Atlanta Music Scene

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Hunter Hayes talks new album and his love of tour buses

Hunter Hayes spends so much time on the road that it’s almost a novelty when he wakes up in his own bed with a view of Nashville, Tenn.

The precocious musician with the cherubic voice (and face) has been such a staple on the country scene — with some pop crossover — with hits such as “Wanted” and “I Want Crazy” that it’s easy to forget he’s only 24.

Since last fall, road warrior Hayes has been playing to audiences largely composed of his general age range as he brought his spirited live show to many college campuses around the country.

He’ll continue that trend with a Saturday performance at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.

A few weeks ago, the unfailingly polite Hayes checked in from his Nashville home to talk about why he geeks out over tour buses and what fans can expect from his upcoming album.

Q: Does being on college campuses make you wish you had had that experience?

A: I’ve kind of been living it through being on the road. I somewhat wish I could have (had the college experience), but when that was an option, I was working on a record deal. I didn’t want to give myself any reason not to do music or be less of a priority. Everybody’s road is different, like a fingerprint. I’m spoiled — I get to enjoy the best of both of it.

Q: You’ve opened for so many veteran artists like Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum. What do you take away from those experiences?

A: Just how much I love being on the road. I used to check out this website I have binders of (information on) tour buses, seriously. I love that world. Every time I look at a tour bus, I think of being away from home, and I do miss the people at home when I tour, but at the same time, you build dreams out of these shows.

Q: Country seems to be moving from the whole bro-country movement back to a more organic place with Chris Stapleton and Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves. Where do you see yourself and your music in that mix?

A: (My new music is) all over the map. I hate listening to myself, but I love critiquing. I can’t begin to tell you where the music fits, but it’s born of the music I grew up with — a lot of blues, like a retro throwback sound, and it’s awesome. I’m trying to find the elements of what I love and bring it with country music. I want to find my own version.

Q: What else are you ready to talk about with your next album?

A: We all agreed just to say hey, let’s make a record without a deadline. Even if there is one, I don’t want to know. I’m writing like crazy, collecting songs. I’m having a whole lot of fun just discovering things. I’m learning about writing again, just creating. I’m up to about 80 songs.

Q: When you’re not touring, do you play music every day?

A: I have to. If there isn’t a demo to finish, I’ll find one. As long as I’m working on something, even if it’s mixing a song.

Q: What do you do in your downtime?

A: (Laughs) Downtime, I don’t even know! We’ve got a great group of friends in Nashville, some in the industry, some not. We love hanging out and watching movies or “New Girl” or “Top Gear.” I love that we all speak the same language. I love how much our team hangs out off the road.

Q: What’s the plan for the rest of the year?

A: I’ve got dreams and hopes for this (next) album. I just want to make this record with the same feeling and want an excuse to play these songs on the road. I want it to feel like a debut record in a good, healthy way.


Hunter Hayes

7 p.m. (gates) April 16. $25-$50. Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University, 3200 George Busbee Parkway N.W., Kennesaw. 1-877-725-8849,

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About the Author

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for Atlanta Music Scene blog on

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