It looks more like I’m going to see an alt-rock band than a country act when Adam Hood and the rest of the quartet get on stage at 3rd and Lindsley. There isn’t an acoustic guitar in the building. The stage is modest, but the sound is good. There aren’t any light shows or projection screens; the focus is the music—as it should be—and Hood puts on a first-rate show to release his latest album, The Shape of Things.
A few hours before the show, we meet in a tawdry Mexican food restaurant near downtown. I’m surprised when he chooses to meet here before playing, mostly because I can’t imagine singing with a stomach full of Mexican food. But he just has a beer, and we quickly begin discussing his music and career.
“I never really had any sort of expectations,” he tells me about his life as a musician. “The music is the most important thing to me.”
Throughout the interview, this story never changes. Every musician says it’s all about the music, but when Hood says it, I actually believe him.
“I wanted to [be a musician], but every kid wants to be a rock star,” he muses. “It’s a lot more real of an idea for me. I want it to be a career and a life, and something where I can be, you know, a husband and a father and a normal human being, and still be a musician at the same time.”
It was this mentality that kept him around Opelika, Ala., the place where he was born and raised, and where he took a day job as a land surveyor rather than running off to Nashville as soon as he could to pursue a career in music.
“Down in Alabama, you either play football or you go to work. It was one of those things where, to be such a musically rich environment, there are not a whole lot of resources there. And there are fans, but it’s just not what everybody does. You really don’t have a lot you can do [with music] to make a living and raise a family and stuff like that. The day job was what kept me with health insurance until things took off. Honestly, I never really expected to do much more than just play locally and do my thing, but when you realize you have an ability to do something, you might as well make the most of what you’re given.”
And Hood has certainly done that. His music has garnered several high-profile fans, including producer Pete Anderson, known for his work with Dwight Yoakam, Roy Orbison, and Sara Evans, and country superstar Miranda Lambert, who caught his show one night in Gruene, Texas after her car broke down.
“I think [Miranda Lambert] was one of the people that was most proactive about introducing me to the right people,” says Hood. “If you could say that I was discovered by someone, it’d be her. We met and then two weeks later she was introducing me to Frank Liddell.”
It was with Liddell and his company, Carnival Music, that Hood recorded and released The Shape of Things, his fourth full-length album. Hood’s proud of the varied influence on the album, which ranges from country and blues, to R&B and jazz.
“I try to push the boundaries a little bit every time I go to write a song,” he says. “A lot of it depends on what I’m listening to. I have the same half-dozen people that I always go back to, but I want to push the parameters of what I do. I think what I do is Southern, and there’s a lot to be said, culturally, for the kind of music that we have. I mean, it all started here. Because of that, you can get away with all kinds of stuff.”
For now, he’s on the road, touring to support the album. As for what’s next, he’s taking it in stride.
“I sort of take things day by day,” says Hood. “I want to push myself to write good music, but as far as getting it together and making it all work, you know, it all seems to work out when it needs to work out. The stars line up how they’re supposed to. It’s a hazardous way to have a career, but it’s worked for me so far.”
By Andrew Miller