This week, we shine the spotlight on someone we've been watching for a while in the 615 -- the trio Due West. Comprised of Matt Lopez, Tim Gates, and Brad Hull, the guys have steadily making their name known to country radio and fans since the release of their very first single, "I Get That All The Time," back in 2009.
Nowadays, with rising label Black River Entertainment behind them, Due West is quickly becoming one of the most highly-regarded groups out on the scene today. Their new single, the infectious "Things You Can't Do In A Car," is quickly making an impact at radio, reaching No. 57 in its second week on the Hot Country Songs  chart. The release, as well as the band's sophomore album was produced by Music City veteran Garth Fundis, who has set behind recordings by such superstars as Keith Whitley, Don Williams, and Trisha Yearwood.
"His professionalism and skill set has definitely taken things up a notch," said Lopez. Hull agrees with that assessment, saying that the new sounds are "a little fresher, a little hipper, but it's still got the Due West stamp on it. We've upped the ante on songs."
Gates admits that while some of their songs appear on the upcoming album, they were careful to choose the best material -- regardless of writers' credit.
"All three of us have been writing for the album, and we've been listening to songs. We feel like we've done really well with it. I think we kind of defaulted to him, but what's been cool is that we have been validated as writers, and we have some cuts on the album. We didn't want to be known as an act that just cut our own songs. That's when you start to cheat yourself as an artist."
Though the band released "Forget The Miles" for the label early in 2011, Lopez says that a new team at Black River has definitely given them a shot in the arm. "There's an energy that didn't exist when we signed with the label. We went out on a radio tour last year, ourselves, playing shows. When we got back, there was this completely new energy."
Hull admits that the comments that people are making about their new album leave him smiling. "When you hear Doug Johnson say these are some of the best songs to ever come out of Nashville, that's an awesome feeling," he says, grinning from ear to ear.
The band has conducted one of the most extensive radio tours in quite some time this spring, and has made fans wherever they have played with their new material. One of those fans is highly respected programmer Jim Quinton of WPPL, who said "With each release they get better and better and I really think they have a very strong future ahead of them. The guys sound just as good live as they do on disc too."
So, it seems that after all of this time, Due West is ready to step into the spotlight and shine brightly. And, to hear Gates talk, that shine started in the studio.
"It's surreal," he says. "There were several moments in the studio when I would look at the whole situation, and just think 'Wow, we're living the dream.' Sometimes we'd go downstairs and play pool with Garth Fundis, and that was pretty cool as well. It's just an exciting time all the way around."
Fundis agrees, saying "This is one of the most fun and creative musical experiences I've had in a recording studio," he says. "And we've only just begun," and that -- when you consider the source my friends, is saying something.
- The 615