Hunter Hayes Was ‘Born’ to Make Country Music
Many country music fans are already very familiar with Warner Music Nashville’s new star, Hunter Hayes. Back when he was only 4-years-old, Hayes won the hearts of music lovers nationwide as he appeared on many television shows playing various instruments and singing like a pro.
Hayes, now 19-years-old, recently inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records and has released his debut single, ‘Storm Warning.’ The talented singer from Breaux Bridge, La. has only gotten better over time, having played every single instrument on his highly-anticipated forthcoming album slated for release later this year.
Taste of Country was fortunate to sit down with the talented musician prior to him hitting the road later this summer with Taylor Swift. We are pleased to introduce you to Hunter Hayes!
Obviously you’ve had quite a lot of music in your background. What are some of your first memories of music?
I was born with this love for music, and I say “born with” because I don’t really remember a day waking up and deciding that I’m going do to music. It’s been all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve done pretty much anything I could having to do with music. I started writing when I was around 6. I say writing, but it was really just making up stuff! I started writing and doing my own thing. I didn’t really know what a demo was or anything like that, so I started getting interested in studio gear and started learning about one instrument at a time. My first instrument was an accordion. Growing up in Louisiana, my grandmother gave me an accordion because of our Cajun heritage. What ended up happening was I started learning about more instruments, so I just kind of went that route. Music’s really all I’ve ever done.
What can we expect from your album?
It’s a little bit of everything. We kind of tried to do as many different things as we could, but still stay true to the kind of music that I like to make, as well as my country roots. I try to incorporate as much of that as possible into my music. We had all kinds of fun with different versions of that.
Seeing how music is all you’ve ever known, when you went into the studio, was it a pretty comfortable environment for you?
It wasn’t! I love being in the studio … I’ve got a little mini studio at home. That’s pretty much where I spend all of my time. It was a different element because there was a guy named Dan Huff in the room. I’m a huge fan of Dan’s. He’s worked with Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and a bunch of other people. He’s produced some of my favorite records of all time, records that I lived by and live with. He’s obviously one of my heroes. Working with him was really nerve-wracking because I’ve done that whole process before of playing all the instruments. I’ve never done it with someone like that. He’s just a musical genius. We ended up just sort of taking our time, enjoying it, having fun with it … got to know him and his family. I spent two months, practically, living in his house because he’s got this really cool studio in his house. [The recording process] was the same, but it was different. It was a new experience, and I learned so much from hanging out with him.
What was the biggest thing you learned from recording that you didn’t realize going into making this album?
Probably the biggest lesson I learned, since I played everything on the demos and stuff, is one guy playing all the stuff just sounds like one guy playing all the stuff [laughs]! He taught me how to respect the space, how to go into different mindsets. A bass player has to think and play like a bass player. A drummer has to play and think like a drummer, and stay out of the way of the vocalist. The guitar player has to respect everybody else. That was probably the most critical thing that I learned from him. He taught me how to respect music in general, not just in that process, but how to respect every player and every piece of the puzzle.
How many instruments do you actually play on this album?
Just a couple of things [laughs]. We counted them up at the end, and I had a hard time sort of believing this, but we counted all the instruments we ended up playing on the album on the 14 tracks, we counted 30 [instruments]. I didn’t know that there were that many instruments to play, but we’re talking like different versions of an acoustic guitar — high strung, 12-strung, regular … four different kinds of mandolins … things like that. It was fun.
Do you incorporate all the instruments you play into your live stage shows?
We do and we don’t. I play a lot of acoustic guitar, electric guitar and piano, but that’s about the limit of it because the live show’s just about having fun with the songs.
Watch a 4-Year-Old Hunter Hayes Perform ‘Jambalaya’ With Hank Williams, Jr.