After working on his debut EP for Big Machine for quite some time, Levi Hummon is glad to have the project available on the market so fans can enjoy it.
“I think that relief is a perfect word,” the singer-songwriter tells CMChat. “It’s been about two years of writing and recording, so getting something out to the musical universe is definitely something that makes me happy.”
Hummon grew up in the music business, as his father, Marcus, helped to write such hits as “Bless The Broken Road” and “Cowboy Take Me Away,” so that lifestyle figures prominently in his childhood. “I remember growing up and going to my dad’s No. 1 parties, and hanging out with Tim McGraw and The Dixie Chicks. I never really wanted to be an artist necessarily growing up, but now you look back on it all and the effects of all that really hit you, and you realize that you are a part of those melodies and those stories growing up. It definitely had an effect on me, that’s for sure.”
Looking back on his life now, he realizes just how lucky he was growing up. “My perspective of growing up in the music industry is something that I think is easy to take for granted. I know that a lot of people didn’t get to have those experiences, and that’s something I’m grateful for.”
Being involved in the arts was something that was promoted in his home early on. “I remember my family would say ‘You’ve got to play one sport, or play one instrument. If you’re not doing that, then you need to be painting or drawing. I had a guitar, and I played it, but I was always interested in painting and doing sculptures. But, I think it was my sophomore year in college – when I went through my first heartbreak, I picked up my guitar, and that was my method of dealing with a girl breaking my heart. Then, it became a way to pick up girls,” he reasons with a laugh.
Hummon recalls that his father helped him to grow as a writer by involving him in the creative process. “My dad would let me write one song with him every Thursday, and I would sit in this room with them, and I was not in their league at all. I got thrown into it. One of my first co-writes was with Andrew Dorff and my dad. We wrote a song called ‘Makin’ Love.’ I remember how epic that experience was, and how much better it was than writing it all by myself.”
He definitely learned the ropes, as he has collaborated with some of the top writers in town, including Shane McAnally, Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey. He has just teamed up with Steven Tyler to pen “Red, White, and You,” Tyler’s new single, which appears in a new commercial for Skittles. “I actually just saw the commercial,” he said with excitement in his voice. “I was losing it. I think I sent it to every member of my family, telling them ‘Look at this.’ I remember the day I met him, and we just hung out and talked for about 12 hours. He’s one of my favorite artists, and one of the most iconic voices ever. I was just ‘Fan Boy’ all day long. There was no other way to put it. I was sitting down in the studio, waiting on him to come down there. All of a sudden, this person grabbed me from behind and gave me a hug. I turned around, and it was Steven Tyler! I thought ‘Play it cool and act normal.’ Of course, I was trying not to bow down to him or anything like that. I will never forget that moment. He’s actually a normal guy, and super nice. It was a great experience.”
Of the music on his EP, one of the highlights is “Guts and Glory,” which he co-wrote with Travis Hill and Nashville Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame member Tom Douglas. “I heard the phrase on a Ram commercial, and the next day I had a co-write with Tom and Travis. We ended up writing a full song, but at the end of it, I told them about seeing the commercial, and how I’d never heard of a song called ‘Guts and Glory,’ and I thought it could be something. We started talking about everything from people like Rosa Parks, and what it means to be an American. Later that day, we recorded a demo of it, sent it to Ram Trucks, and they freaked out. We’re actually going to be headed out with Ram Trucks for a promo tour, so that’s going to be awesome.”
Who does Hummon think of when he thinks of the song’s lyrics? “My mom started this organization here in Nashville called Thistle Farms. It’s a place for women with a history of drug abuse and prostitution. They make body care products and healing oils after they’ve gone through rehab. Now, they are selling to about 500 Whole Foods and Target locations. It’s become an amazing story of these women who get their lives back, but also their families back, and their kids. To me, the song is about people who have overcome hardships and climbed mountains. That’s who I immediately think of when I think of that song.
One track from the EP that is sure to get some attention from radio is the groove-laden “Love You Hate You Miss You,” of which he said “That song is the one on the EP that I didn’t write. I heard it about a year ago at a Big Machine writers’ retreat, and when I heard it, I told Jimmy, Laura, and Ryan that they had to let me cut that song. It sounds exactly like something I would sing. When we started doing the EP, and we were going through songs, it fell back in my lap. I said ‘I had to do this one.’ Scott and Allison at Big Machine fell in love with it, and it was an awesome feeling to have it turn it out so well.”
Be sure to pick up Levi Hummon’s self-titled EP on iTunes.