I Want To Know Who’s Listening: A Conversation with Adam Hood

By Brent Thompson

Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

It is well-documented that several acts with Alabama ties have made a significant impact on music in recent years. Jason Isbell, The Alabama Shakes, Anderson East, Drive-By Truckers, The Secret Sisters and St. Paul & The Broken Bones are a few artists that have raised the state’s prominence in the musical landscape. In that respect, Adam Hood takes a back seat to no one. In a career spanning more than 15 years, the Opelika native and Northport resident has released several solo albums and had his songs recorded by Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Anderson East and Lee Ann Womack among others. On October 12, the singer/songwriter will add and important piece to his resumé when he releases the album Somewhere In Between [Southern Songs]. Recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios with the help of producer Oran Thornton (Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Angaleena Presley) and singer/songwriter Pat McLaughlin, the 11-track collection finds Hood capturing the spontaneous feel of his live shows. On Friday, October 5, 65 South Presents: Adam Hood Album Release Show at Zydeco. Recently, Hood spoke with us by phone as he traveled to a run of shows on the Alabama and Florida coasts.

Birmingham Stages: Adam, thanks for your time. If you will, talk about the body of songs that comprise Somewhere In Between.

Adam Hood: “She Don’t Love Me” is a song I wrote with Brent Cobb and Josh Abbott. Brent and I flew out to Texas and wrote with Josh for a week during one of Josh’s projects. That song got put on hold and a little time went by and the timing was perfect to put it on mine. So, that was an older one. The song “Heart of a Queen” – which is the song we got the Somewhere In Between title from – I’ve had that song in my pocket for a while. But “Downturn” is a newer one that I wrote with [Jason] Eady and I wrote about four songs with Pat McLaughlin. Pat and I have written probably half of the last three albums together. It’s funny that I base making a record on how many songs Pat and I have written together [laughs]. The thing that made this album come together was Pat’s participation.

Birmingham Stages: An artist recently told that there is usually a certain song that tells you that it’s time to make a new record. Do you agree with that statement?

Hood: Yes, the song “The Easy Way” was the song on this record for me. Honestly, I think it’s kind of that way for all of my records. I’ll write a tune and think to myself, “Now it’s time.” So, “The Easy Way” was the song for this record and it’s pretty obvious that there are definitive moments in the writing process.

Birmingham StagesIn addition to recording your own material, you’ve had multiple artists – including Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Anderson East and Lee Ann Womack – record your songs. When you write, how do you decide which songs belong on your albums and which ones should be recorded by others?

Hood: It’s one of those things where you never really know until the song’s done. It’s just a feel – it’s never specific content or specific lyrics or melody. A song just feels like it suits itself for me as opposed to someone like Miranda or Anderson. A lot of times – like “Good Ol’ Days” that I wrote with Brent and Miranda – I put that song in my set lists. That’s the good thing about collaborations with other artists – I have the publishing deal I have due to Brent Cobb and Anderson East. I can write in that wheelhouse all day long. Brent’s a great writer and I know that we can get together and I can do something that suits what he does and the same thing with Anderson. There are some things I’m not great at, but with those two guys I can write that material.

Birmingham Stages: I know that several regions of the country have rich musical histories, but there is a special magic rooted in the music of Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, the Mississippi Delta and so forth. If you will, talk about the South’s influence on you.

Hood: I think it’s a hotbed. The digital age has complicated things – how writers get paid and people’s roles – but more than anything, you have access to everything now. All of the Amazing Rhythm Aces records and everything in the John Hiatt and Delbert McClinton catalogs – all of my heroes – that stuff is available to us now. So, I agree it’s awesome to be from this area and it’s a deeper well than I ever would have thought. I’m thankful for it.

Birmingham Stages: You mention the digital age and that is an ideal segue to my next question. As an artist, how do you reconcile the pros and cons of the current climate?

Hood: It’s not easy, but I wasn’t in the midst of the age when people were making a lot of money so I don’t miss it. I treat this like more of a business at 43 than I did at 33 and it’s not a matter of money – I want to know who’s listening to my music. It’s all at our fingertips and I’m available to people that want to find me. The associative game is a big game to be in right now and I’m associated with a lot of artists. I like the fact that it’s all in our hands and the consumer gets to choose nowadays. It’s a free market and that’s good.

Birmingham Stages: How would you describe your writing process?

Hood: The inspiration comes anytime, anywhere – there’s no formula for what I’m going to write about. I’m not great at titles – I’ve got buddies that are title-writers and they have lists of these brilliant titles. I can come up with a line that would be a great second line in the third verse. To me, it’s kind of working backwards – you write the story first and the chorus comes last.

Birmingham StagesThe press release for Somewhere In Between states that you went for a live, spontaneous recording approach on the album.

Hood: I’ve always traveled [with a] three-piece – we’re never more than a four-piece. It’s usually me playing guitar and singing with a bass player and a drummer. I wanted to go in and make a record that we could cut live and that I can reproduce note-for-note. It’s an intangible thing when you go see somebody live and it sounds like the record – those are the shows that I love the most. Because we’re stuck to our guns in being a smaller group, I wanted to showcase that on the record and I feel like we knocked it out of the park. I’m blessed and thankful for that.

65 South Presents: Adam Hood Album Release Show at Zydeco on Friday, October 5. Showtime is 9 p.m. Advance tickets to the 18+ show are $20 (reserved) and $12 (general) and can be purchased at www.zydecobirmingham.com.