On episode #223 of the BobbyCast, Bobby Bones chatted with A Thousand Horses lead singer Michael Hobby about the band’s journey to their third record deal and their upcoming new album. However, before they talked about what’s to come, Bobby and Michael looked back at the band’s career, which has been through a few different stages.
Michael started the conversation by talking about the band’s first-ever record deal with Interscope Records, which they received in about 2010. The band didn’t even have an official name yet, but they scored the deal and immediately flew to LA to record their debut project with producer Dave Cobb. The group released a few songs and went on tour, and it was during that tour that they got a call no artist wants to receive.
“We’re at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, raining like crazy, and our manager calls us and says, ‘Interscope’s let go of all rock bands and rock departments. They’ve shut down the division,’” Michael says. “And we’re just like, ‘Oh man.’”
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new episode with @michaelhobby of @athousandhorses. Their entire journey as a band from working at The Buckle, landing a No. 1 and returning with their 3rd record deal and new album. Search ‘BobbyCast’ wherever you get your podcasts!
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From there, Michael and the band finished their tour and went back to Nashville to regroup. They had to work a few side jobs — Michael worked at Buckle and band member Zach Brown worked at a photo booth rental company. They also continued recording songs with Dave Cobb, and in return they would clean the studio or help out in other ways. After four years, A Thousand Horses got their chance to play a showcase for Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records and scored a deal.
Soon after they signed the new record deal, the group released their debut single, “Smoke,” which set a record for the highest debut for a new act, and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. The band was also selected as iHeartRadio’s On The Verge artist with the release of that song.
“We’re sitting here going, ‘Wait, this is how this works?’ Kind of blown away by it,” says Michael of the song’s success. “That’s where it all began. You learn a lot in that period, and we were just going a million miles a minute in that process. It kept climbing and kept going and everything was perfect.”
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The group followed up “Smoke” with “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial,” which peaked at No. 23, and then with “Southernality” and “Preachin’ To The Choir,” which both peaked in the upper 50s.
“To he honest with you, that was super stressful for where we were at and what we were doing,” says Michael of the chart decline. “That was the point where things really started to get wobbly — as quick as [“Smoke”] happened is as quick as it got wobbly. It was a stressful time. It was when tensions started to build between our situation with the label in a way. We were just frustrated.”
Eventually, A Thousand Horses and Big Machine Records decided to part ways. Michael told Bobby that the label was trying to change things about the band and things got “cloudy.” In the end, both parties agreed to walk away peacefully.
However, the end of that chapter is what brought A Thousand Horses to the present: a new record deal with Dave Cobb‘s Low Country Sound imprint at Elektra Records, a new single called “Drinkin’ Song,” and a brand new album on the way. Michael says he’s learned a few lessons throughout the ups and downs of his career.
“People ask, ‘What’s your advice?’ It’s just don’t stop and don’t be afraid to jump and just keep rocking,” says Michael. “For us, to go from that first song, to dropping back down, to coming back, it’s peaks and valleys.”
“It’s a lot of no’s to get to that one yes,” Bobby adds in response. “And if you find that thing that you love so much — it could be music, it could be horses, it could be hugs — if you find that thing that you love so much, and someone telling you no doesn’t keep you from loving it, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
To hear more from Bobby and Michael’s conversation, listen to episode #223 of the BobbyCast.