Interview: Eli Young Band Talk Platinum Hits and Staying Anonymous

Eli Young Band are back on the road
Eli Young Band – ‘one day you’re on stage, the next you’re at the grocery store’. Photo credit David McClister Press Photos

With a musical brotherhood spanning two decades and producing four No. 1 hits, six Gold and Platinum/multi-Platinum certifications, a GRAMMY nomination and more, Love Talking is Eli Young Band’s sixth studio album.

It was released on June 3, and a few days beforehand, Six Shooter Country’s Paul Sammon chatted to the band to find out more about their new music and plans for the future.

Gathered in the four corners of a Zoom call, I had the pleasure of catching up with Eli Young Band to discuss their latest album, Love Talking.

Mike Eli, Jon Jones, James Young and Chris Thompson all chipped in their tuppence worth to make it a very entertaining chat.

SSC – I’ve had this new album on repeat. I love it but one thing does strike me; this is your second Valory records release and it’s been five years. There are only 8 different songs and one of them is Love Ain’t; already a platinum single. Why’s that?

ME – Well I wish it was an easy answer. It’s a little complicated. Love Ain’t didn’t ever find an album. It was on our “hits” record, but we wanted to remind people of some of our older stuff.

We were playing prior to 2020 to start this next record but then obviously 2020 threw everyone through a loop. It took a while before we could get back into the studio and we wrote so many songs that year. Trust me, we had plenty of music to make a bigger record, but music is consumed so differently now.

So, this project has a certain kind of sound to it and with the next album we can take an approach that makes Love Talking special for “this reason” and the next record being special for a different reason and the label can release something sooner rather than wait three years for the next album.

SSC – That’s a fair and good answer. So, what are all your favourite tunes on the new album?

ME – Tell Me It Is is probably one of my favourites. I felt a certain amount of vulnerability and it was written around a time that there was a whole lot of unknown for everyone. Our industry came to a screeching halt, and I had a moment of “I can’t tell you if it’s gonna be okay” and I needed my wife to say, “Hey, everything’s gonna be alright” I’m very close to it, lyrically.

CT – I’m gonna piggyback with Mike and say that’s my favourite, too. Everything he said basically answers why. We’re sort of known for happy love songs and that kind of stuff and this is a different kind of song.

JY – Chances Are was a real fun song to cut and it’s a three-chord rock ‘n’ roll heartbreak song for the most part with a country twist on it. Also Break Up In A Bar. That’s the only song we didn’t write on this record, but it was just an obvious cut. Our heartstrings were telling us we need to put that on the record.

JJ – I’m sticking with Break Up In A Bar. It’s okay to have a happy, upbeat breakup song. It’s fun and it’s clever and it makes total sense. We started playing that song before it was released, and it was cool to see the audience sing it back even though there’s no way they know the words. But by the end of the song, they were singing along somehow.

SSC – When I was listening to Lucky For Me I very much got an Old Dominion vibe with the structure of the lyrics. Was that intentional or coincidence? Or am I hearing something that’s maybe not there?

ME – We’re friends with the guys and we wrote with a few of them over Covid. We have so much in common in the way we write and both bands have written with the same people so I wouldn’t say it was intentional, but we’ll take that as a huge compliment.

SSC – A Good Thing is a lovely track. I think every artist has managed to pick some good out of the bad these past couple years and I know these were written a while back, but it seems to be a reflection of what’s been going on around us. Would that be fair to say?

ME – That was written in the middle of 2020 about the same time as Lucky For Me. I think it was a moment where we all were trying to find the positivity in the world and I think there was a little bit of us telling each other, “Here’s some positive here and that’s a good thing. Let’s focus on that.” During that time, I was focusing on my family and their health, psychologically and emotionally. Obviously, music is therapy for so many of us and I think when I was writing it was therapy for me and when we were playing it all Summer it was their therapy as well.

The songs we chose to go on this album have so much positive in them, outside of Tell Me It Is maybe, we wanted to come out of it saying, “Hey, we did find the positivity in a tough time.”

SSC – You’re embarking on a 52-city US-tour, what will it be like to be back on the road?

JJ – Covid was by far the longest break we’ve ever taken. Ever since we’ve been in college we’ve been on the road except for some holidays. Every weekend, three or four days a week. Now we’ve got nine kids between the four of us. So now three or four days is our sweet spot so we can get home, have a normal life for a couple days and then back out on the road. That’s where we really thrive. We started as a live band and that’s always gonna be what motivates us and keeps us in front of people.

Socials are great to hit a wide swath of people in one instant, but we feel like if we’re not doing it live, we’re not doing our job.

SSC – You’ve been doing this for years and now you seem to have this great work / life balance and it looks like you’re living the dream.

JY – We pride ourselves on our longevity and we’ve done this for two decades now and it’s paid the bills and put food on the table and we’re very gracious that we’ve gotten to do this for this long and there’s no end in sight.

JJ – I will say there’s times that you wish every song was platinum and we had big world tours ‘n’ all that. But, at the end of the day it’s nice to be in that sweet spot where we come off the road and we can maintain our anonymity. It messes with your head sometimes, y’know? Everybody is staring at you on stage and the next day you’re shopping and you’re just “that guy” at the grocery store. In a way it’s really kinda nice. It keeps our heads from getting too big and it keeps the highs and lows from being too extreme.

SSC – Any plans to come to the UK? A lot of the artists we speak to, when they come over here, love the fact the crowds know all the words to all the songs. Not just the radio singles.

ME – We hope. There are no plans at the current time. In 2019 we had solidified some plans and we were going to come to the UK in 2020 and then obviously they went away. Right now, we’re only just able to get back out on the road. I know all four of us have been really itching to come and we’re hoping to get that done as soon as possible. 

SSC – Is there anything you particularly want to say to our UK readers?

ME – Yeah, when we do make it over there, we wanna do more than just three days. We’ll make it a week at least.

JJ – And we’ll test everybody on the deep tracks and figure out how to make everybody in the States consume their music the same way because that’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s almost a lost art of embracing a whole album and internalising it.

ME – We’ve always said that would be really fun to do; have a show here and there where we just play the albums. I saw Springsteen do The River Tour and he played it front to back and it was a really neat show to experience. 

SSC – Guys, this has been really fun, so thank you and we’ll catch up soon.

To find out more, follow the band on social media @EliYoungBand or visit 

Eli Young Band – Love Talking (The Valory Music Co.)

  1. Love Talking (Mike Eli, Eric Arjes, Jeffrey East)
  2. Lucky For Me (Mike Eli, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz)
  3. Break Up In A Bar (Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps)
  4. Love Ain’t (Ross Copperman, Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally)
  5. Chances Are (Mike Eli, Eric Arjes, Jordan Minton)
  6. Live With It (Mike Eli, Josh Osborne, Daniel Ross)
  7. Tell Me It Is (Mike Eli, Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins)
  8. A Good Thing (Mike Eli, Eric Arjes, Jeffery East)
  9. Love Talking (Acoustic) (Mike Eli, Eric Arjes, Jeffrey East)

Look out for Paul’s album review – coming soon

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