Newly-signed Monument Records artist Alex Hall released his first single with the label, called “Half Past You,” on Friday (8/30). The cleverly written tune, penned by Hall, Shane McAnally, Pete Good and AJ Babcock, tells the story of an on-again, off-again relationship set to a contagious, laid-back beat. The song features a trove of lyrical gems, with the hook especially standing out for its play on words.
“‘Cause I know in my heart that it’s way too soon / Dialing your number’s what my fingers do / I shouldn’t have called I know it’s half past two / But I’m drunk and I guess I’m only half past you,” Hall sings in the chorus.
Born in Gainesville, Georgia, Hall grew up on a horse farm, and spent his childhood barrel racing at the rodeo on weekends. He listened to country legends such as Waylon Jennings in his youth, and later fell in love with the hits of Elvis Presley and John Mayer. Once Hall picked up a guitar at age 14, he jumped right into the musician life, playing his first show just nine months after learning the instrument. He then went on to play about 150 shows a year in high school, including opening for artists such as Thomas Rhett before moving to Nashville to continue his career. We chatted with Alex to learn more about his new song and his road to music.
Can you tell me about the story behind “Half Past You” in your own words?
To me, it’s just a song that the guy and the girl. They’re broken up. He thinks he’s doing alright, he’s over her, but then as soon as he has an opportunity for something to remind him of her or think about her, he can’t get over her. She’s the one that got away.
Was this song inspired from true experience?
No, it’s funny. Pete’s very happily married and has kids, and AJ has a girlfriend he loves, and I’m actually engaged. I do, ironically, have a lot of heartbreak and break-up songs, but I just always try to put myself in that situation while writing it. I’ve been with my fiancée for two and a half years now, and we’re all pretty happy and stuff, so I try to think if me and my fiancée were to break up or something, as awful as that sounds, what that would feel like, and then write in that place.
This song is very fun and catchy, but it’s also a bit of a heartbreak song as well. Can you tell me about that contrast?
The whole record’s a lot of electric guitars, and we didn’t really have a very breezy, acoustic kind of song like “Half Past You,” so we purposefully wanted to write something that felt that way, a vibe that felt that way. So, it is ironic that it feels very good and very windows-down, but it’s actually a really sad song, so it’s pretty fun.
You played quite a few big shows as a high school student. Was it intimidating getting into the music industry at such a young age?
Honestly, I think I was so naive to it, I didn’t really know. I’ve always kind of just done my own thing no matter what, so to me I just wanted to play songs and make money at it if I could, and if not, I would just play them anyway. I don’t think it was really intimidating. It was just more figuring it out as I went because no one in my family was in the industry, so it was just a whole new world. Honestly, I feel like the most intimidating part was when I actually moved to town versus before, for five years or whatever it was, I was just going back and forth from Georgia to Nashville. Moving to town is when you get here and you’re not quite as big of a deal as you think that you are back in your hometown, where I was playing sold out shows everywhere. Then you come to Nashville and everybody’s doing what you’re doing, so that was kind of an eye-opening moment, but I think it all worked out.
What lessons did you learn from touring in high school?
I think, for me, it was just probably playing so many shows. I would play anything from a restaurant during the week to make 100 bucks or whatever just playing acoustic, and then on the weekends I would play either a sold out bar somewhere, or opening up for Thomas Rhett or Frankie Ballard or whoever it was. I think just because I was playing so many shows, and I was writing all the time and recording and everything too, I kind of had the ropes down a little bit.
Can you tell me a about your upcoming album you’re currently producing with Shane, Pete and AJ?
For the record, we have a lot of songs like [“Half Past You”] that have a play on words that everyone would say normally — you just don’t really think about it being a song. We have a few other ones that are going to come out. The whole record’s just like that. I love tricky, kind of witty hooks that are clever, but also, again, something that you are like, “Man, I would say that in a normal conversation, but I’ve never thought to put it that way in a song.” So, we do that for the whole album really and it’s pretty fun. . . . We’ve recorded the first half of it already, and then the back half we might record this year, we might record next year. I’m still writing for it, so it’ll come out eventually. It’ll probably be next year sometime though.