Hicks has won handfuls of awards and seen his songs top charts worldwide. If you haven’t listened to his work before, now’s the time before his records become hot to the touch!
Sweden is known for ABBA and the mega pop producer Max Martin. Do any of your songs do a country-er version of the famous layered Swedish melodies?
Yes, I guess they do. I mean, I love strong melodies, and like you said, that is something we’re very good at up here in Sweden.
I just love when a song builds and builds and releases in a huge chorus. I’m inspired by the old country songs just as much as the new contemporary ones. And I’m equally inspired by big rock songs in the style of Def Leppard, AC/DC, Bon Jovi and bands like that. And if you mix all that with the Swedish melody structure, I guess that’s the reason I sound the way I do.
Nobody cares about Keith Urban coming from Australia. Why do you think people are surprised a Swedish artist wants to go country?
Well, country music isn’t that big in Sweden. We don’t have a history with country music. We have a lot of country music fans here. When Brad Paisley, Dolly, Toby Keith come here to tour, the shows are sold out.
Country music in Sweden has been more an underground movement. It’s starting to change though.
When I started out, I was climbing a pretty steep mountain. Almost everybody told me not to. They said, “You’re too old. Don’t write country songs. Radio will never play your songs. There’s no audience for that! Sure, you can sing and your songs are great, but it will never work. Quit. Don’t go there.”
But I didn’t listen to them because this is who I am, and it’s what I love. It’s what’s inside of me, and it has to come out.And because I didn’t listen, I’ve been invited to play and represent Sweden at the CMA Fest in Nashville.
I Won “Favorite Country Group” at IMN Country Music Awards, and I have been nominated for “Best International Artist” and “Video Of The Year”at ICoMA Country Music Awards. My songs have played on thousands of radio stations all around the world. I’ve done radio and TV interviews in Italy, France, England, Ireland, Australia, USA, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Germany. I had been nominated for “Song Of The Year” and “Video Of the Year” at Nashville Universe. I’ve played at country festivals in the USA, France, Sweden,UK…been nominated at IMEA AWARDS for Country Song Of The Year “Hayride” Video Of The Year, “Unreachable Dream” and Songwriter Of The Year. I’ve got fans from all corners of the world_AND… THE BIGGEST THING OF ALL…. WINNING “BEST EUROPEAN COUNTRY ACT OF THE YEAR” AT THE BRITISH CMAS IN LONDON.
Like you said, before we have had ABBA, Max Martin and a lot of other great pop acts. But country? That’s pretty new territory for Sweden. So I guess that’s why people are surprised.
Can you give us examples of how Sweden could be anywhere in the world, or dare I suggest, Eastern Tennessee like Dolly, in your own songwriting?
Well, I have a sort of blue collar view on life. And I think that is something a lot of people in the world can relate to. It’s not much different here than what it is in East Tennessee, Spain or the UK when it comes to paying bills and putting food on the table. So I write about that stuff, but I also write about getting out of the rat race and just cutting lose and havung a big party. Forget your troubles for a while, relax and have a good time.
Something that is really close to my heart is writing songs about following your dreams. No matter where you live, you have dreams. It could be climbing Mount Everest, being an actor, nurse or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what you’re dreaming of as long as you follow your dream. I think that is SOOOOO important. Don’t give up, no matter what people might tell you. It’s your life, your dream. Go for it. Wherever you live.
Which artists do you have to collaborate with in the future? Would you prefer working with a male or female voice in a duet? I ask because right now, “Something Bad” is a great female-female song on the charts.
There’s actually a few…
First of all, Brooks And Dunn. I would love to do a song with those guys. I know they’ve gone their separate ways, but I’m a huge Brooks And Dunn fan. When they split up, it broke my heart. I think we could do something really cool together. And I do believe that the world needs a little more Brooks And Dunn… with a twist of Hicks.
Eric Church is also someone I would love to do a duet with. I think his latest album, The Outsiders, is just an amazing album. The songs, the lyrics and the production is just so gutsy, and I love that. I mean, the lyrics on the song, “That’s Damn Rock N Roll,” are just amazing.
“It ain’t a middle finger on a T-shirt, the establishment’s tryin’ to sell, It’s a guy with the balls who told the establishment to go to hell. It ain’t about the money you make, when a record gets sold. It’s about doin’ it for nothin’ ’cause it lives in your soul.”
He’s a rebel, and I can identify with that. Going against the grain… To me, that is what country music is all about. Be who you are, and be proud of it. No matter what… So doing a duet with Eric would be such a dream come through.
Gretchen Wilson is another artist I can see myself partner up with. Like Eric, she’s a rebel and an outsider. I just love the duet she did with Merle Haggard, “Politically Incorrect.” Amazing stuff. So I don’t really care if it is a female or male voice.
When you write your material, do you think about it will be remembered years later?
Not when I’m writing it. I think that would put too much pressure on the writing process. I believe that a song has to go where it wants to go while it is being formed. I don’t usually write with any instruments. I write it in my head first, and when I think it’s done, I pick up the guitar and put chords to it. It’s always very flattering when a song gets a long life. But it’s not something you can predict when you write it. Those things just happen.
What’s in store for your rest of 2014?
I’m in the studio working on my album doing the last tweaks. I’m going back to London to play at this year’s British CMAs. That’s a huge honor. Going back to Nashville for some co-writes.Doing a lot of radio promotion for my newest single, “Hayride” on country radio all over the world. And it’s starting to climb the country charts around the globe. My manager, Michael Stover at MTS Management, is keeping me busy. Been asked to write a few songs for other artists, and that’s gonna be really cool. Can’t tell you who they are right now. But when it’s official, I will SCREAM!