LYRICinterviews: Ryan Hurd On Songwriting, Nashville And Coffee Vs. Beer

Ryan Hurd is the latest sensation to hit the country music scene. Although he has been writing hits for stars like Blake Shelton and Tim McGraw for years, he has now taking centre stage! The release of his self-titled EP has put him on the map as a reputable artist. He’s also well known for being the fiancé of rising star Maren Morris. Ryan came over to the UK to open for Maren on her ‘Hero’ tour, so we had a chat with him to talk collaborations, the UK and more.


Hi Ryan! Welcome to the UK, are you enjoying your time over here so far?

Yeah it’s been really great. I’ve never been here before, so every experience in each city is new and I really had very little expectations as far as our shows go, but they’ve been amazing.


Have you found it differs performing over here to the US?

There’s a huge difference, the crowds here are a listening crowd, they’re very attentive which can be very different to the states because sometimes you have to win over the audience and here they are already very attentive to the song. It’s very different in a good way, so it’s really special to play here.


Your song ‘Love in a Bar’ is such a great song and we recently got to see the music video that featured Maren Morris. She must be the inspiration behind many songs, but what else do you usually draw inspiration from?

Thank you! Well a lot of what I do is relatively autobiographical. A lot of the songs that I released on the EP were around the time that Maren and I were becoming more than just a creative partnership and I think it’s really cool to be part of the song writing community in Nashville, because there is so much being created all the time, so you’re drawing inspiration not only from your own life but from all of your co-writers lives and that’s been a really special thing for me. The album that we’re making right now, I don’t exactly know what form it will take when we’re done. It’s funny to listen to songs and remember where we were and the place you were at in your life when they were written, it’s really special.

You’ve written some hit songs for Tim McGraw and Blake Shelton – what made you get into songwriting in the first place?

I was in Nashville for a handful of years writing songs for other artists and that was my job. I thought that was all I’d ever do. Getting the opportunity to have those guys first hear your song, but then put it on their album when they could potentially sing those songs for the rest of their career… I feel like I’ve written for everybody now, which is really cool.


When did you realise you had this real gift for songwriting?

Well I’ve always been around music, I grew up playing piano, my Mum plays and my Dad loves to sing. I went to college and got a sociology degree so I didn’t really do it in college. I was going to go to graduate school but I couldn’t really pull the trigger on that so I just started writing songs and tried to figure out how to get into the country music scene in Nashville and get my foot in the door at music row. I don’t know if I ever had a light bulb moment and thought I could totally do this, I think it was more like I decided I wanted to be a song writer in Nashville and I’m going to figure out how to do it. It’s been cool to have quite a lot of people say the same thing but they don’t have quite the same results that I’ve had and I just feel blessed to be a part of that community, still to this day.


Who are some of your musical inspirations?

I love a lot of stuff that’s going on in Nashville right now, like when Brad Paisley came out with his big record like 10 years ago. Willie Nelson is my favourite voice in country music and always has been. But I grew up with rock and roll and feel like I’m part of that first genre-less generation as I loved Wilco as a kid and Jimmy Eat World and all these rock and roll bands that teenagers listen to in the States and I guess over here too.


You can definitely hear the rock and roll aspects in some of your songs.

Yeah and I think that’s something that I bring that not a lot of people are bringing right now. I think there’s been a lot of southern rock infused into country music, but I add a sort of indie rock element to these really specific country lyrics. So, I think it’s something I bring that not a lot of people are really doing right now and it’s not like you try to sound different, you just kind of are and that can sometimes take a second for people to catch on to, but sometimes it hits right away. I’m glad you hear that in what I’m doing, as that is definitely where a lot of my influences lie.


If you could collaborate with anyone who you have not yet worked with, who would you choose & why?

Wow anyone? That’s really funny, I think about Nashville and where I’m at right now, I know Jillian Jacqueline is doing some great things and I really love her stuff. I’ve written with her but we haven’t toured together or anything like that, she’s really amazing. I’ve gotten to write with a lot of guys in Nashville that I really respect. I’ve written with Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban, a lot of those guys so it’s sort of like I’ve got to do creative things with them. Maren’s been writing with Emily Warren and I really love her stuff, so I think if that ever happened it’d be really cool to write a song with her one day.


If you could have written any song out there, which one would it be and why?

Wow… I know this sounds really cliché, but when I heard ‘My Church’ for the first time I was blown away. So that’s the song I would choose. I think it’s perfect. I can’t think of a country song that’s written better than that one.


Great choice! We absolutely love your EP. It’s been on repeat since it was released, and so can we expect a full album soon?

That’s a good question, I am going to finish it in January hopefully. The plan right now is to go back into the studio and round out the album and we’ll know a little bit more at that point. I am really excited for that new music. It’s kind of funny, I’ve toured so much on these 4 songs and I feel really blessed by that. I think I’m coming back to some markets now and I don’t have anything else out so we’ll see how that goes. The good part about country music is that it doesn’t seem like they tire or great songs so I’m excited to finish it and go on tour with the album and see what happens. I’m lucky I’ve written songs people know for other artists so I can play those. I’ve been really blessed to have these songs take me as far as they have.


We can’t wait to hear it! What is one of your favourite lyrics ever and why?

There’s a song, track 2 of the Wilco album ‘Summerteeth’, it came out a long time ago but the first line is ‘She’s a jar with a heavy lid’ and I for some reason love that lyric, I think it is so amazing. I don’t know why it just puts you right in the spot, where Jeff Tweedy is talking about this person that he can’t get anything out of. I’d never heard that before, it was like a poem that this dude was singing and I have always loved Wilco and Jeff Tweedy but that lyric is just funny and it’s brilliant, it’s short but it’s a picture and I just absolutely love it.


What is your favourite song to perform live and is there a cover song that you like to do?

I don’t do any covers in my set and I chose that for a very specific reason… I think it’s easy in the States to play a cover and have the crowd go crazy and sing it but they’re not cheering for you, they’re cheering for whatever band wrote and performed it. I made a conscious effort not too, I’ll do songs and covers of songs I’ve written for other people, like Lady Antebellum or Dierks Bentley. In our set is a brand new song that I have not put out yet, but we’re recording it in January, it’s called ‘Michigan for the Winter’ and it’s a song I wrote about a little house in West Michigan that I grew up in, it’s on the lake and it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s about escaping and going home and getting away from everything. That’s my favourite one to perform live and it’s kind of cool, because with the satellite radio and the internet, people know songs that haven’t come out yet, so I see people singing that song back to me already and it’s a cool feeling that makes me even more excited to get it recorded and out there.

Last year at the C2C music festival we heard them play ‘Love in a Bar’ at the O2 Arena in between acts… so do you think we’ll get to see you perform there in person one year?

We do have plans to come back over here. I’m not allowed to talk about when, but we’ll be coming back soon and I’m really excited about that. I remember a handful of people tweeting at me about ‘Love in a Bar’ being in the arena and Maren actually took a video of it, because she was so excited. It was before that song even went to radio in the States, so I remember that. It’s cool, because people sing it here and they know it.


We’re going to end with a random, but very important question… we see from your Instagram stories that you’re a big coffee fan. We also know that you love Corona, as it’s mentioned in your song. So if you had to give one up, what would you choose?!

Oh this is so easy, I would give up beer and alcohol 10 out of 10 times before I have to give up coffee, absolutely! Have you ever had a caffeine headache? I would not wish that on my worst enemy! The caffeine headache is by far worse than any hangover you will ever go through, coffee always!


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