Love and Theft on Songwriting, Fatherhood & ‘Whiskey on My Breath’
Love and Theft's Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles met and began writing together nearly 10 years ago, thanks to an introduction from Canaan Smith. During an interview with Taste of Country, Gunderson and Liles reveal that it was when the two singer-songwriters were in the studio together recording "Drowning" off their debut album World Wide Open that they knew they had something special.
"I moved to Nashville be a country singer and songwriter," Liles shares. "That was kind of our first moment [singing harmonies on 'Drowning'] and we kept on writing ever since. We wrote every song on that first album. We wrote every song on the Whiskey on My Breath album, which we're promoting right now."
Liles says his goal in every co-write is to come up with unique song titles and hooks, explaining that this is often the hardest part of songwriting.
"So many ideas have been written. If someone has a really good hook, I don't even care who it is, I want to write with them," he explains. "Most of my song ideas come from conversations."
His advice to songwriters? Put some effort into rewriting.
"I think some of the best songs are re-written. A lot of times people rush through the song like, 'All right, let's go get some sushi.' I think it's a healthy thing to go back over and look at songs," he shares. "I sometimes go back and re-write songs. I re-wrote a song a couple weeks ago that this verse was just not good enough and it made the whole song better."
Love and Theft's latest single "Whiskey on My Breath" hits home for Gunderson and Liles, as they have both lost people to addictions. Liles shares that he didn't have a relationship with his grandfather because he was an alcoholic, drinking up until his death.
"Addictions are a really serious thing in America. Especially with the economy," Liles explains. "People are emotional and they drink because of that. Most people have a reason to drink. Sometimes people have the wrong reason and they can't stop."
"Whiskey on My Breath" is making an impact in the country music community. Both Liles and Gunderson say fans frequently approach them with tears in their eyes after the show, telling them their trials with addiction. For Love and Theft, the song tells the story about who they are, too, as Gunderson is currently on his own journey towards sobriety.
"I think that people can relate to us more and maybe can close that distance. I think that's what we're always trying to do is close that gap so people can get who we are," Liles says.
Liles and Gunderson are both new-ish fathers, and while fatherhood may have changed their lifestyles, it hasn't changed their approach to songwriting.
"It makes us a little bit pickier as far as the shows that we agree to go to. We don't really want to be gone for more than a week at a time because you miss so much," Gunderson says. "They're growing so fast. My son's almost three, his son just turned two so they're at a stage where every day something new is happening. Advice that I've gotten from everyone, even my own parents, is just be there. Don't miss this stuff, you can't do it again."
"Obviously we have to work and be gone a lot because we have to pay the bills, but we're at a place where we can at least be a little bit choosier. Do what makes the most sense for our families and for our business," he adds.
Love and Theft's Whiskey on My Breath album is out now.
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