With the new release of Old Dominion’s sophomore effort Happy Endings — the follow-up to their smash hit debut album Meat and Candy — there is perhaps no more telling sign of how far they’ve come than their current comfort level while out on the road.
“We used to travel the country all crammed in a van,” frontman Matt Ramsey tells PEOPLE, thinking back to the release of their first album. “Now it hits us a lot these days because we’re actually traveling in two tour buses and we have a tractor trailer. You wake up in the morning and see this team of people with your logo on the back of their shirt and they’re all running around working their butts off for you with a smile on their face because they all want it to succeed too.”
But along with the perks of success comes the pressure, and Ramsey, 39, admits that despite debuting atop Billboard’s country album chart, the band is feeling it.
“There definitely is more pressure,” he says. “The first album you kind of expect it to not work a little bit. You’re like, ‘Eh, nobody is going to care about this.’ And then it does work and you’re like, ‘Oh wow, cool, that worked! Crap, we have to do that again.’”
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Though they’re doing it with a different approach this time.
“With Meat and Candy, I felt like we made a really good romantic comedy, which have their place,” says Ramsey. “But I think as songwriters and as musicians and as a band, we are capable of making something bigger and more meaningful. That’s what we set out to do. To show that we’re here to stay and we’re legitimately songwriters and musicians. We’re in it for the long haul and we’re not just a little rom-com, pick-up line band.”
If the lead single off Happy Endings, “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” is any indication, they’re well on their way to accomplishing that goal. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart ahead of the album’s release and Ramsey thinks the secret to their success just might be the band’s chemistry (they actually truly like each other) — and their willingness to embarrass themselves.
“We are five guys that go to bed laughing and wake up laughing,” he says. “We really just enjoy each other’s company, enjoy playing music together and enjoy writing music together. We’re pretty lucky.” And when it comes to songwriting, Ramsey reveals the key is they never hold back with each other.
“You have to be comfortable with saying the dumbest thing that comes to your mind because it might actually be brilliant,” he says. “With our first hit song, ‘Break Up with Him,’ that was a joke. We were just trying to make each other laugh. That was one that we just, it was 2 a.m. in the back of a van on the way to the next gig and I was whispering in my phone trying not to wake everybody else up with [bandmate] Trevor [Rosen] and we were just laughing back there, writing this song about telling a girl to break up with her boyfriend.”
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In fact, the guys have created an atmosphere where almost anything they say gets considered as a song.
“We have this joke song that we sing all the time that really has no lyrics. It’s called, ‘I’m Thinking About Drinking a Beer.’ We say it all the time anyway and that could actually be a song.”
If anybody could pull it off, they can. Stay tuned.
Old Dominion — which recently scored two CMA Award nominations — hit the road with Thomas Rhett later this month. See all tour dates here.