Frontman of Old Dominion spent summers growing up in Rehoboth.
Old Dominion frontman Matthew Ramsey grew up in Virginia. But that hasn’t stopped him from viewing Delaware as a second home, thanks to his grandmother in Rehoboth Beach.
Ramsey said it’ll be a bit of a homecoming when he and his bandmates -- who won the 2018 ACM award for vocal group of the year -- headline Hudson Fields in Milton on Thursday, Aug. 23.
“I grew up going to Rehoboth my whole life for the summers,” he said. “My grandmother lives there and she’s like a rock star in her own right, because everybody knows her as the grandmother for the singer of Old Dominion.”
The country rocker recalls fond memories chilling in Rehoboth.
“It sort of feels like home to me when I go there, because we spent so much time in the summer there, just walking down the boardwalk, playing all the games at Funland, eating Grotto Pizza and all that stuff,” he said.
In one of your Instagram photos, you’re standing next to a humongous slice of pizza. Can you explain the backstory?
That was in Phoenix. We had just played a show. A lot of times we have pizza delivered after the show for the after-show food. Our production assistant usually takes care of that for us. She orders the pizza. I was walking down the hall then she grabbed me and said, “You have got to see this.” And she pulled me into the room. She said, “I ordered six large pizzas and they said, ‘Are you sure you want six?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And this is what showed up.” She had no idea they were going to be that huge.
What’s a moment offstage this year that stands out?
Winning the ACM award. That’s sort of offstage [laughs]. We’ve been riding that for a while now and it’s been inspiring to us to write more music and bring our show to the next level. I’ve been enjoying digging into what the next step is going to be.
What do you think that step is?
The new music we’ve been writing, I feel, is definitely going to take us to a new level. With winning that award, we’ve got the sense of “now we need to own it” a little bit. I think it’s the next step of us stepping out there and showing people that we deserve it. I know that seems kind of backwards, but maybe we didn’t think we deserved it. Then we won it and it’s like, “Wait a minute, we actually do belong here.” We just want to show that we can live up to it.
Has thinking you didn’t earn the award motivated the band?
That’s absolutely part of it. It’s a little bit of self-preservation and a little bit of a motivator. We’ve been turned down by every record label in town. We pretty much had gotten to a point where we were like, “we’re just going to have to do this on our own.” We did get a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. It took us a little bit longer to accept the fact that people were finally accepting us and that our peers were enjoying what we were doing, and were cheering us on.
Your band has campaigned for the Music Modernization Act to get signed. Can you explain what that is?
With the evolution of the music industry, certain ways that writers, in particular, are compensated for their work is outdated. With streaming and lots of services like that, they wound up getting less and less compensation. Then there are sort of deals with record labels and streaming companies and everyone is making money except the songwriters. The ones that create the music are suddenly finding themselves having to get second jobs where that didn’t used to be the case. It’s just about fairly compensating songwriters and updating the way that they get paid to match the way people are listening to music.
Do you think that’s going to happen?
I really, really hope so. I think we’re close. I think a lot of the music industry has banded together and a lot of people have contacted senators and sent emails to make sure everyone knows how important it is. But I don’t know if this will pass. It feels like it’s headed in the right direction.