One of the biggest success stories of 2015 was A Thousand Horses, who topped the Country Airplay chart with “Smoke.” The group is back with a new single, “Preachin’ To The Choir,” the first single from their upcoming sophomore album.
“We’re so excited to have new music out there,” lead singer Michael Hobby tells Billboard. “It was written by The Warren Brothers, Heather Morgan, and Morgan Wallen. Brett Warren sent it to us one night and said ‘I really think this song sounds like A Thousand Horses.’ The moment we heard the first line — ‘You’re either all in or all out,’ we fell in love with the whole thing. We asked if we could record it, and they said absolutely. We just felt like it would be the perfect first single from the new album to represent where A Thousand Horses was going, and where we are headed with our sound.”
Southernality hit No. 3 on the Country Albums chart off the success of “Smoke,” and Hobby says that the band is grateful to radio and the fans for giving their music a chance. “The first album did incredible for us, and to have a No. 1 off of it has been life changing. We’re ready for people to hear the new stuff. A lot of the songs off Southernality are ones that we’ve been playing for a long time. We’ve been waiting for a long time for it. The single is out on iTunes, and it’s about to go to radio. We can’t wait to see how fans are going to respond to it.”
The band did change things up a little in the studio, says the group’s Zach Brown. “We did the new songs with Dann Huff, which was a big step for us,” he said. “We had been working with Dave Cobb. We just wanted to change things up, and have a different influence creatively, and hopefully that will lend a spark to new things. Dann is a total badass, and such an amazing musician. He totally gets our sound, and wanted to jump in with us. It’s not a total departure from what we’ve done, but he allowed us to step it up and make a bigger sound. We’ve got the background singers on the single, and we’ve got the guitar harmonies going strong. I think the song is the perfect bridge to the new album.”
Hobby admitted that life has gone by at a fast pace for the band in the past two years, but stresses that they have tried to enjoy the career trajectory. “It’s tough, but you’ve got to take those moments and savor them. There have been so many incredible things that have happened since the album came out — from having a number one song to being out on tour with Darius Rucker and Jason Aldean. It can be a whirlwind with touring so much, and then we started going overseas, but we’ve loved every minute. We’ve always been a band that loved to stay busy, and stay touring. So, for us, it’s our natural habitat. We’ve learned a lot about things we’ve never done before as far as performing. We do feel like we have grown a lot over the last couple of years.”
The band has had two successful stints over in the United Kingdom, and Hobby says that seeing the crowd’s reaction has been a thrill. “It’s been crazy to see fans react so well to the record over there. We’ve had a couple of singles do really well there. We’re trying to build it and get over there as much as we can. It’s a dream come true to have a band, go and tour the U.S., and then go to Europe, and have people know your music. That’s a pretty unbelievable feeling.”
The band is getting ready to tour in support of the new music, and the ACM nominees are excited to take the new music to the public. “We are in tour rehearsals right now, and getting geared up to have a big show this year. We’re changing things up a bit for some of the headlining shows we’re going to do this year. We’re going to be doing some festivals and fairs this summer, and we’re going to take things up a notch. We’re going to try to give people a little something different, as well.”
They spent much of their touring life before opening for Rucker, whom Hobby says that any artist would be wise to take a page from his playbook on how to treat your opening acts. “He’s such a great guy, and such an encouraging guy. When you’re out on tour with him, it’s all one big family. What’s his is yours and what’s yours is his. He really makes you feel comfortable and at home. Of course, we all grew up listening to his first band, so it’s been cool to tour with him and get his advice. You also learn how to treat people, because how he takes care of everyone is unbelievable.”