By Kurt Wolff
If awards were given to bands for the number of miles traveled and days spent on the road, the Eli Young Band would be a strong contender to take that one home. Since forming in Texas a dozen years ago, the four bandmates (Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones and Chris Thompson) have been on the road and back-and-forth across the country many times over. And while they may not have hit exactly the number of locales noted in the title of their most recent album, 10,000 Towns, chances are they’re getting close.
Which is part of what intrigued them about the song “10,000 Towns” when they first heard it — and why it became the title of their album, which they released last month.
“As a band going out and playing every town that you can, you realize that no matter where you are, everybody’s doing the same things to let loose,” said Eli. So the song’s “universal theme,” as Young described it, really grabbed their attention.
“It was a fun record to make,” said Eli of 10,000 Towns, but after the success they had with “Crazy Girl” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” he and his bandmates “also knew it was an important record for our career.”
So far, so good, it seems. The band earned a No. 1 hit earlier this year with their single “Drunk Last Night,” the album’s first single. And on top of that they’re up for Vocal Group of the Year at this Sunday’s ACM Awards.
Related: See all 2014 ACM Award Nominations
Win or no win, though, after the awards the guys will get back on the road again to continue supporting 10,000 Towns and their current radio single, “Dust,” which Jones and Young wrote with Josh Osborne and Kyle Jacobs.
“We wrote that at a songwriters retreat,” said Jones. “I remember we just started with the word ‘dust,’ we wanted to do something with that.”
“All four of us in the band have wives who come from very small towns,” Jones continued. “And I was thinking of my wife, who I feel was always meant to live in a big city. And she always felt that way growing up. So I just had her in my mind — it’s not exactly a love song for her, but she was definitely on my mind when we wrote that song.”
The Eli Young Band is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year at the 49th annual ACM Awards, which air live from Las Vegas on Sunday, April 6 at 8pm ET/PT on CBS.