A Thousand Horses are destined for big things. Their debut single, “Smoke,” has reached over 13 million hits on YouTube and entered the country chart at number one.
The band have been making waves stateside with USA Today naming them one of 2015â€™s Artists to Watch. Their debut album,Â Southernality, was recorded in Nashville at Zac Brown Bandâ€™s Southern Ground Recording Studio and produced by Dave Cobb (Rival Sons, Chris Cornell).
The band recently undertook their first transatlantic adventure to play at the prestigious Country to Country Festival at the O2 in London. National Rock Review recently caught up with the band to talk about their first impressions of the UK, touring with Jason Aldean, and their new single “Southernality.”
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us at National Rock Review here today, we really appreciate it.
So you’ve been in the UK for a few days now and by the looks of it on your Facebook page you’ve sampled our local beers. What’s been your first impressions of the UK so far?
Michael Hobby: (laughing) Yeah, it’s been amazing. I mean you know this is our first time over and it’s been kind of amazing to see the response and the people at the shows, it’s been awesome we love it.
Zach Brown: We’re going crazy though because we’re basically obsessed with pubs (laughing). In America every city we go to if we see like a British pub or like an Irish pub we’re like we’ve gotta go in there and get a drink, get a Boddingtons or something.
Michael Hobby: Here they are on every corner.
Zach Brown: Everywhere it’s like Ye Olde Kings Lion pub (laughing), it’s like we’ve gotta get in there.
NRR: You played your debut UK show last night at the Brooklyn Bowl as part of the Country 2 Country Festival, how did it go?
Michael Hobby: It went great, it was awesome, it was sold out. You know we closed out the C2C Festival, we were the last band to play, so it was pretty awesome and a special moment for us.
NRR: Has it surprised you to find a country festival of such magnitude outside of the U.S?
Zach Brown: Kinda yeah, we didn’t know what to expect you know. ThereÂ were so many fans singing the words and it’s crazy to see all the kinda like shopping with all the cowboy hats and all this stuff, it’s like a county fair back home.
NRR: Was this your first overseas show outside of North America?
Zach Brown: Yeah, actually.
Michael Hobby: We’ve played in Canada before (laughing).
NRR: What made you decide to pick the UK for your first show outside of the U.S and Canada?
Zach Brown: I think the C2C thing was a good kind of starting point for us. But you know coming to Europe, in general, has always been a dream and goal of ours, you know with our music. So it just kind of made sense when we got the offer to do the show to come over here. We are hoping it’s the beginning of many trips.
NRR: For those who have yet to see you perform live yet, what can your fans expect from one of your shows?
Michael Hobby: You know, we like to kind of bring a pretty high energy, pretty big sounding show. We want everybody to have a good time and you know feel good when they leave and probably feel bad the next morning (laughing). Yeah, we just bring a high energy thing, your fun rock and roll show.
NRR: Obviously, you’ve been enjoying great success back home in the U.S. Your video for “Smoke” has had 13 million hits on YouTube. Have you been overwhelmed by the response to your music so far?
Zach Brown: Yeah, it’s crazy. That was our first single you know back home that we put out. We’ve been a band for you know six years. A few of the guys have been playing music together before that. So putting out your first single you never know what to expect and we put “Smoke” out and it kind of went number one on the country charts relatively quickly and it gave us a jumpstart for our career, so it’s been pretty crazy to see.
NRR: You’ve been nominated in the “New Vocal Duo” and “Group of the Year” category in the 2016 ACM awards. You must beÂ really pleased about that?
Michael Hobby: It’s a huge honor to be recognised for that and to be nominated in such a great category, but we’re really excited about the ACM’s. It’s been amazing.
Zach Brown: We’re trying to find some cool clothes whilst we are here too. We’re gonna look cool on the red carpet you know.
NRR: You’ve been out on tour with Jason Aldean in the U.S. as well. How have those shows been going so far?
Michael Hobby: Man, those shows have been going incredible. We just did six weeks with him, or seven weeks and then we came over here and then we are back out with him when we get back. But that tour has been amazing, he’s been amazing and then Thomas Rhett’s also with us on that tour. I can’t wait to get back out on the road with those guys. It’s the number one tour of the first of the year on Billboard so that’s cool.
NRR: One of our favourite tracks on the album is “First Time” it kind of conjures up images of a Southern Harmony era Black Crowes. You’ve obviously got a wide variety of influences, could you tell us a little bit about some of the artists that have inspired you?
Michael Hobby: Yeah, absolutely I mean The Black Crowes are definitely an artist that have inspired us. You know Zach’s a big Rolling Stones fan and Bill comes from more of a Beatles-like Oasis standpoint and he loves that and Graham he was a punk rock kid growing up (laughing).
You know we love when you get a guitar and start writing songs. Obviously, you get a Led Zeppelin record, you get a Jimi Hendrix record, you get you know a Doors record and you just kind of learn how to play all that stuff. We’re influenced by a wide variety of music, you know when it comes to rock and roll and country to soul or you know even R’n’B, so it’s a wide range for us.
NRR: Where do you find the inspiration for your songwriting?
Michael Hobby: Mostly heartbreak I think (laughing). You never know when inspiration is gonna hit you and you try to sit down and put a pen to paper and write a good story that is relatable that you know has heart and soul put into it and that’s kind of like been our process.
NRR: We believe you’ve just recorded a video for your new single “Southernality.” Could you tell us a little bit about that song and maybe share a bit about the concept behind the video?
Michael Hobby: Yeah, the song “Southernality” is the combination of a word that I made up, which is basically southern and personality. We grew up in the south in South Carolina and Georgia so we kind of just wrote a song about you know the things we saw growing up and the metaphors about the south, but also just being proud of where you come from for anybody whether you are from the north, south or the UK or wherever. Just kind of being proud of that and all of our observations of what we grew up seeing.
The video concept that we did, we wanted to shoot a live video. We have never shot a live video that kind of captured what we do live, we wanted people to see that. So when we got our director, it was his idea to say, well let me just come on tour with you and I’ll shoot it. We kind of got like these cool live shots and slow motion shots and we shot a little bit of the green screen which was kind of interesting. So the video kind of feels very three dimensional when you watch it. So we’re really excited about getting that out, but that was kind of the idea behind it, how can we show people what we do from a live standpoint.
NRR: When is the video expected to drop?
Michael Hobby: We just finished approving the last edit, so hopefully soon. I mean I’m not exactly the timeline when we are going to release it but it is done, as of like yesterday.
NRR: If you could choose any artist to cover one of your songs, which artist and song would you choose?
Michael Hobby: Man, artist to cover one of our songs. That’s tough.
Zach Brown: Gosh (laughing).
Michael Hobby: The Rolling Stones should sing “Smoke” (laughing). Will you put in a word?
Zach Brown: I don’t even want to see The Rolling Stones do Smoke. I don’t know, we would play it with them, that would be awesome.
NRR: Do you have any plans to come back and maybe do a full UK headline tour?
Michael Hobby: Yeah, we’re talking about that now. We’re trying to figure out when will be the next time we can come back here, maybe before the end of the year, but we definitely want to figure out when we can come back and stay a bit longer and play a few more shows.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Michael Hobby: Basically, we are out on tour with Jason Aldean until the end of October, then hopefully coming back to the UK after that.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us we really appreciate it. Hopefully, we will get to see you when you hit the road in the UK some point soon, we are really looking forward to it.
Michael Hobby: Absolutely, we can’t wait to come back, and thank you for your time.