When ASCAP singer/songwriter Kris Hitchcock set out to write his first nationally released album this year, he had four years of 200+ shows and thousands of miles of road to draw from. The hardest working independent artist in the midwest was able to put all those miles and hours behind the wheel to good use in the writing of "American Fire", released in November of 2013. The album is filled with hard won memories, stories, and rock coated country music straight from America's heartland. With a young voice that already holds the maturity and grit of a seasoned rocker, and a pen that knows how to connect to listeners of all ages and backgrounds, Kris is a rising star in the writing and performing world. Joining with Nashville producer Aaron Eshuis, the album explodes out of the speakers. Even at his young age, you can hear the true-life, lived out experiences that Kris writes about.
How do you build success from the ground up? Through unending hard work and resolve that borders nearly on obsession. "I can't count the number of times that I'd play for four straight nights, drive the band home, and then hop in my car and drive 8 hours to Nashville to be at a 10am writing session. I just couldn't see why I would sit at home when there was a chance to get better." Working with ASCAP to meet with publishers and writers all over Nashville, Kris threw himself into that world with the same energy. Continuing to excel as a writer, Kris was selected for the ASCAP 2013 GPS program, which pairs promising young writers with veteran publishers to prepare them for a potential career in writing. That year was capped off after receiving the Leon Brettler Songwriter Award through ASCAP. "I loved the work, and it was rewarding because I could write all week and then give those songs a first hand try out at our shows that weekend." And again, it's the miles that continued to pay off, as Kris and the band play all over the midwest, opening for artists such as Eric Church, Kip Moore, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and many others.
"We bought a 14 passenger bus, and we travel around 2,000 miles a week for shows. It's unrelenting, unforgiving, and it's how we are taking over this region, one town at a time." The results are starting to show, as more and more fans take home the new record each week, come back to shows, follow Kris on twitter, and create a buzz that is hard to ignore. "These aren't people who are interested in being fooled by a marketing scheme; these are hard working, blue collar americans who scraped together a few dollar bills to spend on a friday night, after working with their hands since 7am monday. We want to bring them a show that aims right at them, that meets them right at the door and holds them all night long." It's hard to bet against the results, as the circuit keeps expanding, now covering 8 states and countless clubs and festivals.
To cap off the momentum, Kris took the plunge to book and headline his own cruise in 2012, bringing fans from the midwest all the way to Florida to spend 7 days on a cruise ship with the band. It hit a nerve, as a second cruise doubled in attendance, and a third cruise is scheduled for early 2014. Ever ambitious, Kris has made a goal of tripling the size of the group from the last cruise. "We think we have something unique to offer, that the midwest is just waiting to show up on the national scale as a hotbed of great music and amazing fans."
The next step is the pursuit of a recording contract, and again Kris turns to his touring and regional support to bring that home. "There is a pattern in the industry that works; if you build it, they will come. In this case, it's people believing in you back where you play, so that a label can come in and do what they do best. And I KNOW we have that kind of potential here in the middle of the country. I see it every week, I know it's there, it's just a matter of turning the national attention to it. I know when Nashville comes calling, we are going to turn loose a rabid fan base onto whatever label really wants to tap into all those fans."