Thorne Hill chats with Lee Hanrahan
By Lee Hanrahan Photo by Flex
Hello Thorne Hill, UK Country Radio Male Singer of the Year!
As you’ve never been spotlighted by Think Country before, lets strip it back. How did it all come about and where did it all start for you?
Funnily enough that’s actually a really interesting question because a lot of people think that Thorne Hill has just, over this past year, appeared from nowhere and suddenly won this award and there is so much more behind the scenes to that. I became a country artist in 2009, so I’d been going for a good 5 years before anyone even knew who I was!
(Lee) It was 2011 when your first single, Come Undone, hit the iTunes chart
Exactly, and do you know, that kind of came about because, basically I’d been working abroad for 10 years so I’d come home and I had no roots. Nothing to kind of start from and country music had always been my passion. I’ve always done something loosely, if not majorly, connected to country music, before I came home. So I knew without a shadow of a doubt that was what I wanted to do contrary to everyone saying, do you really want to do that mate because there’s no money in it, there’s none of this, none of that, it was my passion for me, my one true love and the only way forward in my opinion. So I joined a band firstly and I spent a good few years with a covers band. Then once I realised that there was, to say it in a nice way, not a great deal of future, with that band, because there just wasn’t enough gigs or enough money, I went solo. I started on the other circuit, the covers circuit, I run the line dance events and stuff like that and then I started writing my own material. 2011 was probably the first time I got the guts to release something, I’d been writing since my teenage years, like most people do, in some way, shape or form. So I started putting the feelers out on Social Media, Facebook, you know, I’ve got a song, who wants to help me put it together!
(Lee) So your original supporters, are they still around and progressing with you now?
Absolutely yeah! From a fan base perspective, I’m still in touch with everything there, that’s kind of how its grown, from my own family, to the first few people who helped me get a start. Funnily enough, I saw my first band only a few weeks ago, they’re still going and they’ve got a different front man, which is awesome for them. It kind of gave me an opportunity to move forward. The reason know ones really heard of me, is because, until a year ago, I’d not really done anything of the quality that people see now!
(Lee) You got to perform at Country 2 Country 2 years ago
Yeah, exactly, I’d released an EP, Tomorrow, which funnily enough, no one will ever find. Mainly because, and I suppose like anybody else, the minute this album came out, in my eyes it was of such quality, that everything else paled and the first thing anybody in their right mind wants to do is erase their history,. Because, if for instance, a new fan comes into your circle, this is what you want them to see first. Its not anything I’m ashamed of, I’m very proud of where I’ve come from, because had I not have come from there, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I believe everything happens for a reason and everything has kind of led me to this moment. I really cant wait to see where everything goes from here, because there are so many possibilities and so many things that can happen around the corner.
(Lee) You’ve got 3 nominations coming up for the British Country Music Awards
Exactly, that’s really exciting! To be nominated is amazing, it is something that was completely unexpected. I went to the BCMA’s last year and I sat at the back because no one really knew who I was then. I was sat there, with a half finished album, because it was still being mixed and mastered ready to go to print. I was thinking, I can not wait to be like all these people, it was the inspiration I needed and now its like, what!!!! They’ve invited me to go and perform there and everything!
After coming off the summer tour of festivals and everything it has just become a bit of a blur, everything’s going so fast that I just have to kind of stop, take stock and realise where I am and what I’m doing, because its so difficult to appreciate things, it just goes so fast and you think did that just happen!!
(Lee) I came to see you at Buckle & Boots and FSA Festival and feel like, even if people haven’t seen you, they already know who you are now!
I mean to be honest its been really overwhelming, the reaction that we’ve got and the friends that we’ve made and the fans that have followed us, has just been so humbling and to me, that’s what its about!
(Lee) So the excitement now is going to be for your co-headline tour in November with Narn!
Yeah, its going be awesome to be honest. A great headline to the year. You know the fact that we are literally going to be coming off the back of the BCMA’s, straight into a tour, is going to be fantastic. Fingers crossed, hopefully were really going to be at the crest of the wave and ride it into Christmas. Then start thinking about what next years going to bring. We want to bring fresh, new and exciting things for the fans because at the end of the day, that’s the thing that’s important to us, keeping the fans happy and bringing them more new and exciting things.
(Lee) As a fan, what I’m hoping for personally, with all your nominations, is that it will hopefully get you back to C2C on the BCMA stage?
Absolutely, if I have to be completely honest and open, C2C 2013 was a massive wake up call for me! I went in completely unprepared, completely out of my depth and although to me it was a phenomenal experience, it was a failure. To me it was a failure, I know a lot of people saw me there and a lot of people knew who I was after that but it was a learning curve! But this is what this business is about, every leap of faith that you make is not going to end up with stardom and labels signing you the minute they hear you. To me, I take everything and see it as a gift. Whether it’s a learning curve, or it’s a massive success, its all come form somewhere and you’ve got to experience this to know really what is important.
(Lee) So will we hope to see you at all the regular festivals again next year?
I really do hope so, they’re going to be looking at their schedules for next year soon and we’re going to start making the calls soon, if they don’t call us first, hopefully! We would love to go back and do it all again. It was an unexpected experience for us. We honestly expected, with the album dropping in February, to be promoting heavily this year and doing the festival next year but the fact that we managed to get on so many big bills we were really, really pleased with that.
(Lee) Its been a fantastic year for British Country Music, what with the addition of Buckle & Boots and Little Mountain Country Music Festival, so the scene is just growing and your right there growing with it.
Without a doubt this year, country music is really starting to fly in the UK and its all thanks to The Shires and Ward Thomas. This is doing good things for us and obviously we are going to continue to strive and work hard and do everything that we possibly can to bring more people into the fold. 99% of it is education, if you ask somebody on the street what country music is, they wouldn’t believe you if you showed them. I think if you dragged them to something like Buckle & Boots or FSA they would be pleasantly surprised. I’ve had so many people contact me this year alone, to say, I would not have thought you were country music for a second and the fact that we’ve heard that’s what’s brought them into the fold. This is our country music family and the more people that we can bring in the better! There is a lot of people that go to C2C each year, thousands upon thousands, and we really want to see them at our gigs throughout the year! Where do these people go for the rest of the year? We really just want to get more people to come and like it! I’m sure whoever you ask, artist or fan, they would say exactly the same thing. Country music is heading in a wonderful direction and all we can hope for is bigger and better things, for ourselves and for the fans.
What I’ve loved about this year is that we’ve had the big band sets at the festivals so we’ve been able to show that we can bring the energy and bring the party and really give people what they want to see. But then on the other hand, we can strip it back, we can show you the acoustic and the softer side of the music. I think that above everything else, will show you the quality of a song. If a song is well written it doesn’t matter what guise its in, you will hear it, sing it and you will understand it.
(Lee) So I’m hoping to curve ball you now with 3 funky questions. What was the first country music you purchased?
The first country music I heard, was from my parents. There was always music within the family, the family house was full of it. My Dad was a massive Jim Reeves fan, so we always heard the older stuff there. From my perspective, the first country music I purchased was, Garth Brooks The Hits. I really got into it in the 90’s, which was really when the Nashville era kind of hit, it really struck a cord within me and to me it was when pop music was becoming less interesting and Country music became my life.
(Lee) Within your years of travelling, what’s the best experience you’ve had?
I spent 3 months in Antarctica. To be honest, I had the pleasure of seeing a lot of the world but that was definitely by far one of the highlights for me. To be completely cut off, to really experience silence and to be able to see the sea and the stars. Cold doesn’t bother me, I’m a red head you know, I avoid the sun at all costs! So cold has never bothered me and for me to be able to spend 3 months on an Antarctic expedition ship, in an entertainment capacity of course, was amazing. I saw plenty of penguins and I made a few snow angels as well.
(Lee) What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
Being world traveled, you’d think I’d be more adventurous. I think the worst thing I’ve eaten is a snail when I went to France. It was the biggest, chewiest snail I think I’ve ever bitten into, it wasn’t pleasant!
Thorne Hill and his band, including Donna Marie, Scott German, Justin Johnson, Tom Wright and Callum Williams go out on a co-headline tour this November, tickets available soon via FSA Presents!
You can purchase Thorne’s BCMA nominated Album, No More Holding Back, on his merchandise tables, directly on Facebook or via the usual online retailers.