artist. It will be fun being with him knowing that he understands the dynamic of being in a band. I think we will be kindred souls out on the road. He puts on a great show, and his fans are amazing, so it will be fun to share the stage with him."