Saving Rock 'n' Roll One City at a Time
By Amy Farnsworth
"I have five hours and fifty-seven minutes to talk to you," Will Hoge says, laughing. It's Thursday night, and Will is on his way to Montreal, Quebec, driving through the winding roads in Canada to open up for the band, The Trews, who has supported Will at past shows. Miles away from home, this native Nashville rocker's charming Southern accent attracts attention, and his live shows do too.
Between gigs and rest stops, they've acquired a devoted fan base traveling across the United States and overseas. The band will bring rock 'n' roll to 56 cities across the United States, including a show at the Paradise Lounge in Boston on Saturday Feb. 11. Their upcoming tour is in support of their new album, "The Man Who Killed Love," which will be released on Tuesday Feb. 7
Boston Live (BL): How would you describe your music to a new listener?
Will Hoge (WH): Rock 'n' roll. Plain and simple.
BL: When did you begin playing and writing music?
WH: Twelve years ago, I got my first guitar and started to learn songs. I got serious about playing and writing music about eight years ago.
BL: Who influenced you to continue to play music? What musicians influenced your sound?
WH: So many bands influenced me. There are so many artists, almost too many to name. I think I always come back to my father. My father was a musician in the late 60s in a rock band in Nashville, and a lot of my interest in rock 'n' roll was inherited from his record collection. I missed those metal days. I had an old diet of rock 'n' roll, consisting of James Brown, the Beatles, and the Temptations. My father was a huge influence on who I am as a musician.
BL: Tell me a little bit about your new album, "The Man Who Killed Love." What's the story behind the title?
WH: The title is from a track on the record. It felt like an interesting title. We liked the way it gave off a 70s movie vibe.
BL: Where did you record the album?
WH: We didn't take a break from the road during the making of the record. Normally, you take two or three months and work on the album, and then you go out on the road. We didn't do that. It was a very, very trying process. We'd go into the studio for two days while we were home and record, and then we would talk to a horn player in Pennsylvania. I'd whistle or sing him horn parts over the phone. It was a lot of work and a really mixed up way of making a record. The end result is something we're really happy with. We also changed band members during the making of the record. The new drummer, Siggi, is on the record, and we also swapped guitar players during the recording. We had two different groups of background singers, soul singers from Atlanta and Nashville. It was a lot of fun to get different people in the studio. It kept everything really fresh and exciting. The great thing about Nashville is that you can meet different musicians. Practically anyone that waits on you in a restaurant is an amazing musician.
BL: Who produced the record?
WH: We worked with Ken Coomer, our engineering partner, who's also from Nashville, and Charlie Brocco. Ken is a musician himself, and someone we have a lot of respect for. He really brought a great perspective to our recordings.
BL: What's different about this album compared to previous albums?
WH: I always wanted to make a record that really captured what this band does live. The live show has meant so much to the people that have come and seen us. I wanted to bridge that gap between what we do live and in the studio.
BL: I just looked at your touring schedule, and it looks like you will be on the road a lot in the next three months. What do you like about being on the road, touring from city to city? What's hard about being away from home and traveling all the time?
WH: What's hard is that you are away from home and the food is not always great. You sleep less than you probably should. There are great things as being able to see different places. I've never been to Montreal, and I'll be spending two days there. The best thing is the music. Getting to walk on stage every night and play music for folks is pretty special. I think that's the thing we all really live for. I hope there's more of that in the future.
BL: Where is your favorite place to play? What city do you always like to stop at when you're touring?
WH: Obviously, home is great because we do well there. The Southeast is another place we do well. Boston is one of those places too. We've had great experiences in Boston the two times we've been there. It's one of those places we have really seen our [fan base] grow. Boston is another one of those cities where it's great to have a day off. I'm putting that one on the list for right now.
BL: What do you miss the most about the South when you're on the road?
WH: Honestly, we were just talking about this today at lunch. I'm dying for fried chicken, turnip greens, and sweet tea.
BL: Some people say you are "saving rock 'n' roll." What do you think you bring to the genre of rock 'n' roll? What do you think needs to change in rock 'n' roll music?
WH: I just try to bring some honesty to rock 'n' roll. There is so much going on with music. Some music is so cliché' and put together. It's fake, and there are people that are becoming incredibly disgruntled with that. I like to think that real rock 'n' roll is gonna be refreshing to people. I like to think that we bring some actual quality to the genre.
BL: Tell me a little bit about your fans. Do you have any crazy stories to share from the road?
WH: It's one of the most amazing things. The group of people that have become friends and fans with this band have grown. I am always flattered by the people that will come from Boston to Nashville or people [that come] from Birmingham to Cleveland. It's humbling to have people connect with you to your music that way. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and gone above the casual, "Hey, I like your band." We have a lot of people that have been incredibly kind to us.
BL: What's something you always do in Boston when you play here? Do you have any pre-show rituals like grabbing a bowl of clam chowder or heading to a certain bar?
WH: The very first time I came to Boston I had a friend from Berklee who raved about the North End Italian food. I was pretty taken by the whole area, and I've always wanted to go back and eat there again, [but] every time we are in Boston we have to hurry in and hurry out.
BL: Are you working on any other projects or playing any upcoming music festivals?
WH: That is something we'll deal with in the summer. This tour runs us through May. [Then] we're going to take a couple weeks off. There is a west coast tour planned that will take us through the summer. We'll hopefully hit a lot of summer festivals. We were at Bonnaroo in the past. I hope we're going to be at Bonnaroo this year. They are probably still cleaning up trash from last year.
BL: When you're not on the road, what do you like to do?
WH: I rest. We spend so little time off the road. Even when we do get home, we just try to see family and friends and eat good food. I write songs so I can get back on the road.
BL: What do you want Boston Live readers to know about you?
WH: I want them to come and check out the show. I think one of the things we're trying to do right now is to convince people to come and give the show a chance. I think people will dig us, and I think everyone will find something that they enjoy.