A Will to do better

November 16, 2006|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

In the late '90s, rock 'n' roller Will Hoge started stirring up the music scene in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn.

Hoge signed to Atlantic in 2001, but they soon parted ways. Since then, he's been touring the country, releasing albums independently and gathering a loyal fan base. His sound and stage presence are reminiscent of early Bruce Springsteen. Hoge, who even looks a little like the Boss, plays the 8x10 on Saturday. His latest studio album, The Man Who Killed Love, was released in July.

How do you measure success?

To me, success is a couple of things. It's a combination of progress on a kind of yearly basis and then maintaining that over a long period of time. I think that longevity kind of equals success for me. In this ridiculous music business anyway, I think it's kind of the last guy standing. ... At least that's what I'm telling myself to keep me going every day.

This is kind of the time of the year where we start to recap what we've done all year long. ... Knock on wood, we've been able to maintain that for a pretty good little bit now.

What are you going to say about this year?

It was better than last and hopefully not as good as next.

Tell me about the split from Atlantic.

It was the stereotypical thing: This big record company in New York signs this little band from down South that's kind of starting to make some noise. Sign us to a record deal and they love everything about what we're doing. We decide that we're going to go with these guys.

We get up there, and they want to start changing a few little things - "Maybe you should write songs that are a little more like this."

Instead of trying to be a real rock 'n' roll band, they kind of want to make you this clean, palatable, white-bread rock 'n' roll band, for lack of a better term. It just didn't work very well.

I do think that they really believed in our band. It just was a bad relationship. When we asked to be let go, we got our first record back, and it really was as amicable a parting as you could have in those kind of business situations.

We learned a lot. ... I wouldn't trade the experience at all. I think it's put us in a better place now than we could have been without doing it.

Sounds kind of like a first girlfriend.

Exactly like my first girlfriend, in many ways. ... it was a lot like that.

Does that sour you altogether? Would you ever consider going back to a major label?

It is kind of like the girlfriend thing. You can get burned by it. But if the right relationship presents itself, if you meet this [awesome] girl, you'd be a fool not to go back and try it again. I feel the same way about record labels.

You put out a live album and a studio album pretty much every year. That's pretty prolific.

I don't know if it's prolific or if it's just determined. There's so much music out there now. We also look back to the bands that we all, for lack of a better term, worship. Everybody from Otis Redding to the Beatles to the Stones to the Temptations, James Brown, Bob Dylan. ...

That's kind of how it worked back in the day: A studio record every year. This is your job. ... If we only did our job once every two or three years, I don't know if we deserve to keep doing that job. It's also something that keeps us focused. It keeps us working and it keeps people interested in what we're doing. I hope, anyway.

Will Hoge plays the 8x10 on Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 advance and $14 the day of the show. The venue is at 8-10 E. Cross St. Call 410-625-2000 or go to the8x10.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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