When LoCash was stuck in the lower to mid-range of the Country Airplay chart with “I Love This Life,” the duo found itself engaged in more than one battle.
Chris Lucas and Preston Brust were fighting to keep “Life” alive on the very public chart. Meanwhile behind the scenes, the guys felt the heat of competition from some better-established artists for “I Know Somebody,” a hooky title penned by three grade-A songwriters: Rhett Akins (“Boys ’Round Here,” “Young & Crazy”), Ross Copperman (“Strip It Down,” “Confession”) and Jeremy Stover (“Lettin’ the Night Roll,” “Wherever You Are”).
Lucas and Brust know a little something about songwriting themselves — they were co-writers on Keith Urban’s “You Gonna Fly” and Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah”) — and they felt they were asking a lot from the “I Know Somebody” writers and publishers to give the song to them instead of their competitors.
“It’s kind of frustrating for a songwriter to give up a song when it’s a brand-new label and basically a brand-new artist,” concedes Lucas.
They asked anyway, and their passion got them permission to cut “I Know Somebody.”
In retrospect, it’s a great opportunity for the song’s creators, since “I Love ?This Life” drove all the way to No. 2 on Country Airplay. As a result, “I Know Somebody” is now the follow-up to a ?significant hit and in prime position to make a little coin for everyone involved.
LoCash was lucky the song was around in the first place. It was written in January 2013 and eyeballed from the ?beginning as a potential hit for someone. But no one ever quite took it and made it their own.
“We had interest all the way through from the time we wrote it,” says ?Stover. “It just seemed to never time out right or something.”
The song just needed the right guys to get it done. That’s essentially the theme of “I Know Somebody,” a play on a familiar line. Need someone to paint your fence? I know a guy who could do that. Need someone to fix your roof? I know somebody.
“We were talking, and one of us happened to say, ‘I know somebody that does that,’ or something along those lines,” notes Stover. “We thought that was a cool title, and then we really started writing the song.”
Of course, handymen aren’t as interesting a topic as love, so the writers twisted the subject. In their version, a woman who has just moved to a new city meets a guy in a bar and they strike up a conversation. If she wants somebody to show her around town or somebody to take her someplace less noisy, the singer knows somebody who can do the job. Who might that somebody be? The answer lies at the end of the chorus: “You’re looking right in his eyes.”
“It’s kind of a trickery song,” enthuses Copperman. “You’re talking to this girl and say you know somebody, and [she’s] looking right in his eyes the whole time. I love that little trick that makes you grin.”
Before the title came along, the writing session had been difficult. They had labored for about an hour on a number of ideas, none of which struck the figurative chord. But once “I Know Somebody” was established, the day was pretty much a breeze. Each time they finished a section, Akins sang lead over the tracks Copperman had created, and they moved on to the next section. The chorus was fairly long, and they had said about all they needed to say anyway, so they dispensed with a bridge and got the song finished in short order.
“When you have this perfect little marriage of idea and music, it’s like — boom! — it all kind of locks in,” says Copperman. “When the sentiment of the music fits the sentiment of the track, it’s like this magic, crazy thing.”
Their publishers all thought it was a hit, but the magic in the writing room didn’t translate to magic in pitch meetings: It was a good two years before LoCash ever got to hear it, though the duo “got it” right away.
“I was just so in love with it the first time I heard it,” says Lucas. “Rhett was singing it, and it felt like it was a produced record. I was like, ‘Oh, this should be on the radio right now.’ ”
Once LoCash persuaded the publishers to give the pair a crack at it, the act’s producer — Australian native Lindsay Rimes — started building the track one instrument at a time. He played or programmed most of the supporting music, remaining true to the demo’s original vision, but enhancing some of its most unique parts.
“I worked a lot on the drums to make the song hit harder and bigger and layered the guitars up a lot more,” he says.
The instrumental intro got more attention, too. A tingly mix of guitar lines shimmer over a collection of keyboard sounds that hint at a church organ. It’s almost ethereal on its own, but Rimes beefed up the claps that were introduced in the demo’s intro to create a sense of movement.
“The guys aren’t afraid of having some programming sounds like claps in a song, which are borrowed from electronic dance music,” explains Rimes. “That’s a great combination of styles. You’d probably call that a midtempo song, and that seems to give it a drive.”
The demo was just one voice, but LoCash found ways to play up its team concept, starting with two-part harmonies in key parts of the verses, plus three-part harmonies on the chorus, where Lucas contributes the high notes in the triad.
“We are Oak Ridge Boys fanatics,” says Brust. “Those harmonies are sick, and we love to sing ‘Bobbie Sue’ and songs like that because of the harmonies.”
At the end of the chorus, Brust came up with a way to emphasize both the duo and the title. They alternate “I know somebody” four times.
Once LoCash started playing music from its I Love This Life EP, “Somebody” generated the biggest response at concerts, which jibed with the feedback it received from radio programmers. In fact, some broadcasters who had moved on the title track early were ready to start playing “Somebody” even before “I Love This Life” had finished its run nationally. “We had to slow them down a little bit,” says Lucas.
But not now. Reviver shipped “I Know Somebody” to radio through Play MPE on Jan. 21. It debuted at No. 59 on the Country Airplay chart dated Feb. 13 and rises to No. 55 in its third charted week. LoCash figures it’s just a matter of time before it makes the same kind of progress as “I Love This Life.”
“It’s not a party, edgy song, but when you look in the crowd everyone’s paying attention to this song,” says Lucas. “That’s an equivalent to a hit live.”
LoCash’s next chart battle has just begun.
This article first appeared in Billboard’s Country Update — sign up here.