The artist has been compared to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
By JOHN BENSON
Singer-songwriter Will Hoge isn't an idiot.
As an independent rising star of rock 'n' roll in the late '90s, he understood the music industry game with too many of his brethren telling horrific tales of major label affiliation. Yet despite his best judgment, the intoxicating elixir of seemingly unlimited promotional budgets, creative promises and corporate life got the best of Hoge.
"Man, I don't know," said Hoge, calling from his tour bus outside of Jackson, Miss. "The thing is, we should have known better from the get-go, especially with all of the clich & eacute;s, every person who has ever been signed to a major label tells you the same damn story. I don't know if it's just a rite of passage as an artist but you just kind of fall for it."
He added, "You believe when they tell you that they're going to work for you. I guess there's a part of it that is just artist desperation. You want to believe that somebody believes in you and wants to help."
It's Hoge's succinct assessment of the human spirit that epitomizes his gritty yet honest bar band musical style. Such honesty explains why for nearly a decade he has garnered comparisons to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. That's what initially attracted the attention of Atlantic Records, yet after just after two albums -- 2001's "Carousel" and 2003's "Blackbird on a Lonely Wire" -- Hoge wanted out.
Amazingly, he received his wish a few years ago and has been touring ever since, averaging 300 shows to date. Back on the road, the independent spirit once again felt whole.
"That's the one place big business can't necessarily control," Hoge said. While he admits it's a struggle, building audiences show after show and town after town, it's his own personal battle to win or lose. In some ways, it's the thrill of the hunt that keeps the Tennessee native motivated.
"If you're going to do this, you have to do it," Hoge said. "The bands that are going to get their hands dirty, be it from making their own records to packaging or touring, that's going to be the people who are going to have a career doing this not the people who are sitting around waiting on a guy or a girl in Los Angeles or New York City to make their life easier."
Hoge is promoting his third studio album "The Man Who Killed Love," which features another batch of bluesy Rolling Stones-esque rockers that grab your attention and don't let go without a brawl. Standout moments include "Woman Be Strong" and "Pocket Full of Change," with backup singers and a horn section truly capturing this engaging singer's magical live shows. You can see Hoge in action Nov. 3 at the Beachland Ballroom.
"I think we're trying to be an honest hard working rock 'n' roll band," Hoge said. "And that's it. If you want to come out and spend 10 and get two hours of kick-ass entertainment from guys that give a [expletive] about what they're doing and are trying to make people feel something, I think you should come to the show."