Hunter Hayes is writing up a storm
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • February 16, 2012 @ 8:00am
It all started in Breaux Bridge, La., when Hunter Hayes launched his music career at the age of 2. His grandmother had given him a toy accordion for his birthday and he’s been hooked ever since.
Like any aspiring artist, Hayes followed up with a a great debut performance, singing “Jambalaya” with Hank Williams Jr. in front of 200,000 people at age four—no, I’m not making this up. He later went on to perform with some of country music greatest entertainers, including Johnny Cash, June Cash and Charlie Daniels all before the age of ten.
Music has come as naturally to Hayes as walking came to the rest of us. Picking up music by ear and teaching himself to play on any instrument has turned him into a musical prodigy, by the present age of 20. Hayes will be stopping by Buffalo for the WYRK Acoustic concert on March 7 and was nice enough to give us a call while hanging out on his tour bus in Jacksonville, Florida.
You’ll be playing alongside JT Hodges and Thompson Square for your upcoming show in Buffalo. Are you looking forward to the concert?
Hunter Hayes: I’ve had a chance to hang with Thompson Square before. We’ve played a few shows together and they are really an incredible and really talented duo. I’ve met JT Hodges before and we’ve have played a few festivals together as well. It should be a great show.
For your song “Storm Warning,” you played all the instruments on the record and it’s pretty impressive.
HH: It was really brought on by necessity. I started writing music around age six and was just hooked by the creation process. Writing was just the kind of thing I wanted to do. I wanted to play my own music.
I was learning how to play one instrument at a time and once I got bored with one, I would just pick up another and teach myself. I started learning new songs and I’m a real geek that way. I just wanted to learn more about it and I finally started.
I got a great recording sound system for Christmas one year and I really didn’t leave my room for about two years. I made my own demos and that was how my process was born.
If you had to pick one, what would be your favorite instrument to play?
HH: It would definitely be guitar. Whenever I’m writing, it’s almost always on guitar and sometimes piano. But I consider guitar to be my home. It’s where I spend all my time.
Still being fresh to the scene, who would you like to work with or collaborate on a song with in the future?
HH: There are so many people. Obviously I would love to work people like Keith Urban, who is an incredible guitar player. Hopefully I’ll get to work with Taylor [Swift] again too. I got to tour with her and I would love to write with her.
One thing is for sure is that I’ve been studying a lot of music, currently from Stevie Wonder. I’d love to do something with him in the studio, I don’t care what. It is definitely a big dream of mine.
When it comes to other genres of music, my home is in country because it includes most of the things that inspire me. It’s what I relate to and it’s just my life in a nutshell. I love to listen to new things and get inspired. I’m a big John Mayer fan and I’m literally going through my iTunes right now. I’ve been listening to Coldplay a lot lately too.
When you’re not playing music, how do you like to spend your down time when on tour?
HH: Here’s the way I work… downtime doesn’t always mean getting away from music for me. Downtime is really just a title. When I get off the road, I go to the studio and I’m in a totally different mindset. It’s a very different way of thinking.
Sometimes I like to meet it in the middle, going from writing to back into the studio. I live and breathe it. Once I took a week long vacation and didn’t bring any instruments with me. It was awful and I’ll definitely never do that again.
What’s your style when it comes to chicken wings?
HH: Chicken wings are a favorite after a show, but I usually go with mild. Nothing too spicy for me.
Besides “Storm Warning,” what is your favorite song to perform on stage at a show?
HH: For awhile it was “Somebody’s Heartbreak” because I go out and jam on guitar for awhile. We’ll go away from the arrangement and really just jam. With “Wanted” I get to sit at the piano and just sing it out. Both of those are great.
What songs are you currently belting out in the shower?
HH: That’s really a good one. [Laughs] It changes every day, but recently its been Coldplay songs. It depends on what album I’ve been tearing up the most.
It seems that 2011 has been a pretty big year for you, what are you most looking forward to in 2012?
HH: I’m looking forward to a lot of things. More touring and getting to play bigger venues is going to be great. Getting to visit places I’ve never been and staying on this tour bus and playing every night. That’s really what I want, just to play.
You can check out Hunter Hayes in Buffalo on March 7 at the UB Center for the Arts alongside Thompson Square and JT Hodges. Tickets are still available through the CFA box office or through Ticketmaster. Get them fast, because this is going to be a sold-out show.
Here’s the video for Hayes’ big hit, “Storm Warning.”
Photo courtesy of Facebook.