Recently named one of Rolling Stone Country’s Artists You Need To Know, Rebel Engine artist Lucas Hoge rose to fame as a star of Animal Planet's Last Chance Highway, but Hoge is also a songwriter who has a penned songs for television and movies all while moving forward with his own recording career. Despite a busy calendar, Hoge makes a point of giving back. A passionate supporter of the U.S. military, he has traveled the globe extensively performing for the troops visiting numerous countries throughout the Middle East and beyond for the past eight years as part of the Wrangler National Patriot Tour. Hoge’s most recent trip was this past May and upon his return, Hoge took the time to talk about his humbling trip and the importance of giving back, as well as his new single, and more.
You recently spent time overseas for Military May. Before we jump into the trip, tell me, how did you get involved with the Wrangler National Patriot Tour?
2009 was my first trip overseas. My band and I spent about twenty-five days on a private sector tour in the Middle East, Iraq, Kuwait, and Kosovo and I fell in love with the whole concept of entertaining our troops and hanging out and talking to them. We flew back from that trip the day before CMA Fest where I was doing an event called the Celebrity Outdoor Challenge. The guy announcing the contest was Robbie Lawler, who just returned from the American 300 Tour. He asked me if I wanted to join them next year, but told me it wasn’t a big stage and light tour, it was more of a “strap your guitar on your back and frog hop in a Black Hawk tour’ to get to the people who do not get to see the bigger shows. Immediately, I said, 'Absolutely, let me know what I need to do' and the next year, I joined the Wrangler National Patriot Tour.
Why is the military important to you? Do you come from a military family?
Yes, I do. My Dad was in the Air Force, my uncle was in the Army, and I have cousins in the Marines and other branches as well. When I graduated high school, Dad sat me down with all the branches of the military and I knew in my heart I was not wired for it, but I still wanted to give back to our country. So, when the tour came up I knew it was the perfect way to do that for me. It’s an honor to play for the men and women who do so much for us.
They must appreciate you coming to them just as you appreciate all they do for our country. This May you spent time overseas for Military May.
This was my shortest tour to date. They’re usually around two to three weeks and this was an eight-day tour, which went by quickly. We were in the middle of Jordan and Kosovo where we did four big shows at night and then all day long we were out at guard shacks, hospitals, and other areas just talking to people – which is kind of the primary objective of the tour. We’ll stay out until 1 or 2 am talking to people, as many as we can, about their families, where they’re from, what they’re doing, and then maybe we’ll post a video for mom and dad, or their child, to see. The whole point for us is to take them out of their element, what we like to call ‘killing the groundhog,’ because for them it’s often the same thing day after day. It’s really humbling when they come up and say, ‘Thanks for letting us be normal humans for a day.’ It’s a great feeling to know we’re doing our part to help them get through their day.
The men and women of the military face danger on a daily basis. How is it for you to visit these bases?
We’ve definitely been in different situations that were scary at times. There have been some instances where I’ve been in the middle of a meal with sirens going off and I get yanked under a table by a soldier saying, ‘Get down! Didn’t you hear the sirens?’ This last base we were at was an active base about twenty miles from the Syrian border with jets doing missions every fifteen minutes and just a constant flow of activity. I thank God every day for the soldiers who do what they do so I don’t have to.
I imagine the entire experience impacts you in many ways. Do you digest it as it is happening or does it hit you more when you’re back in the states?
When it locks into my brain and hits me is when I’m talking with people like you and I’m actually verbalizing all that we’ve done over there. It’s inspiring and humbling to be able to go over there and talk with, and play for, these men and women. They’re just the best of the best and really have our backs.
Not only do you work with the Wrangler National Patriot Tour, you also are the spokesman for Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pets.
It’s a very cool organization. When someone gets deployed who doesn’t have anyone at home to take care of their dog, they get a foster home for their animal until they return from deployment. That way, the individual knows their animal is safe and will be there for them when they get home. While I was overseas this time, I stopped at the K-9 Unit and hung out with the guys and the amazing animals. We got to do a video and say hi to the foster family who is taking care of a soldier’s dog while he is gone. It was very heartwarming.
That's very special!
Switching gears to the music, you have a new single out, “Dirty South.”
Jack William, Troy Johnson, and I co-wrote the song at Jack’s farmhouse. Troy had this groove that I really liked and we just started spitballing things from our childhood and things we like to do during the Summer. It evolved from there and fell out perfectly. I’m excited it’s finally out there and doing well.
“Dirty South” has a lyric video, will there be an official video as well?
We actually finished the video the day before I went overseas, so now we’re waiting for the first edit. The treatment is a spinoff of that Cindy Crawford commercial from years back. We found a girl who looks just like Cindy; she’s in this white tank top and cut-off jeans and this guy comes up to her at a gas station. It was fun to shoot and I’m excited to see it all put together.
Now that you’re back in the states, what are your plans for the Summer?
We’ll be at CMA Fest, then we’ll be going non-stop from visiting radio to touring across the country doing club shows and shows at Cabelas, who are one of my sponsors, as well as some dates with Old Dominion. It’s a little bit of everything kind of touring. Then, we have a new album coming out in early July. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really excited about it.
For more information visit his official website
Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify
Purchase "Dirty South" HERE
Photo Credits: HBPR