Having penned number one hits for Justin Moore (Somebody Else Will) and Dan + Shay (How Not To), Hambrick is stepping into the spotlight as an artist in his own right. His debut single Rockin’ All Night Long has been rising up the Country radio charts and he recently unveiled new track All You, All Night, All Summer.
I called Adam to have a chat about performing in the UK for the first time as part of C2C, talk about his success as a songwriter, and discuss his plans for new music.
You’ll be in the UK in March to perform at C2C. Is this your first time performing in the UK?
This is my first time in the UK performing. My only London experience… my only British experience was a flight through Heathrow one time (laughs) so I’m looking forward to actually getting to see London and see the UK, and get to play for some great music fans over there.
You’re going to be performing on a variety of stages including the Spotlight Stage inside The O2 Arena. What can fans expect from your live performances?
For this go around, I’m not bringing any players with me so it’s just acoustic. It’ll be a little more on the chill side of what I do live but there’ll still be energy. There’ll be a couple of songs that people recognise and then beyond it’ll just be the meat and potatoes of what I do, which is thoughtful, heartfelt, melodic songs. I’m just looking forward to getting to play those and tell stories in the UK. I’ve heard so much about about British country fans and the way everybody latches on to not just one song and that people (will) show up knowing a lot of the music that I’ve already put out, which will be awesome.
Yeah we do have a reputation. We’ll know every song you’ve ever put out or that’s ever been posted on YouTube…
Oh my gosh! I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be awesome.
We hear a lot from US Country artists that they appreciate that UK audiences really engage with album cuts and deep cuts. What’s that like for you as an artist to get that reaction to songs that haven’t been singles?
I haven’t experienced that yet but I think, just as an artist from the outside looking in on other artists who’ve played there… I’ve got to know Charlie Worsham a little bit and he’s talked about this… I think it just makes you feel a little more understood as an artist. Radio drives so much of what happens in the States so you go out and people want to hear those radio singles but your radio single a lot of the time is maybe a little more safe and a little more accessible to audiences I think. A lot of the time those more heartfelt, more deep songs that you want to write don’t get the notoriety in the States. To see fans connect with those kind of songs I think makes you feel more understood as an artist and that people get it. I haven’t experienced that, it’s just an outside looking in from what I’ve seen from other friends who’ve gone over and played for you guys.
Well we can be your first then as you’ll experience that in a couple of weeks when you’re here…
Yes. I really am looking forward to it.
Over the past few months you’ve released the singles Rockin’ All Night Long and All You, All Night, All Summer, which both show different sides to your artistry. What’s your experience been like in terms of the reaction to those songs?
The first song that we put out, Rockin’ All Night Long, that’s our current radio single in the States. I think it was really cool to get to put (it) out first because it’s a song that’s very uniquely my story but also at the same time it’s kind of everybody’s story. I tell people it’s one of those songs that’s about the moments that are too good to sleep on. A lot of my favourite memories happened late at night, like when you’re a kid it’s chasing the party but when you grow up your reasons for staying up late change. There’s just something about the night (laughs) that has a tendency to make those memories. When you’re an adult it looks different but it kinda still remains the same. It’s been really cool to see fans react to that and connect with it, because it’s also my first song that I wrote that’s a nod to being a dad. That’s really cool and really special. I feel like that song was a great introduction to what I do as a songwriter and as a singer and as a storyteller. There’s just a lot of things that make that song special and make the release of that song special to me.
All You, All Night, All Summer… it shifts gears a little bit. It’s uptempo and it has a little more pop leaning in the production but the images and the storytelling are still, I would say, distinctively Country in nature. We thought February would be a good time to try and thaw people out of their frozen winter doldrums you know? (laughs)
It’s been much-needed as it’s been pretty cold here. Hopefully when you play it live during C2C, you’ll help usher in some warmer weather…
That would be great. Happy to help however I can! (laughs)
What’s the plan in terms of new music this year? Should we expect an album or an EP in the coming months?
You know, we’re trying to figure out what makes the most sense for releasing music. I think the plan now is (to) every couple of months release a new song and then release a batch of songs whenever the timing’s right. Some of that has to do with how singles do at radio and some of that has to do with what else is going on and how we can get the most bang for the buck for releasing the music and get the most eyeballs on it. Some of that stuff, to be honest, I don’t really understand yet but I’m learning as this is my first go round. I’m really looking forward to getting to release this music that we’ve been recording over the last year. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see what that looks like.
You’ve written a lot for other artists so far in your career. When you’ve written a song, how do you know whether it’s one you want to keep or give away?
Well for me, so far, it’s just been all geared toward writing for other artists and getting those artists to record those songs. That’s been a thing that’s opened the door for me as an artist. Now it’s more just a shift into writing for myself full-time. It’s just one of the things where you know what you want to say and you know how you want to say it, and sometimes it doesn’t come out right for your own project. That doesn’t mean it’s good or bad, that just means it’s not right for the project and it might be right for somebody else’s. I tend to hold on to the songs that I’m most excited about for my own project. If it’s not distinctly me I want to be able to be open handed with it and be able to help another artist on their project. I feel like that’s one of the cool parts about Nashville, collaboration happens in a lot of different ways and that’s one of them.
You co-wrote Dan + Shay’s number one hit How Not To, which was a turning point for their career. What was it like for you to be part of that journey and be responsible for their career moving to the next level?
(laughs) Responsible is a word that I would shy away from (in terms of) having to do with anything that they’re doing. Here’s what I know about Dan + Shay. Shay is an incredible once in a lifetime vocal talent and fun engaging guy, and Dan is a machine. Dan is also fun and engaging but Dan works like nobody I’ve ever seen (laughs). It’s almost like they let me be a part of their thing, less like I did anything. They opened the door and invited me onto their project, which has been really cool because now I’m friends with those guys and get to see the journey they’re on. I don’t feel responsible for anything (laughs). I feel like they did me a huge favour in recording that song and it turned it into what it has become. It has opened doors for that I can’t even begin to talk about.
Your voice is one of the things that makes you stand out. You don’t sound like the other male artists on Country radio. You started out singing in church as a kid and you’ve evolved since then. What influences helped to shape your voice?
When you’re a kid you’re just singing and you’re trying to carry a melody. There’s been so many random influences that have touched on what I would call my signature vocal style. I was a Country radio fan as a kid, that was the first music I ever listened to… all Country music. When I was in the fourth or fifth grade maybe, All 4 One came out with a version of I Swear and I’d heard John Michael Montgomery’s version. When I turned on the TV one night and there were these four guys singing the first note of I Swear I was like, ‘I want to sing like those guys’. There was this pop and R&B influence that came in on my voice when I was in junior high and high school. Then I started to listen to lot of rock music like Foo Fighters, Incubus and Third Eye Blind and that’s where I started trying to add an edge to my voice where I could. I just have a sweet sounding high voice so I’ve kinda gotta picks my spots to do that. Then it was John Mayer and a lot of singer-songwriters. It comes from a lot of that type of stuff… rock music and a lot of pop/R&B but then you can also hear some old school bluegrass especially with the harmonies that I do.
John Mayer is an artist that comes up a lot in terms of having inspired Country artists. I know you’re friends with Lindsay Ell and she cites him as a big influence. John plays guitar like nobody else doesn’t he?
That’s the truth. Anybody that can move people with just a guitar the way he does…. he wouldn’t even have to sing, he could just play all night (laughs).
What other plans do you have for the year?
We’re doing Stagecoach, which is one of the big festivals on the West Coast, and we’re doing C2C. Those are the two bigger live things. We’ve got a couple of dates with Mitchell Tenpenny and we’re doing some West Coast dates that Brett Young’s doing over the next couple of months… about 10 shows leading up to the ACMs. Then beyond that it’s continuing to get to know radio here in the States and staying busy. That’s kind of the motion of it. Also my wife and I are expecting our second child in July so that will be a fun addition to the craziness going on (laughs). It’s going to be a busy and fun year.
Perhaps once the baby is born and you’ve had your first UK live experience at C2C, you can come back for some headline shows?
I would be so excited about that I’m telling you. Next time I’ll have to bring my wife. She’s not getting to go this time but hopefully next time we’ll get to make a trip out of it.
Adam Hambrick will be performing at C2C: Country to Country 2019 at The O2 in London. You can get tickets from https://c2c-countrytocountry.com. Watch a live performance of his single Rockin’ All Night Long below: