Four Part Harmony Takes Center Stage at WHBPAC
Newly formed country-pop supergroup Gone West heads to Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on July 14 with a charming four-part harmony that is sure to give you all the feels. In spring 2007 singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” was everywhere, a smash she co-wrote with longtime collaborator Jason Reeves. Fast forward past a number of solo albums and collaborations including each working with their now-love interests, Colbie’s fiancé singer- songwriter Justin Young and Jason’s wife Nelly Joy (of the DearJanes Girls), the group found a groove as two couples with years of hits, friendship, and romance to build upon.
Gone West’s songs are primarily sun-kissed love songs about the tingly feelings and the heartbreaks, overlapping effortlessly on stand- out track “This Time.” The group tours North America all summer and will fit perfectly on a summer playlist along with other pop-leaning country acts Little Big Town, Dan + Shay, and Lady Antebellum as well as with folk-rock veterans Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Fleetwood Mac. Colbie and Jason took some time with Hamptons Monthly to talk about Gone West’s formation, the Hamptons show, and how Tom Petty inspired one of their songs.
The two of you have worked together for a while, with Jason songwriting and even lending vocals on all of your albums. It’s a really refreshing sound hearing four-part vocal harmonies. How did the idea of Gone West come about?
Colbie Caillat: We’re two couples, so it’s Jason and his wife Nelly and it’s me and my fiancé Justin. We have known one another and worked together musically going back 14 years actually. Justin met Jason and I back in 2006 and Justin joined my band and we toured and fell in love in 2009. That same year Jason moved to Nashville to be more in the songwriting world and he had a session with Nelly, who was in the JaneDear Girls. We did a tour for The Malibu Sessions and we loved the harmonies we did together, and then we got back to Nashville and now it’s two years later. It’s kind of fun how it naturally happened that way.
Has Gone West ever played the Hamptons over the years?
Jason Reeves: This will be lame from my side, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to The Hamptons. We’ve literally been everywhere except for there. I have never had a show there so this will be really exciting to finally do that.
Gone West really sounds like summer. There’s a hopeful element to even your sadder songs. There’s love and friendship and optimism here. Can you talk about your band’s essence and the songs you are trying to put out into the world?
CC: Yes, first of all thank you for saying that. JR: We want to obviously spread a message of love and peace and positivity and all that stuff, and we want our music to make people feel good and make people feel less alone. We also enjoy heartbreak songs even though we are two happy couples. Sometimes it feels even more real to write and sing a sad song. For those songs we are not pulling from our direct personal experiences, but we do have some friends who are unfortunately going through some really tough things through their relationships. Our sad songs are about them. Every time we write it’s a real thing, even if it’s about friends.
Gone West is folk-pop, country, Americana, soul. It’s really a lot of things. Do you think in the Spotify and playlist era this is the perfect time for Gone West? Genre is blended so much these days, does it not matter anymore?
CC: Well that’s a very good point. Those are all styles of music that we love and have always been influenced by. The main thing is we’ve always created the music we are doing. It’s really organic, real instruments, real storytelling. We love that country is the lane for that, and we ultimately want anyone that hears our music to be able to listen to it. We hope that this is a refreshing sound for people’s ears.
You are playing WHBPAC on July 14. When you play songs like “This Time,” a song really about living in the moment, what can fans expect from Gone West’s show?
JR: Our goal is to stay in the moment as a band and really to bring everybody into the moment we are in. That’s one of my favorite moments of playing music live is everyone becomes connected.
With “This Time” we had experienced some things where we took for granted that we had tickets and couldn’t go to a Tom Petty show, and very shortly after that he died and we never got to see him live. That’s one of the reasons we wrote the song, about being present and appreciating what we have now.
CC: We incorporate music we have done as solo artists and music we have done as duos. It’s really fun to share a little glimpse of all of the music we have done.