Waterloo Revival’s Debut EP ‘Front Row’ Represents Real Life
Long before Waterloo Revival were traveling the U.S. playing festivals and tours together, Texas natives George Birge and Cody Cooper were fast friends who met in middle school and started a band thanks to their mutual love of music.
"We started writing our own songs right around freshman year," Cooper says over coffee at Nashville's Frothy Monkey, a few weeks after releasing the duo's debut EP Front Row.
Pretty soon they were playing shows around Austin, Texas — their hometown and the city that gave them their name. As Birge recalls, their music began as a blend of country and rock, which is what they grew up on. They broke up once college rolled around, as they went to different universities hours away — but they never stopped writing. After graduation, they both realized their passion was still music.
"It showed us, 'Okay, this is something that no matter what, we're probably never going to give up because we love doing it so much,'" Cooper explains.
Cooper quit his job and moved back to Austin so the two could start the band back up and continue writing together. Soon enough they had a few demos ready and a mutual friend passed one along to a local radio station. Their demo for "Hit the Road" made its way into the hands of Toby Keith's manager, TK Kimbrell, who flew to the Texas capital city to see the guys play. Impressed by what he saw, Kimbrell suggested Copper and Birge relocate to Nashville, so they did.
Since their move, Waterloo Revival have been spending their time co-writing in the Music City community and touring constantly. They played 48 states last year, allowing them to see the country, no doubt sparking future song ideas.
"You could write about a California sunrise, but I had never really seen one," Birge admits. "Or, hanging on the dock in Portland, Maine ... was something I'll never forget. Seeing the lobster fishermen come in on the boats. That's life experience that you read about or you hear about, but to actually get to see that ..."
Currently, Waterloo Revival are on the road promoting their new single "Racin' to the Red Light" and debut EP, Front Row. As Birge explains, it was important for them to showcase their dynamics as songwriters on the six-song EP.
"We're not a one-trick pony. We can write all types of different songs because we've lived all these situations," he insists. "The biggest thing for us was we wanted an EP that represented real life — the highs, the lows, the parties, the breakups, the love songs. We felt like those six songs best encapsulated that."
The six songs are based on true stories — experiences that happened to both Birge and Cooper — and they admit they were slightly fearful to be so honest. Birge confesses that he couldn't sleep the entire week leading up to releasing the EP.
"If you're writing something so honest that you're almost embarrassed to put it out, you're doing something right," he says. "That's when you're going to really connect with the fans, because you're not the only one that has that experience. What you're essentially doing is taking six songs and saying, 'This embodies us and who we are and our sound, and this is Waterloo Revival.' You don't know how your fans or industry are going to respond to it."
Despite the nerves leading up to the band's release, Waterloo Revival say they're proud of Front Row and they can see that they're connecting with their fans now more than ever with the new music.
"The feedback has been amazing so far. We're really lucky the way it turned out," Birge adds.
Waterloo Revival teamed up with some of country music's biggest hitmakers in the writing room, including JT Harding, Jon Nite and Jimmy Robbins. They say "I Could Get Used to This" was one of their favorite writing experiences, as the guys revisited the excitement and anticipation of starting a new relationship.
"We were sitting in Jimmy Robbins' studio when we were writing it," Birge recalls. "We were starting the second verse, which is probably my favorite line of the song, and Cody was like, 'Whenever I used to try to get away with my girlfriend in high school, we would go to this development where none of the houses were built, and we'd drive in the streets back there and park the car.'"
In the song, Waterloo Revival sing of this exact scene. "That time we were heating up the winter chill / Subdivision where the houses weren't even built / Writing your name on my window with your fingertips," they sing.
Another track, the laid-back "Summer Thing," encapsulates an ideal summer for the duo with beaches, drinking, friends and summer love. The album shows the duo's diversity and at times recalls Thomas Rhett, who they say is a modern-day inspiration to them.
"He's one of our biggest influences," Birge reveals. "I just love that he pushes boundaries, he's not scared of anything, and he's so confident in himself and his sound. That's something that we try to emulate."
The band push boundaries on their own EP by blending pop sensibilities with the storytelling aspect that the country genre is known for. Currently, Waterloo Revival's summer is piling up with festival dates. As they test out the new songs on the road, including new single "Racin' to the Red Light," they're asking for fans' help in what to play with a poll to let the band know their favorite song.
Look for the duo on the road this summer.
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