Spout Podcast
Spout Podcast

Episode 26 · 8 months ago

Walker Hayes

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

While it may seem that Walker Hayes’ rise to the top of country music charts has been fast and furious, it’s in fact quite the opposite. With a Nashville music career spanning 15+ years, he has experienced every high and low that Music City has to offer.  

In Episode 24, Walker talks the accidental success of ‘Fancy Like’, his track that has been casually dominating both country and pop charts alike (as well as Tik Tok). He explains his key to creating relatable music, the personal significance of his new song ‘Briefcase’, coping with losing a parent before you technically lose them and more.  

...allies. While you might have heard his name associated with terms like new country or breakthrough artist walker Hayes is anything but new to country music In 2005 after completing his music degree at Birmingham Southern College Walker and his wife Lainie moved to Nashville where he could pursue a career in songwriting. He quickly received a publishing contract at Mercury Records Nashville, but it wasn't too long before he would switch to Capitol Records, where he would sign is not only a songwriter but an artist, she gets through the route she can snap and holler. His. His first single pants was released in december of 2010. The song would see minor success debuting at number 60 and the hot country chart. And although cementing walker Hayes place as an artist, it wasn't until 2000 and 16 after signing with Monument Records that walker would release his first true breakout single, You can't crash my party with sand, What are we gonna be raining on my mark? Mixing a catchy staccato rhythm with slapstick phraseology. You broke up with me would go double platinum at service value. The track is a tongue in cheek, heartbreak song. But as it turned out it was actually about walker's Nashville experience. I've been in Nashville a long time, I've lost record deals and I lost a big one about six years ago and a lot of friends vanished when things started going well again, they started hitting me up, Hey, you want to write, you wanna have coffee etcetera. And I was like, hey, y'all broke up with me, you broke up with me. What can I say? You broke up as a songwriter walker has learned the value of writing with personal authenticity. Okay. The exact thing that created a success out of you broke up with me and now a track that would dominate both the country and pop charts and go viral on tic Tac. Yeah, we fancy like Applebee's on a day night. That's a mystery. Stay. My name is eric Zachary. This is the spot podcast where famous people spout off about more than their famous for and today. That's walker Hayes fancy like, hey man, this is, this is very overdue because I worked in country radio for five years and I was doing a lot of it remote. So I never got the chance to formally interview you, but I, I played you broke up with me. I want to get this number right? I think like 23,448 times. Give or take it. I love it. I love it. Thank you for that. That was a shoot that that song was huge for us. We didn't, we had no idea man that people were going to like that one, but I'm pretty sure we briefly, there's no way you'll remember this. We briefly met over Facetime through my friends in boston, I was with him and I think he was calling you to like congratulate you and you broke up with me and we're in a hotel lobby. I was like, what's up walker? I've never been. That's awesome, man, that's long overdue. Hey man, congratulations on, well everything, but we'll start, we'll start down the order, right? So of course the new ep country stuff, you have the single with the same title, which was already doing crazy awesome. And then just like, tick tock coming in here and going, you know what, you're ready to play shows again, let's give you a little extra energy, a little extra boost for those shows. Yeah, dude, it's insanity. I mean, I was just talking to people kind of on the way in here today and saying it's insane but honest, honest. I'm like, what was I doing three weeks ago? You know what I'm saying? Like, it's it is just remarkable the shift that a career and a, you know, business and music can take in just a blink. You know, that's the beauty. I mean, I feel like that's kind of the beauty of this, this industry we're in, You know, even you is like, you kind of wake up every day and in the back of your mind, you're like, what will come of this? You know, that, that we create, you know, you take nothing and then you leave that day and a song exists and your hope is,...

...and your dream is that one day the masses are singing along, you know, and somehow you tap the nerve that they, that they needed tapped, you know. And so it's crazy. But that's really how I feel is I'm like, what what in the world was I doing like 3.5 weeks ago before all this happened? Because now it's just the trajectory of the shows this fall. I just didn't see this coming. I mean, it's it's about to get crazy. Well, it changes everything. I like that. You keep referring to three weeks ago, right? I saw an interview, I think it was right after the ep release, right? And you were like, hey, I really, really, really like obviously country stuff, but I'm excited for to see people's reaction to fancy. Like, yeah. And then sure enough, you know, three weeks later, it's not a reaction to it's own entity basically. You know, it's crazy. It's a thing like fancy like is just its own planet. I mean, it's it's but in your right I do. I'm glad you said that. I mean, people are always like, did you people have been asking me did I know how could you? You don't know. You know, you're you're hopeful. You're like, man, I hope people agree with me and that Fancy like could be one of their favorites. I mean, I still, I mean, I love the whole ep, you know, every song is the life was special to me. I put them on there for a reason when I got the final mix too fancy like I was visiting, I was actually with my parents. My dad actually died March 22 and while I was down there for the funeral and everything, we got the final mix, the fancy like, and I put my headphones on and when that core is dropped, I was like, look, I don't know what's going on, but, but that's, that makes me feel something incredible. So I put it on each of my kids and I played till it got to that course and I watched all their faces as soon as it hit the word Applebee's. I was like, this is special. I was like, this is doing something to them right there at that moment. And I think that's what's happening, but dude, yeah, the dance, Who knew, I mean Leela and I've been doing that as a whole, covid. Like we had never had one, you know, pop off like that hadn't we have been doing in the other songs and stuff. Not a lot of original stuff, but this life changing man for sure. It's, it's, it's one of the most unique social media is in the sense where, you know, end of the day, right? And this is why I like talking to country artist specifically. Uh, you know, the music is truly about the music. It's not so much a business and not that it is with every artist by any means, but it's just a little more still traditional And I think Tiktok has vulgar as some of it can be and somewhat as well, some of it could be, it truly is still a very organic social media, right? It doesn't matter if you have two million followers there, they'll still say, nope, that's not going viral. Like it truly is the last platform where you can't control the marketing behind it. The people are either going to accept it or not. You know, you have instagram ads, you have facebook ads. I mean you have the whole label game when it comes to getting a song on the radio, but tick tock is just do people like it or not? Are they into it? Are they not? And it's, there's no bounds of genres, there's no bounds of the artist. It's just, do they want to do the dance? Do they relate? And I can't think of a song that checks more boxes, that more people can relate to that fancy. Like, well I love honestly all those, I love all those things you're saying. I mean I haven't analyzed kind of the pros and cons of each social social media platform, but everything you just said, it's really great for me because I personally thrive under being really just being really comfortable and I'm most comfortable when I'm when it's not calculated when it's not curated when it's not Christine. I just don't, you know, even the songs on the ep, like you take a song like Cry or I hope you...

...miss me and it's perfect. But to me it lacks those lack kind of like the raw nous of country stuff and fancy. Like, and that's what's, so, that's what Tiktok is for me. It's like not many takes. There's not a lot of lights and stuff. I'm just in my house and I'm like, yo, let's do this, ma'am. There it is. You know what I mean? And I think people respond like you just said, it's just an artist to the people. That's it. There's no middleman, there's no, no, there's not an advertisement. It's not a, it's not business. It's just like, oh, I literally bam that dude did it and it got to me and you're right. As I watched that video of Leela and I, there's something magic about like there's something like Leela's just, she's not dressed up. She's just like wearing what she wore that day. And I am too. I think we have left church that day and I was like, yeah, let's pop, she, she said, let's do a fancy, like needs a dance. We just came up with it didn't overthink it. Like the moves aren't hard and you're right. The people get to respond how they really respond. You know, there's no manipulation in the numbers. It's just did it check off all the boxes where they want to see it and learn it. And so yeah, I mean we got, we got lucky, but what a, what a blessing, you know, for an artist like me that that outlet exists because otherwise, you know, we're trying to thread it through these avenues that have parameters and walls and politics and stuff and uh yeah, politics Alice tick top. Yeah, that's a phrase. You got to be very, very careful what you say in verbal. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's authentic, man, I think, you know, time and time again, we've gone in this vicious circle. I'm not saying we but just the industry of music, of entertainment, how can I get this stuck in someone's head? And I think people are reminded again and again that it's it's the authenticity of a dad and his daughter doing a day, it doesn't read as like, okay, what move could we do here that people would like to do? It's like, no, we're just being good and they were just screwing around, we're having fun and it's dude and it's crazy and you know what, like you were just talking about about the business, it'll be something else, you know? And and what's funny is somebody always figures it out, you know, you know, somebody else about a week Yeah, you know, somebody always blows up on these platforms and and and if we're lucky a lot of people do, you know? But then it then then then then eventually it will lose its luster and there'll be another way, you know, and honestly I was just talking to my my publishers, the people who sounded me too right? Songs five years ago and we were just, were just blown away. We're just, you know, it's, it's just like, this is what you, this is what you wake up going, hey, maybe maybe today's, you know, you do this and, and we're doing it. You know, we're watching a song defy all of our expectations. I mean every day we wake up and honestly we've gotten where we're like for fun, let's predict what this looks like monday and we're always well beneath what we predicted. And it's, and it's just a song being out there and the people taking him, I'm not working that hard right now. You know, we're just watching this happen. So thank God for listeners man, you know, and for people who like music, you know, and press rewind and I mean, um it's just, it's awesome. It's, it's very natural validation too because it's not forced, not someone, hey, I love your song. It's, it's them showing you that they love it too. And you know, but by no means are we, you know, taking shots at the industry that we work in, hey, it pays our bills. And I mean it's something that we have to do, but it's...

...just an ever changing evolution. So for you to be able to participate in kind of that new wave, very organically without like the marketing mindset and it works is just like double down. it's an extra cool feeling totally, totally, and that's, you know, to me that's what all my heroes, I mean, I hate to not give them credit for calculating their success, but you know, I think that's how all my heroes succeeded as it's kind of like they accidentally were who the world needed to hear and somehow they got through, you know, to the masses and and as you know, a veteran of this business, that method, that path that outlet changes on a weekly basis and people find new ones all the time and it is like you just said is very affirming to wake up and be like what you do to do that and and just be like, I was just myself, that's the most fun about this song, is it's just about my family and that's just what me and my wife do and um that's just, that's how we roll and I wrote it, I got to write about it and people are responding. This episode of the spot podcast is brought to you by better help this world that we're living in isn't easy, it doesn't matter who you are, we're all dealing with our own level of depression or anxiety or stress or trauma, just trying to make it day by day and that's okay, but you shouldn't have to do that alone, that's where better help comes in right there, not a crisis line, this isn't self help, it's professional counselling done securely online, you can send a message off anytime to your licensed counselor and you're gonna get a timely and thoughtful response plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions whatever you prefer. Whatever is the easiest way for you to connect with someone. That's what better help is a sounding board licensed professional counselors who specialize in these things that we're dealing with day by day. Everything you share is confidential, it's convenient, it's professional and it's affordable. It can be hard to admit, but if you're like me sometimes you just need to talk to someone and that doesn't mean a family member or a friend that means someone that knows what they're doing and that has an unbiased professional desire to help. So if you're like me and you want to start living a happier life today right now, you can get 10% off your first month by visiting our sponsor. Better help dot com slash spout again, that's better help. H E L P dot com slash spout? It's so relatable without feeling like you're trying too hard to be relatable. Does that make sense? You know, I mean a lot of country music in general, you know, there's a certain lifestyle that comes with an audience that consumes it on a daily basis. Country stuff is a perfect example of that. You know, obviously you're relating to people that wake up that go fishing, that kind of thing, but you know, if you're not in country you might go, okay, well I've never been fishing in my life. Everyone has thought about stopping an apple. She's like, I don't care how much money you have. Everyone's tried dipping the fry and a frosty at Wendy's the only thing that could have hit me a little harder. If you mentioned like a cheesy according to crunch at Taco Bell, that's literally nice. Yeah, well maybe that's maybe that's in the remix, but did you make a solid point and I'm just gonna be completely vulnerable here. I mean sometimes it is tempting in a writer's room to go, what what do the most people like? You know, because you're like, hey, if I throw a dark and I hit that bullseye, then we grab this many people, you know, with that one phrase, but you're exactly right. When we were writing fancy, like I was not sitting around going, how many people actually like fries and a frosty. One of my kids doesn't like it, you know? But some of them do. So I could have been like, uh huh, let's not get that specific. But I love you make a great point. Like there is a point as a writer, if you, when you're writing every day, do you have that temptation to go, I don't know if I want to tell the whole truth here because not everybody might be like me, you know,...

...so I don't want to lose and you're right? That that song? It does have an unforced relatability. Where is I hear how you could hear country stuff and you might go, uh you just filled in the blanks, you know, with stuff that country people like, which is funny because I didn't, it's not the case, but it's, it's just, it can come off that way to like someone is not in country music or not in the south or in that work. Exactly, Exactly. You're like having to write a country song. Well, I'm definitely gonna put a gun in it and efficient rod and it will, it will be in a truck, you know? And so you know, some of those points are easy to hit and seem a little like paint by numbers. But to me fancy like just sounds like everybody who kind of grew up near or in a strip mall town. Like that's, that's just what that's his life was. You know, I remember in high school, my mom and dad used to get so mad because I would steal his credit card and go to alpha bees with the front, you know? And he'd be like, what are you eating there? You know? And I was like bourbon street steak man. I go all out, it's on you dad, you know, and he's not even mad. He's just confused about how much money you were able to spend at Applebee's? He was, he was like, why is the, why is it always like 16 bucks? You know? And I was like, are you choked up barbara ST ST oreo shake. But uh that's one cool thing about my team and the music I'm allowed to write is they really encouraged me to get specific. Like if you listen to the ep, there's a song called briefcase about my dad, you know, I, I don't want to make you my mad, but I didn't write that for anybody but me, I just had to get that out. And what I've noticed is that a lot of people are they feel they feel convicted by that song in a beautiful way or they can relate in a beautiful way, they're challenged in a beautiful way, which you know, that's the point that my team is always trying to make to me is just write about what you know, you know, I know it's so cliche but don't expand, don't stretch it. Don't write about what you wish, you knew, just write about what, you know, and it'll, and it'll get to those people's hearts and that's what briefcases doing out there right now you said to with fancy, like, you know, it's kind of a very unforced relatability but so is briefcase, you know, I have a sick dad. And so I hear that and I go, he's not writing a sad song, you know, it, it doesn't have sad chords to it. I mean you could play a certain chord on the piano and you could get someone to cry if you're in the right mood, right? But that song doesn't come off that way. It is, it is a memoir. It is a it did you write it before he passed to? I did, I did, I wrote it and I'm getting goose bumps actually just listening and you talk because it, it my, my purpose for the song was to not write this unrealistic ode to a perfect father. It was to be honest, because in my personal opinion and honest relationship is the most loving when you can say, hey, you're not perfect. I'm not perfect, but we're gonna be in perfect together forever. And that's where my father and I were able to come to overtime and understanding as life gave me wisdom and forgiveness and stuff like that. But I appreciate you saying that. It's not a, it's not a sad song. I just wanted to be honest with everybody. And you know, I think as you, as you get older, you might, you can learn, you know, it's, it's, it's not sad to look back and go, I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. You know, maybe treat my dad the way I did as a, as an adolescent, maybe that wasn't so great, Maybe I didn't get it and maybe I'm actually proud now, even though I said...

...as a kid, you know, I don't want to be like him, I'm actually proud. You know, I get, I get proud when my mom was like, you're just like your dad and I'm like, that's, that's pretty cool. I'm sure you have a lot of the same moments I do. You know my relationship with my father and kind of what I ended up doing versus what he did a little more 1 to 1 than yours, but still similar in a sense. We're like, we actually have a running joke that maybe the microphone didn't fall too far from the stands. So when you say, you know, maybe the guitar isn't that far from the briefcase, you know that? But my dad was a disc jockey and he was a music coordinator in restaurants and whatnot. And then I ended up in music business and hosting and interviewing. So kind of hearing that it wasn't a song where I went, oh, that equals this in my life. It just, it was immediately my song and I talked to quite a few songwriters and I know that there's kind of this careful balance where like when does the song become the audiences because you live with it, you sit with it, you write it, you listen to it 1000 times before anyone else does when you put it out. Is that something that is still always yours? Or once it's out, Is it all about seeing how it affects other people for you. You know, that one will always be mine. I think the timing of it writing it. Writing it while I was losing my dad. I will always see visuals of losing him with that song. I will always also reminisce one of my favorite lines in the song is, but I love the sound that his key chain made when he got home in the evening because I remember that so vividly. Like, I mean I remember that is like a five year old. I just remember his, the cadence and his slow steps coming up the wooden stairs on the side of our house here and his keys jingle dude had like a million keys as, as a realtor back then. But man, I mean the song, I give the songs to people and and my grandest hope, which is probably unrealistic with every song but is that it points to something eternal and is healing. Like for instance, one of my favorite reactions would be like, hey, I heard that song and I called my dad hey, I lost my dad and that reminds me of him. You know what I mean? And obviously that song is no longer mine. It's ours. That's a beautiful thing. I just love to make people think after I've thought because that's the joy I got from writing that song is to sit and remember my dad's the sound of his key chain and remember him always standing there with a briefcase and remember my kind of stupidity and ignorance and laugh at myself as a, as a 17 year old going, I got to do this myself. Dad. I don't need your help. I don't want to be like you. And then to laugh at myself when I have kids and and I have dreams and go, wow, my dad was a lot smarter than I thought he was and it was a lot more patient. You know that line in the song where it says, I know I held it against him throwing that baseball against the steps, but he didn't hold it against me because I wasn't a father yet. You know, and my my dad always was very forgiving and patient with me as a kid, even though I was a little bit rebellious, but man songs or not. It's funny. I think when you write them, you're like, yeah, this is for me, this is my journal. I'm I'm letting this out. This is therapeutic. And then it's a very gratifying feeling to hear the world respond to go, No, that's that's my song. You know, I wouldn't think about you. It's funny how life works. And as cliche as that sounds. I mean, just earlier when I talk, when you said you got the final mix of the ep at your dad's funeral. Yeah, I'm not trying to draw more emotions that we have to out of you right now. But just that I can't even begin to fathom how beautifully perfect that is. Yeah. You know, to hear the final mix of briefcase in this moment of vulnerability. Yeah, yeah. I mean honestly, I couldn't, I mean I couldn't...

...listen. I mean I shed many tears, you know, trying to listen to that. Um, I've shed many tears trying to sing it. When was the first time that you were able to listen to it after he passed. And it wasn't so much of a tearful moment as it was truly happy remembrance. You know, we, when we did, we did the video after he passed and I sat with the briefcase and and thumb through pictures and as I did that, I actually remembered the night dad died, my mom and I went through just a black hole of photos. You know, we went up, not the night he died the night we buried him or did you know, did his service and stuff. We sat upstairs next to this huge chest full of photos and just went through, you know, together and we just cried and laughed and some of my kids would trickle in and we'd show them to him and laugh and just kind of went through history. And the first time I played the song though actually the second time I played this song live, my mother was side stage and in Panama City and I couldn't even play the guitar. I mean I was just, I was a wreck, but a good right. You know, I, I got through the song and I don't watch the video. I watched the video once and I was like, that's the last time I watched that. That that's, that's the last time I'm going to see that. Yeah. But you know, man, it is like you said, dude, that cliche is a cliche for a reason. It is funny how life works and I'll probably, I'm gonna try to say this without just bawling. But I wish my dad could see how much our relationship impacts people. You know, how much we together and just, you know, I wish to, he was here. I know he sees it. I just wish I could see him see it. I know he would be so proud and excited because he always knew I had something to offer. You know, musically it never mattered him like the success. He was so proud of me for pursuing just this wild dream. I think he always stood back a little baffled by just the path that my wife and I took. And I think he was always, he just genuinely enjoyed watching us try and dream and chase it. But the fact that that I lost him and that this happened, I don't know, it's just been a weird emotional year. And uh, and I think it's a beautiful thing man. You know, I got to over, I honestly, over Covid, it was such a blessing. I was able to be with my dad and I was sitting next to him with a guitar when he died. And that was hands down the most beautiful, precious moment in my entire life. Uh, you know, and yeah, it's just been a magical year for us despite, you know, the sad circumstances. But yeah, man, it was crazy timing, right? And briefcase. He never got to hear it as dad. You know, his mind was he didn't know who I was when we finished that song, but I know he can hear it. You got some new years now. I'm trying to get choked up. You know, I I don't need to hear more than that as someone probably in a very similar situation. Yeah. Oh, man, I'm sorry. Yeah. So it's just hearing you say that sentence already know, like there's probably 1121 comparisons and my dad's in a research study right now. He's literally on his way to Chicago university right now for that. So the funniness, the beauty beauty of everything. Just, you know, the higher powers that are me getting the chance to talk to you after five years essentially. This should have happened, you know, countless times when you're doing radio runs and I was on the stations and whatnot in Chicago and boston and sacramento for it to happen...

...right now is, yeah, it means a lot. It really does. That's nuts, man. I'm so sorry. And that is, um, it was weird, you know, and you're probably going with us too. It's like, it's like you lose them before you lose them, you know, it's it's um and that's almost kind of a blessing. I feel like if you lives lost at all at once um with some people do you know, some some people lose loved ones suddenly, but man, I don't know, like like you said, it's funny how life works. I don't believe in accidents man, so I'm glad we're talking today. I will definitely say a prayer for you and your and your family as I know that that is that's not fun. There are funny things though that happened that you got to laugh at. Yeah, Oh yeah, yeah, you got to find the humor in it man. You have to, my dad, he was full of singers. They didn't always make sense, but I was like, dude, I need to record some of this stuff he's saying, wow man, I could talk to you for hours and I look forward to be able to meet in person so we can have, you know, further dialogue about this in private. But come on walker man, thank you so much for taking the time and for being so open. Thank you. Thanks for a great just conversation and fellowship. I appreciate it and it's wild man, I'm sure we'll talk about this again. Yeah walker Hayes, thank you so much sir, appreciate it. Thanks sir. Right, I'll have a good one. See more of our conversation with walker Hayes. Its spout underscore podcast on I. G. And twitter or its spout podcast dot com. Next week dixie d'Amelio spouts off. I spent most of my life in public school but I switched to private school my last three years and we actually had really like really good lunches like we had sushi day. Oh my God we will not relate still to come this season Addison Rae, Shawn Mendez nor Mani and more be sure to listen to the spout podcast every thursday night at nine on Apple podcast, Spotify or google podcast. The spout podcast is presented by Alpha Media and created by Phil Becker about. Mhm. Uh huh. Yeah. Mhm. Yeah. Mhm. Uh huh. Mhm.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (61)