Here at Keepin’ it Country, we value songwriting and real country music. Country music has always been about the song writing and story telling, and our next act in our “Ones To Watch” feature is the shining example of that. I had the chance to sit down with THE FARM shortly after their Grand Ole Opry debut. THE FARM is made up of three song writing best friends: Krista Marie, Nick Hoffman (who has been part of Kenny Chesney‘s band for years,) and Damien Horne. The three sat down together in 2010 to write a song, and then, as they share in our interview, the rest became history. Find out exactly how the trio decided they were “all-in” and why we think we’ll be seeing big things from the group over the next few years.
Krista, Nick, and Damien share what it was like to play the Grand Ole Opry, how hard it is for Krista to work with two boys every day, what Nick learned from Kenny Chesney, and what fans can expect from their debut album expected out later this year. THE FARM is Keepin’ it Country’s Ones To Watch for 2012:
You guys just recently had your Grand Ole Opry Debut.
Damien: We did! It was amazing, it’s one of those things that you really can’t put into words because it’s so magical. It was a surreal experience. We were invited, first of all, which was a shock.
Krista: Especially being so early on in our careers.
Damien: Just being able to play at the Grand Ole Opry and to watch the crowd’s reaction, and being out in that circle where so many legends have played before, was surreal and a magical moment.
Nick: It was a dream come true for all of us for different reasons. You know, when you think about the Opry and what it means to country music – it’s a rite of passage for everybody. When you get the chance to step through a door like that, your career and your life is defined pre-Opry and post-Opry. What a cool experience, like Krista said, to have happened to us so early on in our careers together. Nothing short of a dream come true.
Krista: We were so busy up until just recently on our radio tour, and that was a moment for me personally where I went “wow! this is really for real.” It was a little bit of a light into a doorway to saying “okay, THE FARM is for real, and country music is accepting us.” To be invited back was a huge honor, and it was such a big moment for all of us.
Nick: We’ve actually been invited back over Twitter (laughs).
Krista: Big points for social media!
So how did the three of you meet?
Damien: We met through song writing. Nashville is a song writers’ haven, and there’s so many people in this town that are such great song writers. You kind of get together with people you don’t really know, maybe through a mutual friend who goes “hey, you should write with so-and-so.”
Nick: It’s the Nashville way.
Damien: It really is. So, you have three individuals who don’t really know each other, who know about each other but don’t really know-know each other. We got together for the first time together to write.
Nick: Ironically enough, the first song together we ever wrote is called “Home Sweet Home,” our first single. It doesn’t happen very often, and it could have just as easily went the other way. We could have gotten together in a room and tried to find common ground and tried to write a song, and it could have gone the other way “oh, it was really nice to meet you,” you know? Then gone our separate ways, but it didn’t. We ended up writing this song together that made us want to write another one, then another one.
Krista: That first song writing session started our path towards THE FARM and towards being a group.
Nick: None of us were looking at being in a group.
Krista: The three of us were on our on trajectory – Nick was with Kenny for the last 12 years, and was looking for his own solo aspirations. I had a deal with Broken Bow for a while, and Damien was out opening for John Legend and Muzik Mafia. So, we were all out doing our own thing and for this to happen was just really organic.
Like Krista was saying, Nick you were on tour with Kenny Chesney, but is there anyone you’d love to tour with?
Nick: I bet all three of us have different answers for that. Inside of country, the nice thing about THE FARM is that we are all so different and that our influences are all so different that if you listen to our record that is coming out this year, each song is really quite distinctly different from the next one. We really could be right at home with anybody. That’s what’s cool, and that’s what I think the fans are going to like about it is that our music has a little bit of something for everybody: it might be a little injection of Damien’s soul and R&B, or it might be a little bit of Krista’s jazz standards and classics that come through, or it might be my bone dry country stuff that comes through. You really don’t know what you’re going to get when it comes to THE FARM, and that’s what’s so cool about it.
Krista: I look forward to the day when we’ll get to do a Crossroads, where it’s literally three different genres, or four of them, that come together. Nick could be right there fiddling with Charlie Daniels, I could be up there with Andrea Bocelli, or Damien with John Legend -
Nick: Crossroads is actually supposed to be different genres coming together. It’s supposed to be the opposite. So, I would be the guy with John Legend, you’d be the one with Charlie Daniels. That’s what Crossroads is.
Krista: But we could put it all together as one, and it could be one giant crazy cool disaster or train wreck – or it could be amazing. We’ll cross that crossroad when we get to it.
So how did you guys come up with your name?
Krista: We were all sitting together and focused on our own solo aspirations and when we finally decided on if we were going to be a group, we looked at each other and said “if we’re going to do this we’re going to have to be all-in, and we’re going to have to bet the farm.”
Damien: We were like oh hey! There’s our name! That’s a cool name, let’s just go with that.
Krista: THE FARM stuck.
If you could write with any artist out there, not necessarily country, who would it be? Dead or alive.
Nick: This is a great question. Two people come to mind instantly for me, but because we’re all so different I think that individually we would all have different answers. That’s the cool thing about our group. For me I’d love to write with Harlan Howard who has written like every monster, monster, monster country music song. I’d love to write with him or I’d love to write with Buck Owens. For me, those two guys are the best country song writers ever out there.
Krista: Just off the top of my head I’d have to say maybe it would be kind of cool to write with Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley. I mean, come on, right?
Damien: If I could just pick from anybody it definitely would be like Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder. Maybe Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows.
Nick: I’d love to write with James Taylor. I love that singer-songwriter stuff, I think that would be pretty cool if we got to write with him. On the country side, I’d love to write with Dwight Yoakam.
So, Krista.. does it drive you crazy to be working with two guys?
Krista: Oh my gosh! I thought you’d never ask! You know what, there are moments – wait, Nick is now up on the chair. Nick is in the ceiling…
I think he wants to get out of here after that question.
Damien: Yeah, he’s had enough.
Nick: It’s cold in here! I saw her shivering over there.
Krista: Okay, let me just say that honestly I love these two guys but I’m not going to say that it doesn’t have its wear and tear on me, but every now and then I wish we had just a little bit more estrogen in the car. We have one female radio rep on the road with us, but most of the time it’s a bunch of guys. Our management team is all guys, and our road team is all guys, so it’s all guys, guys, guys, guys. Which is great, but every now and then it’s nice to have a female around to side up with. I am so happy and so fortunate that we found each other, on the road it’s just so nice to have three people. Nick’s a rock and Damien’s a rock – I’m not sure what I am, but I’m in-between them. It’s just really nice to have them, not only for support, but they’re so talented and I just appreciate, and in a way I’m really honored to be around them.
Nick: That’s so pretty.. so pretty.
Krista: Damien keeps the both of us – Nick and I – on the straight and narrow all the time. When we get a little crazy he just whacks us on the side of the head and tells us to smarten up.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you about the industry?
Krista: The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Nick: The best advice I ever got about the music business I got from my Grandpa. He was a musician and always told me a very similar thing, he said “no matter how far you get, you always have to continue to work hard. You can’t just stop, you can’t rest.” I just believe in that. I believe that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Krista: You just can’t ever stop, like you said, just look at Kenny Chesney who you were with for 12 years.
Nick: Exactly. I’ve learned a ton from him – that you can’t rest just because you have a number one hit. That you have to always look for the next one. He said that when he’s 90 and on his death bed, he wants to look back at his life and see that he did everything he could. That’s our mantra, and that I promise you and anybody in this industry that we’ll try to give them a run for their money on work ethic. That we’ll try to out work everybody, and that it’s not that they’re not working hard, but that everybody here is going to work harder.
Damien: It’s basically the same thing. The one thing that sticks out in my mind when anybody asks me this is that a good friend of mine from the Muzik Mafia, Cowboy Troy, said to me “hey man, these are the three things that have always worked for me.” Just always be there when the opportunity is there. Second of all, be prepared, be more prepared than everybody else when you show up. There’s always going to be people who have worked just as hard as you have to be right there too. The third thing is to just be consistent in everything you do. It will give you an edge over some people out there. There’s a lot of talented people out there who deserve to be in our position, and we aren’t going to take that lightly. It’s those three things – to be prepared, be there, and be consistent.
Nick: All of us have been in town for a long time. THE FARM is the end of a long three paths that found each other in the end. One of my favorite quotes is from a friend of mine in Big Kenny, and I’ll never forget when he looked me in the eyes and said: “man, if you are positive and you project positive energy, no matter how bad it gets, and you manage to stay positive then that positivity will always come back to you ten-fold.” I believe in that, I believe that it’s easy to get negative when the doors keep getting shut. We’ve all been told no more times than we’ve heard yes. That’s what everybody goes through – Jason Aldean got turned down by every record label five times. I think if you stay positive then good things will happen for you.
Is there one thing that you guys are hoping to accomplish this year?
Krista: Well lets see.. a GRAMMY, an ACM, a CMA -
Nick: One thing! I know this, that our focus is on “Home Sweet Home.” I think the one thing that we want to accomplish is to make it the best first single that it could be. We believe we have a great first record, and we want to see it do as well as it can and get it as far as it can, and get as many people to hear the song as possible. To really break it all down – it’s really all about that, and what an honor it is to have an opportunity to get a song out on a major label and on the radio. It’s a dream come true.
Have you heard it on the radio yet?
Nick: We have! We were all together, actually, the first time we heard it.
Krista: We were driving through Norfolk, Virginia. It was on The Eagle in Virginia, and we were going up there to play a show and it just came on as we were on the way to the venue. That was the first time that all three of us have heard it on the radio for the first time. It was a moment for us.
Nick: It was really a strange thing because they’re back in the backseat freaking out, and I’m in the front seat trying not to cry. Literally, it was that big of a deal. It was a really interesting juxtaposition because they were filming it and they were like “yeah!! lets go look at Nick!” and I’m like crying.
Krista: We were like “Nick? Are you alright? Nick looks upset!”
Nick: So they were like “lets put the camera back on us. YEAH!!” It was a really cool moment, and really cool that we got to experience it together. It was our first.
Krista: We were really fortunate too to have some really great radio guys to come on early too, and to really believe and take a leap of faith and play our music early. They were one, and that is really where it all starts. Without them, we wouldn’t have been heard.
Nick: A big part of it is too is when we get the question that always gets asked – “if you could tell fans one thing about you guys, what would it be?”. I was thinking about that on the way to see you, and one of the reasons these people are taking a shot on us is because they like the song, but also, seeing us live is really fun. We try to bring all the fun we can with us to our shows. We try to tell our fans to just please come see us because you’ll come see us again. Be ready to party.
Krista: Yeah, get your farm party on! Get ready to shake your booty.
Is there anything else you want to say?
Damien: I love you momma.
Nick: We just want our fans to come out on this journey with us. A group is a little different than a solo act because you’re watching it evolve before your eyes. So, anybody who comes along with us on our journey and starts early… we want to all evolve together. I think this thing for us is all about bringing the music to people.
THE FARM’s debut album is coming out later this year. Stay tuned to Keepin’ it Country for more details on their debut album. Their first single “Home Sweet Home” is out on radio now! Make sure to let us know where you hear it.