After a personally tumultuous time, Hunter Hayes decided to write and record whatever he wanted, figuring that it would never see the light of day. Instead, those sessions led to his brand new album, Wild Blue, Part I. He invited CMT host Cody Alan into his home for a chat about the new music.
Cody Alan: Leading into this album, it’s been a little while. So… some stress, some pressure, but at the same time there must be some relief that you can get to the point you can release it, right?
Hunter Hayes: Yeah. I mean, the stress, the pressure, are honestly all gone. And that’s the beauty of this album. That’s why I love this album so much, because it’s the album that I made assuming the world would never hear it, and it’s the stuff that I’ve most proud of.
What do you mean, “assuming the world would never hear it”?
When I started out on Wild Blue, it was the first time that I’d ever had an album that I named before I started working on it. The intentionality of this was, I had been writing so much knowing that everyone was watching.
And this was the first project, the first series of music that I made, honestly assuming that no one would ever hear it. And it removed a lot of the filters. It just got rid of all the things in my way. And it allowed me to start writing about things, again with the safety net that I don’t have to release it if it’s too personal.
Is this a new Hunter in some ways?
No, actually, it’s just me. I think anything else has just been “old Hunter.” I think I was stuck for a minute, and there was this breakoff point where I started growing as a human, and I was convinced that my image of me as a public whatever couldn’t change until I realized that I was allowed to actually be me. That’s the point.
Why did [the title track] lead the way for how the album came together?
Because it was the first one that I made with no filters. It was just like, I’m going to do whatever the hell I want. As far as structure-wise, there’s really no structure. There’s a lot of lines. It’s very spur of the moment. Musically I just tried a lot of things, or just did a lot of things that I wanted to do, regardless of kind of anything. Yeah, I just went for it.
And yet, the Hunter that I loved before, I still hear on this album also. “Heartbreak,” to me, sounds like a great Hunter Hayes song from three years ago, say.
It’s the song being played right now on the radio as well. It’s sort of a heartbreak song, as the title would indicate, but it really is also an upbeat song.
There was so much I wanted, and had to look forward to, in all this change. I think before I really started diving into it, the first approach was, OK, I’ve got to first establish that I do have something to look forward to, and that the end of a relationship is not the end of the world.
When it comes to the video for it, it looked like you burned a lot of calories.
Uhhh… Enough. Enough. I was sore! I could barely get down the stairs to get to the studio, for like a week.
So, is there a Part II?
What can you tell us about that?
There’s even more! (laughs) The thing that I love about doing it in parts is that it allows me to stay more present than I’ve ever been able to be. What I mean by that is, I’m not building a career towards one album release every three freakin’ years, and by the time I’m done playing this album, three years from then, it’s a seven-year-old project. You know what I mean?
That’s frustrating to you, isn’t it?
Incredibly frustrating! Can you tell? (laughs) Do you feel the body language change? This allows me to do exactly what I just did – drop it when it’s ready. And keep everybody up to date, versus playing old stuff.
Congratulations, it turned out awesome.
Thank you, I appreciate it.