“Our goals were to be a country version of The Eagles and to play music as long as we can,” said Stephan Barker Liles, one half of the country music duo Love And Theft. “Our long-term goal is to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
While Liles and his partner Eric Gunderson have yet to become regular members of the Nashville institution, Love And Theft performed at the Opry in 2009, when the group was a trio. Liles said it was definitely the most memorable show he’s ever played.
For Greeley-area fans, the duo’s show March 29th at the University of Northern Colorado’s Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion stands to be memorable for them. It’s the only stop on Love And Theft’s tour this year that will be in Colorado. Liles said that he and Gunderson love the state, except for possibly the horse at DIA.
“Eric and I have spent a lot of time in the mountains snowboarding and skiing,” he said. “The Denver airport is a little creepy, but Colorado is one of the most beautiful and progressive states and we always look forward to coming back.”
Love and Theft was initially started in 2006 by Liles, Gunderson, and former member Brian Bandas. The group was signed as an opening act for Taylor Swift during her 2008 tour and were eventually signed to Carolwood Records in 2009. Bandas left the group in 2011, shortly afterward Liles and Gunderson signed to RCA Nashville. Their self-titled album was released that year, their number one single “Angel Eyes” eventually going platinum.
“It is a lot easier to make decisions with just two people in mind,” Liles said. “We do miss his harmonies sometimes, but [Bandas’] passion for this band was not there, so Eric and I are grateful because we are so passionate.”
When it comes to the struggles of the country music world, Liles said it was very up-and-down.
“You can disappear as fast as you can show up,” he said. “We have been through three managers and three different record labels, but we have been blessed to keep on moving forward and still stay relevant.”
In general, the pair seem to keep busy. In the past, Liles co-wrote the song “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong” for Martina McBride, and contributed to the soundtrack for the Gwyneth Paltrow film Country Strong. Liles said the duo did a collaboration with The Doobie Brothers on “Takin’ it to the Streets,” which will be out later in the year.
When talking about his partner-in-crime, Liles said, “Eric is my best friend. We get along incredibly. We love hanging out together. We also agree and have the same influences and goals for what we want for this band.”
When not touring or recording, Liles said the two like to hang out with their new kids, Camden (Gunderson’s son) and Jett.
“We like to hunt, we like to fish, we like to write songs and we like to shoot our guns,” Liles said.
For more information on Love And Theft, and to secure tickets for their March 29 show at UNC’s Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, visit their website at www.loveandtheft.com. Theftheads can also keep up with news on Gunderson and Liles on Twitter @LoveAndTheft and www.facebook.com/loveandtheft.