Hozier says he doesn’t care about chart success or being a popstar as he prepares to release second album Wasteland, Baby!February 22, 2019
WHEN Hozier scored a huge global hit with Take Me To Church, no one was more surprised than the Irish singer-songwriter.
“It was amazing,” he says. “I didn’t think it would be a mainstream pop record.”
Hozier says he was surprised by the success of hit single Take Me To Church[/caption]
Reaching No1 in 12 countries, the 2013 anthem was a tirade against organised religion and had a powerful video portraying homophobic abuse in Russia.
Along with his self-titled debut album, it got the singer noticed.
Hozier — whose real name is Andrew Hozier-Byrne — says: “It was a trial by fire. I was learning by doing it and it was a very steep incline. This time around, I’m more relaxed.”
The musician, who I meet in a West London hotel, is about to release second album Wasteland, Baby! and is intent on enjoying all aspects of the experience.
“Even the early mornings,” he laughs, referring to his 4.30am alarm-call today to appear on Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Virgin Radio.
Hozier, 28, is reflective about his second album, which arrives five years after his first.
He says: “You experience success retrospectively. When Take Me To Church took off, it was so all-consuming that I wasn’t really thinking about what was happening. Now it’s not as new to me and I’m enjoying it.”
Despite success, Hozier says it was important that he made the music he wanted to, rather than simply chasing sales.
Hozier says he’s not interested in chasing sales[/caption]
“I don’t make music for the sake of it being a chart success,” he says. “For this album, I made sure I was writing music that moved and gelled with me.”
A politically engaged artist, last year he marched for the Repeal The Eighth campaign to relax Ireland’s strict anti-abortion laws — which ultimately won by a landslide.
“I was so proud of the outcome,” he says. “I have huge respect for people who were central to that fight. I’m particularly proud of older people who voted to repeal regardless of their faith.
“I think the church has lost a huge amount of influence, especially in the way they have treated women’s health and how women were treated over unplanned pregnancies. It’s shocking.”
Politically engaged artist Hozier campaigned to Repeal The Eighth[/caption]
Wasteland, Baby! is similarly inspired by current times. Hozier says the record is bleak in parts because it engages in what is going on in the world.
He adds: “I try to speak out about things if I can give a signal-boost to something I feel strongly about.
“Some songs on this record are ‘doom and gloom’ but it was important to me. I hope it comes across as hopeful but coming from a place of despair.
“Some of the songs refer to a cultural or moral wasteland but there’s also a tongue-in-cheek air.
Hozier admits he’s still surprised he became a singer[/caption]
“We need to look out for the next generation on things like climate change, as they’ll be left with this f**king planet and it’s not a great planet to be left in.
“Sixty per cent of all animal life has disappeared (since 1970).
“It’s really scary. Changes need to be fought from the bottom up and I like to help through music.”
He describes the song No Plan as “about the end of the universe” — and the album’s title track is equally dark.
Hozier has become more confident in the studio and on stage[/caption]
Rousing opener Nina Cried Power — featuring the legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples and MGs frontman Booker T Jones — represents the album at its most hopeful. Former US President Barack Obama included it in a list of his favourite tracks of 2018.
Hozier says: “It’s funny to end up on the radar of somebody like Obama. I was amazed.”
Nina Cried Power pays tribute to Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Staples herself as protest singers of the civil-rights movement.
He says working with Staples was “incredible”, adding of the activist: “There had been talk of us getting together on something previously and then her people reached out.
Hozier admits he does not always enjoy the attention stardom brings[/caption]
“We sent her the song and she liked it, so myself and (album producer) Markus Dravs flew out to Chicago and had an amazing day with her.
“She is a total hero in my eyes, an absolute legend who was central to the civil-rights era in America. The Staple Singers used to sing after Martin Luther King’s speeches.”
As a teen, Hozier went to a Booker T Jones gig — so getting the legendary singer to work on the album was another dream come true.
“I don’t know how I ever ended up on his radar,” Hozier admits, “but he got in touch and said it would be great to get together and work on a song.
Hozier is playing five nights at the London Palladium[/caption]
“It’s incredible. When I was a teenager, one of the gigs I saw when I was with my dad was Booker T. His legacy is insane.
“Those Stax records were the songs I was covering in my first band. Getting him to play Hammond organ for me was really special.
“We had him for a week in London. It was amazing.”
One person Hozier isn’t keen to work with again is Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, who features in the video for recent single Movement and had danced to Take Me To Church in a documentary.
Hozier says he was amazed when he ended up on the radar of Barack Obama[/caption]
Hozier was disappointed when Polunin later made homophobic comments on social media. “He’s drawn criticism and rightly so,” Hozier says.
“I was very surprised by a lot of his comments because I would have thought he would have known where Take Me To Church was coming from, that he understood my ethos.
“I was pretty saddened by it, to be honest, especially as he must have colleagues in the LGBTQ+ society.”
Hozier admits he is still surprised that he became a singer. He needed pushing when he was younger.
“I hated singing,” he laughs. “I really didn’t like it. I was forced to sing at church services and at school.
“But then that was singing stuff I had no relationship or connection with.”
Hozier is adamant to enjoy the release of his second album[/caption]
The softly spoken singer has become more confident in the studio and on stage but does not always enjoy the attention stardom brings.
He admits: “I’m usually left alone but when people stop me and chat, that’s nice and I will always chat back.
“Am I an anti-popstar? There are anti-popstars out there who do very well taking photos of themselves.
“For me, I was raised to be told that narcissism is a bad trait. Also, who needs to know what I am having for breakfast? Nobody wants to know.
Hozier questions whether he’s an anti-popstar as he doesn’t think people need to know what he’s having for breakfast[/caption]
“People see more than enough of my mug.”
With a busy schedule for the rest of the year, Hozier says he is looking forward to playing five nights at the London Palladium in October.
“It’s a residency,” he jokes. “I’ll be stage-diving next, doing an Iggy Pop.
“It’s fun playing shows — and man, I have a fantastic band with me.
Hozier’s album Wasteland, Baby! is released on March 1[/caption]
“But playing at the same venue for consecutive nights means you do your sound check on the first night then you really settle into the venue, really knowing the room.”
Next month he headlines a special Love Rocks show in New York with Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow and Buddy Guy.
The benefit concert, which will raise money for non-profit organisation God’s Love We Deliver, is hosted by actress Whoopi Goldberg and comedian Martin Short.
“I’m excited but it’s also daunting,” he says. “I will be on the same bill as Robert Plant and Buddy Guy and some amazing blues players who I have huge respect for.
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“It’s a nice cause that helps feeds millions of people every year in New York that otherwise wouldn’t.
“Playing shows like that as my job is mind-blowing. I’m not complaining. Happy days, indeed.”
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
1. Nina Cried Power (ft Mavis Staples)
2. Almost (Sweet Music)
4. No Plan
6. To Noise Making (Sing)
7. As It Was
9. Talk Refined
11. Dinner & Diatribes
12. Would That I
14. Wasteland, Baby!
- The album Wasteland, Baby! is released on March 1.
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