Let’s first ask you about your upcoming Songwriters Round in Nashville, what’s that all about?
Nashville is an amazing town, it’s become known as “Music City” for a reason. For a songwriter, it’s an awe-inspiring and often intimidating place to visit. There are numerous songwriter venues hosting shows throughout the week. One of the best takes place at The Commodore Grille. This is a “by invitation only” show, regularly frequented by many of Nashville’s best. I played the audition round one evening back in June and host Debi Champion thought enough my song “All Fall Down” to invite me back do perform a full songwriter’s round.
Where you reside in North Carolina currently has a pretty vibrant music scene, especially in cities like Asheville. How do you compare your NC Folk-Americana music scene to Nashville’s?
Well, Nashville and Austin Texas are king when it comes to music. But Folk/Americana is alive in well in in the Carolina’s, especially in Asheville,which has an incredible music scene. There’s so much talent there and quite a few first-rate music venues. But there are other towns in the Carolina’s like Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and even Wilmington and Greenville SC, where this genre is blossoming as well.
Your recent album “Heroes” not only got great reviews from a few dozen music publications, it also charted well at AAA Radio and spent considerable time near the top of the Friday Morning Quarterback Top 200 Chart. What does Mitch Hayes have planned for an encore?
I’m writing new material and I’m hoping to start on a new project in 2018, just not sure exactly when it will happen. The creative process is a bit difficult to define and impossible to control. Songs are ready when they’re ready and not ready until they are. I know that sounds a little like a dodge, but one just cannot hurry the process or predict when it will be finished.
Do you think you could have written the same deep, socially relevant songs on “Heroes” when you were young, compared to where you are in life now?
For the most part, I don’t think so. Life has to be lived and experienced before one can write a song or a poem or a book of prose in an attempt to speak out to issues so complex and socially relevant. Of course there have been exceptions through the years. Paul Simon wrote “Sounds of Silence” at the age of 21 and what a socially relevant song that was! Bob Dylan, Neil Young, also wrote some amazingly relevant songs in their early 20’s.
Is there any one specific area of the music industry that you’d like to see change or improve?
Yes! Give music back to the artists, to the people. The worst thing to ever happen to music was that it became an industry! In so many ways main-stream music is a sham. What songs and musical styles get airplay and what gets pushed to the masses is decided upon by executives whose job it is to decide for us, what we like, what we want to hear and bottom line, what will sell. As with any other commodity, decisions are based on one thing, Almighty Dollar! Most of What gets served up is cookie-cutter, formulaic, sterile and devoid of heart. It has no soul. Music, any of the arts, should be about what speaks to people’s heart, not about how much money it can make. Listen to this quote by the late Frank Zappa, one of the greatest creative musical minds, ever. Zappa says it like it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZazEM8cgt0