A chance encounter changed the direction of the lives of Matt Lopez, Brad Hull, and Tim Gates who collectively make up the trio known as Due West. Matt remembers the night that fate brought them together. "We were all at a party," he recalls. "Dan Truman of Diamond Rio was having a house party at his sisters house, and he had invited a bunch of people that he knew were in the music business and people who were trying to break into it. So we all happened to be at that party that night. Everybody was just sitting around playing guitar, and we started doing some Restless Heart, Shenandoah, and Diamond Rio tunes. Brad and I jumped right in there on the harmonies."
What people heard that night made quite the impression according to Matt. "People came up to us, and said Man, you guys are great. Whats the name of your group? How long have you been together? Little did they know that we had just met a couple hours ago. It just clicked. It was instant. Weve been together ever since."
That unique style of harmony is a special ingredient of the Due West sound. As Brad explains, "Its a major part, because thats what were all about. We love the harmonies, and those harmony bands were really our heroes."
That sound is very evident in their Top 20 hit single from last year, the moving "I Get That All The Time," which was the highest-charting single from a self-released act on the Music Row Country BreakOut chart in 2009. The video for the song, which included the members families, also made a mark, hitting # 3 on the GAC Top 20 Countdown.
The sound of Due West has caused many in the industry to stand up and take notice, including some of Due Wests heroes. Brad explains, "Its kind of cool because weve become friends with some of those people who were in those bands, and one of the common things we are told by members of McBride & The Ride and Restless Heart, and this humbles us, is that we remind them of them. That, to us, means mission accomplished because thats what were going for."
The fans have also picked up on the distinctive sound of Due West, says Tim. "After a show, people are lined up saying they were blown away by it. Some have tears because of a certain song they have heard. Sometimes it blows my mind how much people love the music. It makes us feel good about what were doing. We know were on the right path when it comes to our music."
That collective path "Due West" was created out of three very different routes. For Wyoming native Matt Lopez, the path included a stint in the Big Apple, playing his music in the subway stations of New York City. This was a far cry from his high school years, where he graduated in a class of only thirty-nine. Once he made it to Nashville, it was his songwriting that helped him to establish a name in the business. During his career, he has played with artists as diverse as Lorrie Morgan, Tracy Lawrence, and Blackhawk. He also helped to pen "Loves Lookin Good On You," a song that was turned down by Reba McEntire but found a home on the debut album for an emerging trio on Capitol Records, Lady Antebellum. That project has since gone on to scan over one million in sales, which he says was a huge opportunity that gave a boost to his songwriting career. Matt explains, "Im blessed for it. Reaching even a half a million in sales was a pretty cool moment." He admits to sharing the moment with someone very special. "I got to send my Mom a gold record first. Its hanging on the wall in Wyoming."
Arizona-born Brad Hull started studying classical guitar at age eleven, and was giving guitar lessons while still in his teens. He gained a foothold in the industry working behind the scenes at BMI where he gained an understanding of the business. "I learned a lot about songs and how they make money. I worked in the song registration department for about two and a half years there, and got to meet a lot of people who are influential on the broadcasting side. I got to learn about the payment of songs and publishers. That really prepared me to know what Im looking for as a songwriter."