Love and Theft are a duo that writes, records and performs honest, soulful country music. "We love performing" says Stephen Barker Liles. "The way we are recording now is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It's a lot more organic."
Eric Gunderson's earthy voice is the perfect complement to Stephen's high-altitude tenor. The guys happily share lead vocals, harmonize like a church choir, and bolster their band with their own guitar work. "Stephen and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for Love and Theft and what we want it to be," says Eric.
While Johnny Cash and Orbison are both enormous influences, it might surprise fans to learn who the duo's favorite artist is. "Hands-down, Elvis," says Stephen. "My dad was really into him, so I got into him. I was all over Elvis growing up."
Coincidentally, both Stephen and Eric—who didn't meet until they were in their early 20s—were raised as pastors' kids, and their respective fathers fed them a steady diet of gospel, oldies and country. "Our parents didn't want us listening to secular music that much," says Eric. "But they'd let us listen to Elvis, Roy, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was cool to grow up that way, and that's still my favorite kind of music."
Perhaps it was some divine intervention that led the friends to this point in their career. Eric and Stephen, after all, will be the first to tell you that their shared spirituality is a cornerstone of Love and Theft. In fact, both used to lead worship at their churches.
"That's how we got our start playing music. Our faith is a huge part of our lives," says Eric, pondering the fate of it all. "I feel like it was meant to be this way from the beginning. Our journey over the past four years was preparing us for where we're at now."
Which is squarely at the doorstop of a prosperous career in country music. With a young, vibrant sound, a captivating live show, and a passionate fan base, Love and Theft are poised to become the genre's next great duo.
“The way we are recording now is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It's a lot more organic.”