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{20 Questions} Will Hoge

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Will Hoge is an artist we have been championing for a long time.  He continues to make inroads in the Texas market while simultaneously growing his national status.  Will took time out of his busy schedule to knock out a round of our 20 Questions prior to his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight.  He touches on how cool it is to hear his tunes on the radio, the importance a Georgia Satellite has had in his musical growth, his recovery from the near tragic scooter accident and delves into the motivation behind some of his most well-known songs.
1. Your career has really taken off in  the past couple years with the success of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Strong”.  What’s ahead for Will Hoge in 2014?  

Trying to really take advantage of the momentum we have…touring in new markets in front of new fans and keep spreading the word of the newest record Never Give In.

2.  Thanks to folks like Wade Bowen and Mattson Rainer at 92.1 KNBT in New Braunfels, and online avenues like our website and Rita Ballou, your music has spread like wildfire throughout the Texas scene.  What do you enjoy most about playing in Texas?  Do you notice a difference in Texas crowds opposed to other states, areas or scenes? 

Definitely different…I’ve said it before, Texas isn’t concerned with labels on music. They don’t care how you classify it, if they like it they like it. That’s how it should be.

3.  
Name association: 

Randy Rogers – Beard.

Mando Saenz – Nice guy.

Wade Bowen – Hard worker.

Sean McConnell – Great singer.

Adam Hood – Fun to write with.

Marc Broussard – Old friend.

Miranda Lambert – Very kind.

Jack Ingram – Rock star.

Jason Isbell – Triple threat.

4.  Your music has distinct flourishes of country, soul and rock in it.  You grew up around the Nashville music community and your father was a working musician.  So, what type of music was played most in the Hoge household growing up?

Everything. And I was so lucky for it. I got Everly Brothers, I got Hank Williams, I got Zeppelin, I got Haggard and everything in between.

5.  What’s the best part of being a professional musician?  Conversely, what’s the worst part?

Being on the road…and being on the road. (laughs)

6.  Your live show is where you’ve made your name.  Your performances are intense and personal no matter the venue size you’re in.  Who are some of your favorite performers?  Have you ever seen someone else doing something onstage, dug it and tried to incorporate it in your stage show? 

The people I mentioned above were all folks who I loved watching too. There’s folks I’ve seen that make me want to be better, but nobody I’ve ever seen and tried to rip off.

7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns: 

AustinStubb’s…major! 

Dallas – Playing with Wade at the Granada Theater.

Houston-Seeing a 50’s tele at the pawnshop next to Dosey Doe and wishing I had $20k to get it.

New Orleans -Playing “Rocking in the Free World” with Midnight Oil on last night of our tour.

Little Rock -Paul Thorn’s broken down van.

Oklahoma City– Meatball on Green River Ordinance’s floor Tom.

New Braunfels-Tie between any visit with Mattson and any visit to Coopers BBQ.

Memphis-Levitt Shell – awesome gig.

Oxford-Recording  the “America EP” there with our buddy Andrew.

Shreveport– Leaving.

8.  You’ve logged thousands of miles and gigs.  What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed in your travels?

Nothing I would print that anyone would read. (laughs) 

9.  How did you come to work with Dan Baird of Georgia Satellites fame?  How important was he in the early development of your career?

He came and saw one of my very first shows and wanted to produce a record. I didn’t need a producer then but he ended up playing guitar. He’s a true friend and mentor and one of my favorite people in the business.

10. Stories behind the following songs:

“Dirty Little War”– My folks were in a divorce, I was in a breakup, my brother was in a breakup…just seemed close to home. 

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart”– I was still off the road from the wreck and late to everything. I showed up to this write with Eric Paslay. We just started talking about my wreck, our love of music, how we both used to try and sneak in places to see it, etc. About 15 mins later we had our song. He wanted it a little happier than I did, I’m glad I won that battle.

“The Highway’s Home”-Just one of the more autobiographical songs…spend a decade plus on the road and that’s what you get.

“Not That Cool”-Sitting at the Exit In and heard this square looking guy hammered and hitting on every girl in the bar. Somehow it worked for him…he left with a girl and I left with that song.

“Your Fool” -Written about a girl I just kept going back to and back to.

“Strong”– I was working on some stuff with my cousin Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley. They had started this and we finished it, recorded a work tape and it took off.

“Ms. Williams”Started about a bunch of girls I saw stumbling home on West End.

“She Don’t Care”-A girl I would watch walking to work everyday who didn’t give a rat’s ass that I was alive.

“Hard To Love” – Start of realizing that relationships are things that take a lot of work.

“When I Get My Wings” – I read a story in The Tennessean about an old lady who died and was survived by her husband of 60 plus years. I just thought about how hard it had to be for him. 

11.  You famously were involved in a serious motorcycle accident prior to the release of your record, The Wreckage.  Are you fully recovered?  How has that entire experience influenced your music and career? 

I’ll never be quote “fully recovered”…I have a metal rod in my leg. I do feel great again though, but it took a long time. That was five years ago and it totally changed everything in my life. It made me realize that there are other important things in life other than music and a career.

12.  Every band has a gig horror story about that one night that was so awful it became comical.  Without naming names, unless you want to…what’s that story for Will Hoge?

A place called New Brookland Tavern in South Carolina. It rained on stage. They cussed out a bunch of girls who came to see us. Actually, it’s a tie with them and Barboza in Seattle. Only two places I’ve ever said I would never go back.

13.  How do you think Nashville has informed your music in ways that would’ve been impossible if you were say from Duluth? 

I don’t really. I mean, being born and raised there there was more of a focus on music than a lot of places, but I would have been able to still stumble on the music that shaped me. I hope.

14.  Before pursuing music full-time, you attended college with the aspirations of becoming a teacher.  What type of teacher would Mr. Hoge be?  

History teacher…but that was also to get me to be able to coach basketball.

15.  What are your favorite hobbies away from music?

I’ve taken up golf recently. It’s really addictive.

16.   What’s the significance of the anchor tattoo on your left forearm?  Do you have a favorite tattoo artist or studio?

I used to be a pirate. The Ink Spot in Troy, MO.

17.  Is it every surreal to be flipping through the channels and hear your voice on a Chevy commercial or “You Make Me Happy” kicking off a rerun of Still Standing?  Is it as cool as everyone says to hear one of your tunes on the radio?

Yes and yes. Anyone that tells you they don’t like hearing themselves on radio is lying.

18. Rapid fire:

-Favorite restaurant?   Strip House – NYC

-Otis Redding or Ray Charles?  Both

-Did Dan Baird ever tell anyone in your presence to keep their hands to themselves?  (laughs) No.

-Hank Sr or Hank Jr? Senior.

-Favorite sports team? Vanderbilt Commodores

19.  This may be hard for a Tennessee based rocker, but we ask everyone this question.  Since the man has so many number one hits and such a vast catalog of songs it always provokes an interesting answer.  What’s your favorite George Strait song and why?

“Amarillo By Morning”. Still. Such a great song.

20.  You’re someone who has been on the cusp of a mainstream breakthrough for a few years now.  What do you see as the main differences between the type of music you’re making and what’s topping the charts these days?

Man, I don’t really worry about what other people are doing. Some of it I like, some I don’t…I just try and make the best music I can and hope it reaches the biggest audience it can. Some songs I write I hold on to, some could be hits for others and some will be “Another Song Nobody Will Hear”.

 

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