Eli Young Band Take 'Evolutionary Step' With New EP 'Turn It On' - Rolling Stone
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Eli Young Band Take ‘Evolutionary Step’ With New EP ‘Turn It On’

Country quartet venture into pop territory with new producers

Eli Young Band Turn It OnEli Young Band Turn It On

Eli Young Band have released a four-song EP titled 'Turn It On.'

Frederick Breedon IV/Getty Images

Out with the old and in with the new Eli Young Band. The veteran group’s new musical chapter is full of experimentation, as heard via Turn It On, their new four-song EP that finds the four bandmates working with new producers and blurring genre lines.

“We felt like ‘Turn It On’ was a good transition song to introduce this next sound that we have started developing,” lead singer Mike Eli tells Rolling Stone Country of the title track, which is now at country radio. “It all started developing with the new producers [Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover] and some of the new writing. It’s that new evolutionary step for the band.”

Eli Young Band’s last full-length, 10,000 Towns spawned their third chart-topping hit, “Drunk Last Night,” and further fueled the momentum that began with their Republic Nashville debut, Life at Best, which featured the breakout hit “Crazy Girl” and the Grammy-nominated “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”

When they first started working on music for their new album, the guys admit they didn’t know fans would get to hear it this soon. “We started out in the studio to cut an experiment with Ross and Jeremy,” Eli says of fellow band members Jon Jones, James Young and Chris Thompson. “We went to the studio recording these four songs, originally intending to put into demos or maybe to lead into our next record, but then that’s when [Executive VP Big Machine Label Group/President of Republic Nashville] Jimmy Harnen and [Big Machine Label Group SVP of A&R] Allison Jones came into the studio to listen and they fell in love with what we were doing. They decided that they wanted to fast track an EP and get a single out as soon as possible. It was exciting for us because when we’ve recorded albums in the past, it takes some time to get it out. We just recorded this stuff in the middle of January, and the fact that we’re already out is pretty astounding to us. It’s going to be fresh to us on stage when we play it live — for us and the fans too.”

“When you’ve been making music for 15 years like the four of us together, you’ve got to change it up a little bit,” Thompson says of the band’s new sound. “The most positive change that we made was working with Ross and Jeremy. It’s different than anything we’ve done before and that’s exciting. They went in the studio with us and pulled the best out of us, really pushed us to make something great, special and new.”

“Going back into the studio really reinvigorated us,” Jones adds. “We are more excited than we have been that I can remember. For the most part, all of the tracks were done, the meat and potatoes were laid out in two days. Mike did some of the vocals at his house and got to go back and sprinkle stuff on afterwards, but the four of us just [recorded these songs] in two days — a really fun two days.”

In addition to the title track, the EP includes three other new tunes: “Plastic,” “Your Place or Mine” and “Drink You Up” — which Young deems “a pop song.” “It’s a little bit of a departure from where we’ve gone in the past, but we have always kind of flirted with pop rock and this just seemed a natural fit to us,” he says, “and it’s a blast to play live. We’re starting out each set every night with this song.”

Eli describes “Your Place or Mine” as a prequel to “Drunk Last Night” and says they had to dip back into their personal dating history to come up with lyrics about the longing and uncertainty that come with an on again/off again relationship. “We’re four guys that are now happily married, and finding that moment where we were going through that [angst], we had to go back a few years,” he says. “Jon and I co-wrote that with Jeremy and Ross, and we [thought back to] that moment where you’re sitting with someone and you’re on break, and you can’t help but continuing to gravitate towards that person. Luckily Jon and I feel like we had a happy ending when it came to that, because we married those girls.”

Fans will hear those new tunes this spring as the band hits the road on both Toby Keith’s tour and their own headlining dates. “We’ve been on so many tours the last two or three years,” says Jones. “It’s exciting to be able to continually play dates that we can play two hour shows versus playing a 45-minute opening set. We’re excited about getting down the road, doing the Eli Young Band thing.”

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