Exclusive Interview: Meet Will Hoge

If you don’t know the name Will Hoge yet, it’s time for us to help change that. He’s been making music for well over a decade and has garnered an impressive fan base on the merits of his often-independent releases. He’s appeared on stage at the Grand Ole Opry alongside Vince Gill, performed on GAC’s flood relief program “Music City Keep On Playin,” and has opened for the likes of Needtobreathe, Sugarland, and the Civil Wars.

However, Hoge is also the man behind the Eli Young Band‘s #1, and now Grammy-nominated, Even If It Breaks Your Heart. That track is now nominated for Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance, and we want to send our congrats to Will and the Eli Young Band! Read on for more about Will, his influences, his experiences in the industry and his opinion on Taylor Swift!

KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you became a singer/songwriter? And how would you describe your ‘sound’?

WH: I really just fell into it when I realized I hated school. I’d say its a mix of rock n roll and country influences.

KIC: When you’re writing songs, from where do you draw your inspiration?
WH: Just everyday real life experiences mostly

KIC: Do you prefer writing alone or with someone else?
WH: Whichever one gets the song written

KIC:  Do you always write songs with the intention that you’ll release them, or do you ever write with other artists in mind?
WH: For a long time it was just for me. Over the last year or so I’ve been lucky enough to try writing for other folks too. I find it very freeing as a writer.

KIC: People may not know that you’re the man behind Eli Young Band’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” What’s the story behind that song and how did the Eli Young Band wind up recording it and taking it to number one?
WH: I wrote that with my friend Eric Paslay. It was for my album ‘The Wreckage’. It was really this story of my life growing up and falling in love with music. I released it as a single and absolutely NOTHING happened with it. I shouldn’t say nothing because EYB heard it and cut it. That’s led to far more success for me as an artist and songwriter and far more success for that song than I could’ve ever imagined.

KIC: We read about how you celebrated “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” hitting #1 (hint to our readers: He put a self-congratulating banner on his front lawn.) What’s the story behind that and where can we get one?
WH: That’s a one of a kind sign. It now resides in my shed. I’d joked with my wife and manager that since I didn’t (at that time) have a publishing deal that I should congratulate myself like all the big music row folks do. We laughed. Then they made the damn sign and put it up. It was really funny how much of a reaction it got.

KIC: What was it like performing at the CMA’s this year?
WH: Surreal. I’m so flattered that the EYB guys asked me to do it. I’m very lucky to count those fellas as friends.

KIC: You’ve performed at the Grand Ol’ Opry, shared the stage with Vince Gill, appeared on CMT…but what has been the biggest “pinch me”moment of your career so far?
WH: First night at the Opry with Vince is way way up there. The CMA nomination for sure. It’s been a crazy year on the whole

KIC: You’ve toured with everyone from Shinedown to Needtobreathe to the Civil Wars to ZZ Top to Sugarland. How does playing with such diverse artists affect your style on-stage? Who have you learned the most from?
WH: One of the things I love most about what I do is that I don’t change hardly at all between any of those artists. And I’m proud that what I do translates to that broad a spectrum of people. We’ve been fortunate to learn from all of them but I think the Shinedown folks really taught us the most. They went so above and beyond to make sure their fans got the experience they deserved. They were so giving of their time. Just really really inspirational.

KIC: If you could put together your dream tour starring yourself and two other artists, who would join you on the road?
WH: Man that’s too tough to answer.

KIC: Over the years, you’ve been an artist who’s toured many albums and songs to develop quite the grassroots following. How has your fan base grown and diversified over the years?
WH: It’s incredible to watch. I’m so fortunate that these people have stuck with me and they seem to grow and change right along with me. It’s great to see 50 year olds and teenagers side by side at a show. I hope that that as well as the country fan/rock fan keeps mixing as well.

KIC:  You released “Modern American Protest Music” on September 18th and on your website, you admit that it’s a different type of record for you. What was your goal with that project?
WH: Really just to get the songs heard. Part of that ‘announcement’ as well as simply the title of the album is to let folks know what they’re getting into. It’s a batch of socio-political themed songs and I didn’t want anyone coming into thinking it was just another record about love and girls and cars etc. it’s a bit of a challenging record to the listener but I think it’s something I needed to get out of my head to make way for more songs and the next album

KIC: If you could define your career by only ONE song you’ve ever written, what song would you choose?
WH: Even If It Breaks Your Heart

Lightning round:

All-time Favorite Country Song: This changes by the minute. But right this second lets say ‘The Grand Tour’ by George Jones
Guilty Pleasure: Don’t really have any guilt about any of my pleasures
Favorite Food: Italian
Writing or Performing: Yes please
Last song you listened to: ‘Bad Ol Days’. It’s mine from the new album I’m finishing as we speak
Would you rather be rich or famous: Neither. I’ll take healthy and happy.
You can have dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who do you pick?: Martin Luther King Jr
Taylor Swift, yay or nay?: Big big yay

Will Hoge’s “Modern American Protest Music” is available now. For more info, you can visit his official website at www.willhoge.com or follow him on Twitter.