Canadian country star, Andrew Hyatt released his new EP L is For on January 5th via 604 Records. The 2022 CCMA Rising Star Award winner, has released the five acoustic tracks to focus on his experience of separation and betrayal. Following the release we caught up with Andrew to find out more about the vulnerable and emotional release, as well as his upcoming co-headline tour with Shawn Austin and Tyler Joe Miller.
Hi Andrew, thank you for chatting with us today. Great to meet you. Thank you, likewise.
Are you in Ontario or Nashville at the minute? I’m back home in Ontario at the minute. I’ve been living in Nashville for about a year now but have just driven home for my mum’s birthday – I missed Christmas up here as I was working on a record! Got to balance it out!
How are you finding the drive home since moving? It takes me about 17 hours if I straight shot it, but with my dog I break it up into ten hours the first day and then do the rest the second. I’ll have been here for two weeks before I head back, which is enough time to see family and catch up.
What made you make the final plunge into moving full time down to Nashville? I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I really didn’t have a community in my hometown of artists and songwriters. If I was playing a show in the winter, we are four hours away from Toronto so if I played on a Saturday, I would drive on the Thursday night to get to Toronto and then fly to Nashville on the Friday. For every show it could be five days of travel! I had a house here, which was great but when I split with the girl I was with, I was asking myself why am I here? What am I doing? I want to write full time anyway and play my music, so I made the move. I haven’t regretted it for one minute. Since I made that jump, every day is either humbling or a new high and both of those things make me want to be a better writer. Did you question why you hadn’t done it earlier once you were settled? I was trying to balance two lives – the normality of being with my partner at home and the artist career. I was happy to travel, but it burnt me out and I was a shell of a human after four years of back and forth. In some ways I wish I had done it earlier, but the experiences I’ve had have led to a great record.
With L is For being your first Nashville based record, does it feel different to those you’ve released in the past? It’s different in a lot of ways, but I don’t think that’s because of Nashville. We’ve used players down there before and I’ve written down there many times. I think the different with this was that I would go to writers round pretty often and you’d hear great writers and great songs - and sometimes you’d hear shitty songs. You’d gage and idea of what you think is great and you could pursue that. There was more of that and a couple more songs we were thinking of putting on the EP, but at the last minute I didn’t think they were quite right and weren’t saying what I wanted them to say. Being in Nashville just gave me a better awareness for the record and people are connecting with it in a way we haven’t seen before. To have a stripped down record that we weren’t even going to put out until the record label got hold of it and for it to be as minimalistic as possible was like therapy sessions for me. I was paying for it myself to keep it for me and then at the last minute they said they would fund it and put it out. You sit on something for six months, work through your feelings and then suddenly you have to relive them all again.
Talking about reliving them, a song like L is For could be a song you’ll play for many years to come though! It feels like it’ll be a staple. I like to work one or two acoustic songs into the set when it works. I played that song the day I wrote it at a writers round and I knew straight away as everyone got quiet when it hit the hook in the chorus. You say about keeping it for yourself, but I’m sure many will be able to feel the lyrics and connect in the same way as you did when you wrote them. Yeah, the connection is an unspoken, tangible thing. You can’t figure out why it happens but sometimes the dial on the radio got tuned the right way and you do. I wish it was easily replicated!
Being an acoustic record, was there any push from the label to make it a full band album? Interestingly, I was working in a split management deal at the time and am still friends with them all, but they came back divided. I sent them off to one half of my management team and then the labels management team, and the label came back saying these are great; what do you want to do with them? The other part of the team came back saying these are great demos! I had to go back to them to say this is the record and they wanted to hit pause on it and beef them up. I didn’t think that was what these songs were for me. It’d be cool to take it down to Nashville and cut it with a band live one day, but the way I want the world to see these is the way that they hurt the most. To me, in this form they hurt the most and I can see the goal and support the lyrics and melodies.
Do you think any could be incorporated with a full band live? I can see that happening – adding a little bit but still keeping it sparce. We have three electric guitar players in the band so we have those moments already and we are looking for the other moments too, which these songs offer.
This is your follow up to Four Good Years. Having had CCMA nominations for that record, do you feel the pressure of a follow up? I think at one point I did, but I’m an old dog and whenever I get in the head space where I feel like I’m competing against myself, I try to remember that I’m creating art and the goal for every project is to be proud of that group of songs as they should represent where I am at that moment in time. 18 months ago, I was a different human than I am now. 18 months ago, I was getting ready to get married and renovating a house. This record comes out, and I’m divorced, and I’ve moved to Nashville! I just want to be in the moment. Theres been so many times in the past that I’ve handed records to everyone in the industry that I think are great and it might get respect of musicians, but radio will come back and say they don’t like it. If you assign value to the art that you create it is a dangerous game. it can lead to a dark, dark hole. There is quite a big tour coming up soon for you with Shawn Austin and Tyler Joe Miller. It’s pretty much coast to coast, we’re missing a little bit of the east coast of Canada, but we will get there eventually, I’m sure. We start on the far west coast and go as far as you can for cities to be close to each other. I’m really looking forward to it. Shawn Austin and I have been friends since mid-2016 when we had the same management team. We went on our first bigger tour together as features on a Dallas Smith run and became brothers. We’ve traded bands for year, if I’m on the west coast I use his guys; if he comes to Ontario, he uses my guys; and then mix and match at festivals. With Tyler, I met him quite recently and he’s a great guy. When we tried to shoot content for this, we had an hour and a half blocked off and it took us three hours! We couldn’t stop being idiots! They just wanted one word sometimes and we couldn’t do it!
There’s some pretty cool stops on the tour including Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and Ranchman’s in Calgary. So many good venues
There is a hometown show for you too, so is that the one circled on your calendar? It’s been a long time. When I’m home I usually do strip down acoustic shows. I’ll pick some of my favourites that I’ve recently written and do a pop-up show at a café or tiny bar and do two or three of those to work songs and see what connects. It’s been a long time since I’ve played here with a full band. Most people see me as an acoustic artist as that’s all they’ve seen me do – not country rock and roll. I’m looking forward to bringing it home.
Could taking the full band with you introduce you as the country rock and roll artist to a few cities? There’s going to be a few cities for sure. Luckily two summers ago we had a crazy festival season and played a lot of the big markets as a band, but there are lots of places where I’ve only ever done radio promo and playing stripped down solo shows. With three artists on the bill, there will be people who may only know one of us going in in any detail and only know our radio singles, which aren’t always the same sound as playing them live.
How did the tour come about? Me and Shawn have wanted this to happen for a long time. We decided we were able to make it work and wanted a third person on the bill, and we have the same booking agent as Tyler so he got suggested to us. He’s had a crazy few years too and is the perfect addition. It was a no brainer having him. This tour has been moved twice, it was meant to be the end of last year, then the start of this year and now it’ll be in April. I’m glad it got moved as going across Canada in January and February is not exactly the best time to tour!
Some nice scenic views though! Theres nothing worse that going through the mountains when you’re sleeping and all of a sudden it feels like you’re floating, which means the bus in on black ice sliding to the side. No body then sleeps those nights! You’ve spoken a lot about song writers round and acoustic pop-up shows, but last year you got to play the Bluebird for the first time. Was that the icing on the cake for moving to Nashville? I feel like my whole life, every time I’m at the lowest low point there’s a little flare that goes up. I can ask what kept me going when you’re dodging bank calls and things, and then something suddenly goes up and it just keeps on going until you’re living comfortably. With the year I had had, I was starting to think that I should accept this is as high as I will go. I went to this write and Vic looked at me and asked if I had played. After saying no, she said that I was going to play with her on Thursday night. I got pretty emotional, and it was cool. It’s a great room and holy ground for songwriters. You can hear a pin drop in the room, and I was fortunate enough to play a song called She Ain’t You, which is a song that I played when I first started out at a showcase at Canadian Country Music Week and, by chance, everyone that needed to be there in the industry happened to be there. That song opened the doors then and I played it then so I could put it to bed at the Bluebird. There was no better way to let the song go to rest.
Andrew’s latest EP – L is For – is out now. Be sure to follow Andrew on his socials too for upcoming releases and to follow the latest about The Country Mixtape Tour with Shawn Austin and Tyler Joe Miller
Andrew Hyatt - L Is For Tracklisting 1.L Is For 2.Finding Firsts 3.041 4.Can’t Go Home 5.Give Up On Me
Country Mixtape Tour Dates with Shawn Austin and Tyler Joe Miller April 9, 2024 – Capital Ballroom – Victoria, BC April 10, 2024 – Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC April 11, 2024 – This Country Bar – Kelowna, BC April 12, 2024 – Cook County Saloon – Edmonton, AB April 13, 2024 – Ranchman’s – Calgary, AB April 15, 2024 – Better Than Fred’s – Grande Prairie, AB April 16, 2024 – Bo’s Bar + Stage – Red Deer, AB April 18, 2024 – Ralph’s – Medicine Hat, AB April 19, 2024 – Casino Regina – Regina, SK April 20, 2024 – Club Regent – Winnipeg, MB April 23, 2024 – The Grand – Sudbury, ON April 24, 2024 – Cowboys Ranch – London, ON April 25, 2024 – The Opera House – Toronto, ON April 26, 2024 – Elements Nightclub – Kitchener, ON April 27, 2024 – Biltmore Theatre – Oshawa, ON April 30, 2024 – The Moose & Goose – Thorold, ON May 1, 2024 - Le Studio TD – Montreal, QC May 2, 2024 – Algonquin Commons Theatre – Ottawa, ON May 3, 2024 – Chapelle Fraser - Beauceville, QC May 4, 2024 – The Venue – Peterborough, ON
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks