Clay Hollis is a talented country artist who hails from Texas. He has a deep love for the genre and giving back to his community. We recently had a few minutes to get to know the guy behind the music.
Nashville Noise: Reading about your upbringing, it’s no surprise you became a country artist specifically. What’s your earliest memory of falling in love with the genre?
Clay Hollis: My earliest memory of wanting to play music, or at least loving music, was hearing live music and [going to] the San Antonio Rodeo as a kid. One of the very first country concerts I ever went to was Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. Those are some good artists to help ya fall in love with the genre!
What other artists do you remember inspiring you at a young age?
CH: Artists that have influenced me along the way come from a wide spectrum of genres. I have been inspired by the greats such as George Strait and Waylon Jennings to Tom Petty and other classic rock legends, to even some of my personal circle of friends — guys like Jon Wolfe and Kevin Fowler.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue music professionally?
CH: I remember being a junior in high school and playing a lot around campus. A lot of people encouraged me and told me I should start playing gigs. So, I started playing little bars and grills and small happy hour entertainment shows, which later grew into me forming a band and hitting the road playing music in music venues and honky-tonks.
Since you started, you’ve developed some strong relationships with fellow musicians — some of them you mentioned. Has anyone given you any advice that’s really helped along the way?
CH: I have gained so many friends and mentors along the way in my career and I have to say that everyone I have ever talked to has always given me good advice. It would be a little difficult for me to pinpoint or specifically say one thing because I have learned so much. What I do know is, I think every artist can take advice and learn from other professionals but really you just have to find a niche and do what works best for you.
Well said. Your newest single, “Here I Go Again,” is out now. What’s the story behind this one?
CH: Believe it or not, my great friend Gabe Garcia recorded “Here I Go Again” first. He had it on his record Missing however he never had the opportunity to promote it to radio. I had always loved the song and actually have been playing it in our live show for years. This past January, when I was in the studio, we really needed a good song to add to the EP and I had the idea of re-cutting it. I asked Gabe if I could have his blessing of recording it and he said, “Go for it!”
I’m extremely happy with how the song came out. [It has] powerful lyrics and a driving tempo that keeps me wanting to listen on repeat with the volume cranked. As for the story the song tells, it speaks for itself. The story of someone missing a past love and wondering what she is doing. I think we have all been there at some point in a relationship.
You also expect to have a new EP out this year. What can you tell us about it?
CH: My new EP is titled HonkyTonk Highway. It’s a six-song EP expected to be released in the summer of 2020. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but I can tell you that if you liked my first debut EP, then you are going to love this follow up project. It has six great songs that are going to give it a modern edgy county sound.
We can’t wait to hear it. Aside from your music, I also see that you’re passionate about helping your community. Why is that important to you?
CH: I have always given back to my community. I have to credit that to the way I was raised… Graduating from a private catholic school and being involved in 4-H and FFA taught me the importance of self-discipline, hard work and giving back.
You’re also able to use music to benefit organizations that are important to you. Tell me more about that.
CH: I have been affiliated with a nonprofit group named Trinity Oaks and we specialize in making our veteran hero’s and children’s hunting and outfitting adventures come true. I specifically bring my music to those events and share my story. With bringing uplifting music and stories, I have seen it first hand how my music connects people together. That’s why I do it, that’s what makes it rewarding. Supporting our military, first responders, veterans and children is something I will always find time to be apart of.
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