For some people the rise to the top is fast and easy. For others it’s a tedious process that involves many late nights in bars playing for nothing but free beer and peanuts. However, as you’re playing for free you begin to appreciate your place, appreciate the process. So that when the day comes that you’re given an opportunity you seize it. For Canadian Tim Hicks’ he certainly made the most of his chance. At 35 Hicks’ is finally garnering the national prominence he so greatly deserves. He recently won the CCMA Award (US equivalent of the CMA Awards) for Rising Star. You can request his single “Here Comes the Thunder” now on SiriusXM or your local radio stations.
His journey in music started when he was just a couple years old. From there he went on to take lessons. However, these weren’t your typical lessons. Instead he was put into a band at seven, allowing him to form friendships with his fellow bandmates and gain a love of practicing and playing music. His innate ability to sing and play from a young age, allowed him to become the lead singer of these bands. Since the age of 15 he’s been playing in bars, honing his craft. But it wasn’t always country in these bands. Not until his twenties did he make the switch from rock to a more country sound.
Some artists have always been musically inclined is that the case for you?
“Yeah. My great grandmother, she had an organ in her parlor; which is how old her house was. And she’d sit me on her knee and sing church hymns from the time I was two or three years old. It just sort of became more of my life real early and I got the bug real bad.”
She must have been a big influence for you. Who else influenced you musically,
“There’s lots of different ones. There was lots of classic rock like Led Zepplin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Eagles. Lots of the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, which is probably where I get my love for harmony singing. I can’t put my finger on why I love The Band and The Eagles, and it’s only in hindsight as a grown man, I look back and realize it was the country tendencies that were there.”
Groups like that must have helped you with song writing
“Yeah, I mean, it comes from everywhere. What I’ve learned most from hanging around down in Nashville is the guys and ladies who write for a living. They keep journals of titles and ideas. Then you go in to a song writing session and it’s bizarre. And you say okay let’s write a song.”
“I think the best song writers always have a backlog of titles and ideas. That’s what I try to do now, anytime I think something would make a good country song I write it down.”
Definitely. Shifting gears slightly, you’ve been at this a while, but what goals are you still trying to achieve
“I’m just happy to be here. If I’m still able to sing my own songs and people are still coming to my shows and buying my records that’s a blessing. If I could continue that over the next five years that would be like winning the lottery. And I’m not speaking about it financially, I’m talking about the opportunity to play music for a living.”
Can it be like other jobs, where it gets old and tiring?
“I mean my music is my job; it’s how I make my living. So there have definitely been nights where it’s been hard to kick my ass off the couch and go to work. But I think it’s the love of doing it, I don’t know why, but I’ve just never given up. I gave up on the idea of trying to get a record deal. I tried throughout my 20’s. So as soon as I accepted the fact that I was going to spend the better part of my career playing mid-level bars. As soon as I said I’m happy with that, the phone rang and I was headed to Nashville.”
How’d that happen? Walk us through your big break moment,
“I was singing at a bar in Toronto because I had a house gig a Pub for years. A couple of songwriters saw me sing and said ‘We’re gonna write some songs, do you wanna come?’ So we wrote some songs and demoed them, then those guys took the songs to Nashville and played them for my current manager who liked them right away and said ‘I wanna hear this guy sing.” So they came up, saw a showcase, and next thing I know we drove to Nashville in the mini van. Chasing the dream. ”
That dream will really be realized next month when you’re out their with Dierks Bentley
“It should be totally awesome. He was just in town not too long ago, before I knew I was going to be heading out on tour with him, and I left the show so jacked. He played 90 minutes and every song was a hit. I left so impressed with him and his band, that when my management called and said ‘You’re going out on the road with Dierks Bentley,’ I pretty much lost my mind. It’s such a cool opportunity to play with him and Randy [Houser] in venues that we dreamed about playing as kids.”
Yeah that’ll be great. So the final question is something we ask everyone. Do you have any advice for upcoming artists?
“I always tell everyone the exact same thing. Put your webcam away and go play a show, and then go play ten thousand more shows. In this day and age people think all you have to do is film yourself playing a song and put it on the internet to get discovered.
You can’t skip steps, it’s not good for you. Even if you do, you’ll find yourself wishing that you had worked on your craft because it all happens so fast. I feel like, at this point in my life, that I fall back on the experience that I have from playing seventeen years of six nights a week. Because of that there isn’t anything that could happen on stage that would cause me to freak out.”
I always tell people, just get out in front of people. That can be anything, from playing with your friends or family’s backyard barbecue, pick up your guitar and sing a few songs. Get comfortable doing that, then head down to a bar’s open mic night and get comfortable doing that. Then get yourself a gig and get comfortable doing that. At some point you’ll look backwards and your career will have happened.”
Thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk with us and best of luck out their on the road.
Tim Hicks will rejoin Dierks Bentley’s Riser Tour during it’s Canada stops in December. He’s currently working on scheduling some shows in the States. His newest album 5:01 is available now on all digital platforms.
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