“We dig deep, we go long/ Where we come from is strong/ We are changers with the timers/ We are lovers, we are fighters/ Yeah, we came here to stay, ain’t never gonna walk away …/ We are, we are, we are Never enders”
The lyrics to “Never Enders” are about never-ending love, but the song penned by Marv Green, and Richie McDonald and Dean Sams, of Lonestar, could be Lonestar’s anthem.
The veteran country band of McDonald (lead vocals), Michael Britt (lead guitar and backing vocals), Keech Rainwater (drums) and Sams (keyboards and backing vocals) is marking 20+ years as Lonestar with a new album, “Never Enders” on a new label home, Shanachie Entertainment. The title track is the current single.
After selling more than 10 million albums in their hit-filled career, Lonestar has earned its place among country music’s supergroups. Their long list of Top 10 songs include “No News,” “I’m Already There,” “My Front Porch Looking In,” “What About Now,” “Walking in Memphis,” “Mountains,” “Mr. Mom,” “Smile” and “Amazed,” which was Song of the Year in 1999.
Lonestar ruled the country charts from the mid-1990s to early 2000s with 10 No. 1’s.
“We really have been fortunate we had some songs become part of people’s lives, like ‘Amazed’ and ‘Already There.’ For anyone in the military or away from home and their family, these songs take people to a place in their memory,” said Michael Britt in a recent phone interview from Fort Myers, Florida, where Lonestar would later do a show.
Lonestar will be center stage here at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick. Tickets are $40, $45 and $55 and can be ordered at 301-600-2828 or www.weinbergcenter.org or at the box office.
The band has had its ups, downs and evolutions over the years, including the departure of original member John Rich (of Big and Rich) in 1998, and McDonald, who left in 2007 to pursue a solo career and rejoined Lonestar in 2011.
In a 2013 interview with The Frederick News-Post, Britt said when McDonald returned “it was like he never left. … we’ve always had this natural chemistry.”
That natural chemistry and tight harmonies the band is known for shined on their 2013 album, “Life As We Know It” and shines on with “Never Enders.”
“After we put out an album, after a couple of years we get the itch to put out a new album,” Britt said. “We don’t ever want to stop playing, we don’t ever want to stop writing. We don’t want to rest on our laurels.
“We had six or seven songs together, and were thinking about releasing an EP,” Britt said. “Then our manager put us in touch with Shanachie and they wanted a whole album.”
“Never Enders” was the first song Sams and McDonald played for Britt and Rainwater. “I said, ‘I’m in! If that’s the kind of stuff we’re going to do, I’m in.’ It’s that good,” Britt said.
The 10-track album includes “I know It Was You” is one of those magical, love ballads Lonestar-style for today. “I’ve Been Wrong Before” was inspired by a TV commercial, “Twice” is an up-tempo rocker and “My Own Hometown” is a haunting reflection on time lost.
Britt said Lonestar comes from “a different era of country music” and they still write songs as they did back then, gathering in the Band Cave, a Nashville building where they store their band gear and bus, and have a creative space to write music.
The new album has a couple more firsts for the band: It was produced by member Dean Sams and all four had a hand in co-writing “I Want a Love.” The seed was planted by Rainwater, who asked McDonald if he knew of a song with the line “I want a love I can sink my teeth into.” Thinking about it, McDonald changed the line to “I want a love I can sink my heart into,” and at a writing session, they finished the song.
“It’s one of our fun songs,” said Britt, adding that they like to include those with a mix of ballads. It’s about a guy trying to find the right girl to meet his momma, pick out a ring. “The bar scene ain’t where it’s at,” he tried yoga, even e-Harmony. It’s got the vibe of their hit “No News.”
Britt said Sams has been producing their albums, but it’s been a team effort. “Dean ends up doing most of the studio work and editing, but he includes everyone. We’re just finally giving him the credit due him. He’s a good producer. I’m happy he’s in the band.
“Richie’s a great songwriter. Keech is our videography guy and is involved in a lot of our videos,” said Britt. “I’m the live technology guy getting our live show rigs together.”
The video for “Never Enders” was filmed in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, a Mayberry-esque town, and in Shelbyville’s regional airport, both near Nashville. It shows the band driving through town in a classic Caddie down streets full of believers and dreamers following their dreams. The band plays on the runway at the airport, which closed for the filming.
Britt said Lonestar created a new show this year but expect to hear those songs, like “Amazed,” that “if we didn’t play we would get run out of town.” But there’s still room for the new music.
All four of the band members hail from the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas and played the music scene there, but they didn’t know each other then.
“At that time it was a big country music scene and market,” Britt said. “To play in that area you had to be very good.”
“We all migrated to Nashville,” he said. Sams, who did know the other three, got them together to start the band originally called Texasee, a mash of Texas and Tennessee.
That was the hat act days of country and, yep, they started out wearing cowboy hats. “Our producer was Brooks and Dunn’s producer and he wanted us to wear hats,” Britt said. Then they connected with producer Dann Huff, who turned the band to a more contemporary sound. “We’ve always been a blend of rock and country,” Britt said.
The band culture in Nashville is more transient, where bands are “thrown together” for a gig, he said. “It’s a different kind of discipline. We wanted to be a really tight band and write some of our own music together. That Texas experienced really benefited us.”
If not for the great odds, Britt may have taken the rock road.
“In sixth grade, I wanted to be in KISS,” he said with laugh. “I got a guitar in seventh grade and spent two hours every day dropping a needle on records to learn to play.” He played in some garage bands and when he got his first country gig it was goodbye KISS.
“I wanted to be a rocker,” Britt said. “But I saw it was a one-in-a-million shot. I realized in Texas you can actually make a living (in music). It’s not like buying lottery tickets.”