If there’s one thing that we’ve all learned through this difficult time, it’s that it’s relatively easy to stay in contact with friends, family, or in Walker Hayes’ case, his fans.
Prior to COVID-19 outbreak, Hayes was preparing for The Triple Play Tour that featured Teddy Robb and Brandon Ratcliff. The tour was set to begin in Cincinnati, Ohio at the city’s famed Bogart’s and end on May 16th at the Eagles’ Nest in Chesapeake, Virginia.
His new reality is now playing in front of a screen instead of on stage in front of thousands of fans. This new way of entertaining has become a more intimate experience for some. Hayes recently took to American Songwriter’s ‘Behind The Mic’ series on Facebook Live to stay engaged with fans who are currently sitting at home looking for some sort of extracurricular activity.
Hayes not only played music, but also told stories of how he got started in Nashville writing songs, something he wasn’t as observant of as a child.
“Growing up, I was a pretty naive kid,” he said. “I thought everybody who sang on the radio wrote all the material.”
Since then, he’s worked with some of Nashville’s biggest writers and producers, including Shane McAnally, who Hayes praises heavily during the live performance. “I can’t give that guy enough props as far as his talent and who he is as a person. Things just seem to fall from him naturally. I’ve worked with a lot of producers who need to put their “stamp” on it, whereas Shane looks to bring the song to its full potential.”
From this creative process with McAnally came his 2017 debut album ‘Boom.’ This ten-track collection includes fan-favorite “You Broke Up With Me” which he played first during the 48-minute segment. One fan asked what it was like to have a song that acclaimed so much success and Hayes gave a very humbling response that shows just how appreciative he is to have the opportunity to make music for a living.
“One thing I learned is that having a platinum record is not the end-all be-all. I truly believe that if you don’t like that little kid looking in that middle school locker room mirror after just getting made fun of or beat up, you’re not going to like that reflection when looking in a platinum record, that’s just the way it is. I remembered getting the platinum record and thinking “dang, we worked hard for this.” That was not a nourishment that I was expecting to get from that.”
There’s no question that Hayes has gone against the grain from a traditional country sound. This was something that he felt very strongly about because this hasn’t always been the case.
“I get a lot of flak. I’m not wearing a cowboy hat and a buckle. I’m Southern and I don’t feel the need to always prove how country I am,” he said. “I refuse to try and put on the jeans and boots because I’ve done that before at other labels and that’s just not who I am.”
This livestream system of engaging with music fans across the world is a very new concept to many, and it brings so much joy to people who are worried about the uncertainty that the future naturally brings. Staying positive through this dark time is often difficult and Hayes made it known that he was thinking about anyone who might be going through a rough patch as a result of this.
“To anybody who’s experiencing some serious hardships because of what’s going on, I just want you to know that we’re with you and we love you. I encourage everyone to stay home.”
To stay up to date on all things surrounding Walker Hayes, visit him at www.WalkerHayes.com.