Hunter Hayes The Red Sky Tour with Loren Gray Not so long ago, Hunter Hayes let go. Of the expectations. Of the pressure. Of the necessity to follow a specific formula for
The Red Sky Tour
with Loren Gray
Not so long ago, Hunter Hayes let go. Of the expectations. Of the pressure. Of the necessity to follow a specific formula for his career. A five-time Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist and the youngest male act ever to top the Billboard Hot Country song chart, Hayes was ready to lean into a mindset he’d always carried with him: that genres are fluid, and, in his eyes, the best musicians are the ones able to play with all sorts of sounds and styles.
“All of my favorite artists are the ones who went about their career making their own rules,” says Hayes, a rare and highly respected talent with a knack for authentic songwriting and for forging a true connection with his fans. “I knew then I had to tap into whatever’s been put on my creative heart. Let’s start there.” Following a decade of playing by the rules and sticking to country music conventions, Hayes is, at last, doubling down on his ever-searching musical mindset: throwing genre conventions out the window, playing with “all the sounds” he’s influenced by, and, most importantly, trusting himself in his quest to lean into his pop and alternative rock influences. Or, in other words, as Hayes succinctly puts it: “I’m creating my own rules to play by so I don’t have to play by anyone else’s.”
It’s this new no-holds-barred mindset that’s resulted in some of Hayes’ most inspired music yet. On his new album, Red Sky, the singer-songwriter is executing at the highest level of his musical career: crafting memorable melodies and instantly catchy hooks albeit with a top-notch musician’s discerning ear. “It was a completely different way of thinking,” Hayes says excitedly of his approach to the new LP and, for that matter, his career moving forward. “I’ve gone from being plugged into the system to building my own system.”
The 31-year-old Hayes, who says he wants every one of his albums to feel like a different era, has always been one to buck conventions. It’s hardly a surprise then to hear the Breaux Bridge, Louisiana native speak so candidly about his desire — no, need — to take ownership of his career and music. Signed to a record deal at age 18, “there was this understanding that I had no idea what I was doing and needed to learn the proper way,” he explains looking back. “So yeah, I wanted to believe there was one right way to do everything — producing, song selections, putting things out to radio, touring, etc. This created this odd environment where I listened to myself less than I should have.
“I started mentally making a note of all the things I felt weren’t right and what would I do instead,” Hayes continues. “And after a while, I realized there’d always been this desire to create my own corner. And not just copy and paste what was working.”
This norm-defying mentality — of no longer sticking to the script and instead letting his musical sensibility guide him — goes a long way in explaining why Hayes says he’s never been happier or more engaged with the music he’s creating.
(Friday) 7:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The Stone Pony
913 Ocean Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712
$32.50 in advance (plus applicable surcharges), $35 at the door