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Love and Theft - Profile

By

angel eyes single cover

''Angel Eyes'' single

Image courtesy of RCA Nashville Records

Formed:

2006, in Nashville, Tennessee

Members:

  • Stephen Barker Liles (vocals and guitar) - born 1984
  • Eric Gunderson (vocals and guitar) - born 1984
  • Former member: Brian Bandas (vocals and guitar) - born 1984

One Band, Three Voices:

Stephen Liles, Eric Gunderson, and Brian Bandas met in Nashville, Tennessee. They formed Love and Theft in 2006, with all three members sharing duties as lead vocalists. The group's sound was inspired by the church music they sung as young men.

In 2009, Love and Theft broke into the big time when they inked a record contract with Carolwood Records.

Inspired by Bob Dylan:

It's not an accident that the group's name is identical to Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft", his lauded album from 2001.

"We couldn't figure out a name so Brian came up with the idea," Stephen Liles said in an interview with The Boot. "He was going through some discographies, and he threw that out there and we were like, 'That's it!' That was way better than some of the other names we had ... which were the Vinyl Sons and the 84s."

"Runaway" Single and Debut Album:

In March 2009, Love and Theft released their single "Runaway," which topped out at #10 on the country singles chart.

The song may have earned listeners, but it didn't earn the band any fans among reviewers. Juli Thanki of Engine 145 called it "your average Rascal Flatts song with the nonthreatening cuteness of the Jonas Brothers."

The tune was the lead-off song from the group's debut album World Wide Open. The record was a modest success, but the fledgling group still lost their contract when their label folded in 2010.

Brian Bandas Quits Love and Theft:

In 2011, Brian Bandas left Love and Theft; the trio effectively became a duo. Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson could have called it quits too, or add a new member, but decided to keep going. The same year, the remaining members signed a new record deal with RCA Nashville and recorded a self-titled album for a 2012 release.

Writing and Recording "Angel Eyes":

The group's second album includes the single "Angel Eyes," which was released in Fall of 2011. The song's slow and steady performance on the country charts was a good harbinger of the band's future. The fun tune is about falling in love with a wild woman. "She likes whiskey with her water / She starts dancing when the stars come out / She ain't your typical preacher's daughter / She'll leave you dreamin, yeah there ain't no doubt."

The song's co-writer, Eric Paslay, said the title was the key to the whole song. "We stumbled upon 'little bit of devil in her angel eyes,'" Paslay told Taste of Country in 2011. "We thought, 'That's pretty cool!' Then we got the melody rockin' on it."

Songs for Other Artists:

Stephen Liles co-wrote "Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong," which Martina McBride recorded for 2009's Shine. The singer also provided Taylor Swift with inspiration (and a title!) for her song "Hey Stephen," from 2008's Fearless.

On Their Sound:

"We sound like brothers when we sing," Eric Gunderson said in a statement on the group's official website. "Stephen and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for the band, and we feel like we have made the record we’ve always wanted to make."

Discography

  • World Wide Open (2009, Carolwood Records)
  • Love and Theft (2012, RCA Nashville)
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