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Love & Theft: Country, Rock, And Taylor’s Secret Crush

Our Country

It's no secret who the "shiny" guy in Taylor Swift's song "Hey Stephen" is--fans who've been following along know perfectly well that Tay's lucky muse is one-third of hot new country act Love & Theft, Stephen Barker Liles.

Along with bandmates Brian Bandas and Eric Gunderson, Liles (pictured standing left) is shaping up to be a Person To Watch in the Nashville community. And it's not just because he was lucky enough to attract the eye of Joe Jonas's ex (the band toured with Swift in 2008). Sure, the guys are young and hot (as you probably guessed)--but most importantly, Love & Theft have chops and a healthy infusion of swagger providing a welcome edge to their sound.

And, it's a sound they've developed themselves. All the songs on their debut album released this week, World Wide Open, are co-written by the trio themselves. We chatted with the guys via Twitter on Wednesday and asked a few questions about their songwriting process.

When asked what is their biggest musical influence, they answered, "The Eagles. Hands down." Not too much of a surprise--however, the trio has impressively diverse taste in general. Liles noted that he's currently listening to Owl City, Phoenix, Mindy Smith, and AutoVaughn. Bandas cited the Derek Trucks Band, Kings of Leon, the Allman Brothers Band, Needtobreathe, and the Gabe Dixon Band on his playlist. Gunderson? Old-school Prince--he specifically noted 1978's somewhat obscure "Soft And Wet"--plus Jackson Browne.

And, of course, the band itself takes its name from Bob Dylan.

This sonic blend of, well, everything has already been making significant waves. In addition to touring with Swift, Love & Theft have been profiled in People magazine, appeared on ABC's Music Lounge, cracked the Top 20 Country chart, and made their Opry debut earlier this year. "[We're] definitely feeling great," the guys noted.

Okay, fine and well. But we had to ask about the infamous Swift love ballad. We couldn't help ourselves!

But...nothing. Despite the achingly personal lines in "Hey Stephen" (Swift penned such sentiments as "You might have me believing I don't always have to be alone," and "Come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you"), Liles swears nothing went on between him and his former tour headliner.

Really, Stephen? It's been a while since your tour with Taylor. You can tell us!

"It probably was just a crush," he demurred. "Or lack of people to write about."

Somehow, we don't think that's it. But, we'll take his word: No Blonde On Blonde. Carry on, Love & Theft!

Check out the band's video for "Runaway" and let us know what you think of them. And, be sure to search #LTY on Twitter to read the entire Yahoo! Music chat with Love & Theft!

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