In May 2010, two weeks after a thousand-year flood devastated parts of Nashville, TN, Will Hoge and his band drove 14 hours back home to perform a single song on stage at the historic Ryman Auditorium. He’d been invited to perform the finale of a nationally televised benefit concert stacked with high-profile artists like Keith Urban, Keb Mo and Brad Paisley. But as a native son of Nashville and a true home-town rock star with an extraordinary ability to connect with a crowd, Hoge’s powerhouse vocal on “Washed By The Water” proved the perfect climax and well worth the long haul. We chatted with Will before his show tomorrow at Vinyl.
Tell me about the writing and recording of Number Seven.
I write constantly so that just is a never ending process. The record really started as a series of demos, we had about four songs we wanted to try. We start recording at my house, in the basement. We started with that and literally, that weekend, we found out the studio across town opened up and a friend of mine who had engineered the last few records was available to come work with us in the studio. The next thing you know, we are back in the studio working on songs. It sort of fell together.
Seriously, how does a white guy from Nashville, TN end up with so much soul?
(Laughter) Maybe we should ask my mom if there is a story there.
Growing up, who would you say has influenced you musically?
My old man was a musician in a post Beatles invasion era, where everyone started a band. He still has this incredible record collection. I spent my formative years when everyone was listening to Poison and Motley Crue on a steady vinyl diet of the Temptations, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Otis Redding…that sort of era of classic rock/vinyl is what I go back to a lot of times. It’s what I grew up on.
Do you have a song from Number Seven you are most connected to?
There’s a few. The song “Trying To Be A Man” is one that I always come back to. It was a scratch vocal take that we did just as a demo. Something about it just was right. We tried three of four other times to record it and make it quote “better” but it just never had that same effect.
We brought Vince Gill in to play guitar. He brought a whole new element of emotion to the song. He has been an inspiration and a hero to me musically so that was one that is very special.
Speaking of Vince, he introduced you and played with you on your debut at the Grand Ole Opry. What was that experience like?
It was really….I know magical is an overused term but it really was magical. Having grown up in and around Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry is seen as almost mythical. So many heroes of mine have stood on that stage and played that show. I listened to it so many times on the radio and watched it on TV over the years. To get the invitation was really flattering and of course we jumped at the chance. The day before we found out Vince would be hosting the segment and we asked if he would play, he said yes. He then asked us to come out and do an encore, a song for him and Amy. It went really went from being an incredible evening to an incredibly surreal experience I truly will never forget.
Will Hoge will play Vinyl on Thursday, 3/29/2012.