Adam Hood creates his own unique brand of American music. An Alabama boy with a ton of soul, Hood is not afraid to showcase all the pieces that make up his musical puzzle. He is able to twang with the countriest, moan with the bluesiest and rock heaviest. Through it all, his soulful southern twang is at the root of it. Hood’s long been a favorite around Texas and this edition of 20 questions finds him wrapping up a tour with Willie Nelson, releasing a new EP, readying a full studio album and headlining Greenfest 2011. Check out this edition of 20 Questions to find out about Hood’s connections to Miranda Lambert, how he tries to maintain three residences and if he’s finally had a good time on a Tuesday night.
1. It’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from Adam Hood. What have you been up to?
Well, I guess the last time we talked about new music was 2007! Wow! I took some time away from traveling and stayed in Alabama a bit. I got my head together and started writing again and that’s the majority of what I’ve done until this year.
2. Tell us about the new EP. Where did you record it? Who played on it?
We put these 5 songs together when I got the call to be on the Throwdown Tour. I needed something a little more current to sell and these tunes were part of the writing collection that I had accumulated over the last few years. I knew that I needed some new songs to sing or I ‘d have to do a lot of starting over.
Stuart Mathiss handled most of the lead work and the other guitars came in at different times to record. I actually got to play electric on this album as well. The last half of the solo on “Used To Be My Sunshine” was mine. Most of my lead playing will be on the album released September 20th!
3. Name association
Randy Rogers– Innovative. Melodies and lyrics are extremely interesting.
Jason Eady– Greasy and soulful. We were both raised in the southeast. You can hear a lot of blues and gospel influence in his music
Wade Bowen– Gracious. I first met Wade in 2004 when I started coming to Texas. We started writing the past two years. Between writing and touring with him, he’s become what I call a friend. He’s given me as many opportunities as most people have collectively.
Sean McConnell– Elvis. Watching him sing is the only time I’ve ever heard girls scream the whole time someone performs.
Drew Kennedy– Intelligent. Too intelligent for country music and a master at practical jokes.
Brandon Rhyder– Exellent performer. He’s a powerful singer and captivates the audience. His backup band is exellent.
Cody Canada– Individual. He’s the first example I ever understood hearing people say ”you’ll get it when you see him live”. I saw him live for the first time in Birmingham and it kicked me right in the chest. I’ve been a fan ever since.
4. The online community of sites like Galleywinter has been instrumental in introducing you to new fans in Texas and beyond. What do you make of the modern music business model that makes utilizing the web as important as gigging?
The fact that the internet is a free open market, a lot of the middle man aspects have been taken away. Meaning, music can go directly from composer to the consumer. I decided to take a grassroots approach to getting my music out there. It gives each person the opportunity to like or dislike my music. It keeps me honest and allows people to appreciate my music for the right reasons. Galleywinter is the reason why anyone hears about my music and comes to see me play. My closest friends in Texas associate themselves with Galleywinter and it allows every Texas music fan to hear and discuss what’s going on through a common ground. If there is a business model to follow, this one seems to work for me.
5. Miranda Lambert has been instrumental in furthering your career along. I’ve heard Drew Kennedy and others tell the tale of that night you fatefully met Miranda at Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Roots N Branches radio show in Gruene. What’s your version of events?
Bev, Miranda’s mother, said that their car broke down in Gruene so they decided to stay the night and came in to have a drink. I remember seeing her half way through the set. I walked outside and Miranda introduced herself to me. I gave her the 21 to Enter CD and two weeks later Bev called and asked me to play Miranda’s birthday party at Joe’s in Chicago. The next time I saw Miranda, she was wearing my t-shirt. I continued to open shows and write with for the following two years. I personally like Drew’s story better (laughs).
6. You’ve been a road warrior playing stages all across the US. What’s your favorite thing to do to pass the time when traveling on a long run?
Simply eat and sleep.
7. Stories behind the following songs:
Different Groove– My mother gave me a Mark Cohn album and said she wanted me to write a song like a particular track that she liked. I went on her front porch. I can’t remember the song but after three hours passed, nothing about the two songs were similar. My “good friend” that I mention in the second verse is Wynn Christian. Look him up.
Shelly– The name was changed to protect the guilty. She was a girl and I named her Shelly. I was listening to Doyle Bramhall’s album entitled Jellycream, and that album inspired the melody and the groove.
Flame and Gasoline– Wrote it with Jason Saenz. He came in with the idea to write a song about a relationship being like gasoline to a flame. The first two lines came to me immediately. I see people like that at every venue and every show across the country. They are bound to get in a fight and someone might go to jail.
This Thing- Written with Billy Falcon. I’d love to say that there was a specific inspiration behind the song. But the idea was more general that you’d think. We felt like writing a soulful tune that day. We had another song chosen and my mom insisted that “This Thing” take it’s place. Moms always know best.
Late Night Diner- Justin Johnson and I would eat at the same waffle house after every Birmingham gig. One night a young girl, in a short dress, came in with her boyfriend. They sat down and ordered and shortly after, her phone rang. Apparently it was her father telling her to come home. She started crying and telling him that she was 19 and old enough to be out that late. They left and didn’t pay for their food. It was originally called “Waffle House 19″.
Buzzes Like Neon– Written about the neon sign on top of the Western Auto Building in Kansas City. I wrote that song in 2004 and Kansas City was as far from home as I‘d ever been by myself. That was the way that I felt during that time.
Never Comes Easy– This song was cut in half to put on the record. There were two other verses that were scenarios of my life. The verse that made the record was about the first gig that I played on a school night. I was a junior in high school and I played Monday night from 9pm-1am at the Crazy Horse in Auburn. When I got to the bar, I walked in and passed a guy in that was a junior as well. He was holding a beer pitcher that he was yacking in. The bar was shut down within a month.
Song For 3 Girls– Written with Lady Goodman. She has a journalism degree and wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine. Basically, the song took two days. I spent the first day jabbering about my life and she took notes. A week later, she came in with lyrics and I tweeked them to fit the melody.
Shape of Things– This is the only song that I’ve written completely by myself in five years. It was a month before my 35th birthday and I was burned out with all that was going on …..and not to mention that my hair was turning gray. A friend of mine came up to me one night and jokingly made a comment about my hair. I finished my drink. Then, went home and wrote the song.
Whole Town Talking– I wasn’t playing or writing as much when we were making theDifferent Groove album. When I wasn’t in California, I was in Alabama and bored outta my mind. Monday night was my time to be social. They became notorious and we all know how small towns work.
Used To Be Your Sunshine– Written with Casey Twist. The majority of the idea was Casey’s. He had the story and I helped to paint the picture. I’m really proud of that song and I think he’s an incredible songwriter.
8. You have a very distinctive, yet eclectic sound. This latest batch of songs really showcases your country and soul roots. Who were your biggest musical influences coming up? Do you ever listen back to one of your tracks and hear some of those influences subconsciously seeping out?
Like most kids that grown up in the south, the songs that I heard first and remember best were sung on Sunday’s and came from the Baptist Hymnal. My dad listened to everything that came on country radio in the early 80’s and my mom listened to R&B music on vinyl. I grew up on everything from Johnny Paycheck and Merle Haggard to The Gap Band and The Commodores. I was 11 when Prince released Purple Rain and I was 16 when Garth Brooks released No Fences. Then, I discovered John Hiatt’s Bring the Family. I could hear both genres of music in each song on Bring the Family and he wrote them all. I knew what I wanted to do and it’s still what I want to do.
As far as my music is concerned, I try to listen for those things to happen. I just can’t really hear it yet. I’m still listening.
9. Is it surreal to be a part of a large-scale touring operation like Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown tour?
Surreal is the best word to describe the Throwdown Tour. There were days that I lit up like a little kid about the people that I met and the places that we played. However, being backstage and participating in the day-to-day operations of such a production was a big eye opener for me. It was a wonderful experience and I’m honored to have been a part of it.
10. In your travels, have you encountered any other scenes that are similar to the Texas/Red Dirt scene? To that end, what do you think makes this scene so unique?
I can honestly say that there is no scene in existence, that I’ve seen, that is anything comparable to that of the Texas music scene. It is completely self-sufficient. The bands and artists are supported by appreciative listeners, radio stations, free press and venues. No one makes excuses for not coming to support a show. Fans drive, take off work, pay full price and refuse to listen to the top 40 stations to see a show. Because of that, the Texas artists make it a priority to give the audience the quality in a show that they deserve. This is true for every time, every situation and every scenario. If they aren’t feeling it, they have every right to tell you as well.
11. You still make your home in Opelika, AL. Do people treat you differently back home now that you’ve achieved some level of success with your music career?
My birth certificate will always read Opelika, Alabama and that’s where my momma still gets most of my bills. I’ve been shacking it up with Brian Keene in Austin and I still write for Carnival in Nashville. All three of these cities are major cornerstones in what I am trying to do. Funny how it takes three places to lay my head to make me stable.
Seems like people’s perspective of me in Alabama has reached a level plane. When I started touring in Texas, it kinda legitimized what I was trying to do. People seem to be proud of the things that I’ve accomplished but don’t really treat me any different.
12. Most memorable moment from touring the following towns:
–Houston: The Rhythm Room because it was such a cool dive. It was the second place in Texas that we really felt at home. It reminded me a lot of The Nick in Birmingham, Alabama.
–Dallas: The first time that we opened for Ian Moore at Poor David’s. I’ve always been a huge fan since the first album. I saw him open for Lynyrd Skynyrd in Birmingham and I have followed his career ever since. Opening for him was like opening for The Beatles to me. Justin Johnson and I were playing solo acoustic back then (at Poor David’s Pub 2004) and we were in the back of the room talking to David during Ian’s set. Ian went into a quiet part of a ballad, the room became silent, and David began to dance behind the bar and mock Ian. In mid-dance, David leaned over and punched Justin in the face. The shock on Justin’s face was priceless.
–New Braunfels: We played a show at Gruene Hall during the promotion of my single, “22 Days Too Long”. I’ll never forget that we played the song twice during the set, something I refuse to do, and everyone sang along. It was a tribute to KNBT and how appreciative the fans had become of what I do. Gruene Hall is one place in Texas that has always treated me like family. Gruene Hall has always let me feel the love.
-Lubbock: The night always starts out good but all I can say is they poor big jagerbombs at The Blue Light. (laughs)
–Shreveport: The last time that we played there, the booking agent said that they had a band house where we could stay. We got to the house after the show and discovered that an employee occupied half the house and the other part belonged to a chocolate lab. Dogs don’t keep a clean house and I’ll never forget the mass piles of dirt, dog hair and feathers that covered the bed I chose. The TV in the room had DVD’s of latino pornography scattered on top. We got a room at The Days Inn and I haven’t played there since.
-Austin: Once when we played The Saxon Pub Billy Bob Thorton stayed for our whole set. He’s probably the biggest star that I’ve ever met.
–Fort Worth: Willie’s Picnic as the final show for the Country Throwdown Tour. It was the most legendary show that I’ve ever been a part of.
–Little Rock: We opened for Pete Anderson at Sticky Fingers. Meeting Pete changed my life.
–Oklahoma City: I’ve played Hangover Ball twice. Those shows felt like a welcome to the club.
13. The last time we did this interview, you told us about the worst gig you’d ever had. An experience that took place in Aiken, SC and ended up with security getting knocked out and being paid in $1’s. Have you had a gig top that? And, on the flip side, can you recall a gig that you thought went perfectly?
With all the weddings and yard parties that I have played, I’m positive that at least one is neck and neck. However, that is still the one that sticks out as being the worst.
I’ve thought hard about the perfect gig. The imperfections in music can be some of the most memorable moments at times. Perfection is something that I have learned not to shoot for. Something is always going to happen and the challenge is to play through hiccups and have a good time. If I feel like we gave it our all, that’s close enough to perfect for me.
14. What are your long-term career goals coming off this EP release?
I’d like to take this part of my career and use it to focus more on touring and performing as a songwriter. I’m very fortunate that a good number of Texas artists have recorded songs that I have written or songs that we co-wrote together. I’d like to spend time opening for people that appreciate it enough to record it. I like playing band shows but the majority of my career has been spent acoustic and I think it suits my style.
15. Who is a band or act that is undiscovered that you wish more people would turn on to?
Brent Cobb is a fella that I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with over the last few years. We both write for Carnival and he was one of the Bluebird Café singer/songwriters on the Throwdown Tour. I was one of the first people that he wrote with when he moved to Nashville. The first song that we wrote together was “Go Outside and Dance” and it is going to be a single from the upcoming Eli Young Band album. Brent is the most talented, clever, creative lyricist and melody maker that I’ve ever written with, by far. His attitude about the industry is spot on and he knows things at 24 that I still can’t figure out. He’s the most genuine person that I’ve ever met. I’m more excited to see what the future holds for him than I am my own. He’s good people. Tony Brook is an Alabama songwriter and musician that is my hero. Utilize YouTube on your Google machine. Check them out!
16. Have you had a good time on a Tuesday night yet?
Nope. I keep hoping but it never happens.
17. You’re adept at playing killer gigs acoustically or with a band. What do you enjoy most about each?
I love the freedom and the intimacy of playing by myself. Typically, I play my telecaster through a small watt amp more than an acoustic guitar when I play solo. The tone is perfect for what I’m doing. I don’t have to worry about set lists, tempos, who plays what, knowledge of requested songs and I don’t have to sing above anything other than my own instrument. I’m in complete control. On the other hand, there’s nothing cooler than when a group of guys can lock in and play a song together. It’s powerful, loud and the crowd always responds. I have moments when I lean one way or the other but both are great.
18. Rapid fire:
–Favorite Allman Brothers guitarist…Duane Allman, Dicky Betts, Derek Trucks or Warren Haynes? Dicky Betts
–Favorite shot? Chilled patron, no training wheels!
–Favorite song about the state of Alabama? “My Home’s In Alabama” by Alabama
–Cam Newton or Bo Jackson? Bo Jackson
–Favorite old school blues tune? “Rollin and Tumblin’ ” by Elmore James
19. Everybody gets this question…what’s your favorite George Strait song and why?
“Marina del Ray”. I just think it’s beautiful.
20. What do you feel makes your music stand out in such a crowded industry?
While I was on the Throwdown Tour, the other five songwriters and myself spent a lot of time talking about popular songs, who’s cutting what and whatnot. Seems like now a days, the only thing that makes a song country, blues or rock is because the lyrics say so. Rednecks and trucks, chicks and rock-n-roll, etc. Songs aren’t defined by the uniqueness of the artists performing them or the feel of the song itself. I try to make my music sound and feel like something specific. Melodies, tempos, and keys are all components that make up the feel of a song and it’s neglected more than anything else in song composition, in my opinion. Sadly enough, because I bother, it sets me apart.