by: Hallie Bertrand
Texas country, Red Dirt, alternative or independent country. Whatever you want to call it, it’s no secret that Texas breeds outstanding songwriters and musicians. As if that weren’t enough, Texas also attracts, hooks and claims some of the best artists from all over the country. The Braun brothers of Reckless Kelly and Micky & the Motorcars from Idaho, Rob Baird is from Memphis, hell we even claim Canadians (Corb Lund) and let’s not even get started on Oklahoma.
As if Texas isn’t jam-packed full of talent already, we love latching on to anyone who fits the bill. Maybe we just know good music when we hear it. Adam Hood is no exception. I talked to him last week about his music, the chance encounter with a surprising Texas native that jump-started his writing career and life as a Texas musician… from Opelika, Alabama.
Adam Hood will be playing The Blue Light this Friday (Feb. 22).
New Slang: Last time we talked to you was back in May, how’ve you been? I know you did Steamboat last month and you’re coming to Lubbock next week, what’s after that?
Adam Hood: Honestly what we’re doing is, is the fourth Sunday of every month Jason Eady, Brian Keene and I go play in Luckenbach so that’s kind of what my plan’s been. I’m doing like a monthly residency there. So I’ve kind of being going back and forth between Alabama, Nashville and Texas, so that’s my plan.
NS: I guess when I first heard of your music I heard the song “22 Days Too Long,” and it was a long time ago. I really had no clue who you were, but I really liked the song. This ought to tell you how long ago it was – I was on Miranda Lambert’s MySpace page, so it was back in the Myspace days…
AH: [Laughs] Wow, that seems like a different generation!
NS: I know! Well I saw a picture of y’all playing together and I thought “Hey, that’s the guy that sings that song!” and I’ve found out since then that she really helped prod your career along, so how did that all come about?
AH: Well, I met Miranda, basically what happened was, her car broke down in New Braunfels, Texas and so her and her mother were there, they were gonna stay the night and they came to a place called Tavern on the Gruene and were just gonna have a beer and hang out until their car got fixed. Well, I was playing there that night – Ray Wylie Hubbard does a Tuesday night show that’s broadcast on the local station there and I was playing there and she watched me play my set then she came up and introduced herself to me and I gave her CDs and then they got back in touch with me. I played a bunch of shows with her and we wrote together a couple of times. I haven’t written with her in a while. But then she introduced me to Frank Liddell. Frank is her producer and produced all her records, and Frank is the guy I work with at Carnival Music and I write for Carnival and then they also put out The Shape of Things, so she kind of got me the job that I have right now.
NS: That’s really random, I bet a lot of people don’t associated you with Miranda Lambert.
AH: The thing is, she’s just ones of those people who, I mean, she writes herself so she really knows how to appreciate a good songwriter so you know I mean I don’t know whether I am or not, but she knows the quality of songs and the cool thing was, when we first kind of started getting to know each other, you know, the lines that I thought we my best lines and certain material, were the lines that she thought was too, so I said OK, she has an understanding of what’s the good part of a song and what’s the bad part of a song and you know. She’s just really talented and she comes from a talented family and just really down to earth good people and so you know, for all the differences we have musically, just as a whole as people there was a lot of common ground there, so it was good.
NS: You’re obviously a favorite here in Texas, and I know you probably get this a lot, but you’re from Alabama and you still live there, right?
AH: I do, I still live there.
NS: Well, looking at your website, most of your tour dates are in Texas. So how come you associate so much with this scene rather than going to Nashville full-time or trying to stay in Alabama?
AH: Well, the thing is as far as Alabama goes is I have a teenage daughter, so you know, she’s just kind of moved around enough and so we decided this was the best place to be. Texas was too far away from my family and my wife’s family and Nashville was just too big of a city for us, as so we decided to just kind of stay local. And I’ve kind of been doing this my whole career. I started coming over to Texas in 2004 and I’ve been back and forth ever since and I live three hours away from Nashville and I’m an hour from the Birmingham airport so I can get a SouthWest flight to Austin and do all my touring for the weekend. So the practicality of my real life and my family just makes more sense for me to me in Alabama really.
NS: How did you even get connected in Texas and get started playing here?
AH: Well I grew up, and started listening and playing guitar when I was about 14 years old and of course I’m 37 now, so I have the same influences that everyone else has, that are my age guitar player guys. Stevie Ray was a big influence on me so from there I went to Ian Moore and guys like Steve Earle and stuff. Jack Ingram was a big influence on me. I remember I saw Jack Ingram at a club that I played in Auburn, Alabama, which is right next to my hometown. I saw him when I was 19 years old so I mean Jack was really a pioneer for coming over to the South East back then, so it was kind of a inspiration to me. It’s interesting to me how Texas music always find it’s way east to be honest with you. I’ve been listening to this style of music for a long time and I just met certain people and started playing some shows in 2004 and I put out my second record and Texas started promoting it and it’s just all taken off since then.
NS: Back to the whole Nashville thing, I know you’ve had lots of songs land on other people’s albums and here recently you had one cut on Little Big Town’s latest record so tell me about that.
AH: It’s a song called “Front Porch Thing” that I wrote with a guy named Chris Stapleton and it’s just one of those things that I’m really excited about. It’s a really neat record, Little Big Town kind of took a chance on some artists. Some friends of mine, a guy named Brent Cobb and Jason Saenz have songs on that record too and it was just a cool thing to happen. It’s just one of those things where you give enough people in the band a CD and they listen to it in the bus enough to where they start to like the tunes and so that’s how it worked.
NS: Last time you talked to New Slang you talked about your song “I’ll Sing About Mine” that you wrote with Brian Keane, and then Josh Abbott recorded it later and released it as a single and really took it to an even bigger audience. Did you ever think that song would have so much support and success so many times over?
AH: I honestly didn’t, I had no idea. I mean, you hope that for all your songs. Brent and I just spent the weekend writing with Josh and just I got home Sunday as a matter of a fact and so he’s really taken a shine to the style of writing that we have and I’m really proud of his interpretation of that song and I think he did a great job with it. It’s just neat to see a song have that much life, you know? You never know if one’s gonna have it, it’s just nice to see there’s one out there that does.
NS: “The Shape of Things” is your current album, do you have any new music coming out anytime soon?
AH:I write constantly, so I plan on making a record this year sometime. We don’t have any set plans as far as when to do it, but I’m hoping to get one out this year. We kind of toyed around with the idea of making a live record, but I’ve got a lot of new material too so we’ll see what happens. I’m sort of keeping my options open as far as what doors open and what may close for me as far as making a new record goes.
NS: So have you been playing new material at your shows? Can we expect to hear some of that?
AH: I try to. “The Different Groove” album is the one that “22 Day” is on. That album came out in 2007 and the funny thing is that album took like three years to write. So, I’d had like half of the songs and I went out to Los Angeles to make the record with this guy named Pete Anderson and so I took half the tunes there and we re-wrote about four of them and then kept on writing and so, I don’t know if it was a mistake or not, but we had played a lot of those songs live for so long that they kind of had their own live arrangements and so when the album came out, there were different arrangements recorded. So it kind of taught me to play some stuff out. You know, when you’re excited about songs, you want to play them for people so I do, but I try to keep a couple of cards in my pocket every once in a while. That way, you know, there are things that are familiar to people on the new record, but then there are things that are like “Wow, I’ve never heard this song before and I love it.” So that’s kind of where I run with that.
NS: If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one CD, what would it be?
AH: I would say John Hiatt’s “Bring the Family.”
NS: Now, I know you’re not from Texas but I’m asking you anyway as an honorary Texan. If you found out, heaven forbid, that you were banned from the State of Texas for the rest of your life, how would you spend your last day here?
AH: Oh my gosh… that’s a good question. Let’s see… I would go to New Braunfels, have me some good barbecue. And I would probably just drink beer and listen to music for the rest of the time.
NS: Do you have any superstitions on stage, or anything you have to do before a show?
AH: I don’t wear anything with shoelaces. I always have to wear boots, that’s a superstition that I have. I don’t know why, that’s just what I’m comfortable with.
NS: What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
AH: I worked at a greenhouse for a while before I started playing music. It was the weirdest job but, yeah, I guess it was pretty weird. We sat on stools and poked our fingers in dirt for about six hours a day, so that was a weird job.
NS: What is the most surprising music I could find on your iPod?
AH: Let’s see… I would say probably a lot of the Pop stuff I listen to. I’m a huge Prince fan. I was 11 years old when “Purple Rain” came out so that speaks volumes about just hitting puberty at that time. I just think he’s great. So the Prince stuff is what seems to shock a lot of people.