Interview: Clark Hill’s Debut Album People Like Me

“The album touches on every element of who I am.

Up until just a few years ago, I hadn’t really found myself. I was a young parent with two kids and a wife. … But even then I knew what it meant to leave your mark on the world. … So I kept searching for something I could achieve, some mark I could leave. That would be the greatest thing I could do for my kids.

I know it sounds selfish but I’ve always wanted to leave a legacy.”

That passion and desire lead singer/songwriter Clark Hill to Nashville and CMA Fest six years ago with homemade business cards he dropped off at every building on Music Row. It is where he met singer Craig Morgan, who introduced him to his drummer, Mike Rogers. It would be Rogers who would go on to produce Hill’s soon to be released debut album, People Like Me.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the music industry.   

“I’m just a small-town boy from North Florida. I grew up as an athlete and had a love for music, between church and Elvis Presley, but never really saw music as something I would pursue in the future. I started a family young and found myself moving past my dream of football as soon as I found out I would need to become a provider for my wife and child. After some life-altering mistakes and some hard lessons, I found myself searching, and somehow God led me here. I am a very flawed human, often times, I find my only peace, in that maybe one day I will be able to reach others and show them there are amazing things possible with a lot of faith, hard work, a great support system.”

How important is it to you to write your own songs?

“It’s very important to write my own songs, but equally as important to pick the best songs possible to tell the story that I want to tell. It’s a tough balance but made easier by the reality that I have not really reached the level of songwriter that I’d like to be. I am finding ways every day that I need to make the process and delivery better. But, it is also an incredibly fun process. To be able to see firsthand how I am changing for better and worse is exciting to me personally.”

Can you tell us about your writing process? 

“My writing is all about telling an actual story. Obviously, I work to find the most colorful way possible to tell it. Sometimes I just think of how other people say things instead of myself. It helps put a different twist on it.”

Can you share the back stories to the songs you wrote on your upcoming album: Pecan Pie, Stage Song, Swerve, Those Were the Days?

 “‘Pecan Pie‘ is as literal as you can get. When I first started writing, I only knew how to tell actual real-life stories, so I did. I told the story of what I enjoyed so much about my family. We were a large family but very close, and everything seemed to revolve around hard work, a little bit of fun, God, family, and of course food and music. ‘Stage Song‘ was totally different. A lot of the earlier songs I wrote were consistently serious and deep. They were all tearjerkers, songs that people could deeply relate to. I quickly saw that people didn’t wanna sit around and cry all the time when partying at a bar, so I had multiple friends and family give me a hard time about writing something different. I tuned my guitar down to drop D and then got in touch with my competitive side and wrote a southern, rock-stage entrance, anthem style song. Lyrically it didn’t have a ton of depth in the story, but ‘Stage Song‘ would get people bobbing their heads and having fun. ‘Swerve,’ it’s a very realistic story of me and my wife. We have been through a lot, most of it my doing, but I have always and will always, have a very deep connection with her. She sidetracks me worse than anyone, and I just thought back to high school when I was so distracted by her that life just took a back seat. ‘Those Were The Days‘ is a tough one, to sum up. The simple story behind this track is not so simple. It is about my town; I want people to know how much I truly love my hometown. My picture of the area is so organic, it is something I can’t even explain why I love it so much. It’s just a special place. That being said, I have also watched my hometown change. Some for the better, but other things I just don’t dig. I despise when change simply happens as a result of opposition. Change should be a desire to get better, not a desire to quiet the critics. That song embodies what I want to see back in small town America, as much as I could fit within a few minutes. Haha!”

How did you choose the other songs on the album including the first single Perfect To Me?

“I choose my songs first based on if I believe in what I would be saying. I have to connect with the song, specifically the story within the song. ‘Perfect To Me‘ was a perfect fit. I just look at my wife and see someone standing in front of me, that even when I don’t show her, deep down I still see her as ‘Perfect To Me.’ It’s a difficult one though because personal demons can get in the way of showing proper affection. I am sure that my wife doesn’t feel like she is perfect to me most days, but I think that song was maybe chosen as a reminder to myself, to push those demons out of the way and recognize when you truly have something that is perfection.”

Will you be playing any new songs at CMA Fest in June?

 “Oh yeah, I have close to a half an album of new stuff that I feel is better than anything I put on this album. So I will start testing it and seeing what people think.”

What was the favorite moment of your career up to this point?

I would say it is still Armed Forces Entertainment Tour. I have been blessed enough to open for some pretty well-known artists and even become good friends with some of them. Going overseas and performing for the troops is something that I will remember till my last breath. Humbling is the best explanation of that experience… and God knows I could use a little humility.”

Where’s your bucket list venue to play?

“The short-term goal is the Opry. I have dreamt of that, and a big part of me sees that as something that will happen, possibly even in the near future. Until it happens, it will be the top of my list. I am preparing however for after… and I would say I have a dream of playing at the bottom of Mount Rushmore. I went and played Strugi’s Bike Rally a couple years back and visited Rushmore, just was in awe, and I told my guys then that I would do a 4th of July show at the base of it one day!”

Tell us what your fans mean to you and how you include them in your journey.

It sounds cliché but it is the truth, without fans there is nothing. I feel that when I am more financially stable and have a larger team and support system, I will include them even more. My goal is to connect fans on every level. I want them to see what makes me tick. I feel that if I am able to do that not only will I have a long career but more importantly, maybe I will have an opportunity to affect some lives for the better. What’s equally as exciting is the reality that fans also affect my life for the better, causing me to reflect on what I am doing, and sometimes sharing their life experiences with me. It’s an awesome reward, that is for sure.”

If you could put together a tour which artists would you take with you?

“I would love to do a Jason Aldean tour. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of his, it’s just that I have become MORE of a fan of his. I feel like I could learn so much from him and his team in regards to how to tour and how to put on an incredible show. I would totally beg to have Neal McCoy out with us, too. I think he is one of the best entertainers ever and such an amazing man. I guess the not-so-likely bucket list tour would be with Garth. I love his show and music, and feel like it would be an experience that would last… other than the fact that no one would be there to see me… so they would get their beer and food during my set.”

What would surprise your fans to learn about you?

“Most fans see this high energy, full-of-personality guy that walks around chin up and chest poked out when really, I have a lot of insecurities that I am constantly covering up or working to overcome. It may be part of what drives me, but I don’t think most people know that I have a lot of internal struggles.”

 Who’s currently on your playlist (who are you listening to?)

“I am a huge Ed Sheeran fan as of lately. I always have my revolving playlist of Skynyrd songs and I really dig Chris Young’s new album. I have kids too, so I have a ton of different stuff… songs that I know how they go but wouldn’t know what the name or artist is… like Top 40 Pop.”

You were active in local talent shows, children’s choir, and praise band when you were younger. What advice would you give to young people wanting to join the industry?

“I would say find out who you are as a person, FIRST. It has been very tough on me and my family to watch as I still work to figure out who I am as a man, a husband, and a father while navigating through this industry. Find yourself, then your music will follow.”

You grew up working on your family’s farm. Do you have your own vegetable garden? Any go-to recipes you like to make when you’re at home?

“I don’t but my wife and son love making little vegetable gardens. As for recipes, I am a pretty basic guy. A steak and potatoes type, so you would have to ask my wife.”

Name 3 things you always have with you.

“My phone (sad I know), my guitar, and my attitude! Lol!”

What’s your favorite Candy? Book? Guilty pleasure?

“Twix, ‘This Present Darkness’ and probably fast food…”

What does the next year hold in store for you?

“I hope to really hit the road hard again. This past year has been a ton of travel, but for radio promotion and such. I’m really amping to get back to playing shows and meeting/making new fans.”

Where can people go to find out more?

www.clarkhillmusic.com or follow on socials @clarkhillmusic”

Hill’s album releases on March 23rd. Pre-orders are available on all digital platforms. The album was partially recorded at CTM Studios’ (Catch This Music) state-of-the-art facility in Nashville as well as Rivergate Studios in Hendersonville.

An album release party will take place in Hill’s hometown of Starke, FL at The Downtown Grill on March 23rd at 7 p.m., featuring a live performance of the entire project. Tickets range from $20-40 depending on the chosen package and are available online here.

People Like Me Track Listing:
1. We Were That Song (Victoria Banks)
2. Rolling Home (Non-Disclosure)
3. Pecan Pie (Clark Hill)
4. I Don’t Know How to Love You Anymore 
(Jimmy Fortune, Craig Morgan, Mike Rogers, Zach Runquist)
5. Stage Song (Clark Hill)
6. Don’t Worry ’bout Me (Elizabeth Marlowe)
7. Always Be Mine (Non-Disclosure)
8. How Great Thou Art (Carl Boberg, Stuart K. Hine)
9. Swerve (Clark Hill)
10. I Hate That Car (Non-Disclosure)
11. Perfect to Me (Chris Young, Mike Rogers)
12. Midnight Saturday Night (Chris Young, Mike Rogers)
13. Those Were The Days (Clark Hill)

Author: Donna Block

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