"The first time we went to the ACMs, no one really knew who we were," Matthew Ramsey says, recalling their trip to Dallas, Texas, for the 50th ACM Awards.
This morning in Nashville, however, the Old Dominion frontman is packing his bags for a quick trip to Las Vegas, where his band will perform their new song "No Such Thing as a Broken Heart" during the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards. Ramsey and his bandmates were named New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year during last year's show and performed a snippet of then single "Snapback." This time, they're up for another award – their second consecutive nomination in the Vocal Group of the Year category – and landed a full-length performance slot. It'll be a busy weekend, particularly when compared to that initial trip back in 2015.
"We had these nice tuxedos on," Ramsey remembers. "My tux was white, and from where we were sitting, you couldn't see or hear anything happening onstage. [Guitarist] Brad [Tursi] and I went and got a hot dog instead. I remember trying not to get mustard on my $3,000 suit."
Things changed later that fall, when the band's "Break Up With Him" climbed to Number One on country radio. "Song for Another Time" did likewise, with "Snapback" peaking at Number Two. If this weekend's prime-time performance of "No Such Thing as a Broken Heart" gives Old Dominion's newest single a boost, the band may be looking at four Top 5 singles in a row.
"Crowds latch onto it very fast," Ramsey says of the song, the first release from the band's still-untitled follow-up to their 2015 debut, Meat and Candy. "They wanna sing that [title]. We're on tour with Miranda Lambert right now, and we're playing 'No Such Thing' every night. After one of the shows, we were hanging out with her, and she said, 'I hear them singing that line! They love that song.' It's definitely something that is catching on during our show, and hopefully it'll do the same thing on radio."
Fittingly enough, "No Such Thing as a Broken Heart" was written on the road, during a back-of-the-tour-bus songwriting session with Jesse Frasure. Ramsey, a John Mellencamp fan, kicked things off by wondering aloud, "I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it?" That comment became the song's first line. An hour or two later, guitarist Trevor Rosen came up with the chorus's hook. The rest of the song fell into place collaboratively.
"On the road, you're busy and tired," says Ramsey. "We'll often bring writers out with us, and that forces us to sit down and focus. That particular week, we had Jesse sitting in the back of the bus, yelling at us, saying, 'Get back here and write a song!' And we did."
Old Dominion, who wrapped up their three-month run on Miranda Lambert's Highway Vagabond Tour on March 19th, will remain on tour for much of the year, opening a pair of Kenny Chesney's summertime stadium dates along the way.
The 52nd ACM Awards air Sunday, April 2nd, at 8:00 p.m./ET on CBS.