10 Questions with ... LoCash
November 1, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
As the LoCash Cowboys, the duo has enjoyed hits with songs such as "Keep In Mind" and "The Best Seat In The House," and have written hits that include the chart-topping "You Gonna Fly" for Keith Urban and "Truck Yeah" for Tim McGraw. They have built their brand through live performances, as well - with appearances on some of the most prestigious stages in the world - and have shared stages with acts ranging from Tim McGraw to KISS. Their music has received over ten million views on YouTube, and they are known as one of the hardest working acts in the music business today. But, the best is yet to come for the duo of Chris Lucas and Preston Brust - now simply known as LoCash. They have just recently inked a new deal with Reviver Records, released their latest EP on Friday, October 30th, and are now owners of their own brand of wine. The two have experienced change both personally and professionally in recent years, and their current single, "I Love This Life," reflects it all. The single is currently inside the Top 20 on the charts, and the EP is loaded with multi-faceted, radio-friendly hits in the making. Fun-loving guys, loaded with talent and heart, Preston and Chris sat down with All Access to talk about what has been and what will be - and how they plan to out-shake Luke Bryan in 2016.
1. Preston and Chris, thank you so much for taking time to sit down with us to talk about "I Love This Life," both the single and the EP. You guys are successful songwriters and have been a duo for ten years now. Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of your partnership and how LoCash came to be?
Preston: You know, when we moved to Nashville, that's what they said - that it takes ten years. Now here it is!
Chris: It's been a crazy ride. A roller coaster ride. You have your ups and downs - a lot more downs in this industry. We've been victims of a couple of bad deals, you know? And we sat for three years. So we had to rearrange the persona of us and change it from people saying, "Oh, well, they were just left on a bad deal. Sorry for them." But the cool thing about me and Preston is that our focus has always been the same, and perseverance - we just don't stop! We're not going away.
Preston: We never really had a real shot at radio. And I think that's the biggest thing that's happening right now. We finally have a genuine, real shot at radio. And that's what we wanted going in to this deal. So when we met with different labels looking for a new record deal, we told a couple of them, "Listen, this isn't the place for us, because we just feel like we're not going to get a real shot at radio." So, when Reviver Records came along, we knew right then and there. We were like, "This is it! This is our shot at radio!" And - let's be real -
Chris: And we went and looked at them. Really looked. We found out what this label is about - it's a new label, and kind of indie, so even radio people are still concerned about something like that because there are so many indies. But obviously we did our research.
Preston: And this staff is incredible. Incredible! From top to bottom, these guys are well-experienced, and they know what they're doing with these records, and they know when they have a hit record on their hands, and they know how to handle that. And that comforts us a lot, because over the course of all these years, we would bring songs to a label - our label at the time, you know - and they wouldn't know what to do with it. And that's a scary feeling, when you write the song, you record the song, you invest your life in to making it the single, and then the label doesn't know what to do with it. So, Reviver Records knows good and well exactly what to do with these records when we hand them to them. And that helps us sleep a little bit better at night.
Chris: And I think radio wants to believe in a label, too, not just in us. They want to know that if they put their heart in it and their job on the line to play our music, are we really going to come to us? If this goes top 10, are you going to bring something back? And absolutely we're going to bring it back! This label is 100% behind us. I think they're proving themselves as much as we are proving ourselves, and together, we are going to rule the world.
Preston: And all I can say is thank you. Because, that's 10 year. Thank God, and thank you, and thank radio. Because hopefully other people will hear this and feel good about it.
Chris: And just thinking back about everything in 10 years, I mean or just back a few years. Everything is different. We came out with "Here Comes Summer" in 2009, and it was the fastest song we had ever had in our lives when it went top 40.
Preston: Here's what I like to explain to people. We had our first single come out in 2009-2010 with "Here Comes Summer." And it got to 41 in 10 weeks, which was fast. It was like - Boom! You can't do that right now, hardly, unless you're already a star. So, it got to 41 in 10 weeks, and our label stopped. I just stopped right there. And we were like, "What happened?!" But it doesn't even matter what happened - the label folded and went away. So, they switched names of the label and come back again. And they tell us, "We're sorry about that first single, you guys were flying up the charts before everything halted." So, our second single, "Keep In Mind," goes to 31. It's about to go in to the top 30 where it will hit syndication and the countdown shows, things like that, everybody is talking about the song - and - the label shuts down and folds again. So, for the people who feel like we've had all these shots at radio, go back and look at the history. Our first one gets to 41 in 10 weeks, and the label folds. Our second one gets to 31, and they fold. So, here we are with a real shot, in the top 20.
Chris: I just say, don't let a deal that went bad hold any artist back. Because it's not the artist's fault. Listen to the music, listen to the song, and let the fans listen to the song. If the fans like it, they like it, and they're going to like "I Love This Life."
2. The single, "I Love This Life," continues to climb the charts and is having big impacts in the markets where it's being spun. When you wrote the song, did you know it was special and would be a single? Why did you select the song to be the first out of the gate at this newest phase of your career?
Chris: Our label. In fact, they wanted to sign us because of this record.
Preston: Yeah, it was this song. This very song that brought us all together. And this song was actually on hold, about to be cut by a major artist. And at the last second, we took it back and said, "You know, we're going to put this one out ourselves, because we believe in this team."
3. As songwriters who are also artists, how do you decide what material to pitch versus what to keep and record yourselves?
Chris: Sometimes, it's easy, and sometimes it's not. "I Love This Life" was not, but when they came to the table with, "Hey, we want to sign you, and we want to put this out on this date, and this is who is going to back it, and this is your team," I mean, it was a no-brainer at that point. We wanted to be artists, and we've been working so hard for it. And we really weren't even looking at the time. We were just sitting back and writing songs for everyone else. Now, sometimes, we write a song, and we'll write it, and there's only so much we can do to it. When you get an album, you want to have the big material - where every one is a hit - that's what we've always stood by, but four tracks, tops, are going to radio. So, you look at it, and you already have your four tops, but you're still writing hit songs and hit songs, and Urban comes around and says, "Hey man, I want to listen to some songs." That's a major deal! He changed our lives by cutting our first song! So, we still look at that, too, and we're blessed that we still can write for other artists. But, you know, the decision is - well, it usually unveils itself.
4. You're out on the road full-time with the "2015 I Love This Life Tour" sponsored by Kickers Audio. Are you playing new music for the fans in the shows, and if so, what has the reaction been so far to the new material?
Preston: I think we were writing all along, and we were playing the songs out live. So we sort of knew which songs were connecting with people already. I think that those songs began to set themselves apart from the others. We would try other songs that didn't quite connect maybe the way we wanted them to when we wrote them, and things like that. So, there are songs like, "Drunk Drunk." When we started singing that one live, it was immediate! I'll never forget the first night we sang it.
Chris: I'll never forget the first night we wrote it!
Preston: I don't remember the night we wrote it! I'll be honest! I just remember the first night we sang "Drunk Drunk," everybody just sort of innately raised their glasses and started moving in a big, arena kind of way. You could just feel the stadium feel in the feel of the song. I was like, "Whoa!" And I'll never forget going to Chris and being like, "There's something - " because we had two songs that had the word "Drunk" in it. We had a song called "Love Drunk," and we had "Drunk Drunk." And I was like, "Hands down, my vote is in. 'Drunk Drunk' just replaced 'Love Drunk!'"
Chris: And I still love "Love Drunk," too. But "Drunk Drunk" - he's right, man. I think it's just one of those songs for one of those times where people just want to get away. And they're just like, "Ah, man, you know what? I DO want to get drunk-drunk tonight!" And obviously, I don't think that's ever going to go to radio...
Preston: You never know! I'm not saying never...just never say never!
Chris: But that would be such a fun viral video to put out!
5. Speaking of recording for yourself, you guys have a brand new EP out! How long did it take to select and cut songs for this EP, and how would you describe the overall tone and message of the song selection?
Chris: This EP, man, I'm so excited for radio, especially, to see what's next with us. So, maybe there's people out there that aren't spinning the song yet that are so close to spinning it, because the research is phenomenal. We have friends in radio that believe in us and have since the beginning, through relationships with radio over the years that really truly love us. And they started playing it and helping us, and now the research really and truly is speaking for itself on "I Love This Life." But I really want radio and the fans that maybe don't know LoCash or do not know what we're about to see what's coming down the pike. Because these songs - "I Know Somebody" is written by three of the top songwriters in Nashville, not us! Ross Copperman, Rhett Akins, and Jeremy Stover - huge songwriters - and the song is just a hit! And then, there's "Shipwrecked," which Preston wrote, and it's the love song. It's the pull - it's so different, and it's a monster. There's "Till The Wheels Fall Off," and some others. I just can't wait for people to see it.
Preston: We have some new ones that you haven't heard that made the EP. And that's exciting. And it's funny that you asked that question about the songs - about knowing when one is right for you or for someone else. We have a song called "Till The Wheels Fall Off," and a year ago, I played it for Chris. We were already starting to listen to songs and started thinking songs for an EP. And at the time, he was like, "Nah." And then, all of the sudden, when you get five songs collected together and you need one more, and you look at the scheme and the journey of this EP, and you go, "Well, maybe there's something missing here." And then a song like "Till The Wheels Fall Off" or some other ones that we wrote become that pile of songs that you want to look through again. And so, that's when a song kind of sneaks back in to the pile - because you need that edge that you're missing in this compilation. So, we've got the fun in "Drunk Drunk," and the serious "Shipwrecked," and the feel-good "I Love This Life." And you've got the attitude of "Ain't Startin' Tonight," but where is "Till The Wheels Fall Off" with that organic, earthy...
Chris: Very earthy, very honest, very Country.
Preston: It sounds like a Tim McGraw hit to me. It'll always feel like something McGraw or Chesney could cut right now.
Chris: Very like a "Just To See You Smile" type cut. One of my favorites. And I remember when he first played it for me and saying no to it. It's not that I didn't like it - or because I didn't write it, HAHA -- I wasn't ready at the time.
Preston: We want this to say something about us, front to back. And that's the thing! Does it answer an edge of us? Does it show a part of our heart? And I think this EP is a window in to who we are right now.
Chris: It definitely shows where we're at in our lives.
Preston: And we've grown a lot. We've changed a lot. We're both married now. Things like that really evolve your songwriting.
6. Speaking of evolving, this year has been a big one for the two of you, both professionally and personally. You've dropped the "Cowboys" from your name, and added a wife to Preston! How has all of that changed what you're saying with your music, if at all?
Chris: It's not really a changing of the songs. We've always been LoCash, and we're always the party guys, too, at the same time. And we're cool with that! But there's a lot more meat and potatoes - I say this a lot, because it's like a Nashville terminology - there's a lot more meat and potatoes behind LoCash that a lot of people have never seen. Even though we've been writing it and singing it. We have a song called "Best Seat In The House," and that's one of my favorite songs we've ever written!
Preston: It's cool when we go to radio on the "I Love This Life" radio tour, because PDs who really have dug a little deeper than the surface, they know about "Best Seat In The House." And they know the depth of that song, and what it meant to us, and meant to them, and to the listeners. And even though, that song might not have been a #1 song for us on the radio, when we go on the "I Love This Life" radio tour, they request to hear that song.
Chris: That brought us respect. A big respect. And I think with the marriage - and I have a kid - I think we're just happy. We have established ourselves. We're happy with our music, we're happy with our label, we're happy with our family lives. We're happy to see our radio friends seeing the success happen for us, too!
Preston: We really appreciate people having our back! We haven't had this kind of comradery for years. So we're enjoying the moment; it feels great.
Chris: And we've always wanted to share that feeling! I feel that, honestly - that people who believed in us from the beginning are sharing in that feeling that we have right now.
7. Over 100 dates per year on the road is no small task, and having personally seen your show, I know you pack in the crowd and keep the entertainment dialed up to eleven throughout the whole show. You've toured with everyone from Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line to KISS and ZZ Top. What have you taken from each of the artists you've toured with to continue to raise the bar on your own shows?
Preston: I love to just watch everybody. I just - we just did a show with Sam Hunt the other night.
Chris: Very impressed!
Preston: Just watching the phenomenon with him. It's awesome! Just watching the way he puts his set together, and things like that. We have our own way of doing things, which is the LoCash way, and we love what we do. But I think it's healthy, and I think it's fresh to stay in that kind of like - like being a tape room. Just watching what everybody else is doing. Because it's just interesting to see how his songs are connecting to people; it's incredible.
Chris: Every word. Every word! They're singing every word!
Preston: That's what blew my mind.
Chris: Yeah, blew my mind. Singing every word. To songs that aren't on the radio. I've never heard the song in my life, and the only reason I know it is because I have his album. And they knew every word to every song on that album. And I do feel like, to come back to the EP, that we have that feeling.
Preston: It's exciting to see our buddies succeeding, as well. I was writing with Sam back in the day, before he ever had his first hit. And I could see the focus then. And same with Chase Rice - he knew what he wanted to write, knew what he wanted to say, and had a specific way he wanted it to come out in those songs. And I applaud that. That's a laser-focus.
Chris: And it's a learning curve. You want to always be yourself, but always be learning. And that's us! Even playing baseball and football, I watched other guys on other teams like, "Hmm. What are they doing that I can do to be better?" And there's nothing wrong with that - to study each other. Don't copy! Don't copy! But there's nothing wrong with learning from each other!
8. Earlier, you mentioned the song on the EP, "Shipwrecked," that Preston wrote. You guys also debuted your own signature line of wine, "Shipwrecked," this year. How does that business venture play in to your LoCash brand, and what other ventures are you guys looking toward in the future?
Chris: First of all, that song is a smash.
Preston: And that wine will get you Shipwrecked! I want a shirt that says, "Get Shiprecked!" But, I think we're always stretching ourselves. I think we're always looking for ways that we can be better businessmen, smarter businessmen, and opportunistic. We were talking to a guy who owns a winery...
Chris: And we definitely are winos, by the way!
Preston: And we love wine, and we asked, "What does it feel like to own your own wine?" And he said, "You know what? You want to find out?" And we said, "Actually, that would be awesome!"
Chris: I mean, sure!
Preston: It's one of those moments that just kind of happens to someone else - except this time it actually happened to us! And now we have a wine!
Chris: Look, we get a lot of empty promises. But this guy went through with it. John Ozor is his name, and he's a great person. He believes in us. He's kind of like our marketing guy on our team right now, and we have a great wine, man! There's other things to be addicted to, but wine's not bad!
Preston: The whole partnership is so cool. We got to design the label, and that was a blast.
Chris: I'm getting a Shipwrecked tattoo on my arm.
Preston: Labels on wine are what used to make me want to buy a wine! So, when you're there designing your own - what's really cool on the Shipwrecked label, it looks like an island on the front.
Chris: You're the only one who's going to know this!
Preston: It looks like an island on the front. I should have brought a bottle! But it's actually the county of Davidson County [where Nashville is located].
Chris: I kind of looks like Australia.
Preston: And if you look real close - it looks like a map - but if you look closer, there's four coordinates real lightly printed in there. One is Chris' hometown, one is the coordinates from my hometown, one is John's - our partner's - hometown, and the other is the winery's front door. So it's kind of cool to see that, because it looks like an old treasure map. It's really cool. And the back of it, when we wrote that piece, it was really special. We talked about how the flavors of a wine and putting those together perfectly sort of relates to songwriting and the way you're trying to find those melodies and those notes and lyrics and mix them together perfectly. So, we kind of hit it off with Mike, our wine maker. And he loves that about us - how seriously we take songwriting - and we love that about Mike.
Chris: We took about a two hour conversation in the back of the bus about which grapes, and why, and what do we like. What taste do we like, and what do we not like. It was intricate, but it was fun, too, at the same time! It's something fresh for us, and it's also pushing a great song.
Preston: And when the cork pops out, there's a surprise! You can buy it at www.ShipwreckedWines.com, and we have a beverage distributor here in Nashville that has taken on Shipwrecked. So, if there are any restaurants or whatever, they will be distributing it.
Chris: It's an extensive wine. It's very good. It's not like an $8 bottle of wine!
9. You're both big supporters of charitable causes, especially when it comes to the military and children. Just last December, you raised more than $30,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital! How did that come together, and how do you continue to engage your fans in becoming involved with charities close to your hearts?
Chris: We're going to beat that number this year.
Preston: Our LoCash Army helps out with that a lot. We've got to really give it up to them, because we get busier and busier every year, yet our hearts want to do these events. And, our LoCash Army, especially right there in Illinois where we do the big one in December, they really step up, man. They all come together, and they pitch in, and the radio station [Max Media Country WOOZ] Z100 [Marion-Carbondale, IL] is a big part of it and always has been, and always will be. We're the kind of guys that - it doesn't matter how big the song gets or how big LoCash gets - we still want to be right there in December, trying to beat our goal every single year.
Chris: It's a lot of fun trying to beat the goal, ya know? And since we've been with St. Jude for a long time - I was that kid that always watched the commercials and stuff like that, and you kind of ignored it when you were younger, because you really didn't know. But when we went to St. Jude - I can't even describe...
Preston: That really changed it all.
Chris: Yeah. I can't even describe it. It's not enough. It's never enough.
Preston: We left there brainstorming, "How can I find a way to make a bigger impact?" Because, I thought I was doing something already, but something is not enough once you visit and you see it. When you talk to the kids, and you meet their families, and you meet the scientists and the doctors. It's just never enough.
Chris: Same thing with the military, man. We were doing Wounded Warriors, and they're just like me and Preston. They have families, just like you. But some of them may have lost a limb, and so many of them are still struggling right now. We've always been pay-it-forward kinds of guys. And I don't care if it ever gets released in the press or not, I really don't, because I feel like we're earning angel wings at the same time while we're helping those guys. Helping those men and women who are just overseas fighting for what we do, and we're here just having fun. So, it's the very least we could do to give back.
Preston: One of these days, we'll tell you some powerful St. Jude stories.
Chris: There's one, and it's too long to tell right now. But if you ever get down and out, and you don't believe there's a God, come to me. I've got something to tell you that will change your mind.
10. Looking ahead to 2016, what are the plans for continuing to build on the successes of 2015? Will there be more radio singles from the EP, and is there a 2016 tour in the works?
Chris: I think we are really wanting to go on tour. And I think that's going to be happening.
Preston: We're still doing 200-something dates a year right now. When I looked at our schedule the other day, I was like, "Wow! I'm not going to be home much this year, still!" It usually starts to slow down around this time.
Chris: But now not at all.
Preston: Not this year! Which is a great problem to have.
Chris: That means it's working! If it wasn't working and we were out 200 dates a year, it would be like, "My gosh, what are we doing?!" But I think 2016 there's a lot to look forward to with LoCash. I mean, the new EP is going to say it, and I really do hope that someone who didn't believe in LoCash will listen to it. Because I really think they're going to love it. Our hearts and souls are in these songs, and even in picking the songs. I think it's going to take LoCash to another level. I think we'll be on tour with another major artist. Right now we're out with Eli Young Band, which is cool.
Preston: One thing that some radio folks might be thinking or wondering - the other night, I got a text message from a PD of a major, top 10 market, and it just came one night at like eight o'clock at night. I didn't even know he had my phone number. And I get this text message, and it says, "Hey, Preston, it's so-and-so. And I just listened to your single, and I'm going to be honest. I'm number one, surprised, B, blown away, and C, going to add this record and start playing it. Because I had a complete misconception of what and who and how LoCash sounded. And you have changed my whole thinking with this single." And, I was like, "Man, this is huge! This is a huge moment."
Chris: And can we quote you on that...?!
Preston: Totally! It just was unbelievable the way he admitted that he had a different thing that he thought LoCash was, and then he hears "I Love This Life," and he's floored.
Chris: And it's unfortunate that it's like that. Because I think it just happened to do with bad contracts and labels that have fallen through. They just didn't get the right perception of us.
Preston: We just weren't ever really in the right place at the right time, and now we are. And that resonates through this song.
1. You've written some big hits for other artists, including Keith Urban's "You Gonna Fly" and Tim McGraw's "Truck Yeah." But of all the songs that have come out in the past year, which one do you each wish you would have written, and why?
Chris: Man, there's so many of them right now!
Preston: "Die A Happy Man" [by Thomas Rhett; written by Rhett, Sean Douglas, and Joe Spargur].
Chris: That's a killer! Everything Thomas Rhett is doing. All of it!
Preston: That record - that was a one-listen for me. I mean...that's the one for me, right now. I wish I wrote that one.
Chris: That one, and I like "House Party," [by Sam Hunt; written by Hunt, Zach Crowell, and Jerry Flowers] man - I don't know what it is, when that song comes on, I crank that song, man! I really do. But the Thomas Rhett album is insane.
Preston: But what I love about "Die A Happy Man" is that it could have come out two years ago, or five years from now. I still would wish I had have written that song. It's a timeless kind of song. It could have come out ten years ago or ten years from now, it's just one of those special messages. And I love the way it's crafted.
Chris: He's not even old enough to know what the 70s are, but why is he singing 70s and rocking it?!
Preston: He's killing it!
2. After ten years of partnership as writers, artists, and touring mates, you must know each other fairly well. So, we have a couple of questions similar to what you might hear on one of those silly newlywed games. Between the two of you, Preston and Chris, which one...
...keeps a tighter schedule?
Preston: That's tough! I mean, I love to - when we come home off the road, I'm immediately in a write or even two writes. Or in the studio, things like that, I love to stay busy like that. But Chris, on the other hand, has a little boy and wants to be home more.
Chris: It's two different types of tight schedules.
Preston: Really, it's two different lifestyles.
Chris: And Preston's more laid back. I'm more in-your-face, in a way. But like a good way. But, I think it's two separate things.
Preston: I'm pretty loose. I don't like planners that much, and I don't like people who start using planners in front of me!
Chris: But I was literally lying in bed last night going through my calendar with my kid saying, "I'll see you this day, and this day, and this day." And I realize how sad that is - because it is sad - but he was like, "I'm going to see you four days in a row?!" And it's killing my heart! But I'm definitely a scheduler when it comes to scheduling that time as much as I can.
...owns more clothes?
Preston: Oh! Probably the same!
Chris: We are definitely - I mean, when we shop, it's pretty embarrassing! Because, we SHOP! I mean, girls are jealous by how we shop. We shop more than our wives!
...has better dance moves?
Chris: Dang, man, these are tough!
Preston: We're kind of the same with that stuff, too. I mean, we come from - we see a lot of these guys out there dancing and stuff - we are choreographers from back in the day! We used to do stuff for MTV, VH1.
Chris: But I do have some training, though, I will say that!
Preston: And I don't. And that's the thing I love about what I do, and what I love about what Chris does. It's very different, yet - it's cool like that. When we're on stage, there's no...
Chris: We used to get chicks from our dance moves! Sometimes we'd just dance, and they didn't even know we sang. Girls would be like, "You don't even have to sing. Just shake your butts." And we're like, this is easy!
Preston: It wasn't as accepted at that time, though, but now Luke [Bryan] shakes his thing, and so it's accepted!
Chris: Maybe we should just see who shakes it best! A shake-off!
Preston: And we'll have Taylor Swift sing "Shake It Off!"
Chris: I'm going to tell you, though; we're going to win a shake off. We're just going to win it!
Preston: Sorry, Luke! But we'll win that!