Hunter Cross: 'Evil', being a co-owner of a record store, & The Skeleton Krew.
By: Orchee Sorker | February 13, 2021
Hunter Cross @hunters_cross | Photo by: Orchee Sorker @orchees_photos
Singer-songwriter Hunter was born and raised in the home of Rockabilly music, where everyone can tell you stories of seeing Carl Perkins hanging out at Cecil's Bandstand and eating burgers at the first Hard Rock Cafe in the States. The Hub City is his home. Situated just between Memphis, Nashville, and Muscle Shoals, being in the heart of the Music Triangle has been nothing short of incredible for him as a musician. His lyrics are heavily influenced by the beatnik movement of the late 50's and 60's in that he writes from experience. Sonically, he would describe his sound as a mix of Americana, Psych-Rock, and Modern Alternative. He loves to experiment and evolve as an artist. Hunter eats, sleeps, and breathes music. His grandfather and himself own the only brick-and-mortar record store between Memphis and Nashville, and preserving music history is something he is insanely passionate about.
Check out the interview below...
Tell me about yourself
I was born outside of Jackson, Tennessee, but I've spent basically all my life in Jackson. It's obviously been good to me, but I've always felt that it has lacked in kind of the arts and celebration of its musical past. I've always wondered why, because it is so rich with Americana Blues, Rockabilly, and is the home of Carl Perkins. Music enthusiasts actually know who Carl Perkins is, which is kind of strange, you know, because he's kind of essential. George Harrison of the Beatles cites that Carl Perkins is the main reason for picking up the guitar, and Jackson is where Carl Perkins called home. So, it's just kind of strange. Not even the music, but like anything in the creative arts. It's a working class town and the most creative people kind of realize that, and they move.
If you weren't doing music, what would you be doing?
Before I picked up the guitar, I had a camera that I was super enthusiastic about. I made little home movies, I'd write scripts and get my friends together and we would make short films. I think I most likely would have pursued filmmaking.
Describe your music genre. Who are your musical influences?
If I had to basically give an elevator pitch, I would kind of sum it up to the kid brother of Cage the Elephant and Kings of Leon. I listened to Bob Dylan records as a kid, which basically puts me in Indie Pop-Indie Rock.
How do you get inspired to write your songs? Do you write lyrics or create music/beats first?
In the beginning, it was pretty spontaneous and I would wait to be inspired. I quickly realized that you're not always inspired to write great music. Most of the time it is actual work. I have to sit down and think about writing. I typically start with a melody, a guitar melody that we call vamp over, which is why you would essentially, the music would come first. Then, you would basically come up with a nonsensical verse or chorus via mumbling, just kind of creating melody. Then you refine that by basing lyrics around that. I would say I write about three times a week.
Hunter Cross @hunters_cross | Photo by: Orchee Sorker @orchees_photos
How would you describe your creative process? Is there anything you’ve done differently due to COVID?
Yeah, I think I've gone super within. I've gone within a focus, more on songwriting and how to audio engineer myself. I'm teaching myself how to record on my own. I'm working on a solo LP, which I'm actually working with a pro engineer on, but this has given me time to lay down the foundation to do it myself one day.
The most streamed song on YouTube is “Evil”. What was your initial reaction to the feedback that this song has been receiving and what was your thought process when creating this song?
Well, I was super happy that people received it so well. It was basically my experience growing up in the South all rolled into one kind of Psychobilly song. It's a weird mix of rock and roll..kind of like Rockabilly Southern Gothic, all rolled in this angry ball that I needed to get out of my system and that became evil.
How is your new upcoming debut album coming along and the transition from the band, The Skeleton Krew?
As a part of The Skeleton Krew, we went to Summer Fest which takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We played the emerging artists stage and to our biggest crowd. It was life altering. So, I look forward to getting back to that. We were supposed to go back in 2020 but couldn’t due to COVID. Currently, The Skeleton Krew is on an extended hiatus. I am working on projects that I started a long time ago and writing a new chapter in my musical journey that is a completely different flavor than the Skeleton Crew. It's a much brighter uptempo story. The plan is to start pre-production at the end of February. My Patreon page and YouTube channel will be releasing February 16.
Obviously with COVID, touring has been put on a pause, but when everything’s back to normal again, where do you plan to tour? Any specific city/country you’d like to visit?
Yes, of course. I plan to tour internationally. That’s the end goal is to be able to go anywhere I want, whenever I want. For now, I think it would be time well spent focusing on places like Nashville, Arizona, California, and parts of New York where alternative music and rock music is more celebrated.
As a co-owner for the record store, what are your plans for the future?
I plan to keep it open indefinitely whether I am able to operate it myself or if I turn it over to somebody that is just as passionate about it. I think in order for me to focus on my career, as an artist will require me to relinquish that control to somebody that can see it through better than I can. Because I'm so focused on my musical career, I'm limited on how far I can take that business..but at the same time, I want to see it succeed and I'll do everything that I can to keep it open.
Do you have any specific goals for 2021, whether that’s music or personal goals?
I'm working on building the community on bringing people together who love art and music. That's what makes me happy. That's more of a payoff than you celebrating me as an artist. I don't really care about that. I just care about building a community of people that love music.
What are your long-term goals?
I want to be able to tour internationally, whenever I want is a goal. To be able to sell out arenas, that's a goal of mine. To open for some of my favorite artists, such as Jack White and Kings of Leon. Just to name a few, I think that's totally doable if I put my mind to it. I would love to open my own studio and be able to record upcoming artists.
If you can give one piece of advice to the world, what would you give?
Don't let naysayers get to view. Don't let people don't let negativity mess with your dreams.
Check out what Hunter Cross has done with The Skeleton Krew. Follow him on this new solo project journey and expect the unexpected.