Ryan Hurd: The Backstage Q&A

Fatherhood, Hometown Crowds, and Sexy Songs: There Is Nothing We Did Not Discuss

There’s usually a little bit of down time between an artist’s sound check and the actual show, and on Thursday afternoon (Feb. 6), I had the chance to use that time wisely by talking with Ryan Hurd about everything going on in his music, his new goals, and his life with his wife Maren Morris.

We sat down at Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom, before the sold-out crowd arrived and packed the place. The show was, in some ways, just another stop on his Platonic tour. But then again, Hurd considers Nashville his hometown now, and hometown crowds just hit different.

Our conversation went something like this.

CMT.com: I know you’ve come to think of Nashville as your new home, so it probably feels different to play for so many people you know so well. Does it feel different in a good way, or not so good?

Hurd: Well, your whole record company is here, and all the people you work with, so that just makes it feel like it’s less of a party. But you definitely kind of measure yourself against these shows. Like last year we did the Exit/In and sold that out. And tonight we’re doing the Cannery — which is at least two times as big — and we sold this out. When your record company gets to see you do that, you can kind of mark your progress with Nashville shows. So this is really gratifying.

Do you do anything differently with the vibe of the show, considering the audience?

No, but you have to keep in mind that you’re working two things at a show like tonight’s: a crowd that actually just came to see you perform, and then the labels, the publishers and the agents. In fact, there are some artists who don’t even play Nashville because of that. Miranda (Lambert) hadn’t done it in like six years. Maybe eight years. Because it’s a lot of work. And yet this was the first date we booked. We’ve played shows on this tour before this one, so now it feels like the rehearsals are over and let’s go do this.

And now you’re the one going on last, after Joey Hyde and Niko Moon. After being on some pretty big tours as an opener, it must feel way different when you’re headlining. Tell me about that.

It’s scarier, for sure. Like even with ticket sales. I still don’t think anyone’s gonna come tonight. They bought tickets, sure, and it’s sold out, but I’m still like, “Man, what if they found something better to do?” But I think our show itself is so cool. When you open for people, you’re doing a very specific job and you can have those moments with crowd with a hit song that connects. But you’re just there to warm the crowd up for someone else. So when it’s your own crowd — whether it’s 200 or 20,000 people — there’s nothing like that. You don’t have to win them over. You just have to show up and be yourself and play the songs they already know and love. The people who come tonight will know every single song I’ve put out, not just “To A T.” So the ones here tonight are fans of my writing, my new songs and my old songs.

Ah yes. “To a T.” The sexiest song on the radio right now. Or maybe ever.

It is. And it’s really strange to me that my biggest hit so far isn’t slamming, you know? It’s not like a super uptempo one that hammers the crowd. It’s not super singalongable, if that makes sense. There’s no real place for the crowd to sing with you, and yet as soon as we start playing it, everyone’s phones go up and people get really excited. That is obviously really cool for me.

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