Interview: Will Hoge
Thu, 12 Sep 2013 09:24:05
Will Hoge Videos
For Will Hoge, the title of his new album Never Give In (due October 15) is quite telling.
"It encompasses a lot of things," he says. "The song is really based on a relationship between a man and a woman that has weathered hard times and fought to grow. There's some truth in that with my wife which I really appreciate. On a larger note, it's about the mentality of this whole organization. The roller coaster ride I've been through musically, emotionally, professionally, and physically with labels and without labels changing bands and managers, we're here. We started our own label and we're having more success than ever. That's all due to the fact we've never stopped and we never give in."
Well, all that hard work is continuing to pay off. The latest single from Never Give In, "Strong", is an uplifting and undeniable country anthem that coasts to the heavens on Hoge's robust voice. Across the record, his songwriting comes to life vividly with some of the best storytelling you'll hear all year. It's the kind of music that encourages you to Never Give In…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Will Hoge talks "Strong", Never Give In, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Strong"?
We had this new record Never Give In done, but I'm just always writing for other people, myself, or to write. It was just another writing session. We finished the song. I felt really good about the story it told and I liked the imagery. We were trying to portray what we loved about our fathers, and we're talking about the fathers we want to be. We all have kids. That's what the song was born out of. After, all of this stuff came up about Chevy wanting to use the song. It took on a life of its own. We were still able to get it on the album and out there. At this point, it's the biggest selling single I've ever had. People seem to react to the song. I hope it's going to be a centerpiece for this record.
Do you feel like it opens the door to the record?
I hope so. Obviously, I don't think we had that plan initially because we didn't know what was going to happen with it. Of course, I hope it's something that introduces us to a larger audience and on the 15th of October, there's a whole lot more people interested in hearing this record. The album will only further people's belief in what we're doing if they've heard the song.
It picks up where the last EP left off.
I think it does. I don't feel like it's this huge departure from what we've done. I feel like everything is growth naturally in terms of the sound and songwriting. I hope people feel that way when they hear it.
What ties the record together for you?
One of the things I think we've been able to do as we make more records is really get to the core of each song. On this album in particular, I feel like we did that. We tried to keep things to a minimum production-wise to get to, like I said, the core of the song. If it's a country song, don't be afraid to let it be a country song. If it's a rock song, don't be afraid to let it be a rock song. I think we did a really good job of that with Never Give In.
You can hear how natural it is on "Strong".
I feel that way!
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
It is for me. Even as a fan, that's something I'm still drawn to. I'm attracted to things that tell a great story or leave you with a very visual image of what you're hearing in the music. I can't say whether or not I do a good job of that. I try hard to, but that's up to the listener to say whether or not I've accomplished that mission.
You encompass numerous genres as well…
People ask, "When did you go country?" I don't feel like we've "gone" anything. Country has embraced what we're doing. I'm not going to say "No" to anybody who wants to spread the word about what I'm doing musically or let me sing to a larger audience. That's why I'm here. I grew up in Nashville. Country was a huge part of my upbringing as was rock 'n' roll, punk rock, and R&B. All of those things are reflected in the music I make at some point because that's what I grew up on.
Nashville is so musically rich across the board.
It is. It's more so that way than it was seven or eight years ago or ten or fifteen years ago. It's getting better and better. The more people who come to Nashville from other parts of the country, they realize that. It's truly the greatest music town on the planet.
What artists shaped you?
There are a lot. I still love Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Otis Redding as well as guys like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Those guys continue to make great records and challenge themselves and their fans to keep growing and changing with them. That's the list of people I admire and look up to.
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