Posted by Tim Regan / Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Will Hoge has been a busy man, but he’s about to get a lot busier: his most recent album, “Never Give In,” drops next Tuesday Oct. 15, and he’s about to embark on a cross-country tour that includes a stop at our very own Jammin’ Java for two shows next Friday and Saturday. We caught up with Hoge to talk his music, his songwriting and the “chaos” of live performances:
Your new album is called Never Give In. Your first single from the album is called “Strong.” I’m seeing a lot of inspiration and hope there. What’s the theme or message of this album?
I don’t know that it’s preconceived. I would come across sounding way smarter than I was if I said “well I really wanted people to feel…” I don’t discover until the record’s done. But I do think this album is this sort of belief that there is always hope, even in some of these songs where there’s dark themes and things like that. I like that there’s a sense in being hopeful in all of those things.
How does this record relate to your growth as an artist? Do you try to grow with every album you put out?
I mean, again, I don’t think it’s this preconceived thing when I write…people would say, “what’s your inspiration for writing?” And you know, it’s just sort of a reflection of where I am as a person, the people that I’m around, what we’re all going through and the experiences that we have. So that’s never really changed. Now I have a wife and two kids and friends that have been married and been divorced and remarried and had other kids, and there’s just so many things that I’ve experienced that I didn’t have any idea what that was like when I was 20, or even 30. It may not be a conscious thing to grow as a writer, but as you soak in the world around you, I want to think that I want to grow, and I’d like to think that I do.
You said that when you record an album it relates to who you are at that particular time. Where do you see yourself as a person now?
It’s an interesting time for me because I think that I’m really starting to establish myself outside of the music thing as a husband and a father and trying to have a real sense of normalcy in that part of my life. As an artist, there was a point in the last couple years as some success, quote-unquote, has come my way. All of a sudden, there’s some people paying attention that weren’t paying attention before. It’s cast me in a different light artistically. I’m real flattered by that. In some ways, it could be more pressure, but…I’ve always looked at it like was validation for years of hard work, that I wasn’t a total idiot for continuing to do this.
You partnered with Chevrolet for your single “Strong.” Last I checked, the music video had half a million views. This is your biggest single to date. Do you see this as a defining or breakout moment for your career?
It’s sort of egotistical for me to say that, but I know that there are a lot of people that I entrust that start to make those statements and I want to hope that it is. I hope that it is. It would be nice to finally have a breakout moment. But we sold a hundred-thousand copies of the record at this point, which is far and above anything that we’ve ever done before, and anything that I’d probably have even hoped for. And it’s just getting started. It feels like there’s a lot of excitement about the record and about that song, and yeah man, I’d love to have one of those big obnoxious radio songs. It’d be awesome.
Did you have someone specific in mind when you wrote the song?
The two writers and myself…Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley are the other two writers. It was unspoken, but I know for me and after the fact having talked to them, I think we were channeling a lot of what we perceived our fathers to be growing up. These sort of superhero-do-the-right-thing kind of guys. And then as [parents] ourselves of young kids. I think it was more a situation of hoping, this is the example we set for our children after we’re gone. The biggest response is people hearing that song and saying “it reminds me of my dad,” or “it reminds me of my uncle.”
You’ve produced a mountain of material. How often do you write?
As often as I can…every few days, if not every day. Then it’s a matter of figuring out where the songs go: do you save it for yourself or do you find somebody else to record it? It’s a constant battle but one that’s exciting.
What can audiences expect at your upcoming Jammin Java performances?
It’s different every night. The NASCAR analogy that we always make is, people aren’t fans because they want to see them race. They go because there’s a chance that they’ll crash. I think a good live show is that same sort of thing. There should be something every night for me and the band, as well as the audience, where there’s this kind of moment of just utter chaos where you don’t really know exactly what’s going to happen, how the band’s going to get out of it…and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we fall on our face. The song may fall apart, but we’re going for something. I want it to be this really primal, raw experience. It should be everything. It should be loud and fast songs, it should be slow and quiet songs, or solo acoustic songs. It should really take you on a roller coaster ride. We try to change that every single night, especially when we’re fortunate enough to be doing two nights in the same place. It’ll be two very different shows each night. Folks will find something in each of them that they really like.
You’re on tour now until December. What’s after that?
There’s a lot of things after this record comes out…there’s some touring opportunities with larger artists that I’m hoping will present themselves. But I’m also hoping for more writing, more recording, and more playing.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.