The Eli Young Band has its beginnings in Denton, Texas, a college town with a thriving music scene. Frontman Mike Eli and guitarist James Young met during their freshman year at the University of North Texas in 1998, becoming fast friends due to their mutual love of music. Inspired by equal parts country and rock n' roll - not to mention a dash of jazz - the duo began plying their trade in Denton's bars and clubs as an acoustic duo called Eli & Young, eventually letting bassist Jon Jones and drummer Chris Thompson into the fold by 2000, forming what is now the Eli Young Band.The foursome became a regular in the Denton music scene (known as the hometown for such diverse bands as Centro-Matic, Fishboy, and Brutal Justice) by 2001, eventually extending their touring range to Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth - no easy task, considering the fact that the band members held down jobs and classes the whole time. Despite the stresses of rigorous touring, the Eli Young Band managed to stay together through its early years, setting aside their problems for the greater good. Their persistence paid off. In 2003, The Eli Young Band opened a concert for then-unknown country songstress Miranda Lambert, a close friend of the band. Miranda - who would just months later jump on the fast track to superstardom following her performance on Country Music Television's Nashville Star talent program - later on recommended the band to legendary country producer Frank Liddell, who signed the Eli Young Band to his Carnival Recording Co. (Craig Dillingham, Dan Colehour) label in early 2005. The Eli Young Band quickly became the hottest commodity on Carnival's roster, producing two releases for the label, 2005's Level and 2006's Live at the Jolly Fox. Both albums sold well, and major labels began to take notice. The band's 2007 albumless single, "When it Rains", began to receive heavy rotation on the CMT and GAC television channels, prompting Universal Records to sign The Eli Young band to their Universal South (Cross Canadian Ragweed, Joe Nichols) imprint by the end of the year. In 2008, The Eli Young Band teamed up with legendary producer Mike Wrucke to begin working on their major-label debut, Jet Black and Jealous, which saw a September 2008 release. An immense success, Jet Black & Jealous debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #30 on the Billboard 200 - not bad for a bunch of bored college kids from Denton. Jet Black & Jealous has so far produced two singles, "Always the Love Songs" and a re-release of their original hit "When It Rains", both of which have made an impact on the Billboard Hot Country Songs index. The Eli Young Band continues to tour in support of Jet Black & Jealous, playing a number of major music festivals including Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza throughout 2008.
With roots firmly planted in the fertile musical soil of Texas, the Eli Young Band is a little bit country and a helluva lot of guitar-driven rock and roll. Their Carnival Recording Company debut, Level, finds them poised to bust out of the Lone Star State and bring their brand of music to a wider audience as they make inroads into neighboring states and the wider Nashville country scene.
The band was formed almost five years ago by Mike Eli who grew up just outside of Houston and James Young who hails from Irving, TX. After playing together as a duo they were later joined by drummer Chris Thompson of Colleyville, TX and bassist Jon Jones of Omaha, NE who all met while students at the University of North Texas at Denton, about 50 miles north of Dallas/Forth Worth. After graduating the group decided to stay in Denton and to this day make their home in the town.
Late in 2003 producer Frank Liddell (Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Chris Knight) attended a show at the Gypsy Tea Room where EYB was playing on the bill with Miranda Lambert. He was blown away by the show and wound up signing them to Carnival Recording Company soon after. In April 2005, the Eli Young Band released Level, marking their debut on Carnival.
Level has drawn comparisons to The Jayhawks in the plaintive "When It Rains". The band members, all in their early 20s, have proven to be adept at blending their musical influences into a cohesive sound on this effort. You can hear the heartland rock of John Mellencamp in the autobiographical "Small Town Kid" and the crying-in-your-beer band on the road saga "Highways and Broken Hearts." There's the grinding blues of the Black Crowes in "Bring It on Home," and the romantic lament of "That's the Way" and "Everything Is You."
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Eli Young Band is an American country music band composed of members who met while students at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas: Mike Eli (vocals, guitar), James Young (guitar), Jon Jones (bass guitar), and Chris Thompson (drums). They released their self-titled debut album in 2002, followed by the Carnival records release Level in 2005. Their third album, Jet Black & Jealous, was released in 2008 by Universal South Records. A second major-label album, Life at Best, was released in 2011 by Republic Nashville; it includes their No. 1 hits, "Crazy Girl" and "Even If It Breaks Your Heart". Both songs have been certified platinum by the RIAA.