There is a rock band out of Nashville that"s been touring the country for years. They sell a lot of T-shirts and CDs, they play real rock songs with sincerity and they consistently electrify audiences with an energy and command of the stage rarely seen. You may not be familiar with Will Hoge now, but the next year promises to change all that.
Will Hoge is a singer/songwriter with a feel for writing guitar-washed songs that deliver piercing wit lined with the flirtation of Nashville charm. His music energetically dives into the cracks of heartbreak, disenchantment and the realism of personal turbulence.
Hoge stands at the helm, but referring to Tres Sasser, Kirk Yoquelet and Brian Layson only as a "backing band" is a derogatory misnomer. Watching a live set exemplifies how rock and roll is meant to be experienced: live, rowdy, sweaty and loud.
NUVO: Your band is known for its live electricity and crowds have responded very strongly to that energy, but how possible is it for a band that is really good to make it without the backing and the connections of a major label?
Hoge: I would like to think that it"s possible. I have to believe that it could because we did it for so long without that. We did our indie record and still got fairly decent radio and press support just on the merits of what we did. Like you said, having people come to the shows. I think it is still a possibility to go out and just continue to beat on doors and beg people to discover your band. We"re still ultimately going to do that anyway. The hope is we maybe don"t have to knock as hard or as often on those doors before they open for us now.
NUVO: What"s been the hardest transition?
Hoge: I don"t know that there"s anything that"s really been that hard. Everything just starts to become a lot more, I think. There are more demands on your time. One day you hop on a plane to Boston to play a show for some radio people and the next you"re playing an acoustic show back in Nashville for a group of fans. I don"t think that"s a bad transition. Hopefully, it"s a good thing. I hope it just continues to increase. This is the really important time, where if you have a label involved you use your time wisely to gain as many fans as you can Ö and those people don"t go away no matter what happens.
NUVO: What have you found to be the necessary things to keep in mind as an up-and-coming band?
Hoge: The important thing is the music and trying to just be a great band. Everything that we do and every night we play, just push for it to be amazing. We don"t always get there obviously, but I think that"s the key. Really pushing yourself to try and be better and set the bar really high for yourself. We"ve always done that, even before there was a label involved. I don"t think that should ever change.
NUVO: What is the most important concert you"ve gone to?
Hoge: My first concert, my dad took me to go see Bo Didley when I was about 13 years old. It was in this little bar before he did his big Nike Bo Jackson commercial comeback thing. No one really even seemed to give a shit. It was in this little place that probably held 120 people. I don"t even think it was very good. My dad and my uncle went and both of them were musicians, which is why they wanted to go. I don"t think they dug it. I think it was just sloppy and old and drunken and wasn"t so hot, but I was 13 and I thought it was like the Second Coming. I was like, this is the coolest thing I"ve ever seen. That was probably the start of the long downward spiral for me.
NUVO: Did you have any inclination even at that point that music was what you wanted to do?
Hoge: Music had always been something that I was in love with as a fan and as a listener. It was always a big, big part of my day-to-day life. I think that was one of the first experiences where you get that strange feeling in your stomach and you know it"s really something. The first time I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn was an important thing. It was one of the first things that made me want to play guitar. Not that I can play anything remotely like Stevie Ray Vaughn, but I just thought it was cool to see this guy up there playing these timeless songs. I remember thinking that those were the type of songs you could play even when you"re 80 years old.
NUVO: With the new album, what is the direction like in relation to your previous disc, Carousel?
Hoge: I think it"s a beefed up, more mature version of Carousel. It"s not this insane departure. We didn"t go in and make a record that"s all glitzy and perfect. It"s a rock and roll record. The great thing about this record and Carousel is that we were able to take some liberties Ö because we had a little more time in the studio to try some things. We"ve just really broadened our brush stroke with this record.
NUVO: Do you have a title and a release date for the new record?
Hoge: Yes. Black Bird On a Lonely Wire. It"s going to be out Oct. 15. Things pretty soon are going to get really hectic.
NUVO: In that good kind of way?
Hoge: In the best kind of way.
NUVO: What does the big picture hold for you, ideally?
Hoge: Ideally, with the release of this record, I hope that my band and me are able to really reach more people with the music we play. At the end of all this I hope we"re able to tour the country while being able to support ourselves. Ultimately, I hope we lay the groundwork for a 20-year career of making music.
NUVO: You don"t smoke or drink and that makes you rare amongst musicians. So what are your vices?
Hoge: I can"t tell you that. I have to keep up the mystery.
Will Hoge is scheduled to play the Midwest Music Summit this Thursday at the Vogue, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or free with your official MMS badge.