Love and Theft is a country duo that’s remained true to their mission, making a name for themselves with their infectious harmonies and energetic presence on-stage. Both vocalists, Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, are equally notable as lead singers, a fact that the duo makes a conscious effort to maintain, particularly in working on their new album with producer Josh Leo (Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band).
“A lot of duos say they’re duos, but there’s only one guy really singing: the lead,” Stephen tells CountryMusicIsLove. “So one of the things was, let’s really go out of our way to make this record stand out to where we’re both singing lead. That’s one of the things we really wanted to do, and we did that for this album, and we’re excited about that.”
It’s not just their own songs that highlight the duo’s harmonies: they came up as a live band, and every once in a while they’ll integrate covers into their sets. Songs from harmony-driven bands like The Eagles and sing-along friendly tracks like Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark” are most common, but they’ll make any favorite song their own.
“We just enjoy playing live so much,” says Stephen. “We do Folsom Prison Blues — We love Johnny Cash. We don’t know many covers, but when we try a cover we try and make them our own. We have to turn them into harmony songs. ‘Fishin’ in the Dark,’ actually, has it’s kind of become our own thing.”
It may be their feel-good vibe on the stage that has resonated most with fans,and that’s never more evident than in their recent music video for “Night That You’ll Never Forget.” The project gave everyone a chance to be a part of the video thanks to fan-submitted content to put with the song.
“Well, the inspiration kind of came from The Chive,” he laughs. “They have this thing similar, to where people post all of their drunk crazy nights, with their friends passed out… beer cans everywhere, that kinda vibe.”
But it’s not just a party-time scene that the band’s looking for: whether it’s concert photos, life memories or just a selfie, they were inspired by all the ways we document big moments.
“I take a lot of selfies on stage–if I’m on stage and people are taking pictures, I’ll grab the phone from them and turn around and take a selfie,” says Stephen. “We have a lot of those that have been posted already, so we thought it’d be fun for people to submit pictures from nights that they’ll never forget, selfie-style.”
Love and Theft doesn’t just communicate with their fans via music videos, though. They love meeting the people who love their music. In fact, it’s earned them a few lifelong friends: back when they first toured with Taylor Swift as an opening act, Barker Liles and Gunderson met one of their closest friends in the audience.
“We were in Detroit, and there was a guy in the front row,” says Stephen, noting that most of the crowd was there for Taylor. “Nice looking guy with his pretty little girlfriend, and he’s singing every word to our songs. And I was like, how does this guy know all these songs? Because I didn’t know him, we didn’t know him.”
Barker Liles sent his brother out into the crowd to grab the fan so they could introduce themselves.
“Long story short, he’s one of my best friends in the world now,” says Stephen. “They’re coming to my wedding, we do all of our vacations together. And that’s what it’s all about for me. You never know where you’re gonna meet a friend for life. Just the fact that a lot of people aren’t willing to go meet somebody like that, but that’s one of my favorite parts.”
Check out the lyric video below…