A Biography of the Country Music Duo Love and Theft

Love and Theft -- The Duo, Not the Song

Angel eyes single cover
''Angel Eyes'' single. Credit: Image courtesy of RCA Nashville Records

Love and Theft is the country duo of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, but the group first began as a trio. Stephen, Eric, and Brian Bandas met in Nashville, Tennessee and formed Love and Theft in 2006. All three members shared duties as lead vocalists. The group's sound was largely inspired by the church music they all grew up singing.

It's not an accident that the group's name is identical to Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, his lauded album from 2001. "We couldn't figure out a name so Brian came up with the idea," Liles said in a 2009 interview with The Boot. "He was going through some discographies and he threw that out there and we were like, 'That's it!' That was way better than some of the other names we had ... which were the Vinyl Sons and the 84s."

The trio was referred to Lyric Street Records after performing for ASCAP executives, and they were signed to Carolwood Records, Lyric Street's sister label, in 2009. They immediately began cutting their debut record, World Wide Open. Their debut single, "Runaway," was released in early 2009. It peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Love and Theft made their first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry soon after. World Wide Open was released in the summer of 2009 and it debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

Label Change

Lyric Street Records shuttered in 2010, leaving Love and Theft label-less. Then Bandas left the band in 2011. Liles and Gunderson could have called it quits, too, or they could have picked up a new member. They decided to keep going as a duo instead. They inked a new deal with RCA Nashville that year and started working on their self-titled sophomore effort, released in 2012. They released the first single, "Angel Eyes," before the official release of Love and Theft. It became the duo's first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Love and Theft parted ways with their label not much later and started working on their third, self-released album, Whiskey on My Breath. They released the lead single, "Night That You'll Never Forget," in early 2014. The album was released by Hate & Purchase Music in February 2015.

Songwriting

Although Love and Theft have been successful as a country act, Stephen Barker Liles has also experienced great success as a songwriter. He co-wrote "Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong," which appears on Martina McBride's 2009 album Shine, as well as "Kissin' in Cars," which is included on the soundtrack of the 2010 film "Country Strong."

Liles has also served as subject matter for other songs. Love and Theft scored a spot opening for Taylor Swift's 2008 tour, and Liles is reportedly the subject of Swift's song "Hey Stephen."

Discography

  • World Wide Open (2009)
  • Love and Theft (2012)
  • Whiskey on My Breath (2015)

Popular Songs:

  • "Angel Eyes"
  • "Runaway"
  • "Runnin' Out of Air"
  • "Night That You'll Never Forget"
  • "Whiskey on My Breath"
  • "If You Ever Get Lonely"
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