“I had heard the phrase ‘aight bet’ from my little brother last year and didn’t know what it meant, so I asked him and he clarified what it meant. So I was just like, ‘Oh, that’s a cool little phrase,” Hoot told Music Mayhem of the new single. “I feel like it’s used a lot, but not put in music. And so we put that right there in the middle of the chorus and it’s just a fun upbeat, party, summer type vibe song that I feel like people are going to be able to tap their foot and dance around to or whatever.”
Co-written by Hoot alongside Danny Myrick and Kylie Sackley, this is a song that anyone can sing along to, even Hoot’s six-year-old daughter Macy knows every word. She helped her dad promote the song as she sang the tune while their family stood in one of the long, grueling lines at Disney World.
“The fun thing about that song is I was thinking you could be eating a Happy Meal and say, ‘There’s a whole lot of fries left,’ or a whole lot of whatever left… but we had a good time, and yet she loves the song.”
Recently, Hoot had a celebratory performance of his own, but instead of in the lines at Disney World, he sang his latest release at the Grand Ole Opry.
“I think this will be my fifth time at the Opry and every time I play there, it just gets better and better, the feeling and the emotions and everything,” said Hoot. “So very, very honored that they’re having me back to debut Night Left on that stage, so it’s going to be fun.”
Hopefully, before this Opry performance, Hoot had better luck backstage. For his first visit to the Opry as a performer, he met Don Schlitz without even realizing he had just met Don Schlitz.
“I walked out to listen to Lauren Alaina play, and he came on right after her, and I realized who he was and I felt like an idiot. So I walked back to stage, or back in the hallways or whatever, when he got done, and I said, ‘Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t even know who you were.’ He goes, ‘Hey, that’s why I chose the path I did as a songwriter, so I could write the big hits, but I could still go in the grocery store.’”
Earlier this year, Hoot also got the chance to sing on stage with Alabama and soon, he will perform a show alongside them again as well as perform with the iconic Darius Rucker.
Hoot joined Music Mayhem to talk about his latest single, his surprise backstage at the Opry, 2021 performances and more.
Read on to find out what Hoot has been up to in this exclusive interview.
First, we have to start by talking about your trip to Disney with your wife Brittney and daughter Macy. How was it and what was your favorite part of the trip?
Oh man. Well, that was all of our first time to Disney World down in Orlando and it was a blast. I’m probably the biggest fan of cartoons, I think, Disney cartoons in the house. But everybody had such a good time. I think our favorite part was watching the fireworks and light show at night at the Magic Kingdom, the castle there, whatever it was, incredible. But everything was fun. It was hot as all get out, but I could stand to lose a few pounds and I think I did on that trip. So it was fun.
I know you celebrated your birthday earlier this month, did you do anything special to celebrate?
Thank you. Oh gosh. Yeah, we did a lot of different things. I got to play at Ole Red and everybody there sang happy birthday. We got to go out on the lake with the family for a little bit. Then also they had a surprise birthday dinner for me at E3 in Nashville, which was the best steak in Nashville that I’ve had, I think. But just a lot of different things. And then we went and saw the Biltmore. So I feel like I did anything and everything for my birthday, but it was a really good time.
Awesome. I mean, you’re also now gearing up to release a brand new single, “Night Left,” which we actually had a chance to see you perform at the Ariat boot store in Nashville. I mean, I just think that this song is going to take you to crazy places of new success. I mean, I could just feel it. Can you tell us a little bit about that song and the story behind it and how it came about?
Yeah. Well, first off, thank you so much for saying that. I appreciate that. That was a fun show at the Ariat store there. Yeah, so this song Night Left, I wrote it with Danny Myrick and Kylie Sackley. Kylie had this idea that we got a whole lot of night left, and so we just kind of ran with the idea. I had heard the phrase aight bet from my little brother last year and didn’t know what it meant, so I asked him and he clarified what it meant. So I was just like, “Oh, that’s a cool little phrase.” I feel like it’s used a lot, but not put in music. And so we put that right there in the middle of the chorus and it’s just a fun upbeat, party, summer type vibe song that I feel like people are going to be able to tap their foot and dance around to or whatever. My little six year old daughter knows every word to it so it’s fun listening to her sing it. But yeah, definitely very excited for people to hear this and get it out there.
I mean, we’ve seen your little funny clip on Instagram of your daughter singing with you in line at Disney was a little bit of a creative lyric about the whole lot of lines left. She didn’t seem too happy about that.
Yeah. They tell you that the lines at Disney are long, but until you’re there and you get to experience them. But the fun thing about that song is I was thinking you could be eating a Happy Meal and say, “There’s a whole lot of fries left,” or a whole lot of whatever left… but we had a good time, and yet she loves the song and thank you for watching my videos and stuff on Instagram, dude.
For sure. To celebrate the release, you’re not only going to just celebrate just no big deal with a performance at the Opry tomorrow. I mean, that’s going to be pretty crazy. What are you looking forward to about your performance at the Opry?
Oh man, anything and everything. I think this will be my fifth time at the Opry and every time I play there, it just gets better and better, the feeling and the emotions and everything. So very, very honored that they’re having me back to debut Night Left on that stage, so it’s going to be fun. I’m just excited to see people, excited to stand in that circle again in place and songs and yeah, it’s just going to be a really good time.
You said it’s your fifth performance. Have you ever had any fun stories about running into any artists backstage you maybe look up to or just like some crazy Opry experience you’ve had backstage?
Yeah. The first time I was there it was pre-COVID and I got to go and meet a bunch of people like Mark Wills and Jamie and… Dailey and Vincent, sorry, pulled me around and introduced me to a bunch of people. The last time I played there, restrictions were lifting a little bit and Don Schlitz who wrote, I think he wrote Forever and Ever Amen, The gambler and a bunch of other songs, he came up to my room while I was getting ready. Of course my nerves, anytime I play the Opry, are just shot. So he came up and he was dressed in all black, just kind of like the Opry band is, and he goes, “Hey man, I just wanted to introduce myself.” I said, “Oh, nice to meet you. Did I meet you?”
He goes, “Oh, I’m the band.” I was like, “Oh, I didn’t see you over there.” He goes, “No, no, no, no, I’m a musician.” I was like, “Oh crap.” Well, we got separated because people were talking to both of us. Then I walked out to listen to Lauren Alaina play, and he came on right after her, and I realized who he was and I felt like an idiot. So I walked back to stage, or back in the hallways or whatever, when he got done, and I said, “Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t even know who you were.” He goes, “Hey, that’s why I chose the path I did as a songwriter, so I could write the big hits, but I could still go in the grocery store.” So we got to sit back there and talk and Rhonda Vincent came in, and it was just a really good time, and he was such a cool guy. But that was probably my most blunder moment, I think, at the Opry.
That’s just crazy. I can only imagine the experiences backstage at the Opry. You never know who can show up there. I mean, they always have some surprises there. You released your debut EP, Love Out of Time earlier this year and it featured a duet with Kelly Clarkson. I mean, talk about a dream collaboration. Have you been in touch with Kelly at all since you performed with her on her talk show and The Voice when you returned for the finale?
Yeah, a little bit here and there. I mean, I’m the kind of person that I know that she’s so slammed with everything she’s got going on and now that she’s taken over the Ellen time slot and all that with her talk show. So I haven’t really reached out too much. I know we were talking a lot there after the song came out and then the music video came out and then going back for her talk show and then obviously going back for The Voice, we talked quite a bit. She’s just such a kind person and she’s just so inclusive and so intentional with taking care of her people and everything else like that. So she’s a great person, but yeah, doing a dream collaboration with Kelly Clarkson was, was something unreal.
It’s so cool to be able to play that song at shows and see people sing every word to it and everything else. It’s one of the coolest things that I’ve experienced. But yeah, the whole album was released. It was called Love Out of Time, came out I think on January 27th and it’s just done leaps and bounds better than what we could have hoped for. So I’m very thankful that people downloaded it, streamed it and all that fun stuff.
You recently played your first arena show with Alabama earlier this year and now you’re gearing up to play another show with them, and then also a show with Darius Rucker later this month. What was it like playing in your first arena show with Alabama and what are you most looking forward to about the upcoming shows with both of those superstar acts?
Yeah. I tell people all the time, the only stage that I really get nervous on is playing at the Grand Ole Opry, and I said that up until I played my first arena show and you stand up there, the lights go off, and then as soon as that spotlight turns on, it took me a while to kind of get my footing. But it was so much fun and the Alabama guys are so accommodating and so generous. So playing the arena show was amazing. We’re excited to play this, I think it’s kind of like a fair or festival up in York, Pennsylvania. So we’re excited about that. And of course, opening for Hootie, I know he doesn’t go by Hootie anymore, but I wish he did because it’d be cool to market it as Hoot Opens for Hootie. But regardless, whatever it is, I’ve written two or three songs with his piano player, Lee Turner and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Darius, and so I’m excited to open that stage for him, hopefully get to meet him backstage and get to know the guy that everybody talks so highly about.
But we’re just very, very honored that we keep getting these opening slots. Hopefully one day we’ll be headlining everything, but for the meantime to get to open for legends like this is pretty special.
Yeah. I mean, you definitely got to get a picture with him and then share it. It’s like Hoot Meets Hootie.
You know that’s right. Yeah, you know that’s going to happen.
So what’s next for you in 2021, aside from writing music, releasing “Night Left” and all these upcoming appearances you have?
Yeah. I mean, I think for any musician in the industry is just to stay as busy as we can, no matter what that is, whether it’s shows, whether it’s writing, whether it’s recording, whether it’s releasing music. I’ve got a great group of guys, as far as the band goes, and as far as my writing team goes and management that… We’ve got a great thing going, and so we’re very excited about the future. We just bought, of course you’re the first person I’m telling this to, but we just bought an RV that we’re using kind of as a bus, and so we’re excited to take that on the road. We took our maiden voyage in it last weekend when we went down to Birmingham and a bunch of other shows, and so we’re excited to get out on the road. We’re playing in, I think, Arizona, North and South Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Iowa, and a bunch of different places. So we’re just excited to hit the road and excited to bring new music to people, so definitely excited to see people and hug their necks when they come out to shows.