Interview: Will Hoge

“I got real disheartened with it,” says singer, songwriter, producer, and all-around industry veteran Will Hoge of what is colloquially known as “the band thing.” “We worked really hard on that last album, Small Town Dreams, and we played a lot of shows. There was a lot of negativity in the band, too many personalities that just didn’t work. It brought me down hard,” he recalls. “I just pulled the plug on all of it. I thought I was pulling the plug on it for good. I wasn’t sure I had anything else, I didn’t know what else to say or do. I’d had my moment, my window, and my options are pretty limited. I lost my publishing deal, I was out of work. It was a dark time.”

One day, Hoge, who has spent years making music for his own projects and writing hit songs for other bands, had an epiphany. “My boys started a band, I heard them playing out in the garage,” he remembers of his two young sons’ new venture in the family garage. “I was seventeen when I got my first guitar. I remembered the joy I felt at the beginning; the longer you do this, you get further away from that. Listening to them play, they don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know any chords, but they were having a ball,” he laughs. “It was a total kick in the ass. That night I wrote the song ’17’ from the record. I went out and did some solo shows, and I realized I liked this, I still liked my songs, and most of the time I still like myself. I quit being a baby, wrote a bunch of songs, and put together a record,” he adds of Anchors, set for release on August 11th via Thirty Tigers. “I’m real proud of it.”

When it came time to record Anchors, there was definite apprehension in putting a band together for the studio, but Hoge powered through, and surrounded himself with extremely talented people he knew. “A lot of them already knew each other, but hadn’t ever played together before. It wasn’t clique-y, and everybody was trying to show their best stuff. I was really nervous until about eight bars into ‘The Reckoning,’ which was the first song we tracked and first one on the record,” he recalls. “By the time we got to the chorus, I knew it was going to work.”

Anchors was tracked live in the studio, some songs recorded in only one take. “We didn’t dwell a lot, we moved really quickly,” he exaplains. “It was creative and fun, and the chemistry was great.” After recording, Hoge tentatively put together a touring band for a test run performance—at a wedding. “Hell, I’ll play at a damn Hardee’s if the pay is right, I’ve got bills and shit,” he laughs. “Really though, everyone hung, it went really well, and we were like ‘Do we have a band? Is this for real?’ Everyone seems to get along, and these guys have been in enough shitty band situations to realize how to fix things,” he continues. “I feel really good about that. We have a definite start and a definite finish line for this tour, but who knows? We might end up playing together for years. If time has shown me anything, it’s that nobody ever knows what’s going to happen.”

Now, Hoge and company are gearing up to release his new 11-song stunner and hit the road to spread his gospel of heartland-inspired rockicana.  “I want a record to make me feel something, hopefully there’s some of that with Anchors,” he says. “I’m at a spot as a husband, a father, a son, a musician, a friend, where I’ve gained some valuable insight and perspective into adulthood—some parts are hard, and shitty, and sad, but there is also joy. This record reflects that. At the end of the day, I really just love singing songs for people,” he adds. “I’m pretty damn lucky.”

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