Interviewer’s Note: Since this interview, Eric Durrance and his band, as the opening act, helped headliner Jason Aldean break an attendance record in New Berlin, Ill., in late June 2009, with more than 14,000 in attendance. Then, on July 4, 2009, Eric and his band headlined a concert-holiday celebration in Tallahassee, Fla., Eric’s hometown, where it is reported some 30,000 were in attendance. ( Photo credit: Craig Seay)

Eric Durrance is quoted as saying “I write music that comes from my heart. I like to write music that puts body and soul out there and has a magical way of saying what everyone feels. I like to be real and I believe a good, honest song is the key to an artist's success.”

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Eric and his bass player, Jeff Jenkins, to talk about the new project they are working on, a little about the music business and life in general.

Bev: Eric, what can you tell me about the new album?

Eric: We are in the studio now and we are about halfway finished with the new album. We are really excited about it

Bev: Any release date set for that?

Eric: We want to rush it because we are impatient and we are so excited to get the music out there, but we learned the hard way that it’s all about the set up in country music. We have learned a lot from our mistakes and we are lucky enough to have a second time around. You know a lot of people don’t get that opportunity. We have better songs on this CD. I believe good songs can break down the walls; what the marketing can’t do, the songs can. It’s hard because of so many opinions in the mix. I’d like to see Nashville just let the artist do their thing and let them create.

Bev: Do you mostly co-write or do you write on your own too?

Eric: I do a lot of writing on my own, but the co-writing is always great, too.

Bev: Do you have a preference? Would you rather write with somebody?

Eric: I like doing it on my own. It takes me longer to get to a great song, but it’s more me when I do that.

Bev: When you write do you prefer to have a message with your lyrics?

Eric: Yes, I always do. I love writing story songs; which are the hardest ones to write. But overall, just having a positive message, even if it has a dark and negative feel or it is a sad song.

Bev: Do you sit down at a certain time every day to write or do you have a schedule or a plan when you write?

Eric: No, it’s really weird and it depends on so many other things. When the business really kicks in, then my creative side goes away, and when the downtime comes along, then it automatically just comes back. Like during CMA week, it was so hard for me to write—my brain was just mush, but it’s just starting to slow down again. The best songs I’ve written have been between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the morning. I won’t even have a pencil; it’s just weird like that. A lot of stuff we are writing now is written that way. Right now, Jake Owen and I have a single out we wrote together about five years ago called “Eight Second Ride.”

Bev: What do you consider your most cherished moments at this point in your career?

Eric: In 2004, I won a BMI Songwriter of the Year award; it was a pretty big moment.

Bev: Do you have any songs that are very personal to you?

Eric: The last song on the current album is a song about my grandpa. It’s one of the songs that just everybody goes through in life. It’s amazing how many people come up and say they lived through that song word for word, and that’s pretty amazing.

Bev: Was it written through personal experience?

Eric: No, it was written out of fear. It was written out of the fact that I know it’s going to happen, and odds are I’ll be away because this business keeps you away. It’s just kind of one of those darkest times that you know it’s going to come and you’re not looking forward to it. I just wrote that song out of imagination and what it would be like, and sure enough there have been a lot of people that have already been through it.

Bev: Do you have any moments that stand out from the recent CMA Music Festival and CMT Awards week?

Eric: I got to see Carrie Underwood again. She’s the only person I get starstruck by. I feel the coolest moment was all the fans that brought pictures for us to sign. This one lady had a purse made of all the artists she had taken pictures with, and we were right in the middle.

Bev: When you have down time how do you relax?

Eric: I love to go fishing and I’ve been doing that a lot lately. We haven’t had a lot of time off because we’ve been trying to figure out ways to get back on the road and back in the studio. We spend a lot of time stressing over that. Downtime is not that great of a thing. The only way to just get away from it is to literally get away from it.

Bev: How old were you when you got into the business?

Eric: I got into it kind of late. I was about 26.

Bev: Had it always been a dream?

Eric: It was a slow process for me. When I was 15 I started playing in bands, but we never could find a singer and I was terrible singer, but because we couldn’t find anyone, I started to sing. We also needed songs, so because of that, I started writing songs. The songs were terrible, but they were songs; 10 minutes long and unorganized, but then through the years as other opportunities fell away, this one got stronger. The older I got, I really started growing in the songwriting, I recorded a demo, sent it to labels and had a deal within five days. I was like, OK, this is what I want to do.

Bev: Have you established any type of ritual before you go out on stage?

Eric: Our keyboard player likes to grab the skin on our elbow. That’s his thing. He’s just silly; I don’t know what that really is all about. We burn a lot of incense and listen to a lot of Def Leppard. It’s an adrenaline thing; it gets you going.

Bev: Have you performed with anybody that you’ve considered an idol or looked up to?

Eric: I can’t say we performed with them, but we’ve worked with them. Teddy Gentry, who produced (my last) album, for both of us, was a big influence.

Bev: Who do you want to perform with?

Eric: Honestly, we are just still really excited to play with Jason Aldean. And honestly, we’d love to be headlining our own show, but if we had to open up for Jason Aldean for the rest of our careers it would be OK. They are great guys and they are easy to get along with. I’d love to open up for Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. Anyone that has a tour right now.

Bev: What’s the best stage you’ve performed on?

Eric: We just did a casino about a month ago. The stage was huge and seemed like a football field. For us that was a pretty big step. The ones where we can get the fans close to us are always better, because sometimes they are just so far off you can’t even see them in the lights. If they can get in by the front of the stage, that’s when you can really get into it because you can’t get into it if you can’t see the crowd.

Bev: So do you like the bigger stages or more intimate setting?

Eric: Our songs seem to do better in the bigger venues. I don’t really know why that is, but it’s like taking Rascal Flatts in a small room—it might not come across the same. It just depends; the acoustic stuff is much better in a smaller room. Our show is very energetic, too, and playing with Jason, he gave us a lot of room out there. A lot of headlining acts don’t give you that much space. We are able to create an arena show.

Bev: Are you addicted to the Facebook, Twitter and MySpace?

Eric: The Twitter we are just getting into. I try to get into it, but I really don’t do it that much. We got a couple of guys that are concerned about it, about their safety and their private lives. I think that those things can kind of get in the way. Certainly if you’re going to let people know where you’re at and that you are not at home. Not only can they mob me where I am, but also my house is now empty. We would love to get mobbed now, though, at this stage in our career.

Bev: What are your thoughts on the differences between MySpace and Facebook?

Eric: MySpace is huge for us. I don’t really do Facebook, but one day, my publicist is going to make me. She’s already warned me, but for now, it’s Twitter and MySpace. I don’t really know what’s better, but I think MySpace is better because you can download music. I think there are so many more things you can do on MySpace and it’s more individual. You can really use MySpace for more advertising, and I don’t know if this is true or not, but I think I heard that MS is going to start to have a streaming radio station. So you can be “MySpacing” and listen to artists on MySpace. That is a great opportunity for artists to get their music out there. That is the generation that we are living in.

Bev: What is the best advice that anybody has given you?

Eric: Teddy Gentry, from Alabama, told us that they made a deal early on in their career that they could fight, hit each other, curse at each other, do whatever they wanted to do, but one thing they could not do was quit. That always sticks out in my mind. It takes that kind of belief system that you can’t quit. You just can’t quit. You are going to go through some pretty tough times, but there is something that happens that takes you back to the top. In life that’s just what happens, (and) you’re going to need the bad to balance out the good. It’s hard to stay good all the time. I look at some people sometimes and I think, “Man, it doesn’t look like that guy has any problems. He’s always got it going and nothing ever bad happens to him.” I guess they just hide it well.

Bev: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened on stage?

Eric: Our second show opening up for Jason Aldean. I was using a mic with a cable on it and the cable kept on coming undone from the microphone and several times I dropped the mic on stage. The whole mic fell; right in the middle of the word it would happen. The last time it happened, I just made a comment that it was a comedy show. My guitar player almost quit.

Bev: Have you dedicated anytime being involved in any charities?

Eric: No, not yet. We’ve done a lot of cancer benefit shows, (but) we just don’t want to make a million dollars to promote ourselves through something like that. We do try and do benefit shows when someone asks, though, if our schedules allow it.

Bev: Being both of you are dads, how does that work being on the road so much?

Eric and Jeff: It’s tough and that’s probably the hardest part about this job. You know the phone rings a lot, and you are asked when you coming home, and you can’t really give them an answer. That’s definitely the hardest part, but you have to believe that you are leaving them with the right type of people that are capable are taking care of them and giving them the support that they need. Just trying to give them a better life then we could back home.

Bev: What’s next for Eric Durrance?

Eric: We are kind of in a transition stage right now with the whole label situation. I’ve been on this label for 11 years. They are based in New York they are not a country label, but they’ve been really good to me. They’ve allowed me to really grow and develop me as an artist. We are also transitioning in management; we had different management during the CMT tour. Right now, we are just trying to get back to the media to let them that we are not going anywhere and we are still around. I just want to be able to put more me out there. I would love to get a little bit more control over what gets out there.

Bev: Do you find that you have a certain demographic that follows you?

Eric: You know that’s tough question because we’ve had everyone from younger kids to an older group of people that have come up to us and comment on the band or the songs. I don’t think we are shooting for a demographic, but if we were, I’d think stylistically that we fit a late 20s to early 40s. People who grew up listening to music in the ‘80s, but now have a lyric that represents what is going on in their life. I find it fun to play to the younger crowds because they will be there for you the longest, but also it’s hard to sing the serious, “life is hard”-type of song to the younger crowd. In general, though, we just want people to love our music.

Bev: Eric and Jeff, thank you both so much for joining me. I look forward to the new music coming out and seeing you again soon.

Eric: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

For more information on Durrance, please visit him online at or follow him on Twitter at … (He promises to tweet at least weekly.)

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