It’s been five months now since Love And Theft discovered that its record label had shut its doors. Which left the group that got its first hit in 2009 without an outlet to turn “Runaway” into runaway success.
They aren’t freaking out about it, in part because working as a band on a national level isn’t quite like other jobs. For one thing, the trio — Brian Bandas, Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles — doesn’t have just one boss or one way to draw income. A record deal is one potential revenue stream, but so are concert-ticket sales and songwriting, and they’re still doing those things.
So when Disney first closed Lyric Street Records, the guys weren’t initially bothered by it.
“It took a while to really register,” they said on the red carpet last week as ASCAP, a performing rights agency, recognized it among the most-played songs of last year. “We were like, ‘Well, that’s weird. OK.’ A couple weeks later, we were like, ‘Oh, this could actually be a little bit of a difficulty.’ But we’re very fortunate. We’re in a good spot.”
A record deal is certainly important, because a label and the release of a new album is the best way to draw attention. “Runaway” established the band’s name fairly well, so Love And Theft should be attractive to another record company. And, in fact, several have expressed an interest in signing the group.
But thus far, the guys have devoted most of their time to creating new material before they try to sign the next deal. If they signed with a label first, that would open up the possibility that the company would want to direct them on the creative side. By recording some tracks without a label, they get a chance to set the tone first while they have their freedom.
“The focus is on putting together a batch of fresh music that we wanna present to people and go from there and find out who really wants to be on board with that and who is gonna be the best fit for our new home,” they said. “We’re trying to write, make music and see what comes out of that.”
In the meantime, the band was forced to slow down this weekend. Love And Theft drove from Nashville to Minnesota to begin a weekend of touring, but Stephen wasn’t feeling well and went to visit a doctor. The prescription: seven days of vocal rest, forcing them to cancel a trio of shows.