Hunter Hayes Talks New 'Encore' LP, Upcoming Tour

Hunter Hayes performs onstage at the 2013 CMT Music Awards Rehearsals Day 2 at Bridgestone Arena on June 4, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Getty Images for CMT

"We are all there to sing together -- music that is about our lives, not about anyone in particular."

Hunter Hayes is, without a doubt, on top of the world these days. On Tuesday, he was celebrated at Nashville’s BMI offices for the chart-topping success of “Somebody’s Heartbreak.” At the same time, the singer was also excited to discuss his latest single, “I Want Crazy,” currently No. 7 on Country Songs and No. 31 on the Hot 100, its highest register yet.

In recalling how the song came about, Hayes said:

“I walked in for the first time with Lori McKenna the day before we wrote this song. It was my first time writing with her and Troy Verges, and I was really excited. I had the title, and I wanted to say that ‘Love is good. Love is working. It is what you want it to be when you feel like you have completely lost your mind, and you’re doing things very out of character. That is a very healthy thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that –- if it’s good. Your friends look at you like you’re crazy and they don’t know you because you’re finding out all these things about yourself. It’s an adventure. It’s constantly inspiring. That’s what my favorite relationships from afar look like. That’s what I wrote it about. I want crazy.”

The record is from Hayes’ just-released "Encore" collection,  a mix of songs from his self-titled debut as well as newly-recorded material, which makes its chart bow at No. 1 on the Country Albums Chart. He admits the approach of releasing an updated version of his first album is somewhat unique. Says Hayes:

“The whole ‘Encore’ concept for me is kind of strange. It’s not something I would have planned or thought out ahead of time. We talked about it, but we didn’t really have a specific strategy. ‘I Want Crazy,’ for instance, was a recording for the next record until the team and I talked about the idea behind the 'Encore' record was to include songs from the original record that deserve to be there that we didn’t give the chance to. There are also songs that have been written afterward. It defies the laws a little bit to go backwards, but those songs needed to be a part of this record. Then, you have ‘Crazy,’ which was written about a year ago, but I kind of feel that it sums up the concept. It is crazy for me to do an encore. It may become a thing, but for now, it’s weird. I didn’t know we were going to do it. We went in the studio with no agenda, which is weird. But, it was very satisfying. To do this was the chance of a lifetime –- to go back and finish up your first impression the way you  would want to. You don’t get that too often.”

After picking up some valuable lessons opening up for Carrie Underwood last year on her Blown Away tour, Hayes will focus his energies on his first headlining tour this fall. Among the stops on the itinerary include back-to-back nights at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, which sold out quickly. “That was a big deal for me. I don’t know anyone who it wouldn’t be. The fact that we have sold it out for the first show -- much less two –- speaks volumes to me about the tour. Obviously, with your first headlining tour, you’re nervous about a lot of things – will anyone show up? That made me feel good about the decision to do a headlining tour.”

He says his goal is to make the tour a special night for his fans. “I’m learning a lot about what makes a show more than just a series of songs. What is the connection, how does it happen, and how do I take advantage of it, but not overdo it? I think there is a fine line between making an honest connection and overdoing certain arrangements or ideas in a show just to make it happen. Rightfully so, you do feel that connection, and you want it. We are all there to sing together -- music that is about our lives, not about anyone in particular. It’s a story, and a soundtrack. I’m constantly learning about what that connection looks like and feels like. It will be a search, but I believe the fall tour will lend itself to a lot of discoveries.”

CMT will sponsor Hunter Hayes' Let's Be Crazy tour, which kicks off October 10 at Knoxville’s Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, with Ashley Monroe handling opening duties.

Here are Hunter Hayes' upcoming tour dates:

Oct. 10: Knoxville, TN (Civiv Auditorium and Coliseum)
Oct. 11: Savannah, GA (Johnny Mercer Theatre)
Oct. 12: Columbia, SC (South Carolina State Fair)
Oct. 17: Atlanta, GA (Fox Theatre)
Oct. 18-19:Nashville, TN (Ryman Auditorium)
Oct. 24: Muncie, IN (Emens Auditorium at Ball State University)
Oct. 25: Chicago, IL (Rosemont Theatre)
Oct. 26: Louisville, KN (The Louisville Palace Theater)
Nov. 1: Birmingham, AL (BJCC Concert Hall)
Nov. 2: Greensboro, NC (War Memorial Auditorium)
Nov. 8: Evansville, IN (The Aiken Theatre at The Centre)
Nov. 9: Cleveland, OH (State Theatre at Playhouse Square)
Nov. 10: Detroit, MI (Fox Theatre)
Nov. 14: St. Louis, MO (Fox Theatre)
Nov. 15: Sioux City, IA (Orpheum Theatre)
Nov. 16: Omaha, NE (Orpheum Theater)
Nov. 20: Lafayette, LA (Heymann Performing Arts Center)
Nov. 21: Lafayette, LA (Heymann Performing Arts Center)
Nov. 22: Dallas, TX (Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie)
Nov. 23: Tulsa, OK (Brady Theater)
Dec. 4-5: Minneapolis, MN (Orpheum Theatre)
Dec. 6-7: Kansas City, MO (The Midland by AMC)