J.T. Hodges' musical influences range from classic rock to traditional Country, and considering his upbringing in a recording studio, this wide array of impact can be felt on his 2012 self-titled release. Early on, he was taught a professional work ethic and exactly what it takes to achieve success in a fickle industry. Even his mother, who passed on a major label record deal to raise her family, instilled him in the importance of home values and cherishing every moment.
Nashville Gab recently sat down with Hodges to talk about his musical upbringing, as well as his upcoming new music, his Kimberly Perrydream duet and his love of horses.
Nashville Gab: You had a song out last year called “Hunt You Down.” What’s the story of that song?
JT Hodges: Well, that was released about a year and a half ago. We had ‘Hunt You Down.’ Then we also had ‘Goodbyes Made You Mine’ and then ‘Sleepy Little Town.’ That was [on] my first record that I released this past September. It’s been doing well for me. I say this, along with ‘Hunt You Down,’ as well as the other songs, it was just an introduction to who I am and what I do. It’s a big frame there. There are a lot of different styles that I like to do, and it’s all in the frame of what I do. ‘Hunt You Down’ is one of those ditties that I wrote in 45 minutes with Rivers Rutherford, who is a great songwriter. It’s a fun little song, kind of referencing the walk on the wild side, a little bit. I love the classic rock stuff. You can sense that in my music. It’s about a night in Memphis. I had a couple of crazy nights. So, there’s some inspiration there.
NG: Does songwriting come easy for you? You mentioned that you wrote “Hunt You Down” in 45 minutes. Is that typical for all your songs?
JT: Songwriting is amazing. It’s never easy. I think some days, you’re able to grasp that inspiration out of the air, and everything lines up. Other [times], it might take you two months to write a song. You have a verse and still have a chorus to get. The song might start from a lyrical idea or could be something musical. Very rarely, for me, does it all just line up. It just happened to be one of those [that did]. It’s fun, regardless, to go through the process.
NG: There’s an old saying that goes “you have your whole life to record your first album and less than a year to record your second.” Are you currently working on new music?
JT: Yes. We’ve been cutting new music. I think there’s definitely that, but being a songwriter, I love to write all the time. There was stuff I’d written before that didn’t make the first record because maybe it wasn’t first record material. Maybe it seemed more like a song we’d use for the second record [rather than the first]. It kind of shows me taking a different path. I don’t feel any pressure. We’ve already cut four sides. We’ve been mixing them up. It’s the best work I’ve ever done.
NG: You grew up in a recording studio, right? What did that teach you early on about the music business?
JT: I think it was a combination of things I picked up consciously, as well as subconsciously. Being around my mom and my dad, T Bone Burnett, Michael Bolton and Leon Redbone, when I was little I would be under the console playing with my dog, they’d be doing sessions. I definitely learned a lot about the professionalism and the craft, being comfortable in the studio being enamored with all the gizmos and gadgets. It definitely contributed to who I am as an artist now.
NG: You are pretty active on Twitter posting about horses. You grew up in Texas. Were you raised on a ranch?
JT: My mom had a horse since she was little. We’ve always loved horses. I don’t own a horse right now. It’s something I’d love to do. I think it’s a beautiful animal. I’ve always loved riding. We’d go ride as much as we could. I spent a summer working with a guy — I wanted to be a veterinarian in high school. Playing the guitar, I wasn’t really thinking about anything [like that as a career], at least I wasn’t. I always loved animals. I loved horses. So, I got to learn how to brush them and ride them.
NG: Your mom was a singer, as well. She actually turned down a record deal. What did that teach you?
JT: [It taught me] definitely family values. She was phenomenal. When you choose something like this, you don’t do it for any other reason than the fact that you have to do it. You love it, and you wouldn’t be happy any other way. You don’t get into this business to make money. You do it because [it’s your calling]. She had all the ability, but I think she felt her calling was to raise a family and be a mother. She didn’t want to go out on the road 200 days a year and not be with her kids. She wanted us to lead a normal life outside of the studio in Fort Worth. I commend her for it.
NG: What current female Country artist would you love to collaborate with?
JT: I think it’d be cool to do something with Kimberly Perry. I think her voice and my voice could be a really cool duet, something kind of Simon and Garfunkel-y, a folk-Country-pop kind of thing.
Read the full interview here.
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