Gone West's band name may be unfamiliar, but its members are anything but.
Two years ago, the four friends and longtime musical collaborators decided to embark on the next chapter of their careers together, combining their singer-songwriter talents to live out their dreams as a foursome.
The group's unique collaboration, along with the fact that they each take turns singing lead, are just parts of what make them so special. While their union may be new to the world, they're seasoned professionals with a close bond that you can literally feel when listening to their music. They sing from their hearts while telling stories of the heart, and they do it in a way that impacts your heart — all while bringing you that good ol' authentic country sound with a flare of pop.
Gone West has a way of making whatever feeling their evoking through their music almost tangible, and there's no better example of that than their recently released EP, Tides. While the project has only four songs, each track packs a mighty punch. Whether it be a story about finding love, celebrating a breakup, working through heartbreak, or just living in the moment with the one you love — all of which are themes of a track on their EP— their music has a way of lightening the air.
When I spoke to the group and asked them, "Who is Gone West?" they described themselves as "friends just running around the world, playing music." But I say, in addition to that, they're a group that sings about experiences we all go through — love, loss, and everything in between — and all you have to do is listen to their music (and read the following q&a) to know that they're going to be around for a long long time, so you might as well get on the Gone West train now because the only direction this band is going is up.
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Gone West — how'd you all come up with the name for the band?
Justin: It was a suggestion from Colbie's sister's friend group, I believe.
Colbie: Yeah. Because we're all from west of Tennessee, and my sister said, go west, and that's already an 80s band name and so we wanted it to be something west, and so we all instantly loved Gone West. We came up with it, and then [Justin] had the idea to make the song for it.
You all are individual singer/songwriters. What made you decide to form a band together?
Colbie: Well, it's really been a long process, like, Jason and I, we met in 2005, and we wrote my first album, Coco, together. So we've been working together ever since, and Justin joined my band for that tour, in 2007, and we started dating in 2009, so we've been together for like, nine years, now. And, in 2009, these two met, in Nashville in their first writing session, and eventually fell in love.
Nelly: Then we actually went on a tour together for Colbie's "Malibu Session Tour" and that's kind of what birthed the idea of us making this an actual band. We were on stage, singing four-part harmonies, acoustic driven, and we realized how much fun it could be to be on tour with your significant other and your best friends.
How'd y'all lock in your country pop sound? What was behind the decision to go that route, instead of just going straight country, or straight pop?
Jason: Well, I think because we made the music in Nashville, we had the songwriters that we've been working with, and the musicians on the sessions that made it a little bit more country and brought that Nashville sound to it. Like, especially the steel guitar — we love steel guitar — and so, we've been putting that on as many songs as we can, but really I think we've been writing the songs the same way we've always written them, it's acoustic-based and we're just trying to tell stories and things that we're going through.
How is it working with your significant other, all the time?
Colbie: Well, we've all always done it.
Nelly: That's the only way we've been doing it. The last ten years, Jason and I have been writing together and performing together and same for these guys. So, it's like, we don't know any other way, really.
Colbie: Yeah. I think for us, like, I like that I get to travel with my person forever, and see the world and play music, and write, it's just fun and I know a lot of other people might need breaks, and I think breaks can be nice for people too, but it's really fun to get to share every part of life, together.
Now, let's talk Tides. Tell me about your EP. What's the story behind the project? How'd you all lock-in those four songs?
Nelly: We wanted to show different flavors of what's to come on the album, and so that's why we were really strategic about making sure "This Time," which is that organic, lyric driven song, that really, I think, was one of the first songs that got us super excited to be a band together, so we knew we wanted that one.
Jason: And then "Confetti," we wanted to have some fun on there. Do a fun breakup song, to kind of make it lighter. I think "Gone West" is our theme song, and our autobiography, so that was an easy choice, 'cause we wanted to explain who we were in a song. And then for "Home is Where the Heartbreak is" we wanted to have a sad song on there too.
Colbie: I mean, we named the album Tides, because of the highs and lows that we all go through in life and love, and the ups and downs, and we all went through a lot of that, the last year or so, in writing, while we were writing these songs, and so we thought that that would just be a nice message for people to know that we're all going through the same things.
I know you all are seasoned professionals, but you are technically a new band, so, what has that been like, reintroducing yourselves to the world as a group, and being somewhat new artists?
Colbie: It's been fun. We all have different things that we do, that we help out, that we add. Like Jason, he does our artwork, and there's lots of little things that we all like to do. We're all very heavily involved in the production, in obviously, the songwriting in the way that the tour is, in the artwork and in every part. Like, we just designed all of our merch. Like, everything involved with it. We all have a vision of what we want to be represented as, and you know, all four of our styles coming together, so , I think it's just been fun getting to create that together, and now, like we just played our first show here in New York, a couple of nights ago, and it was just amazing having fans come out, and know the songs. So, we're excited that the record's almost done, and we can get out there and start playing shows.
Justin: I think in a way, it's kind of cool, 'cause we have the experience and sort of wisdom, that we didn't have at the beginning of our careers, individually, but because it's so new and exciting, it feels like we have youthful enthusiasm, but with sort of the history and the knowledge that we've been through all these things before.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Photos: Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio