Just over two years after his debut EP “Can’t Get Enough,” Hunter Thomas Mounce will release his debut album, “Folks Like Me and You” on March 15.
Two of the three songs from the “Can’t Get Enough” EP will be featured, as well as his two most recent fan-favorite singles, “True American” and “Me With Money,” along with seven new songs to complete the album.
Mounce says that he hopes the album is a unifying point for his fans, and titled the album “Folks Like Me and You,” a lyric from “True American,” because he wants to feel like family with the fans who have rode with him this far.
While the album is available for pre-order now, Mounce took some time with Pro Country to take a look back at his start in music, his charity work, some of the songs that will be on “Folks Like Me and You” and more! Take some time to get to know this bright up-and-coming artist before the album comes out, you won’t regret it!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Hunter Thomas Mounce: I’m a big Eric Church fan, he’s my favorite artist hands down. I really like 90s country. The first memory I have of listening to country music is when I was in the truck with my dad, it was Brooks & Dunn and Mark Chesnutt. Fast forward to modern day, I’m a big fan of the Texas stuff right now. Obviously, everyone likes Cody Johnson, but I’m a big Cody Johnson fan, and other guys that are in that scene. William Clark Green, Zane Williams, Tyler Childers- I know he’s out of Kentucky, but I like the alternative country stuff that’s going on right now too.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
HTM: It all kind of happened by accident, to be honest. I got dumped by my girlfriend in high school; I had picked up a guitar two or three times in high school, and I tried to learn it, but I just never could. So after I got dumped, I said that I was going to be the guy at all the parties who was playing the music. As shallow as that seems, that was kind of my initial motivation (laughs). So I started learning right out of high school; how to play the basic chords and stuff. I ended up posting a cover on Facebook, and it got a really good response.
A lot of people didn’t know I played, and they thought it was cool. Obviously, looking back at it now, it’s probably terrible (laughs). I had never been a singer in my entire life, I was never in choir, I was mainly just a shower singer. So when I posted that and people started reacting to it, I started to think that there might be something to this. I just started plugging away at it and started learning more. I put a few more covers up, and the reaction got better and better, so I decided I wanted to get good at it, and that I wanted to start writing my own music, because to me, you’re not the real deal unless you’re writing music.
I had never written a song before, so I wrote a song called “Can’t Get Enough,” which is out now. It’s funny, it’s one of my most popular songs. I don’t know if I got lucky, but I was just trying to put some honesty down on that paper and I guess people ended up liking it. I had that song for a couple years before I moved to Nashville and actually recorded it, so that’s kind of how everything got started.
PC: As you were preparing to release the “Can’t Get Enough” EP, were you feeling any pressure- internally or externally, as you were preparing to release music for the first time?
HTM: Definitely. It’s one of those things where you can have your own opinion of something, but it’s a very vulnerable feeling putting music out at all, let alone for the first time, because you just don’t know what people are going to do. You want people to like it, and you want people to be as proud of it as you are, so when those emotions come together, there’s definitely some anxiety that comes with it. I like that though. Sometimes, having music out takes me places I would never even dream of. I’ll get called and asked if I’d like to play the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and be one of the main slots, and I’m like, “Shoot, I didn’t even call you guys!” I just like the mystery of it. You just never know what’s going to happen if you have some good quality music out, and the most important thing is that there’s people out there who enjoy it. That’s what I take the most pride in- that people actually enjoy listening to my songs.
PC: What kind of validation does it give you as an artist and as a songwriter when you see “Can’t Get Enough” being streamed more than 10,000 times and thousands more view the videos on YouTube?
HTM: It’s crazy, and it’s kind of a double-sided coin. It’s awesome, because it’s the first song I ever wrote and I got that kind of reaction to it, but then, it’s also kind of frustrating sometimes because as you keep doing this, your songwriting gets better and better, you get more clever and figure out how to do things. You almost expect a song to come along that’s going to blow that one out of the water, as far as how people are reacting to it, and when that doesn’t happen, it can sometimes leave you kind of puzzled about how this whole thing works, and I still haven’t figured that out (laughs). I just put music out and let it do what it does.
PC: “Wherever You Are” is one of the standout tracks in your catalog. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
HTM: I appreciate that! There’s this girl, and we’re pretty much still best friends, but I wrote it a couple years ago when we were in a different spot in our friendship. It went from being friends to me wanting something more, and I didn’t really know how to tell her that, so I wrote that song, just straight up about how I felt. I guess a good song came out of it, but if you’re wondering if I ever started dating that girl because of the song, that definitely didn’t happen (laughs). Just let that be a lesson to all of you guys out there; writing a song and putting a lot of money behind getting a really well-produced song doesn’t guarantee you that you’re going to get a girlfriend (laughs). In all seriousness though, that song does mean a lot to me, because it’s a handwritten letter about how I felt at that time about that girl, and I’m just glad we’re still on really good terms.
PC: “True American” is another song that has connected with people. What do you think it is about that song that has struck a chord with listeners?
HTM: I think there’s a couple things. I feel like we live in a time right now where a lot of people are scared to talk about how they feel. I feel like a lot of people are scared to really take pride in their country, like we did even 20 years ago. When I was growing up, we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day. Everybody, regardless if you were a Democrat or Republican, one thing we all agreed on is that we were patriots and we loved our country. For some reason, we’ve lost a little bit of touch with that, and I feel like that song- it doesn’t hide anything. It’s just straight up, take it or leave it, “This is how I feel about my country, I love my country, I love the people who love the United States,” and I feel like that’s something a lot of people can rally around, because it’s something that a lot of people are thinking, but it doesn’t always get said.
PC: “Me With Money” is a great tongue-in-cheek song that does a good job of blending a traditional sound while still feeling fresh. Can you talk about the writing process behind that song?
HTM: The first three songs we talked about were all solo written by me, but “Me With Money” was actually the first time that I got the chance to write with a few hit songwriters. I wrote it with Will Rambeaux and Sherrié Austin. Will Rambeaux was a writer on “Wild One” for Faith Hill, and he had a couple more big hits, and Sherrié Austin had a song as a solo artist that was pretty popular in the 90s called “Never Been Kissed,” and she had a George Strait cut called “Where Have I Been All My Life.” They are great songwriters, and I’m blessed that they agreed to write with me. They told me to bring the song idea to the table and that they would help me construct it.
I had this song about halfway written. It was like a slower ballad, and I was kind of frustrated and a little bit pissed off. I brought them the song about a previous relationship, and they said it was really good, but they asked me how I really felt about the whole situation. I told them that I really wasn’t that upset about it, it had been a long time and we had been broken up for years. It’s just funny, because she married a guy just like me, except he’s got a lot of money. They told me that was the song right there, “Me With Money.”
We went a totally different direction with it, we took the more humorous side of things, and if you get to know me, that’s really how I am. I never take anything too serious, and I’m always coming up with one-liners, so that song really matches my personality.
PC: Is it intimidating in any way to have two hit songwriters ask you to bring the song idea to the room?
HTM: It definitely was intimidating, but I’m always up for a good challenge. To me, that’s a big of a challenge as you can have when you’re new to Nashville. I had been busting my butt the whole week before the write, like I wanted to bring a song that was almost done, something with a really good chorus, just something that shows them that I’m legit and make them want to write with me again. So I took it seriously, and I brought them something that I guess was pretty good, because a great song came out of it.
PC: You’ve showcased a blend of a traditional style with a more modern style in your music. Is it at all important for you to have that versatility in your sound at this early point in your career?
HTML: I really take a lot of pride in having mostly real, natural, authentic instruments. Obviously, I want my songs to be commercial enough to where if it got to that point, it could be played on the radio. But I love all of that music in the very first question you asked me. Those guys use that kind of stuff in their music, so I just feel like it would be ripping people off a little bit if I didn’t give them what I like so much when I listen to music.
PC: What can you take away from working with a producer that has had the level of success that Kenny Royster has had?
HTM: It’s honestly been priceless. Whenever you play my songs, a lot of people that don’t know the music industry- maybe even people that do- they hear the sound quality and the vocal and they think “I like that!” If people do like it, I assume they’re giving a lot of credit to me, and I guess I can take some credit, but this is such a team effort. Working with a producer that has a vision for a song, that’s one thing, but getting the Super Bowl team of session players to play on that song; these are all of the people who have played on hit records, these are guys that have the best tone and the best sound in the entire world; there’s just so many amazing people that Kenny has been able to put together to make the music sound the way that it does. To me, that’s been priceless. And on top of all of that, he’s a world-class vocal coach. He showed me so many tips and tricks about emphasizing the correct words so that each line has the most impact, how to have better tone- he’s just an encyclopedia of priceless information, and I don’t think that I’d go to anyone else.
PC: Can you explain what Fire Boot is and how the idea came to you?
HTM: Fire Boot is a 100% nonprofit organization, and at all of the shows I play, there’s a physical fireman’s boot that’s sitting in front of the stage or at the merch table, and it’s just donations. Whatever money goes in there, I give to people who had their houses burned down. I had the idea when I was sitting in my living room one day and I had this pair of fire boots and I got to thinking about one day when I leave the fire service and I’m doing music full-time, how is it that I’m still going to be a part of the fire service? That’s such a big part of my life, and I don’t want to completely lose it. So I wanted to start something where I am directly giving money to people who have had their houses burned down, so even if I’m not physically a firefighter anymore someday, I still have that, and I can still do that for people, and it still gives me an affiliation with the fire service. It’s mainly for those people, but it’s also for me, because it gives me more of a sense of a purpose.
Pre-order “Folks Like Me and You” on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/folks-like-me-and-you/1448944883
*All images courtesy of Hunter Thomas Mounce Facebook Page*
*Images by Dylan Rucker and Bailey Fidler*
*All videos by Dylan Rucker*