Eli Young Band has taken the country music scene by storm and proven that they are a force to be reckoned with. From sold out shows to number one hits, they have found great success in the world of country music. The band is made up of four original members, Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones, and Chris Thompson. The band will soon be revisiting College Station, and we got the chance to sit down with drummer, Chris Thompson, where we discussed their success, the journey, and – of course – music.
MW: Eli Young Band will be performing at Hurricane Harry’s on November 16. What is the band’s past with College Station, and what is the experience of playing in College Station like?
CT: Yeah, we’ve played College Station for the majority of our career. We’ve been a band for sixteen years and I think we started playing in College Station about three years in. It has always had fun memories and has held a place in our hearts because it is the first place we ever sold out a show. It is a fun town. It is a great, fun, college town, and I feel like every show we play there, the crowd just has that extra notch of excitement and happiness and they always bring it. It really makes it a lot of fun for us.
MW: We’ve have seen you play here and we definitely see the energy you are talking about. The members of Eli Young Band have remained the same since the band started in 2000. What do you think is so special about this band, and what is it that allows you to work so well together?
CT: The four of us were friends before we started a band. You know, we’d hang out and play music with each other, like actually play CD’s and talk about music and just hang out. Eventually, we realized that we had the components to make a band and we wanted to play music together. We have always put our friendships first and kind of focused on that. By the time we started having any kind of real success, we had gotten all of the dumb band fights out of the way and we were pretty focused on what the four of us wanted to do, and we were focused on keeping it the four of us. That has made it a pretty easy ride for the most part.
MW: It sure is great to see a band with so much success that is so focused on each other in a way that almost forms a family. Starting in Denton, Texas and growing into a band known all over the country with several number one hit and numerous awards, what has the growth of this group been like for you personally? Did you expect it?
CT: No, I didn’t expect it. It has been incredibly rewarding, but I remember for a number of years, in the beginning of the band, I had friends and family coming to me saying, “You know Chris, you gotta have a backup plan.”
My mom wanted me to be a doctor or something for the longest time and I just told them this drumming thing was working out. They wanted me to go to this kind of school or that kind of school, part-time. I had my brother once sit me down and be like oh you gotta make a decision, like what do you wanna do, and I was like well the band is really working out and he said, “I don’t see it. I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”
It’s been really rewarding because now those people, my family, in particular, are huge fans of the band, and they are very proud of the band. It is just nice to see that the four of us made the right decision.
MW: Surely it’s been quite rewarding, and the band has so many songs that we’re sure have different meanings to each of you and connect to each of you differently. Which Eli Young Band song means the most to you? Which song do you enjoy playing live the most?
CT: They are probably one in the same right now. I feel like “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” is a song that we can relate to so much, and I feel like it’s a song that the audience can relate to so much. It’s fun to play live because it’s one of those songs that the majority of the people in the crowd know and really enjoy and look forward to hearing and get really excited about. It’s a positive song too, and you can play something that is popular and positive and just kind of makes everybody happy, it’s a good feeling.
MW: Definitely! We know a lot of people that relate to that song. Eli Young Band has played all over the country; is there any particular show or experience with the band that stands out as the most memorable for you?
CT: There has been so many. I mean, it is really hard to pick one thing. When we are on the road two or three days a week every week and it has been that way for years and years, we’ve been to a lot of places and had a lot of experiences. I would say that any time we play towns like New York City or places that are so far away from where we started, or when we travel abroad and play to foreign crowds. Those are just always these crazy moments because they really make you feel like you’ve actually made it. I would say those are fun experiences, and also whenever we are able to get off the bus and go do something. Whether it be hiking or going to see a historical site or going to a really great restaurant. That kind of thing we really enjoy doing.
MW: It’s good to stop and do something normal while you’re on the road. For our last question, we want to talk about your latest release and future music from Eli Young Band. Your latest release was “Saltwater Gospel” in June of this year; what is different about this release compared to past releases? Is there any new music in the works that we can look forward to?
CT: Well “Saltwater Gospel” is the first almost beach song that we have put out in a long, long time, and that was really fun for us because we really haven’t had that kind of song, especially on country radio, but we didn’t want to put out a typical going down to the beach to hang out song. “Saltwater Gospel” has a spiritual aspect to it as well which we all really appreciate and that kind of resonated with the four of us. Lyrically I think it is a different kind of song. If you said that ‘Drunk Last Night” was a drinking song, then you could definitely say that “Saltwater Gospel” is a beach song although they are both slightly different than what you would expect. And yeah, we finished a new record n February actually, and we are hoping to have it out by the beginning of next year. We are very proud of it. We’re itching for it to come out!
MW: We’re excited for it!
CT: For the tone of the record, we tried to do sort of what we have done in the past. Some people call it old-school Eli Young Band, and that was a conscious effort on this new record.
MW: Well, great! We are looking forward to it, and College Station is excited to welcome you back!
CT: Absolutely! Harry’s is always one of those places that we walk in and say, “Here we go again, this is gonna be a good time!”
You heard it from Eli Young Band drummer, Chris Thompson, himself! This is going to be another great night with Eli Young Band playing Hurricane Harry’s on November 16. The doors will be opening at 9pm and tickets can be purchased online, at Cavender’s Boot City on Highway 6, or Aggieland Outfitters on University for $20 each. Buy your tickets early and you will be entered to win an Eli Young Band swag bag!