On Derek Hoke's latest, Bring the Flood, the singer-songwriter dives into a sound far more ominous, threatening, and anxiously introspective than the music on his previous three full length releases would suggest.
“So much pain and sorrow/more than I’ve ever seen,” sings Hoke on the opening “Love Don’t Live Around Here,” an exploration of life passing by for people stuck in their small town existence. And for most of the next 40 minutes, he explores shades of unease of the characters that populate this world with the confidence and musical prowess gleaned through years of working in Nashville.
Assisted by contributions from Elizabeth Cook, Langhorne Slim, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Luther Dickinson, then molded into a cohesive whole by longtime producer and friend Dex Green, Bring the Flood finds Hoke more visceral, honest and intuitive than at any other point in his career. It’s a bold, unexpected stride in a dynamic new direction, further separating him from his Nashville peers, and audacious proof that Hoke has stepped forward with confidence and is not looking back. Hoke answers his Essential 8.
Did you have a musical mentor? Who was it and how did they influence you?
Not really... I’m from Florence, SC. Every musician I knew was in a Top 40/Classic Rock cover band (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I think there was only 3 of us at the time that wrote their own music. I remember getting an award for Best Local Songwriter. It was a tie.
With "Love Don't Live Around Here," what was the “a-ha” moment when you knew the song was completed and perfect?
The song “Love Don’t Live Around Here” came pretty quickly. Once I had the right 3rd verse feel, I knew it was done. I thought of people that grew up in a small town, went to school there, got married, had kids. Never moved away. Maybe never even thought about it.
What’s the story behind your album’s title?
“Bring The Flood” is like a cleansing idea, I think. Washing away something. I’m growing as an artist, and as a human being. I wanted to shed some of my past. It also reflects the changes in Americana at the moment. Or as I see it, an oncoming storm.
When/where do you do your best writing?
Early morning. In my car. No radio on. Driving back roads. Best inspiration there is.
Do you write about real things that have happened to you or are you a storyteller? Which is easier?
It’s all real events. Things that I’ve seen and felt. Either in myself or people I know. I’ve written one “Storyteller” tune. “End Of The River” on my first album. I realized pretty quickly that’s not my forte.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
I’ve got a lot over the years. Things like confidence and stage presence. Stuff I never used to think about. You also have to tune some of that out. Stick to your guns if you believe in what you’re doing.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Don’t be a jerk. Listen. Learn. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone. Know exactly what you’re doing before you get on stage. Look like you’re supposed to be there.
What are your “must have” albums for the road?
I’ve usually got Sirius XM going. Underground Garage or Outlaw Country. Comedy albums are great, too. Mitch Hedberg rules.
Bring The Flood is available now
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