10 Questions with ... Hunter Hayes
October 26, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Hunter Hayes was born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where his mother was a teacher and his father was a mechanic. Hayes grew up singing songs in both English and French, and he began his musical career at age two, when his grandmother gave him a toy accordion. At four, he began making appearances locally and on national television. It has been noted that Hayes received his first guitar from actor Robert Duvall at age six, and at age seven, he was invited to perform for President Bill Clinton for a White House lawn party. In 2008, he moved from Breaux Bridge to Nashville, Tennessee and signed with Universal Music Publishing Group as a songwriter after being discovered via MySpace. In September of 2010, Hayes was signed to Atlantic Records Nashville and began working on what would become his major-label debut, the self-titled "Hunter Hayes," released in late 2011. Hayes has since charted multiple singles and been honored with various industry nominations and awards. On September 7, 2012, he was inducted at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans, Louisiana into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame as its youngest member.
1. Hunter, you are one of the most talented musicians on the scene currently. You play guitar, piano, drums ... and you began your love of music by learning to play the accordion at age two. How many instruments in total do you play, and what is the "strangest" instrument you play?
Well thank you very much for that very kind intro. It's kinda difficult to answer that question cause for me it's not about a number but just the fun of finding a new instrument and figuring out how to make noise with it. My home is guitar and that's the only instrument I'll profess to "know" but even then I use that word carefully. Hah. But again, I appreciate the kind words!
2. You have a string of hits already under your belt, and you are still a young man. If you could pattern your career after any artist, whose would it be and why?
That's a great question. One which I have spent many, MANY hours and days and ages trying to answer quite frankly. It's been so many different people from Garth to Bublé to Springsteen. What I've come down to seems to have been right in front of my face which is that if I spend so much time modeling my steps after anyone I'll forget what it's like to be myself. It's a scary thing to let go of a strategy and a "plan" to sort of model after but it's ironically what all of my favorite artists have done so I think that if I model anything after anyone it'll be the effort of not really doing so if that makes any sense. It's so easy to put pressure on things, numbers, figures, stats and what not. All that matters is that I get to walk on stage, put on a massive show for the fans and hear them sing something I had something to do with making. That is when the music matters and that's where the heart is.
3. On your first album, you wrote or co-wrote every track, co-produced the album, and played every instrument on each track. On your sophomore album, you again co-wrote and co-produced each track, but you invited some musicians in to lend a hand. Who were your guest musicians on this project, and how did it make the recording process different for you?
I'm blessed to tour with not only a great band but a group of very individual musicians with each their own iconic style and presence. I wouldn't say its a preference one way or another and building a track alone has its advantages and I still love working that way, however, this was a record that I was very passionate about getting away from my comfort zone. It just doesn't make sense to do the same thing twice "just because" and I felt this record needed more exploration. Every record does and will and it's a thing where you should never have a "system" of any kind. This record was all about being a NEW record and I'd never really had the chance to track with the band I tour with. I really wanted to and felt I'd quite frankly be stupid not to considering their perspectives gave the whole sound a new dimension that each of them found in their own ways. It was also just fun to work with people I consider to be close friends.
4. Your current single, "Tattoo," is climbing the charts. If you were forced to get someone's name tattooed on you today, whose would it be and why?
Not quite there yet. Lol. Give me a little more time to think about it! Hah. I almost prefer symbols to names now. (I know, such a walking contradiction)
5. You got a henna tattoo and went on the TODAY Show to announce your new Fall tour. But that wasn't your first time stunting for the camera. Word on the street is that you appeared on two episodes of Maury Povich! Can you tell us about those appearances?
We've had some fantastic opportunities to perform on some pretty epic stages this year. Ellen, Kimmel, Today, GMA and so many other cool shows. It's been a fun year.
6. You've been busy on radio tour lately. Why was it important to you to go out on radio tour again in support of this album?
So many reasons. The support I've received from the Country Radio Family is not something I take lightly and certainly not something I'd ever take for granted. It's been my dream my entire life to have my songs all over the country on the radio. Having my first number one was life changing and every song after that that has climbed the charts has meant equally as much. But I don't just want to say thank you from a distance I want to show our appreciation in any way I can not only to the family at radio but the fans and listeners who have accepted us into their lives. It might sound a bit serious but that's because for me, it is and I want everyone to know that. Also, it's just FUN to play acoustic and do gigs where we can play whatever and just chat and goof off with the fans. It keeps the spirit of the music alive for us and I look forward to it so much. I love it.
7. You've got a full schedule these days, Hunter. You're a self-proclaimed coffee addict, so can you share your secret for the perfect cup of coffee on the go?
Man I've been getting into espressos lately. Don't know much about it all but I'm learning a bit more as I go. We now have three-four different coffee machines on the bus so we can cater to anyone's coffee needs. Lol. Gotten really into the iced stuff lately too. Something I didn't see coming. Also, chocolate covered espresso beans are a game changer.
8. You've shared the stage with legends like Hank Williams Jr. and Stevie Wonder as well as contemporaries such as Jason Mraz and John Legend. Of the many artists you've had the opportunity to perform with, who left you the most star struck and why?
I didn't share the stage with him, but, everyone on my team heard me beg and plead to be introduced to him at the ACMs this year and thus I met Garth. I've been the biggest Garth fan since before I can even remember. When I plan my live shows I'm not afraid to admit that I just wanna be like him. I have so many things I'd say to him if I had another chance or if I could sit down and ask him all the questions in the world but in the moment I met him I could hardly speak. He's an icon to me and will always be.
9. You've acted, flown planes, and even been a substitute meteorologist during your visit to the TODAY Show. If you weren't a musician, what career would you be pursuing?
I don't know if it's even possible for me to consider anything else. Thus it leads me to say I'd still be involved with the world I love. Somehow. If it wasn't musical I'd probably be involved with lighting and production or something. But I'd definitely be begging to play something for someone somehow. Lol.
10. You used your last single, "Invisible," to raise awareness about bullying. Why is that cause important to you, and what experiences influenced you to write such a powerful song?
I spent a long time living on nothing but a dream. I didn't have any proof or promises that my hours a day working on demos or jamming along to records or writing would ever pay off but I felt like I had no choice but to believe. I was so passionate about making music and doing it for the rest of my life I never gave myself the chance to back away from it. However I know that it's easy to be talked out of a dream or even just to be talked out of being yourself. I consider myself blessed to have the story I have and I know that someone might need this perspective so if I or the music I make can be a small part of giving someone a reason to believe in themselves I see that as a massive achievement.
1. Have you ever met a fan who had a tattoo inspired by you, and if so, what was the tattoo of?
I've seen some awesome ink with lyrics and that's always an incredibly feeling. Just awesome.
2. You have a cut on your "Storyline" album called "Wild Card." In the song, you talk about twists of fate and shooting stars. Are you superstitious or do you believe in signs?
I see things, little things, in everyday life that I know God scripts and sculpts and places and I view them more as little miracles that we very easily overlook but if we really tune in, this life is full of beautiful little moments we should pay more attention to.
3. We've heard rumors that you have been cast in a remake of the 1980s Brat Pack classic "The Breakfast Club." Is there any truth to this rumor? And if you could play any role in a movie remake, what character and film would you choose?
Wow. That sounds cool. But honestly, right now I'm too busy planning a tour.