JT Hodges is enjoying life right now -- as well he should. The performer is less than a week away from the release of his self-titled debut for Show Dog -- Universal. It's a release that has a lot of people excited for its' diverse collection of soulful ballads, uptempo cuts and story songs, such as the brilliant "Sleepy Little Town," and his recent radio release "Goodbyes Made You Mine."
"It's an interesting mix," says the performer. "Some of the songs are from a personal experience -- love lost, love gained, that kind of thing -- but I also get a lot of inspiration from observations, and 'Sleepy Little Town' is definitely one of those songs -- observing what can and does go down in a small town when secrets are exposed. I just look forward to everybody hearing this record. It's a diverse record, but it goes within the frame of what I like to do musically, and what I'm all about as an artist. Hopefully, I will get to make more records like it."
That eclectic feel is something that comes natural to Hodges. Music has always been a central part of his life. "I grew up in a studio, as both of my parents were musicians in Fort Worth -- a place where country music is predominant. The music I remember as a kind was George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks. So much of that music was like poetry -- I think that 'Unanswered Prayers' is one of the greatest songs ever written. That's kind of what I've been influenced by. My dad had all different styles of music in the studio -- T-Bone Burnett was working there when I was a kid, and also Delbert McClinton and Michael Bolton in the studio, so all of that has influenced me in making the music I make."
Hodges also tips his hat to an old-school Buddy Holly sound on the opener, "Rather Be Wrong Than Lonely." He says if there's any similarities, that was the goal. "That's exactly what comes to mind. That's the first kind of music that my mom would play when I was a kid -- she always listened to oldies stations. Back then, they were writing incredible pop songs that lasted two and a half minutes with sing-a-long quality and incredible chord progressions. That just always appealed to me. I like to call that song my Buddy Holly tribute, but it's still within my style of what I like to do."
Another legendary vocalist, Vince Gill, appears on "When I Stop Crying." Hodges shares the experience of working with the Hall of Fame tenor. "After we got done cutting it, I remember turning to my producers, Mark Collie, Don Cook, Mark Wright, and saying 'It would be really cool to hear some high harmony -- someone like Vince Gill. They said 'We could always send it to him.' About a week later, we heard back, and not only was he going to sing on it, but he was going to play a guitar solo on it. I wanted to be in the studio, and he came in, and I said 'Mr. Gill, it's such a pleasure.' He said 'Just call me Vince.' If I never do anything else, I have something to tell the children and grandchildren about."
Hodges has been spending a lot of time on the road sicne releasing his debut single, "Hunt You Down" in 2011. Though he does miss home at times, he knows it's a part of the process. "I think it's about taking one day at a time, and time flies when you're having fun. It all boils down to the fact that we do this because we love to do it. We love making music. Just like with any job, there are sacrifices, but hopefully the good outweighs the bad. Luckily, my wife works in the music business, and she "gets it." We're all taking this ride together. It has its' hardships and not being with the family, but there's something cool about the road. I'm at peace with it. You definitely get inspired, and the songs come to you. I don't know anything else."