Old Dominion's Matthew Ramsey Says Their New Self-Titled Album Is a Reflection of the Band's 'Confidence'
"It felt kind of inappropriate to name it anything other than Old Dominion because of how confident we were in the music," Matthew Ramsey tells PEOPLE
With more than 12 years as a band and three full-length studio albums now under their belt, Old Dominion is feeling more confident than ever.
On Friday, the band — consisting of members Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Geoff Sprung, Brad Tursi and Whit Sellers — released their new self-titled album, which lead singer Ramsey says is a great reflection of this phase of their career.
“We certainly had a long list of album titles that could work, and we even had another one picked out at one point,” Ramsey, 42, tells PEOPLE. “Then, as we were getting close to finishing the album, it felt kind of inappropriate to name it anything other than Old Dominion because of how confident we were in the music that we had made and how comfortable we were with our place in music in general and with each other. It just seemed right to make it Old Dominion … it’s that confidence we had.”
Indeed, Ramsey and the band’s confidence is far from unwarranted. Their song “One Man Band” — which was released as the second single off the album in June — spent weeks on the top 10 of Billboard’s U.S. Country Airplay chart and quickly become a fan-favorite.
“The crowd response to that song is ultimately what made us pick it as a single,” Ramsey says. “Before it was even a single, people were singing that song louder than songs that already had been hits for us. We thought we made a good album, but you never really know. And then when you get the reaction like that, it gives you more confidence.”
Ramsey says the idea for “One Man Band” first came about right before he was about to perform a show with his bandmates.
“I got the idea on the bus one night when I heard somebody say ‘one man band,'” he says. “I thought, ‘That’s a cool title.’ I told Brad, like, ‘Hey, we should write ‘One Man Band.’ And he was like, ‘What do you mean?’ So I said, ‘Like a love song … I don’t want to be a one man band, I don’t want to be alone.’ We were supposed to be walking onto the stage — our intro music was playing and everything — but we were just huddled around our phones singing ‘I don’t want to be a one man band’ onto our phones so that we wouldn’t forget it by the time that we were done playing the show.”
That method of off-the-cuff writing is present all throughout the new album, as Ramsey says they would often book recording sessions for it spontaneously.
“The very first session that we had was a spontaneous session where we had no songs planned to record,” he says. “So we made the decision to go in and see if we could write a song and record it in the same day. The first song we wrote and recorded was ‘Make It Sweet.’ So then the next day we did the same thing again [and created] ‘Hear You Now.‘”
“That sort of set the tone of us as a band in a room together, making music together rather than just making some cool recordings,” he continues. “It really gave us a confidence that we carried into the rest of the sessions — how we were going to play and how we were going to choose the songs that we wanted to put out.”
Also featured on the record are tracks “Never Be Sorry,” “My Heart Is a Bar,” “Midnight Mess Around,” “Do It with Me,” “I’ll Roll,” “American Style,” “Paint the Grass Green” and “Some People Do,” which Ramsey says drew influence from all different genres of music.
“We have plenty of rock and hip-hop and R&B and pop and country influences, and I think that kind of comes through in this album,” he says. “I think the songwriting is inherently country, we still want to tell story, but as far as the instrumentation goes, it’s all over the map.”
As to his favorite song on the album, Ramsey says it’s currently “My Heart Is a Bar.”
“It changes daily, but ‘My Heart Is a Bar’ is definitely up there for me as far as the production, band and the lyrics,” he says. “It’s the whole package.”
And as to the most talked-about song from the album amongst the band, Ramsey says it’s their ballad, “Some People Do.”
“It’s different than anything we’ve ever done and it is very raw — we’re not known for that,” he says with a laugh. “So it was a little bit of a debate on whether or not we should put ourselves out there like that and ultimately decided to.”
“I’m happy we did because last [week] we played it and a woman came up to me afterwards and told me her story — how her husband had passed away and he was an alcoholic and how much that song meant to her,” he adds. “As heavy as that is, it’s very rewarding to know that the decision to put yourself out there ultimately can help other people.”
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The band is currently busy on their arena tour through May 2020, a run which Ramsey admits has been “pretty grueling” and has kept him from spending much time at home with his wife, Sara Dudley, and their two daughters.
“With the crew members and everything, we have like 16 people crammed on one bus over here,” he says. “So bringing the families is not quite an option yet. There’s a lot of FaceTime, and I’m going to bed when they’re getting up. We just try to take in as much as we can and look forward to seeing them when we get back.”
When Old Dominion’s tour wraps, they’ll join Kenny Chesney on his for another stadium run.
“This’ll be our fourth time touring with Kenny and that crew,” Ramsey says. “So, at this point, it’s just comforting to be able to step back onto that stage. We know what it’s like, we know those fans too and we know that whole crew and they’re our family. It’s going to be great to be back there.”
Through it all, Ramsey says he couldn’t be happier to have reached this phase of his career with his bandmates.
“Sometimes you forget how long you’ve been doing this and then sometimes it feels like you’ve been doing it for your entire life,” he says. “It’s those moments where you step off the bus in the morning and you see your whole team working hard to make sure you succeed. And then you look at the size of the building that you’re about to go play and just remember playing those little clubs for 10 or 15 people not that long ago. It’s a rewarding feeling to look out and think about how much we’ve grown.”