When the three members of Love and Theft are asked by CMT Insider about how their lives have changed since the success of “Runaway,” Eric Gunderson replies, “They’ve changed a ton. We went from working monotonous boring day jobs to working 10 times harder — but doing something we love.”
Gunderson says that his father is a capable mechanic and builder and that his uncle was a carpenter. Because they shared their skills, Gunderson could take some odd jobs when he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. “From a young age, they taught me how to work with my hands and work with tools. As any young kid, I loved power tools,” he said. “Trying to pay the bills and stuff during the beginning stages of the band, I did a lot of tile work and some handyman stuff. I was basically a carpenter for hire. I really enjoy working with my hands, and I used to really enjoy building stuff. I like the whole process of kind of designing and seeing a whole plan come together, but there’s nothing I’d rather be doing more than playing music, so it keeps me grounded when I think of what I was doing before and how fortunate I am to be playing music now.”
Even though the band had a record deal offered by Lyric Street, negotiations were slow. As a result, Stephen Barker Liles needed to pick up a job in the interim.
“I was in transition from valeting to something else, so I decided I needed to go work at Blockbuster because it was something that I’d really enjoy. Very stress free. I’d talk movies all day with a bunch of people, and I really enjoyed it,” he says. “I was watching movies all the time. I’d take home at least probably one a day. I’d take it home after I got off work to watch it with my brother or whoever else at the crib wanted to watch it. It was fun, but I am so into film. Even when we’re on the road, I try and go to the movies as much as I can.”
Brian Bandas says, “Valet parking was a great job actually because with the tips going on, you could make a pretty decent amount of money in a short amount of time, and it was fairly flexible schedule much like waiting tables. They’re both sort of the preferred musicians jobs.”
Especially on Friday nights at the restaurant, Bandas says, “It can get intense, but at least for me, I never let it stress me out. When I was working at another valet job, we did a huge classic and kit car convention, and all these amazing cars were coming through and I got to drive a lot of really souped-up cars — it was really cool!”
Of course, parking cars doesn’t quite stack up to their current career as a country band.
“I do not miss it at all!” Bandas says. “Now, it was actually a good job. I mean, if I’m not going to be playing music, it was not a bad job. I didn’t hate it, but even pulling up here, I’m like, ‘Man, I’m so glad to be doing what I’m doing.’ The big issue for me was giving all this time to something I just don’t care that much about, so now I get to give my time to something I’m very passionate about.”