Old Dominion Admit ‘Written in the Sand’ Became Bigger Than They Expected
On Wednesday (Aug. 8), fans will get the chance to relive all the highlights of the 2018 CMA Music Festival with a special ABC broadcast hosted by Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini. The evening will include an extra treat for fans of country five-piece Old Dominion, too: Immediately after the show, viewers can tune in to Xfinity On Demand for a special encore performance of "Written in the Sand," the group's second single off of their sophomore album, Happy Endings.
"When we decided to put that song out as a single, it was a big decision, because it's a little bit of a departure from what we've done in the past," the band's Matthew Ramsey tells The Boot, explaining that they selected "Written in the Sand" for their bonus performance because it exemplifies Old Dominion's versatility. "But it was really important to us because of the sound. It just felt like a really great song to us, and a side of us that we wanted to show."
Following fun-loving party singles such as "Snapback" and "Break Up With Him," "Written in the Sand" addresses the more vulnerable subject matter of a new and uncertain relationship. "I think it's definitely a different sound, sonically, but it's also kinda sad," Ramsey goes on to say. "It's not "Snapback," you know what I mean? It's not bubbly. It's not the super-happy guys we often are; it's actually a more serious subject. That's more of the ballad side for us."
Old Dominion's risk paid off: "Written in the Sand" peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in February, and quickly became a fan favorite. "It did more than we thought [it would]," Ramsey admits. "It was bigger -- and it still has a life. It shows off our songwriting chops, it shows a more serious side of us, and it seems to resonate with people."
However, that doesn't mean the sonic shift in "Written in the Sand" is indicative of what fans should expect from every Old Dominion release going forward. "We try to shoot for whatever sound is appropriate for the song we wrote," Ramsey explains. "Sometimes that sounds like we're a '70s rock band; sometimes we sound like we're a pop band. We never go into the studio and say, 'We need to sound like this.'"
Following their win at the 2018 ACM Awards for Vocal Group of the Year, Old Dominion have kept busy this summer, touring with Kenny Chesney for the third year in a row. The group is also looking ahead to a run of headlining dates, including several shows in the UK.
"[Touring with Chesney] has been so incredible, and we've learned so much from him, but we're ready to step back into our own world, see our own fans, play a longer set and go overseas," Ramsey says. "We've been overseas a few times now, and we've started to actually build something over there. We're excited to get back there for a headlining tour and see what the energy's like. It's always a surprise over there, seeing how much [the fanbase] has grown since the last time we were there. We're just excited to get back into our shows."
Fans can check out Old Dominion's Xfinity On Demand encore performance immediately following the CMA Fest 2018 TV special, which airs at 8PM ET. To watch the performance, just say "Old Dominion" into the Xfinity X1 Voice Remote.