Hunter Thomas Mounce’s journey to artistry wasn’t a conventional one. Nonexistent were singing lessons, choir performances and guitar lessons before he entered his teens, as is the case with many musicians. Instead, those things were replaced by a love of music, passion and a dream.
2021 marks five years since the release of Mounce’s debut EP, Can’t Get Enough, and Mounce is celebrating with the release of his newest single, “Alone in the Lone Star,” released in mid-January.
The release of “Alone in the Lone Star” also serves as a new beginning for Mounce, as he feels the work he has put into his artistry is finally all coming together, and right now, he’s the best version of himself as an artist that he’s ever been.
We caught up with Mounce to chat all about “Alone in the Lone Star,” how he handles success, songwriting, his big plans for new music this year and more!
Pro Country: Your sole release of 2020, “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown,” was a heavy hitting, emotional song. Now that some time has passed since its release, what has the song meant to you and the family of the friend it was written for?
Hunter Thomas Mounce: Since “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown” came out, it has had time to really sink in with most of the people of my hometown. I’ve been back a few times since then, and it’s always a similar conversation with people I run into. People usually say something like, “Man, that song was hard to listen to. I had been putting it off for a long time because I knew what it was about, but I felt like I was living the song once I listened.” It has been an absolute joy to see how much his family appreciates it. Though it is a tough song to listen to without getting emotional, I’ve gathered that they really appreciate the fact that he has a song. It will be there forever. His memory will always be tied to it, regardless of who it is listening. And for families who lose loved ones, especially parents who lose kids, all they want is for people to remember. Everyone seems to move on with their lives, but they never really do all the way.
PC: Why did you feel your new single, “Alone in the Lone Star” was the right follow up to “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown”?
HTM: I feel like “Alone in the Lone Star” was a good transition after “Rodeo Clown” because the two songs are similar stylistically. They have basically all the same instruments and they both sound like traditional country. However, they do have a completely different mood. “Rodeo Clown” was a straight up sad country song. “Lone Star” could be taken that way if you simply read the lyrics, but the upbeat rhythm makes you want to two step in a honky tonk. I thought that made for a perfect transition from one song to the other.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Alone in the Lone Star”?
HTM: “Alone in the Lone Star” was not my idea. The first two songs Joe Costa and I had written together were my ideas, but I came to the write on this day and I had nothing good. I asked Joe if he had any ideas. He said, “Not really, but I do have this one line. I was talking to my friend the other day and he mentioned that he was drinking Ranch Water. When I asked him what it was, he said it’s Vodka and Topo Chico (Seltzer water enhanced with minerals.) So Hunter, all I have is “Tonight I’m drinking Vodka and Topo Chico at a Dive Bar up in Houston.”
As soon as he said that, something just felt right. I was like, “Man, let’s just start writing that and see where it ends up.” We came up with the hook as we were about to finish the chorus. We wrote the song front to back, in order, in about two hours. It was so easy and so fun. Side note: I think Ranch water can also be Tequila and Topo Chico. Don’t want to seem like a poser here.
PC: “Alone in the Lone Star” is the second consecutive single you’ve written with Joe Costa. Can you talk about the level of comfortability you have with Joe and what about writing together brings out the best in both of you?
HTM: Joe and I have only written three times. Every time, we have written a song I love. Every song we have written, I have recorded. That is so rare in this town. I don’t have 100% accuracy with anyone in this town except for Joe. That is no knock on the other people I write with, it’s just a fact. For some reason, Joe and I have clicked up to this point, and there is nothing that is off-limits. Neither person goes in with the attitude that they know more than the other, and we just have fun with it. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I love it. In general, the thing I love most about songwriting is the mystery of it. I still don’t fully understand how some of these songs come out the way they do. It almost seems like you snag them out of thin air if you are in the right place at the right time.
PC: “Alone in the Lone Star” has been your most successful pre-release to date. Is there a certain level of validation that comes with continuing to build momentum and tangibly see the support you continue to have as your career progresses?
HTM: It’s funny. As soon as I think I’m figuring the music business out, it always kind of knocks me back down. I had the most pre-saves and pre-orders I have ever had on a song or album. From all the research I’ve been doing, I gathered that the more pre-saves you have on Spotify, the more likely you are to be on one of the big curated playlists. Now, I’ve been on those before with “Feelin’ the Fire Burn Out.” With that whole album, I did no pre-save campaign. So I figured having 180+ pre-saves just on Spotify, just on one song, meant I was good to go. I was a little disappointed to find I wasn’t placed on any playlists as of the first day, but there is still time. However, I did not approach this predicament with total negativity. It made me realize I just need to focus on what I can control. Just because I didn’t get on a playlist doesn’t mean the launch was a failure. My fans were more hands-on and more engaged than ever before. That is a win! What I can control is how I treat those loyal fans, and so this week I’m actually focusing on sending over 150 “thank you” cards in the mail, all hand written. It’s going to take a long time, but it is going to be worth it.
PC: You mentioned on social media that “Alone in the Lone Star“ is the beginning of a “new era for my brand of country music.” Can you explain how this feels like a new beginning for you?
HTM: This feels like a new beginning because I have had to scratch and claw to gain every inch up to this point.
I didn’t grow up singing; I was never in choir. I have had to learn how to sing correctly and it is so frustrating. Kenny Royster, my producer, is a vocal coach, and he demands the absolute best out of me in the studio. If I don’t deliver, I’ll be there all damn day.
No one in my household played any instruments. I was never around musicians or instruments growing up. It was such a foreign idea to me. The only time I got to see live music was when my Aunt and Uncle would play Bluegrass at Christmas.
Songwriting is something that I had to just figure out. When I moved here, I immediately started working with people who are insanely talented at writing, and I was like, “Well, looks like you better start working at it, or you’ll get left behind.”
All this to say, I feel like it is finally all starting to come together. When you are lacking in any of these areas compared to your peers, it can take a toll on you. But once you start to feel it click, it is like a breath of fresh air, and a wave of confidence comes over you. You finally feel like you are where you need to be, and it is a great feeling. I feel like I am approaching that point. Still, the work will never be over. But, at least now I have an identity.
PC: You also mentioned on social media that there will be “a ton” of new music this year. What information can you give about the music? What can people expect to hear?
HTM: There will be a lot more new music. It will be frequent. However, it won’t likely be in album form this year. That is not to say another album isn’t coming at some point!
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2021?
HTM: In 2021, I want to unleash my true potential. I want more music, content, live streams, live shows, merchandise, etc. than ever before. It is time to stop keeping things as ideas in my head and turn them into a reality. But, have fun with it and enjoy the process of it all.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
HTM: I’ve learned how vital it is to have people who truly support you. These people can be friends, family, fans, photographers, videographers, producers, bloggers, etc., but, without people around you who believe in you and really want to see you succeed, this is flat out impossible. So, to the people I hold in that regard, I just want to say thank you! I’m going to do a better job of letting you know how much I appreciate your support. Without you I’d be nothing!
*All images by Lexie Rucker and Dylan Rucker and courtesy of Hunter Thomas Mounce Facebook page*
**”Alone in the Lone Star” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**
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