"I only want to write stuff that I have lived; if I haven't, I don't feel capable of writing it" A chat with Walker Hayes
The newest entrant to the crowded country market isn't actually that new at all. Walker Hayes had a big label contract before but ended up working in Costco as the breaks didn't go his way. Now he's back, and with a style similar to Nashville's biggest breakout of recent years, Sam Hunt, but with a lyrical honesty that's all his own. This is grown up music in country-pop clothes, and we caught up with Walker to find out more about him and his album, Boom.
Hey Walker, how the devil are you?
AMAZING. Is an understatement. Things are going so well that I'm confused. The album drops 8th December, the single is on fire, and baby number seven is on the way. Ridiculous!
What have you been up to today?
Today I got a haircut at 10.30, then I came back home to answer these questions. That's about it. Little Whiskey Jam show tonight in Nashville. Will be the last show before Thanksgiving. I’m just gonna hang with the kiddos today.
What can you tell us about boom. in two sentences?
boom. is basically 10 of my journal entries...put to music...that happen to rhyme...a bunch. Ha ha! No, really, just the truth. A lot of information and emotion relating to my recent struggle with addiction, the music business, etc. Some fun things as well...but all truth.
If people could only listen to one track from record, which would you suggest?
Hmmm, I would suggest listening to 'Craig'. It's a thank you to a dear friend of mine who encouraged and helped my family out in an enormous way. I think the world could use more people like him. I wish I was more like him.
The title of the record isn’t a track on the record, what’s that about?
boom. is my favorite word. Every single time something good happens with the current single or this project in general, I text my team something like "hey, the song is #16...boom." So we had to name it that. boom.
How did you meet up with Shane McAnally?
Really long story. I actually bumped into him at Smoothie King when I was looking for a new publishing deal. He was very kind despite how awkward I'm certain I was when I reintroduced myself to him - we had met but it had been a very long time. From that time on he was always more than willing to listen to things I would email him at a time when I couldn't get arrested.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
SLOW. It takes me forever to complete a song. I am not a fun co-write. I only want to write stuff that I have lived; if I haven't, I don't feel capable of writing it.
What did Kenny Chesney ever do to you?! (Ed - Walker has a track on the record called 'Shut Up Kenny')
Hahaha...that's funny! Nothing! He's my favorite. His music sits right beside mine and my wife’s relationship. One of his songs came on in the car one night when we were in a fight. I wanted to stay pissed but the song that came on was 'Anything But Mine' This song reminds me of the year Laney and I moved to Nashville. Very happy times. I was like, "Shut up, Kenny." Then I had to write it.
One of my favorite tracks from your record is ‘Halloween’, so I’ve got to ask, what’s your favorite “holiday”?
Thank you so much, I love that one too. My favorite holiday... is Halloween. We always have people over, tons of kids, lots of candy. Laney and I have been pumpkins for the past 13 years.
What can you tell us about your hometown of Mobile, Alabama?
I love it there. I don't go back enough. It's by the water. I haven't lived there in a while and it has changed quite a bit, but still feels like Mobile. It's growing rapidly. When I sit down to write a song about a memory or anything really, in my imagination, the stories usually take place in Mobile. For some reason, I would imagine that's how most writers are. When they begin a song, even though they may live in Nashville, their thoughts probably wander home. That's where I go in my mind when I write - Mobile.
What’s your favorite thing about the town?
My favorite thing about Mobile is the water. The bay. My dad bought a sailboat around the time I was born and took me sailing as a kid. I love Pollman's cookies and chili cheeseburgers at the Dew Drop Inn.
And the worst?
The worst thing is that it is 7 hours away.
So, you worked in Costco, what was the best thing about that job?
The best thing about that job was meeting a friend named Mike. He taught me how to stock the cooler. He was a dear friend that made working there fun. We would dream out loud together and listen to music. He was a good dude. He just texted me the other day. He's been transferred to Arizona - he now works in the tire center. He says when my single comes on the radio he brags about me and that his new buddies are impressed. I'm glad. He's the man.
How’s 2017 been so far?
So incredible that I hate for it to end. How could 2018 compare?
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
Right now I'm pretty obsessed with Macklemore's 'Good Old Days' featuring Kesha. It is our story. Things are blowing up right now big time BUT when I remember the struggle, the road, the journey, I feel a little nostalgic. Those were the Good Old Days...
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Who is my favorite kid?
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Lil’ bit a cream!
To find out more about Walker check out his website, follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook. boom. is out soon and will be available from all the usual places, including Amazon, Tidal, iTunes, and Spotify.