Back in the 1970s, Waylon and Willie had a hit with a song called "Luckenbach, Texas" that stressed "getting back to the basics." For Eric Durrance, he is doing just that – on a musical level – with the formation of the Tobacco Rd Band. Durrance had been pursuing a solo career, with an appearance on a CMT-sponsored tour five years ago when things took a turn for the worse, career-wise.
"After the tour, the label I was with decided they didn't want to play ball with Nashville anymore, so that left me looking for a home," Durrance told Billboard. "I decided to come back to my hometown, and go back to my roots. Not too long after I returned, I met up with an old friend of mine, Lax Vance, who plays guitar in the band. We started a band, and just did it because we enjoyed playing music. We weren't looking to do anything serious, just taking it one step at a time. That's when it began. It was very organic, just happened the way it was supposed to happen."
Though his momentum as a solo artist slowed, he continued to make inroads as a songwriter, co-penning "Eight Second Ride" for Jake Owen. His writing is also all over their forthcoming project - including their new single, "That's Country," which has just been released to iTunes this week. The single, released on their own Big Southern Entertainment label, features a guest appearance from Colt Ford.
"There was a little rap part in there, and we all thought how cool it would be to get him to sing that part. Obviously, we didn't think that would happen, but we went out on a limb and sent it to him. A couple of months went by, and we got an email from Average Joe's, his label, and they said he'd be interested in working on the song with us. Our jaws hit the floor, and we couldn't believe it." Durrance said of working with Ford, "He's so down to earth. I only spent an hour with him, but it ended up like I had known him forever. I think that's why he's done so well – his personality comes through in his music. He did his part in a couple of takes, and when we got the mix back, we all thought it turned out great. We felt we had stumbled onto something."
When asked what made the lyrics of the single different from other tracks that proclaim how "country" they are, Durrance said it's all about the environment you live in. "This song is in line with a lot of what it going on in the south. I live in Tallahassee, FL, and around here, mud bogs are the big thing, and everybody has trucks, and their hobby is mud bogging – thousands of people, and thousands of trucks, and they get together in the woods and have a great time. That's what this song is all about."
The hard driving sound of Tobacco Rd has led them to carve out a huge fan following – particularly in the southeast. "We've been lucky to get shows," stated Durrance. "We averaged about 150 shows last year – which is a lot for an unknown group. That has just led to more, and has really kept us busy. We're doing it all ourselves, which makes it tricky. I've never been a booking agent or a manager, but I'm having to wear all the hats, which makes it interesting. We feel like we are part of the music business model. It's allowed us to be in control of our career, and work at our own pace, and do the gigs that we want to do, and spend time with our families. That's the best feeling in the world."