When you do your background info on the group LONESTAR, the first two paragraphs of their website sum up the group best. “Chalk it up to their Texas-meets-Tennessee grit and tenacity, but there’s nothing Lonestar loves more than a challenge. 500 concerts in their first two years. Crossing over from country to pop and back again after no one else topped both charts at the same time since 1983. Selling 10 million albums, landing ten top 10 country hits and collecting nine top 10 pop hits. Packing audiences with guys who love their rocking shows and ladies who swoon over the romantic hunks. That’s just the kind of hard work that fuels the band.
So when it came time to record their 10th album, the first in four years, their years of hard work and creative growth naturally led them to helm it on their own for the first time in their career. True to form, Party Heard Around The World - like all of Lonestar’s hits, tours and awards - is the result of old fashioned talent and dedication paying off. By the time the band entered the studio in late 2009; original member Dean Sams had already logged in years of production work, some with Lonestar and plenty with other bands. It just felt right for Lonestar to write and produce their own album this time. Lead guitarist Michael Britt explained in a recent interview, “We feel that this album is a complete reflection of the group. It’s personal and powerful music that reflects the core values of Lonestar through lyrics, performance and production.”
I spent some time with the guys from Lonestar recently and we visited about the new songs and the album which came out late in April.
Bev: Guys it is always so fun to spend time with you, let’s talk about some of your upcoming promotional gigs; because you guys are doing really cool things. You are on a cooking show, how did that come about?
LS: We are doing Emerald in New York again; we did it once before when we were the house band. This time he was nice enough to let us come and play a few songs on the show. We don’t actually do any cooking but we do get to do some eating at the very end.
Bev: Your album came out April 27th; did you have a big kickoff party or anything special?
LS: We left for New York on the 27th for more press for the launch of the record “Party Heard Around the World”. We’re really excited about this record, more than any other album we have put out in the past. We’re proud of all the records we have put out, but this one just feels right. We were so involved with it. Not only were we the musicians and singers but we were the producers, the writers, engineers; we were really active in this record. I think the fans are going to hear the heart in this record. At the end of the day the fans are pretty wise, they know when someone is faking something and when they mean it. This record has all our heart and then some.
Bev: Is this the first time you have done some of these elements, the producing and so on or have you been involved before?
LS: This is the first album that, together as a band, we have written eight out of the ten songs on the record. It was fun. Each song, after we wrote it, we sat down and hammered it out in the studio and made it come alive. This made it more emotional for the band, as we covered every aspect of creating the album. I can’t remember any time in the past when we have been this active. One time before on the soldier song we recorded, we were involved but never as much as we have been as a band on this album. Something we are excited about, depending on where the fans buy the record, they get two additional songs that they don’t get elsewhere. One song is called “Mean As You” and the other is “Tough”. Those two extra songs they will get only at Wal-Mart. We also went back in and recorded six of our hits acoustically and the only place you can find them is on QVC’s website.
We got to do a lot of creative and fun things with this album.
Bev: Is there a favorite that you have as a band or as an individual?
Michael: I think they change daily or weekly depending on our moods at the time, but I always have three or four favorites and they stay the same, it might just be a different one every day. “You’re the Reason Why” I still love to listen to; “She Wants What She Wants” is my favorite one to listen to lately. I am a sucker for immature boy music so “Y.O.U” and “Party Heard Around The World” are my other two.
Keech: I think that ““Party Heard Around The World” is probably my favorite. It is so fun to listen to and has such a “Rockin’” beat to it. You just can’t not listen to it.
Cody: It is funny how things start off and how they progress later but “Party Heard Around The World” wasn’t exactly my favorite tune in the beginning and honestly, it is probably my favorite now. The way you work a song up and then go into the studio and you hear it come alive, everything changes.
Dean: I am kind of like the rest of the guys, it depends on the day. I love our single, “You Are The Reason Why”. I just think it is great and “Party Heard Around The World” is a blast. Two songs that stick out for me that I usually listen to and then hit replay and listen to them again are “Making Memories” and “Live, Laugh and Love”. I love the imagery of “Making Memories”, it is so visual. You can picture this couple falling in love, that first kiss on the beach; I love the imagery of that song. “Live, Laugh and Love” is an up tempo, positive song in this day and time when life can be pretty tough. People are losing their jobs daily and having issues within their homes. This song is saying that outside the pressures of life just make sure you live, laugh and love your family and your friends. Make sure you let them know how you feel about them. That is what I love about that song; it is up tempo and lets you take your mind off your problems for a few minutes.
Bev: While playing the songs out live, has there been a fan favorite yet?
LS: Lots of friends have heard the songs in shows and the girls seem to favor the song “You’re The Reason Why”. I think that is one reason we put that out as our first single.
Bev: Did you test them out before you decided which ones to put on the album?
Michael: Some of them. We have been playing “The Future”, “You’re The Reason Why” and “Let Me Love You” for over a year on the road. Those were tested. The last four songs we cut are the newest and we have not had a chance to play them on the road much. We were in rehearsals a couple of weeks ago and worked up “Party Heard Around The World” and it was so much fun to play that we would play it twice, then we would play another song or two and then go back and play “Party Heard Around The World”. We just have a great time playing it. It rocks. It is our favorite song to play in the show right now.
After doing that, we liked it so much that it became the opener for our show.
Bev: What time period were most of the songs written over?
LS: It has been over two and a half years easily. “Party Heard Around The World” is one of the latest ones we have written. It is new and fresh and we haven’t listened to it a thousand times; not to mention the other ten thousand times as we were writing it, pre-production and trying to make arrangements. The thing about the songs that were written so long ago, when you get away from them and try not to listen to them for a few months and then I go back and listen to them, they all have their own signature. They are all very fresh when you go back and listen to them after a little while. To me that is a sign of a great record when you can go back and go “oh yeah” that is why I love that song. For true music lovers, they are going to find something in every song that they will latch onto. Michael did such a great job on his guitar stuff, every solo is unique. It is not “ok, I am going to play a bunch of noodle notes”. There are some that are very melodic and some that are just straight out “ballsy rockin’”.
Keech played his heart out. He is such an awesome drummer and really got to show off his skills. What is interesting from this stand point is the flashy stuff is really not the hardest stuff to do; it’s the laying down a groove. He did an awesome job on this record.
From a vocal standpoint, Cody killed this record. He really got to show what an amazing singer he is. From his little falsetto flip things to getting down into the low range and being warm and present; something people are going to latch onto. It is a great record.
Bev: Are any one of you the primary songwriter or do all of you collaboratively have song ideas?
LS: On this record, it is pretty even. Everyone contributes in different ways. The songs we wrote together were a blast for the four of us to sit in a room and be creative together. That is really what bands are supposed to do. It is nice because you don’t have to go through that many songs. When you are at songwriters and publisher meetings where they are pitching songs, you have to listen to three hundred before you can find one you can relate to. When you are writing the songs yourself, you relate to them immediately, they are coming out of you. I think that really helped us to not have to weed through five thousand songs. I laugh so hard when I think about writing the song “Y.O.U.”. That is not a song that is going to cure cancer or something but it is just a great fun, young, up tempo song. We wish all the fans could have been at my studio while we were writing this song because we laughed so hard because we really trying to be “boys” instead of “men”. We were trying to come up with every sexual innuendo we could think of without being too raunchy, we had to do some editing. But that is what made that song so fun and so now when we hear each line; it brings up the memory of writing that song and just how much fun it was.
Bev: So when you perform it live, do you throw in some of those lines just amongst yourselves?
LS: We haven’t done that one, but you never know, we could. Once we work that one up you never know.
Bev: Who came up with the title for the album?
LS: It was actually a song that Dean, Chris Cavanaugh and I wrote. Dean came up with the title for the song. When we were looking for names for the title, that song typified what we want to be known for. We want our live shows to be known for people having a good time, rockin’ out and having a party. That is what every night is for us. We are grown men that get to play instruments for a living and we never have to fully grow up.
Here is some trivia for you. It was originally going to be called “The Future”, which is a song on the album. It was when Cody first joined the band, we started working on these songs and “The Future” was one of the first ones that came up and we thought “what a great title for the album, the future of Lonestar”. We worked on it for a long time and then when “Party Heard Around The World” came up, we shifted to that and thought that would make a better statement than “The Future”.
Bev: Cody, is this the first album you have been on as the lead singer? I feel like you have been with the group forever.
Cody: Aside from the Christmas record, yes. They should have hired me a long time ago.
LS: You were still in high school!
Bev: With the fan site, you have been doing a lot of video of behind the scene things, tell me about that.
LS: The new website, which is www.Lonestarnow.com has been pretty quiet for the past few years. There hasn’t been much activity on our part. We hired a company that was doing the website and they didn’t do a very good job, they didn’t do what they promised and quite honestly, we lost interest and the fans lost interest, it has been very inactive. We just hired a new company that is very creative, thinks outside the box. They want to give the fans as much content and access as we are willing to give. The great thing about the four of us is we are willing to give a lot. Everyone in the band has a flip camera and of course, Keech has cool, fancy cameras too. We film everything we do, send it to them and they can put up whatever they want. The site is going to change weekly and the fans will want to keep coming back. I think that will keep the fans active at our site, it will keep us on our toes always wanting to give them more and at the end of the day, what you end up with is a great partnership with us and the fans.
Bev: With CMA fest around the corner, what do you guys have planned?
LS: We don’t know yet but we will be there. I know we are on a sampler. ITunes is giving out samplers of about 20 songs from different artists that are going to be at CMA Fest. “You’re The Reason Why” is going to be the song on the sampler.
Bev: Well, I know whatever you do, it will be a “Party Heard Around The World”. (laughter). Thank you all so much for sharing some time with me, and as always it is fun to see you. I look forward to running into you in June at CMA Festival if not before.
LS: Bev, thank you. You have been a great friend and we appreciate all you do for us as well. We will see you soon!
For more information on Lonestar visit www. Lonestarnow.com