MUSIC NEWS
Hayes Carll Preps For The Big Stage With Some Smaller Ones
02/17/2011

from the Dallas Observer on dallasobserver.com

Hayes Carll is nothing if not affable, with his ever-present half-smirk and "aw, shucks" persona. But don't be fooled by nonchalant swagger. The 35-year-old Carll, born and raised in The Woodlands, is also quite self-aware. Almost ridiculously so.

See, Carll knows what's on the immediate horizon of his career. He knows that, with the release of his new album, KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories), his whole career could change. In some ways, it already has. Last month, in the build-up to that disc's release earlier this week, Carll performed for the first time on late-night television, stopping by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to perform the title track of his new disc, a song that derives its title from the military abbreviation for "kiss my ass, guys, you're on your own." And, just before that honor, he scored another coup: A different KMAG YOYO track, "Hard Out Here," was appropriated for use in the soundtrack for Country Strong, the Gwyneth Paltrow-driven flick about the Nashville country scene.

It's a lot to process for a guy who, as recently as a few years ago, was mostly unknown, struggling to make a name for himself in the Houston market and in Texas—especially considering that when he wrote "Hard Out Here," he really meant the words he was putting to paper, both as a performer on the road and as someone faced with the difficult task of asking cash-strapped strangers to support his endeavors.

"I've been through years of touring," the performer says over drinks during a recent stop through Dallas, his slumped shoulders telling as much of the story as the words coming out of his mouth. "You go out every night—150, 200 nights a year—and talk to folks every night across the country. I couldn't escape the fact that everyone, everywhere was telling me, 'It's rough out here. I'm losing my job, can't afford to buy your shit. We're having a rough time, y'know?'"

Looking back on the song these days, though, he sees another meaning.

"I was kind of lamenting whenever I bitch about the road," he says. "It was, in relation to myself, more than tongue-in-cheek."

And rightfully so. After all, even with more widespread appreciation coming around the bend, Carll has it pretty good these days. His audience has caught up to the critical acclaim his songs have been receiving for years; it wasn't even two months ago now that Carll found himself performing before 1,000 or so people at a packed Granada Theater in Dallas, his fans dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song. It was a significantly different environment than those Carll had become accustomed to playing in years past.

"I made my living and my fans, for a long time, in small clubs," he says. "I'm still getting used to playing in the bigger rooms, and I think my fans are as well. Ideally, y'know, you get to were I can kill in those rooms, but there's something I miss about the intimacy of playing those smaller venues. People come up to me and co

(read full story on dallasobserver.com)





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