Today’s Feature – August 25-26: Lonestar

August 26, 2008 at 9:54 am (Today's Feature)

What else is there I can possibly say about country super-group Lonestar? I don’t aim to be cliche, but these guys have seen just about everything, gone through everything (good and bad), and always seem to come out on top. Just look at their history of accomplishments, since their first hit “Tequila Talkin” all the way back in 1995:

1) 27 Singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Charts

2) Nine #1 hits (including Amazed, their crossover hit)

3) Eight studio albums, with 3 certified gold and 3 certified platinum (or higher)

However, a lot of this history was made with Richie McDonald, the group’s former lead singer who departed in November 2007, as well as with their former record label, which the group also parted with last year. A dozen years of success however is something no one can deny, as guitarist Michael Britt, drummer aKeech Rainwater and keyboardist Dean Sams decided there was still plenty of music to be made. And they were right.

After an exhaustive search, the three band mates came across Cody Collins – and in him they saw the future. The new lead singer brought a whole new life to the band, and under their new label, Lonestar Records, they have released the aptly named, “The Future.” The record reflects a new enthusiasm the guys have been looking for, something no doubt that stems from the new label – and the new frontman. It borrows from the old Lonestar style that has garnered world-wide respect while adding a proper blend of new spices to attract new audiences while maintaining the fan base that has made this band a hit maker for so long. Check out the new album and their single “Let Me Love You” as soon as you can. And peek at their schedule and get to a live show. Dive into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Lonestar

PensEyeView.com (Richie): Great to talk with you. Where’d I catch you now?

Michael: We are in Hammonds, Indiana right now doing a show here tonight.

Richie: How is life on the road for you?

Michael: It’s been great. We’ve had some great shows. I don’t know, it’s awesome. We just can’t wait to go on stage.

Richie: Is there a certain city you find to be the best for Lonestar?

Michael: I used to think I did but now it is just so random. We could be somewhere in Iowa and it could be the best show or in some big city… You just never know with every night.

Richie: When you’re on stage now and you see fans singing your songs back to you. Do you remember the first concert that you went to?

Michael: I went to concerts pretty young. My parents took me when I was real young. Sometimes before our show we’ll watch DVDs of other shows to get us ready. We’ve seen shows that we still talk about and that’s what we try to do.

Richie: What can fans expect from a live Lonestar performance?

Michael: Well, with Cody singing lead now, it’s a different animal. The energy he has just brings up the level. Even songs that seemed more mellow, he takes it on. We’ve done a lot of new things now too and just the way Cody sings really adds to our shows.

Richie: Obviously the result with Cody has worked out great for the band. What was the process like for getting him into the role of lead singer for Lonestar?

Michael: When we went looking for a new singer we all just kind of got together and threw out some possible names. We’d seen him [Cody] in a club a bunch of times in Atlanta, Georgia – a real popular club. Cody’s used to being on a stage with a big crowd. We started listening to his shows and songs off his MySpace page and we liked his voice better than any other we’ve heard. We brought him down to audition with us and we “forced” him like four songs to learn. So, we brought him up, met us all, sang the four songs and it was great. He was prepared, he knew the songs, and he injected his own style and personality into it, without changing the song. Then we started recording new songs and it’s been great ever since.

Richie: Over the years Lonestar has been kind of like the “ambassadors” for so many different kinds of charities and really getting the word out there. How did this all begin?

Michael: We’ve seen so many places like St. Jude’s and all the great things they are doing there. And all we had to do was just mention it or say something about it. That is just a small price to pay to help people out. Then we did some shows at military bases and after meeting the soldiers it really becomes meaningful to you. I don’t think it was a motivation from the beginning but we were aware of it and now it is something we really want to do right now.

Richie: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

Michael: With the new album, with Cody, we go to this attached studio behind his house – it’s pretty small but nice. We go there and just sit around and write and see whatever comes up. It just feels like a really creative environment.

Richie: With the new album, “The Future” what can fans expect?

Michael: We want to push the boundaries. We want to put out music that sounds like Lonestar but with Cody’s touch. This is more guitar oriented, more rock. More of like a live show style.

Richie: How is this different than other country music out today?

Michael: I don’t know. I think Country music gets a bad rap for being so modernized, which I kind of agree with. There are a lot of producers in Nashville that everyone’s albums start to sound very similar. We tried not to do that. We produced it ourselves. We wanted to continue to use what we have. Stylistically I think we have something good in Cody, he’s got his own style, unlike no body else. With playing covers for so long, he’s learned to really use his voice in different ways. We want Cody to be Cody and I think he does. I think this sounds like a new Lonestar. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Richie: Is there one person or one group you would like to collaborate with, that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Michael: Obviously we were really bummed with Sara Evans did her Crossroads with Maroon 5. I think it’s kind of weird to say it but before every show we listen to the Maroon 5 album. The production on that album is just so crisp and has this energy and vibe to it. We don’t want to sound like them but we like their vibe. I think there are a lot of artists we look up to and would like to collaborate with but I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

Richie: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Lonestar?

Michael: I don’t think there’s anything too surprising about us (laughs). We’ve been doing this for so long that everyone already knows us so well…

Richie: Well, let me rephrase that, when you are at home and you get some down time, what do you like to do?

Michael: I like to do stuff around the house. I play with my kids. I’ve been building my daughter a bed. She just turned three so she’s getting ready for a “big girl” bed. I bought a bunch of tools over the Christmas holiday and I wanted to use them. I think in a lot of ways, we are a bunch of handymen and try to do stuff like that. Dave built his own house, did a lot of the work himself. We like to be jacks-of-all-trades.

Richie: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Michael: You know, they’re proud of us and very you know, they defend us really well. When they hear the songs on the radio and the songs don’t go the way they are supposed to go (like getting played as much), they are invested in sometimes more than us. They are a part of our success. They’ve put stock in us over the years.

Richie: One funny thing is that my wedding song was actually “Amazed” and I know a tons more other people as well. Are you surprised it’s been so popular for weddings?

Michael: I am surprised. I mean, it’s gotten so much airplay and use. Just listening to the song, you can tell why it would be a good wedding song. You can go anywhere and if you mention wedding songs, that is usually the one. It’s funny because my wife and I went down to Jamaica for vacation and there were some honeymooners down there. We were talking to this one couple on this boat we were on and they were saying Amazed was their wedding song… It was quite bizarre. There’s something magical about that song – the structure the key changes.

Richie: So, what’s next for Lonestar?

Michael: Just finishing up the album. I’m going in and putting some more guitar parts in and then our engineer and co-producer is going to put it out. We want to play shows and make music. That’s our main focus.

Richie: Well, thanks for taking the time out with me today.

Michael: No problem, thank you. I appreciate it.

For more information on Lonestar, check out www.LonestarNow.com

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