Old Dominion singer Matthew Ramsey is calling from Los Angeles, where his band was just playing Jimmy Kimmel Live! promote Time, Tequila & Therapy, her fourth studio album. Despite being one of the most successful acts to emerge from Nashville in the past decade, and having made multiple platinum sales for their previous three albums, Ramsey admits they are still not entirely comfortable with their status in the country world .
“I still feel like someone who doesn’t listen to the party – I snuck in,” says Ramsey. “I think we all feel that way sometimes as a band. We’re just waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder and say, ‘Guys, how did you get in? You shouldn’t be here. ‘ When that happens we’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re right – sorry,’ and we’ll go. “
This scenario seems unlikely, however, as Old Dominion’s new single “I Was on a Boat That Day” has already reached the top 10 in several charts in the USA and Canada. The single’s success isn’t surprising either, as it keeps them on track to continue the commercial success they’ve had since their 2015 debut album. Meat and sweets.
Time, Tequila & Therapy was an “experiment” according to Ramsey. The band, usually based in Nashville, headed for Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, North Carolina for what they thought was a relaxed writing and recording session.
“There was no plan to make an album,” says Ramsey. “We didn’t bring any songs into the studio. We purposely said, ‘Let’s just sit down with a blank page and see what comes out and maybe we’ll get three or four songs.’ “
Instead, they ended up with the thirteen tracks that made it onto this new album. It might not have been to be expected, but it’s also what Ramsey expected of his bandmates – multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen, lead guitarist Brad Tursi, bassist Geoff Sprung and drummer Whit Sellers. Ramsey credits her chemistry as friends and musicians with her success. They all grew up in Virginia, where some started making music together 20 years ago. Then they independently moved to Nashville, where they met again and founded Old Dominion in 2007.
When they got rolling, success came. Their 2015 debut single, “Break Up With Him,” went platinum, and they’ve had that feat multiple times since with singles like “Snapback,” “Song for Another Time,” Hotel Schlüssel, and “Ein Mann-Band”.
Much of the appeal of Old Dominion also comes from its assignable lyrics – and while this part of songwriting is often the lead singer’s domain, Ramsey shares this role equally with the rest of the members. As far as his own songwriting goes, the singer has a clear mission.
“Personally, I always try to be as simple as possible poetic,” he says. “I’m interested in this human experience of being happy and sad at the same time, and I think everyone can feel it. So if I can grab a bit of it and put it in a song, then I think people might react to it.
“When I was young, I remember crying to ‘Eye in the Sky’ from the Alan Parsons Project,” he adds. “I remember my parents asking me if I was okay and I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t know why I’m crying.’ It’s not an emotional song, but something in the melody hit me. It has this inherent kind of sadness that seemed powerful to me. I was really interested in exploring music and how it can make me feel that way. “
Another moment cemented Ramsey’s assurance that he was destined for a music career.
“My first concert was Huey Lewis and the News. And when I saw an arena full of people and the joy of music, I thought, ‘That’s me. This is what i want to do. I want to be that person who can bring so much joy into a room. ‘”