HITS Daily Double


You’re nominated for your first Grammy before you even have an album out. What makes “Stay A Little Longer” stand out?
It’s probably a number of things. First off, considering the climate of country music when “Stay A Little Longer” came out, it stood out sonically. The song starts off with a mandolin driving the tune as opposed to a programmed drum loop or loud guitars, so from the get-go it sets itself apart. The song also ends with a long outro guitar solo, which is more of a classic-rock approach.

Maryland isn’t somewhere people think of when they think of country, but you guys have a very strong grounding in the roots. Where does that come from?
We get this question a lot, probably more than any other question. We filmed our video for “Rum” in our hometown, and it featured all of our family and friends. Growing up on the Chesapeake Bay makes us a different type of country. We all drive trucks. Drink beer. Work our asses off. Listen to George Jones. We’ve found people cut from that same cloth throughout Canada. Good music transcends geography.

Your album, released Jan. 15 on EMI Nashville, is called Pawn Shop—and it fits. What elements and influence make up your hybrid kind of country?
Every artist is a melting pot of their own influences. We grew up listening to everything—we didn’t really understand genres. We just thought music was either good or bad. We grew up playing classic country, rock, bluegrass, even classical music. Everything from Bob Seger, Hank Sr., The Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt—and even Mariah Carey made a few appearances.

You’re working with pretty serious rocker Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood). What did he respond to in your sound, and work to bring out?
Jay has been a great collaborator. He’s really great about letting the artist keep the raw elements that we frequently polish off in the studio. He loves to push people out of their comfort zone. That’s why his records sound fresh and edgy. His methods of doing that aren’t always easy, and sometimes lead to a number of four-letter words being tossed around, but at the end of the day you end up with a record that is unique and sounds like only you.

You look hipster. If you’re not retro, you are definitely country/roots-oriented. Do you have more in common with the Avett Brothers or the Louvin Brothers?
Ha! Hipster? Calling a group signed to a major label with a single on Country radio hipster might actually piss off real hipsters! That’s actually a hard question to answer. We’re more like The Allman Brothers than either of those, I guess. We’re a duo made up of a singer and a guitar player. We love the Louvin Brothers, though. Unmatchable harmonies.

Given that you’ve had a slow rise with your first two singles but are gaining warp-speed momentum with a Top 5 single and a Grammy nomination, how would you like the next year to take shape?
I think the trajectory we’re on is a good one. At the moment we’re focusing on getting Pawn Shop out and seeing where the road takes us after that. Have to live life one damn day at a time.