Eli Young Band Are Striving for a Sweet Spot Between Familiarity + Experimentation
On Friday (Jan. 7), Eli Young Band dropped "Love Talking," the latest in a new batch of songs written since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdowns in March of 2020. Over that period of time, frontman Mike Eli says, he's written around 100 songs — but "Love Talking" stood out to the band because it offered something new.
"We've always been suckers for a tune that you're expecting something, and you get something way different," says Eli, who co-wrote "Love Talking" with Eric Arjes and Jeffrey East.
You see a title like "Love Talking," and you might assume a ballad: "I think I'd probably expect a mid-tempo love song that was saying something completely different," the singer offers. "But I think the feel, the energy, everything about this tune is different. It's different for us, and I think it's different for radio. I think it's gonna add so much to the show."
Up-tempo and breezy, "Love Talking" is an effortless country rocker that Eli points out is a "little bit of a departure for us as far as grooves go, and melodies." Still, the band didn't have to think twice about whether or not to record it. The song was written right before they were booked to go into the studio to record, and it instantly floated to the top of the pile. That's because, for all its fresh elements, it's still a classic Eli Young Band song.
"I think it's perfect for us. It's almost a little bit like us diverging, but not really, you know. You hear it, and you're like, 'Oh yeah, that does sound like Eli Young Band,'" the singer explains.
With 100 songs written over the pandemic, Eli and his band had plenty of tracks to choose from as they sought to find songs that felt both fresh and familiar. This album cycle was a good time to shift perspective for a few different reasons. The pandemic has created a natural semi-colon in every artist's touring career, and EYB are no different. Plus, their last project was their 2019 Greatest Hits album. And, perhaps most importantly, they had to keep things interesting and challenging for themselves as a group.
"We are musicians and artists and we get bored. I think the reality of it is that we always can try to continue to grow and try new things," Eli reflects. "Sometimes you go a little too far. But I think that we need that, as artists. While also staying true to what [your fans] love about you."
The band haven't announced any definitive release date, though Eli tentatively approximates that fans might be able to expect a new album to come "around summertime." In the meantime, though, they're enjoying a rejuvenated return to the road, revitalized after the pandemic-induced pause and new perspective on their two decades of making music together.
"After 20 years of touring together there was a little bit of...we took everything for granted, and we just didn't realize that we still liked what we did, you know? There's this moment that maybe you realize that this hobby that turned into a job — and then turned into a job — you stopped realizing that you still love it," Eli elaborates. "After 2020, it was the refresh button. It was, 'Hey, I'm ready to go see my friends again.' You know, we spent the majority of our lives together, the four of us.
"Getting back on the stage recently just felt really good," he concludes. "Being able to get back on stage again and play our music was kind of a new feeling, I guess, that maybe I just didn't realize I had lost."
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