Love And Theft can look back on the last 18 months with a lot of joy. Looking ahead, however, is requiring a little bit of faith.
The band — Eric Gunderson, Brian Bandas and Stephen Barker Liles — earned its first hit in 2009 through Carolwood Records, a sister label to the Disney-affiliated Lyric Street. “Runaway” led the guys to their Grand Ole Opry debut and the release of their first album, World Wide Open. Martina McBride recorded their song, “Wrong Baby Wrong.” They also had a chance to make a cameo appearance on “American Idol,” to take part in a Kraft sweepstakes and to hit the road on Tim McGraw’s current Southern Voice Tour, which also features Lady Antebellum.
But along with those good moments was a development that’s testing their mettle. Carolwood closed up shop in November, and Love And Theft was shifted to the Lyric Street roster. That label change, however, was only a precursor. In April, Disney announced it was the end of the road for Lyric Street, too, leaving the trio with a lot of uncertainty. They are, essentially, free agents and don’t know where their next label home might be. Still, not knowing what the future holds doesn’t mean the future will be bad. The guys are maintaining their optimism as they move forward.
“That was 100 percent out of the blue,” Stephen told The San Jose Mercury News. “It was just one of those corporate decisions. But Lyric Street put a lot of time and money and effort into breaking us. We’ll always be grateful to them for that. We look at this as a blessing in disguise, because they gave us a huge jump start. Now we’re ready for the next wave. We’ll be talking to labels soon, and we’ll have new music coming out, Lord willing, this fall.”
Love And Theft has seen its music have an effect on people, and that alone is a motivator to keep plowing ahead. At a recent show, one woman told the band through tears that their music had literally saved her life. They get it — they’ve been emotionally charged by some of their influences, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, the Eagles and Christian singer Michael W. Smith. They want to pass on some of the same uplifting current they got from those artists to their own fans.
“It’s about impacting people’s lives with something positive,” Stephen said. “We try and write from a personal place. We’re very adamant about trying to influence people from the heart.”