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INTERVIEW: Hillside Outlaws

Hi Louis, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks! We’re happy to be here! It’s been a very exciting summer. We’re very pleased with all of the support we have been getting with our new EP.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Hair of the Dog”?

“Hair of the Dog” was co-written with Trisha Richardson. It drew on experiences that I’ve had as a musician. It was one of Trisha’s working titles and she asked me, “What would your hair of the dog be?”

I suppose we could have written another drinking song or perhaps a love song, but I suggested we write about the one true thing that I need in my life – music. This song really encompasses that old adage “the hair of the dog that bit you”. It’s an old saying that basically means the thing that poisoned you will also cure you.

In our case, the high comes from performing music. When the show is over, we become lost – a musical hangover if you will – and the only cure is getting back on stage. This song also serves as a thank you to the fans because without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We chose it as a single because we wanted to put out a song that had some real substance that still rocked musically.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

The idea came about sort of jokingly, laughing about my love life… or lack thereof. It started out as a love song but I just couldn’t connect to it, but when I suggested the song be about music, it was something we could both relate to and the song just came together.

The line in the bridge is a bit of a poke at me: “some get drunk on booze and women, me, I use the stage”

We had a bit of a laugh writing it. 

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I’m extremely happy with the way the video turned out. Mike Elliott is a great director and a class act human being. He has a great eye for detail and a clever use of lighting and angles. I remember while shooting, he would have us in weird positions and he’d say, “I know this feels awkward but it looks great on camera!”

Big thanks to Kirk Watson, the guy behind the bar in the video, for putting up with my acting! He would get his part right on the first take, but I would always need a few more than that. The whole experience was amazing and I can’t wait to shoot the next video which should start sometime in the fall.

The single comes off your new EP Country Jukebox – what’s the story behind the title?

“Country Jukebox” is the title of the last song on the EP as well. This song is an ode to all the country music that made us who we are. It is basically a “thank you” to country music. We used this for the EP title because it also describes the way the EP was put together. It’s not just an EP with similar songs or a similar theme. It’s an EP that takes you on a journey, much like an old jukebox. There is a song on this EP for any occasion.

How was the recording and writing process?

The songs on the EP were all written already. During pre-production, we made some arrangement changes to some of the songs and some minor lyric tweaks. The recording process was incredible! We had two days of back-to-back recording for the bed tracks at the biggest studio i have ever been in to date. The follow-up vocals and overdubs were done in a smaller studio with a vintage microphone similar to the one used by Frank Sinatra. In fact, it came from the same studio that Frank recorded in and was purchased at auction when the LA studio closed. It was an incredible piece of history and I feel blessed to have it used on this record.

What was it like to work with Paul Shatto and how did that relationship develop?

Paul Shatto is amazing! It’s like he’s in my head sometimes. We met him at an industry showcase that our manager, Clyde Hill, had arranged for us and he approached us very interested in our live performance. We spent a good 2 hours at the event after-party talking about music and what direction we wanted to go and what direction he saw for us. It turned out that we both had the same direction in mind. Over the next couple of weeks, we did a lot of research on Paul and reached out to various artists that he has worked with including Jetty Road and The Higgins. After rave reviews, we had one more meeting with Paul to discuss terms for recording an EP. A deal was struck and we began pre-production. We sent him every song we had written and even some that weren’t finished and began compiling a list of songs that could go on the record. His insight has been invaluable and the songs as they are now would not have been possible without the wealth of knowledge that came from Paul. I can’t say enough good things about him. We are already discussing a follow-up record for next year but thats all I will say about that!

How much did he get to influence the album?

Paul had a lot of influence on the album. We trusted his instincts. He was very attentive to our opinions and really worked hard to develop the sound we wanted. His biggest influence was with song choice. We gave him 25 songs and then worked through each one to choose the best ones for this particular project. There are some songs that didn’t make the record that I look forward to recording in the future but this EP is exactly the way it supposed to be. Paul was extremely patient and a pleasure to work with. We share similar interests – he is also a sailor as am I, and we have the same love of music.

What role does Vancouver play in your writing?

Vancouver is a beautiful city. There are parts of it where you can get caught up in the hustle but other parts where you can find tranquility. There is so much to explore and do. Most of our time there was spent in the studio, however at least once a day, Paul would make sure we’d stop and take a walk outside and go somewhere we could be inspired. This is really the message of our song, “City Boy”, on the EP. I grew up in a small town with 1500 people and suddenly I found myself in this metropolis where everything is moving at a fast pace. It was in these moments when we would walk down by the pier that I really understood what it means to have a country soul. It doesn’t matter where you are, you bring that piece of home with you.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in every conversation if you pay close attention. Often times, we’ll be talking amongst each other and someone will say something and we have to stop and write it down. Songwriting is basically just documenting real life. The highs and lows and everything in between. It definitely helps to be in the right mood but sometimes it just hits out of nowhere and you have to go with it. I’ve woken from a dead sleep because I had to get something written down. I’m always looking for new ideas in everyday conversations.

Any plans to hit the road?

We have toured a lot this this year – I’d say triple the amount of shows from last year. That being said, we do have plans to expand our travel radius next year to reach a wider audience. There is even talk about a possible New Zealand tour however nothing is solidified at the moment. It is our dream to tour the globe playing music.

What else is happening next in Hillside Outlaws’ world?

We have a lot of long-term goals, but for the immediate future, we would like to get another single released. “Girls in Trucks”, a song from the EP is gaining a lot of momentum on Spotify racking up over 10k streams in less than two weeks. It will be our follow-up radio single later this year. Of course, a follow-up record is in the works for early next year. We have gained a lot of momentum and plan to build on it.

Watch here

For more information about Hillside Outlaws, please visit HillsideOutlaws.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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