This interview has been a long time coming... Hunter Jordan was one of the first artists, songwriters or musicians to reach out to me and be genuinely intrigued with what I was doing. This was back a few summers ago when I was just doing playlists and hadn't clearly thought out my vision and where I wanted to take UPstar. Music. Every step of the way Hunter has stood by and supported UPstar. Music through all the ups and downs. I am so glad to call him a good buddy of mine. Also, I have to give him a shoutout for showing me one hell of a night in Nashville... one for the books!
Get To Know Hunter
"Okay, so I'm from a town in between Nashville and Memphis which is an area that is generally recognizable for people. I'm from a small town called Mercer, Tennessee. It's got like 721 people. People sing songs about a one stoplight town and things like that, and we are an actual no stoplight town. I went to school in Martin at UT-Martin (a smaller branch of UT-Knoxville) which is in Northwest, Tennessee, up by Kentucky. We literally would have to go up to Kentucky and buy liquor because Martin is in a dry county. UT-Martin is a small school, but a top party school because there is nothing else to do. I got started with music mainly because my mom's whole family loved music and always sang in church. I really fully got started when one of my fraternity brothers had to pick up some furniture and I had to go with him. We were having a casual conversation and he played a sound byte of him playing guitar. It was really fascinating to me. Since he had the guts to show me his music, I wanted to show him what I was working on. I pulled up this acapella voice memo I had done. It was Gary Allen's "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)". He is my all-time favorite artist. My buddy liked it and we wanted to jam just for fun so we went and learned some cover songs. We would sit in his room at the old KA house in secret, like during pre-games before going out. It was a time to practice the whole FGL Cruise album and some Thomas Rhett. Two weeks later we went on spring break in Panama City and I got drunk enough to gather the courage to sing in front of my fraternity brothers and all these people. There was a big group of us. My fraternity brother started playing, I started singing and nobody had any idea we were going to do this. Our buddies stopped and started looking around. I could read some of their lips and they were like "this is pretty good", so my confidence grew. From then on out, for the rest of the trip, the pre-game was me playing music in the condo. Everyone would come over, I would sing and then we would go out. A few weeks after that, we had a philanthropy event in memory of one of our brothers who had died from a brain tumor. Music had been his thing. It was for a good cause and they wanted me to perform but I kind of pushed away from it. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I hadn’t been singing for long. Well over the course of this thing, all these frat brothers came out saying "well I can play drums", "I can play guitar". We ended up putting this band together, practiced for two weeks and learned 5 or 6 songs. We opened - my first show ever - for Dylan Scott. It was for like 500 people. I just got thrown to the wolves. Some people ease into music, some people are born into it. Some people sing their whole life at local bars and venues. For me, it was basically just jumping in and I either was going to sink or swim. From that point on, I played for some frat brothers and at parties. The next year the same event came around and my second show ever I got to open for Jon Langston. This time it was for 750 people. After I graduated I really thought my journey was going to come to an end. I was the only member of the band graduating so if we wanted to keep playing, I would have to find time between working 8-5 everyday and driving an hour and a half just to practice. I wasn't going to be able to do that. One day I saw this guy in the gym that I knew from high school. He said "hey I saw the music you've been posting and you're pretty good. Let me know if you ever want to play one of these days”. At that point I didn't wanna give it up. Over time, we pieced together this band of guys from our area that had gone to the same high school. We started off as "Backroad Therapy" and started playing local shows. It started to snowball from there and eventually we were playing every local venue in town. I had gone full time with music by then, and our group got an offer to play Slide and Ride Saloon in Martin. That crew of people have become family to me. They offered me the opportunity to play college night because they needed to generate business. That was a cool moment for me. Over time we have seen crowds grow from 50 people (at most) when I started there, to100 people, then 200 and then even more. Before COVID, we were playing college nights that would get up to 300-400 people regularly. We just kept pushing. That experience has really helped me grow as an artist and helped show me how to entertain big crowds. I'm lucky that I have been able to be a full-time musician for about 3 years now."
A Serious Story About How Life Doesn't Always Have Happy Endings
Country Music has always appealed to me because every song (okay most) tells a story. All the real good ones can make you feel something, whether it's a high or low moment you've experienced. Most sad songs relate to heartbreak, but what is so unique about this song is rarely do you see a song that focuses on such a deep topic like abuse, death, current events or in this case alcoholism. In "Should Coulda Woulda", Hunter brings a story of alcoholism to life in such a real way. Big props to all the writers for telling it like it is and not sugar coating anything. The somber approach of the lyrics, delivered by Hunter's raspy and unique voice, paints the picture so clearly. In Country Music there is so much talent out there. Many times you get artists that sound very similar - which doesn't take away from their talent, but keeps them in the shadows. Hunter has a one-of-a-kind voice that is on the verge from getting showcased on a bigger scale all across the country. He is a true talent. Released on December 18th, 2020, "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" has hit over 31,000 streams and shows no sign of slowing down.
Inspiration Behind "Shoulda Coulda Woulda"
Written By: Hunter Jordan, Evan Mayo, Carly Rogers & Ethan Willis,
Produced By: Dillon Keith & Matt Geroux
"The story behind this song... Ethan (Willis), Evan (Mayo) and I were texting and scheduling some writes. Ethan would open the door for me to write with new people. Carly and I had messaged on Instagram a few times, but I didn't know her personally. The four of us were finally able to get in a room together. We were throwing out ideas. I think Ethan had some things going on in his life and the idea originally was solely based on a break; not close to as deep as we ended up going with it. It was still about a break up like "shoulda done this, coulda done that and things woulda been different" mentality. For whatever reason, we ended up having a really deep and personal conversation, even though we didn't really know each other well. We all really related and told stories surrounding alcoholism and how it has affected us or people around us. I can't recall another write that went this well and felt so right. The inspiration to me is that it tells a story which focuses on alcoholism; how it can affect your life and relationships and put a strain on other people. Going through that as a kid, the whole song is from the perspective of a son who is witnessing his dad rolling in late all the time and drinking. It puts a strain on his mother and father's relationship. She packs you and her stuff up and leaves. The second verse is about knowing all this, growing up and even though you don't want to, you end up doing the same thing. The lines that stand out the most to me are "guess will never know" - which is such a dark thing, and “there is no happy ending”. Most songs have happy stories and endings, but life isn't always like that. Real stuff sometimes just ends and you don't get a second chance. My favorite line that just gets me is "I'm just like him, I guess you're right". The context of that is, your girlfriend or wife in this argument is saying "you are just like your dad" and in reality that's exactly true. The one thing you didn't want to become, you are. This song just hits so close to home."
Q & A With Hunter Jordan
Q: What is your favorite show that you've performed?
A: "I would say, it was opening for HARDY. What set this show apart was I had played a handful of shows under Backroad Therapy. This was one of the first shows I got to play solo. It was my favorite for a bunch of reasons. It was over capacity, so you couldn't have asked for a better turnout. It was wall to wall people so the energy was unreal. I felt like it was an important, coming out party, like "I'm here now". I had released a couple of songs, I was getting the project going and got to show off my songwriting. I was able to entertain all these people at a time when HARDY had just released his Hixtape album. He is at the peak of his career and I'm getting to open for an artist who is mega hot on the scene right now. I get to play and enjoy that moment too. I gave that show everything I had and just tried to live in the moment."
Q: What is one thing that most people don't know about you?
A: "This is a tough one. I would say one interesting thing is, though I may have this "cool guy" persona out at shows, I am a big nerd when it comes to things on TV. I am huge into Marvel and watch all the superhero movies. I am a huge sci-fi movie guy. I don't know if it's the little kid in me, but I love all of that. I love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and all that. Most people get caught off guard because I am your typical redneck, but I got that nerdy stuff too."