Old Dominion Make It Sweet … and Spontaneous

Old Dominion are on a hot streak with “Make It Sweet” and “One Man Band,” not to mention their second win as CMA Vocal Group of the Year and a No. 1 debut on Billboard’s country chart for their new, self-titled album. The band chatted with CMT Hot 20 Countdown about their latest hits.

CMT: You guys started this recording process a little bit different with “Make It Sweet.” Just going in there writing and recording the same day. How did “Make It Sweet” send you down a creative path?

Trevor Rosen: Yeah, I think that really set the tone for the whole thing. We booked a studio and we wanted to see if we could go in there from scratch and write a song and complete it and record it that day. And we did. It turned out to be “Make It Sweet,” which was the first single off the album. And then we did it the next day with “Here You Now,” which is also on the album.

That began to set the tone for what we did on this album, which is, it’s just five people that have been making music together for a long time. But this is the first time we had time to spend on it. And we had a lot more time to sort of explore all our influences and really dive into what created that Old Dominion sound, which is part of the reason we self-titled the album.

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I can hear it — with all the guitar riffs and pianos and synthesizers — how you guys blended and experimented with sounds.

Matt Ramsey: That’s one thing that I really like about this album, is that you can actually hear more musicianship than our albums in the past. I don’t know why that is. I think maybe that is the time and the experimentation a little bit, but or maybe it’s our confidence level in the recording sessions. But you can definitely hear more musicianship than just playing parts. … This is more making music together.

With the single “One Man Band,” this version of song isn’t actually how it started. It almost started as a phrase. How you evolve from the initial process from just a phrase to a love song?

Rosen: It started with a different feel, which is kind of cool. I think it gives the melody a certain uniqueness because we did write it over a reggae beat, but we were sitting in a dressing room one day and we just had a guitar and an amp sitting there. Brad [Tursi] picked it up and then started playing that guitar riff the way you hear it now. And the second he did that, we were like, “Whoa, that’s the way we need to record that song.” So, yeah, it was cool that it took that shape. And I feel like it’s one of our biggest songs so far.

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What has been the response to that song live?

Ramsey: It’s been huge. It’s one of our biggest songs, or maybe the biggest song that we’ve ever had. And the response is really why we chose it as a single, because we started playing it live before it was ever on the radio and the crowd was responding like crazy. They were singing it back to us, sometimes louder than some of the hits that we had on the radio. So it was pretty obvious that that song needed to be a single.

It’s a simple video — just you guys in the studio and tour rehearsal. Not anything flashy. Whose idea was that?

Ramsey: That wasn’t even intentional either. That was just, we needed to put some sort of visual to it. That was never the plan for that to be the video. It was kind of like a lyric video type of thing and the song took off in its own way, so big. And there were so many views on that video that we are like, “Why would we even make another video? This one is working.” So we just left it.

Rosen: Yeah, I think fans like to see that, too. They like to feel like they’re part of it and they like to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. So, you know, sometimes you can spend all this money on doing this elaborate story and this and that. But I think a lot of times, what we did is what the fans really like to see.