Some might say it was inevitable that JT Hodges would grow up to be a professional musician. Growing up in a musical family -- his dad owned a recording studio and his mother passed up a singing career in favor of being a stay-at-home mom -- the Texas native was exposed to an enormous range of genres and artists from a very early age.
Hodges admits that he "grew up in a studio," recalling many fond memories of hanging out with legendary names before he even was old enough to know what it all meant. "I remember being like 3 or 4 years old and chasing the dog under the console while Pop was doing sessions," he recalls. "And I met a lot of these guys like Leon Redbone, Michael Bolton, Delbert McClinton...I don’t wanna say I took it for granted, but I didn’t really know."
He did, of course, realize the uniqueness of his situation eventually, and took advantage of the rich musical education his dad's studio afforded him. "Pops had a huge audio library. So many different artists and genres of music and I think that influenced me tremendously. As far as some of those artists he worked with...all of that, I think subconsciously and unconsciously has influenced the music that I’m playing."
Hodges put all of his learning to work when he decided to move to Nashville in 2010, scoring a record deal shortly after and wowing Music City with his self-titled debut; the disc ended up spawing three singles and earning him a nomination for New Artist of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards. He's now poised to release his second album, having released the single "Already High" to critical fanfare.
"Gosh, from a debut record to a sophomore album – there’s a tremendous amount of growth, for me personally," Hodges says. "That first record, I learned a lot about the production process from Mark Wright and Don Cook, both legendary producers. The second go-around I’ve kind of been A&R-ing my own project and using several different producers, and honing more of what I think is my sound."
Hodges isn't shy about admitting that he thinks his new record contains "the best music I’ve made," he notes, adding that he feels he's expanded his artistic reach in all areas, including songwriting, performing, and "a little bit of everything...overall growth across the board."
When asked if he feels nervous about following up the success of his first album, Hodges says "I don’t really have any apprehension." He cites his unique blend of country-rock as a factor that buoys his work. "I think today’s music climate is constantly changing faster than anyone’s ever seen it. I’ve always made music that’s kind of different. I’m kind of on this slow-grow, get out there and play a bunch of shows and build fans one-by-one, you know, an Eric Church / Eli Young Band philosophy."
In the end? "I think I have a core group of friends and this new music will hopefully win me some more," he says. Some might say "already high" is not a bad place to be!