Eli Young Band Discuss New Music, Finding Their Beach Song with ‘Saltwater Gospel’

The band have called their upcoming record a "statement album" and Jones explains it's because they're getting back to their core sound after experimenting on previous releases.

Written by Annie Reuter
Eli Young Band Discuss New Music, Finding Their Beach Song with ‘Saltwater Gospel’
Eli Young Band; Photo by Joseph Llanes

Eli Young Band have wanted to record a beach song for years, but nothing spoke to them until they heard “Saltwater Gospel.” Written by Ross Copperman, Ashley Gorley and Nicolle Galyon, “Saltwater Gospel” is an uplifting ballad that discusses how for some, the power of a day at the beach reflecting on life is as fulfilling as a morning spent in church. At a recent tour stop at Nashville’s Exit/In, Eli Young Band discussed their new single and their forthcoming album with Sounds Like Nashville.

Hard at work on their sixth studio album, which Ross Copperman (Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley) is producing, Jon Jones explains that as the quartet were picking songs for their upcoming release and whittling down the possible song choices Copperman sent along “Saltwater Gospel.”

“It was one of those songs that right away all four of us agreed on,” Jones shares, explaining that it’s rare the band will come across a song that each person is equally passionate about. “This is one of those where right away everyone was like, ‘This is perfect. We love it.'”

While the Texas natives have always wanted a beach type theme song, they never wanted a predictable beach anthem. Eli Young Band pride themselves on songs like “Drunk Last Night” and “Crazy Girl” which are slightly different than the run-of-the-mill drinking and love songs.

“They’re not your typical song and that’s what we loved about this. It’s a beach song but it’s not exactly about going and partying on a beach. It’s about the lifestyle and feeling you get being around the ocean. That’s what really drew us to it,” he adds.

The band says they’ve seen a reaction to “Saltwater Gospel” that only rivals their previous No. 1 single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” Drummer Chris Thompson says EYB have enjoyed seeing the response to the song on social media where fans often take pictures of being at the beach and quote the song’s lyrics in their captions.

Eli Young Band hope this is only the beginning of the passion fans have for their new music. Currently putting the final touches on their yet-to-be-named upcoming project, frontman Mike Eli says the album recalls earlier releases Jet Black & Jealous and Life At Best.

“There were some moments and some things that we went back to that we hadn’t done in a while since that record,” he explains. “We’ve written some really cool, fun songs for this album that not only I think the fans that have been with us for a long time [are] going to love, but I think they will be really great for the show. The ones that we do play in the live show already really put a new energy into it and that’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

Eli cites their guitar-driven Nashville show opener “Fingerprints” as being “a ton of fun to play” while another track called “Old Song” is a waltz that pays homage to memories of the songs we all grew up loving. Meanwhile, Eli co-wrote a ballad called “Skin and Bones” with Lori McKenna (“Humble and Kind,” “Girl Crush”) and Phil Barton (“A Woman Like You,” “Can’t Stop Loving You”) which he says is one of his personal favorites on the album.

“That was a really, really fun song to write. Every now and again you write one that makes you feel like you’re doing it right and that’s one of them,” Eli says. “That came straight from Lori McKenna, the ‘Skin and Bones’ title and I fell in love with it and said, ‘I want to write that’ and we turned it into a love song. It’s that whole idea of she’s in every piece of you and you don’t know what you’d do without her. That idea came from Lori McKenna and thank God she came up with it.”

The band have called their upcoming record a “statement album” and Jones explains it’s because they’re getting back to their core sound after experimenting on previous releases. In fact, it’s this experimentation that have EYB more comfortable in the studio.

“This was the easiest record to make mostly because we didn’t over think it,” Jones admits. “I think we’ve come to a point as a band and with our fans that we’re really comfortable in our own skin and know who we are and know there’s a reason why we started making the kind of music that we make in the first place and that there’s no reason not to trust our instincts there. I think that’s the statement. We’ve grown into our body.”

Eli Young Band have come a long way since first forming in college. So what do the guys wish they could have told themselves 15 years while rehearsing in their garage?

“Every time we put a single out it’s the old adage, it’s a marathon, not a sprint as far as the song going up the charts. I think 15 years ago, that’s the best advice you could have given us,” Jones says. “Enjoy the ride because it’s a marathon. Don’t worry, you’re still going to be around 15 years from now and you’re still going to be having a blast. Things are going to go really well but there are going to be some ups and downs but hold on, it is a marathon. We’re lucky to be marathon runners because there are a lot of sprinters in this industry.”

Eli Young Band’s “Saltwater Gospel” is out now.