For Kyle Hollingsworth, what goes on in Vegas doesn’t necessarily have to stay there. Instead it shows up on “Take The Ride,” a track from the String Cheese Incident keyboardist’s upcoming solo album 50 that’s premiering exclusively below.
“Lyrically, it’s about my experiences with Vegas,” Hollingsworth, who took the title from Hunter S. Thompson’s famed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, tells Billboard. “All the verse lyrics are talking about Vegas, about all the waste and, possibly, the beauty. Then I figured it had to have some kind of happy chorus, so I wrote that and I had it. It’s a party song.” “Take The Ride” was not, however, one of the album’s easiest musical numbers.
“It was a long time coming for that song,” Hollingsworth recalls. “I really had to fight with it. It was a lot of, ‘I hate it. I love it. It sucks. It’s great. Maybe. I dunno…'” Then Hollingsworth brought in Jen Hartswick to play trumpet, and things fell into place. “All of a sudden everything felt more legit to me,” he says.
Hartswick, who also sings on the track “Come On,” is one of several guests joining Hollingsworth on his own band on 50. The set also features contributions from Andy Hall of the Infamous String Dusters, DJ Logic and the Motet Horns, among others. “I wrote the songs and wanted to kind of follow through with bringing some special guests — create things and then find the icing along the way,” he says. And 50‘s broad stylistic range, with plenty of electronic elements included, allows Hollingsworth to celebrate his landmark by embracing the many facets of his musical career to date.
“I don’t know what I was thinking, announcing to the world I’m getting old,” Hollingsworth, who turns 50 on March 2, the day the album comes out (pre-order here), says with a laugh. “But I like that it moves around, tells a story. I wanted it to be an album that has a bit of a story and an arc to it. I wanted to keep a flow and energy to it, as if it was a live show. I wanted it to start out raving and just go from there.”
Hollingsworth will be taking 50 on the road for shows starting Feb. 7 at Brooklyn Bowl, where he’ll be launching his new beer, Ground Score IPA, in collaboration with SweetWater and Relix Magazine. The String Cheese Incident will be playing SweetWater’s 420 Fest during April in Atlanta, and in addition to other shows the group is also working on new music, though Hollingsworth predicts the focus may be on songs rather than a traditional album release.
“The String Cheese world is thinking along the lines of just a bunch of singles, so maybe an album as more of a collaboration of singles that have all come together,” Hollingsworth explains. “But we’re busy, and it’s nice ’cause a lot of times when we’re getting ready for a big festival or something it’s different than when we’re writing and recording. All we have to do now is be creative. That’s nice.”