Due West Heads to USU

Matt Lopez can’t remember a time when there wasn’t music in his life.
“There are pictures of me with the guitar when I was a baby,” he said. “My whole family is musical.”
Tim Gates said he started the same way.
“I come from family of seven. My mom used to drag us around care centers to sing. I found country music on my own and continued to do it through high school,” he said.

Lopez and Gates make up two-thirds of the band Due West, an enterprising country band who’s first single, “I Get That All The Time,” climbed steadily up the country music charts last year.

“It peaked at number 12,” said Gates, a native Utahn. “In  2009, we started our own label. We released a 15-track album.”

Although Due West originally had a deal in place to record with RCA, the band was dropped from the label when Sony Music and BMG merged in 2006.

“We made a record on our own. We were every single part of it,” said Jason Deere, a singer, songwriter and producer of the local project Nashville Tribute. Deere has has been working with the band since it began six years ago. “We partnered with Black River Music Group. It’s been kind of a process.”

Producing an album without a major label proved to be a double-edged sword for Due West.
“It’s always harder getting funding,” Gates said. “However, It’s just as time consuming because you still have to get it right.”

Deere has worked with a plethora of well-known bands, including Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Josh Gracin and more locally, Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band and SHeDaisy.
“I never made it a point to work with LDS bands, that’s been an accident,” he said. “It’s not like I wanted to make great Mormon musicians.”

Other projects Deere has collaborated on include Little Big Town, some Brazilian and Latin records and work for the Utah Jazz.

The roots of Due West go back to 2004, when Deere noticed Lopez and Brad Hull, the third member of the band, hanging around his production company, playing around with some music. “These two guys started singing together, and they were getting crazy good,” Deere said.

“We started hanging out at the publishing company. That was at the same time he was putting together the Nashville tribute,” Hull said. “We just happened to be there when it was all going down. Had that connection, musically.”

After playing with Gates at a party, the guys knew they had something good.

“I took them out to sing one time and RCA signed them on the spot. They are three of the greatest instinctive musicians I’ve ever known,” Deere said.

As part of a nationwide tour, Due West  will play in Logan on Nov. 2 in collaboration with Nashville Tribute, which will preform the night before. Nashville Tribute, which has many ties to Utah culture, has a large fan base in Cache Valley and the surrounding areas.

“Logan has been one of our awesome audiences from the beginning. We sold them out,” Deere said. “It’s one of our favorite audiences. There are lots of fans that have been fans since the start. We play there any chance we can get it.”

Being on the road constantly has its drawbacks, but Gates said the band finds ways to make it easier.
“Every morning we on a 45-minute run,” Gates said. “We all have lives that we have to be away from, but our families support what we do. They’re cheering us on.”

Due West’s newest single, “Bible and the Belt” recently broke the top 40 on Music Row’s Country Breakout chart.

“When the smoke clears, It is by far my favorite thing we’ve ever done,” Lopez said.

The band hopes the single will build momentum for a new album, which will be released later this year.

“A fun step will be having an audience waiting with bated breath,” Lopez said. “We could write the best song in the world, and only a few friends and family would hear it. Once you have an audience waiting for the next hit song put it out there, it changes the game.”

In addition to gaining a larger fan base, the band hopes to become a staple in the country music world.

“From a  financial standpoint, it will be good to know we won’t be waiting tables in the future,” Lopez said. “We’ll be set for the rest of lives.”

“In five years we want to have a successful career. We want to be able to share our hearts through music,” Hull said. “Our short term goal is to have a hit and play the Grand Ole Opry. It’s the mothership of country music.”

In the end, fans recognize what sets Due West apart from other up and coming country bands.

“It’s the perseverance. The realness of our songs,” Gates said.
Nashville Tribute concert will be Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kent Concert Hall. Due West concert will be Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m in the Kent Concert Hall.
–  alexandriaevensen@gmail.com

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