New Artist Spotlight: Rising Stars Due West Are In Perfect Harmony
By: Chuck Dauphin
Ok, first of all, I must admit that I am just a little bit biased in the words I write here. Back in March 2009, I was working at a radio station in Tennessee, when this group came by on their radio tour. Their debut single, “I Get That All The Time,” had just been released, and before they made it out of the city limits…..they had an add! Other stations followed, as the song became the highest-charting independent Country single of the year. I knew then, after hearing the magical harmonies of Due West---that they were something special!
Well, two years have passed. And, they still are something that is very special. The trio of Matt Lopez, Brad Hull, and Tim Gates seem to make fans everywhere they go. Their music and personalities are infectious, and thankfully, the word is spreading about their incredible talent.
Lopez admits to feeling a vibe this past March at the Country Radio Seminar. It seemed that many felt the group knocked it out of the ballpark with their performance (along with Sarah Darling) at the Black River Entertainment showcase held prior to the CRS New Faces Show. “We feel the energy,” he said. “There’s a really good vibe here this year. We’re excited to be on Black River Entertainment. It’s a great family, and they’re building a great team over there.”
Of the performance, Lopez said that “It was a great opportunity for us to get in front of some radio folks and see us as a full band. We get to go out there and visit with them acoustically, driving around from station to station with just a couple of acoustic guitars. Obviously, for financial reasons, it’s not easy to take a full band out on the road, and play for everybody. So, we took advantage of this opportunity. They’re all here, you know…and it’s a captive audience,” he said slyly. “They’re waiting to go in for NEW FACES, and we’re doing a thirty-minute show, and hopefully let them see us as they never have before.”
Make no mistake about it, they are grateful for the support they have had thus far at Country Radio. I’m not the only one who has found their harmonies to be unbeatable. Hull said the radio tour worked well. “We’ve had such a great time getting out there to radio, meeting people, and singing for them,” he said. “We have had a tremendous amount of support from radio, and a great reaction. We feel that’s one of our strong suits is singing live for people, and making fans a few at a time.”
The trio has just released their long-awaited EP for Black River, FORGET THE MILES, and the critics have been abuzz. The new single is the traditional-oriented “When The Smoke Clears.” Gates admits that releasing such a song is a gamble, but all three of the members believe in the song that much. “I think it is a risk,” he admits. “It’s definitely a bold statement, but we believe in the song, and if it’s about the song, the message, and the music, the song’s going to do well. We’ve just got to hope and pray that at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. We feel like if enough folks hear it, they’re going to love it. We shot a video with Roman White, and we think the video will help, as well. It turned out well, so hopefully with the support of GAC, CMT, and The Country Network, people will see that, and that should help.” It looks that things are headed in that direction, as the video is already in the Top-20 on GAC.
Lopez seconds that emotion, adding that “If we can get the same reaction that we get live from the record, we’ll have a hit.”
FORGET THE MILES is packed with songs that showcase not just the harmonies and musicianship of Due West, but also the fact that they can write…and pick great songs from which to record. One such song that has made an impact on their fellow artists is the rollicking “22 Hours A Day,” which details all the things an artist has to do so they can enjoy those two hours on stage. You might think that some of the lines are comical, and while they do make you laugh, the type of things heard in the song do happen, as they have heard about.
“Artists will come up to us and say ‘We really get that song, We’ve lived that for sure,” says Lopez. “But, I think that everybody can relate to it. We had a guy come up to us and say ‘I’ve never been in the music business or travelled on the road, but it’s the same for me….You work, work, work, for the weekends, basically. Those two hours can also be two days.”
Another song that fans are enjoying is “Try Living In A Small Town.” Lopez tells Roughstock how the song came to be heard. “Our producer, Jason Deere, who is a good friend of ours, wrote that song. I remember he let us hear it for the first time in the car. He played the chorus for us, and turned it off. We sang the chorus right back to him in the car. We thought ‘That’s a cool song, we should cut that.”
Hull knew that each of the guys knew exactly what the song was saying without an explanation. “We all grew up in small towns and we know what that’s like. We know about the gossiping and the whispering, so we got it.”
The ingredients are all just about in place. They have had success at secondary radio, and broken through on some monitored stations. Once the large markets catch on to Due West, the sky is the limit. The band is very much aware of this, saying that “The major markets are our next big hurdle, and if we can get over that---the Good Lord willing, we can take our music to the masses.”
If there is any justice, that will be the case! For all things Due West, go to website to see when you can catch them live in your area and much more!