Friday night, Due West will hit the stage of The Grand Ole Opry for the first time. Due West is built like a brick house from the ground up, all three, Tim Gates, Brad Hull and Matt Lopez are accomplished musicians, songwriters, vocalists and performers.

 Due West have been paying their dues over the last few years, from playing on three stools in an intimate venue to rocking some of the biggest stages between Nashville and the Rocky Mountain West.

all photos courtesy Black River Entertainment

Currently, their single, “Things You Can’t Do In A Car” is #43 on the Mediabase charts.

 For Due West, it looks like the time is now.

 You could start with songwriting skills that quickly earned all three Publishing deals and help define their fresh, unique sound. You could start with Producer Garth Fundis, whose credits include Keith Whitley, Don Williams, Trisha Yearwood and Sugarland. Anyone who has heard them sing will tell you that the place to start with Due West is with their vocals, collectively a three-lane road to magic.

 It happened the first time they ever sang together when old friends Matt Lopez and Brad Hull met Tim Gates at a party. The three started harmonizing and the other attendees—Music Row stars, newcomers, and friends—kept asking how long they’d been a group. It’s been happening ever since as they’ve toured the country, visiting radio stations and playing for appreciative audiences along the way.

 “We’ve been told that when we sing harmony, it’s something special, “says Brad, “and we’ve learned to believe it.”

Tim Gates

“It just seems like anytime we play live,” adds Tim, “we usually end up with some long-term fans.”

 That phenomenon is about to get much bigger as Due West puts the finishing touches on new material, being released on Black River Entertainment in 2012, that is already garnering industry buzz.

 “The energy is definitely there,” says Matt. “We’re at a new label with new music. This is all about new beginnings.” They’re especially excited about the chance to work with legendary producer Garth Fundis and engineers Chad Carlson and Chuck Ainlay. Carlson and Ainlay engineered all of Taylor Swift’s work and some of Ainlay’s most recent credits include producing and engineering Miranda Lambert’s Four The Record and engineering Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee.

 Producer Garth Fundis says of the time spent in the studio, “This is one of the most fun and creative musical experiences I’ve had in a recording studio,” he says. “And we’ve only just begun.”

 The Nashville Bridge caught up with Due West just a few days before their turn on the Grand Ole Opry Stage to find out a few things about the Nashville tri-powered roof raisers!

 What should we know about Due West?

Matt Lopez

Matt: Due West is a vocal trio.

Tim: We love what we do, and have a good time doing it.

Brad:  Due West is a group of 3 guys who came from 3 different small towns in the Western U.S., but met in Nashville and became instant brothers from a musical standpoint.  We LOVE vocal harmony and we’ve talked about how amazing it is that when we “lock in” on a chord, we can not only hear it but we can feel it… We hope that the harmony we sing will pay homage to the great vocal groups of the past and pave a way for harmony to be a part of the future of country music.

Favorite concert stop so far? What happened?

Matt: The Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City was my favorite so far. It was a large super-energetic crowd, and a nice big stage to run around on!

Tim:  “The Crystal Palace” (The home of Buck Owens) in Bakersfield California.  Not only was it our first time playing there, but it was our first full band show this year after a long run of radio visits. It was a huge honor to play on that stage. 

Brad Hull

Brad:  We recently played a promotional show at a Kentucky Ford dealership in front of a few hundred radio station listeners.  The promotion would be giving away a 1 year truck lease to the grand prize winner and we were there to play our song “Things You Can’t Do In a Car” from the beds of 3 brand new pick-ups as the entertainment part of the promotion.  The gig was fun, but the coolest moment was when an unsuspecting crowd member won the grand prize.  Something in her eyes seemed to let us know how much of a blessing this prize was to her and how much it was needed in her life.  Obviously, I think anybody wouldn’t mind winning something like that, but we could tell that this was more special than that.  I looked at Matt and Tim as the M.C. called this woman’s name and there couldn’t have been 2 bigger smiles in the whole place!  I looked over at our tour manager and he had big tears in his eyes.  It’s cool to see our music change people’s lives, even if it’s indirectly, that’s the reward.

Biggest musical influences?

Matt: The Beatles, Diamond Rio & Boyz II Men

Tim:  Keith Whitley, Steve Wariner, George Strait and Randy Travis

Brad:  My musical influences span over a few different genres and really come from any musical experience that moves me, but I would say that George Strait and Brian McKnight would be two artists that I’ve really latched onto and drawn influence from. 

If you could only pick three albums out of your collection, what would they be?

Matt: James Taylor – Greatest Hits, Michael Jackson – History, Mark Nesler – I’m Just That Way

Tim: Bellamy Brothers – Rebels Without A Clue/ Steve Wariner- Life’s Highway/ Keith Whitley- Don’t Close Your Eyes

Brad:  George Strait – #7, Brad Paisley – Part Two, Dierks Bentley – Modern Day Drifter

Which guitar or piece of gear you can’t live without?

Matt: My Larivee D10-E acoustic guitar.

Tim: Definitely my iPhone.   

Brad:  A good tuner.  I can’t STAND to listen to out-of-tune guitars!  I think that makes me a little paranoid and keeps me tuning constantly.

Favorite song you have written so far?

Matt: “Love’s Lookin’ Good On You” – recorded by Lady Antebellum.

Tim: “Day Over Beautiful”- its a song that I wrote about my wife. 

Brad:  “So Long, My Friend.”  It may never be heard by the masses but I can never play that song without feeling the emotion I felt when I wrote it, I think because it came from a true, personal place.

Favorite place to eat in Nashville?

Matt: Chuy’s Mexican restaurant.

Tim:  Sushiyobi

Brad:  Sushiyobi.  Matt and Tim told me for YEARS that I would love sushi if I’d just try it, but it was my wife who finally got me to try it.  Of all the sushi restaurants I’ve been to across the U.S., Sushiyobi here in Nashville is still my fave!

What are your thoughts about playing the Grand Ole Opry for the first time?

Matt: Because it’s such an amazing honor and privilege, I’m trying to play it way down in my head; so that I don’t get freaked out and keel over dead on the stage!

Tim:  Just like my first kiss, or the first time I sat behind the wheel of a car, I get butterflies.    It’s gonna be a great experience!! 

Brad:  It is a dream come true for me.  I love the history and tradition of the Opry and I honor that.  I can’t wait to step inside of the “circle” and soak in that moment.  I have a lot of friends from my home town in Arizona who, without me even saying what a big deal it is, knew instantly that the opportunity to play the Opry is a HUGE deal!  They will all be there on Friday night to cheer us on.  I cannot wait!

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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