Exclusive Interview with Platinum-Selling Band Sister Hazel

Platinum-selling band Sister Hazel is back with their new six-track EP, Fire. Hailing from Gainesville, FL, the band has been together for over 25 years and is made up of the same original five members: Ken Block, Jett Beres, Andrew Copeland, Ryan Newell and Mark Trojanowski.

Photo Credit: Dave Schlenker

I got the chance to talk with Jett about who the band is named after, where the idea to create a compilation series came from, what inspired their current single “Here With You” and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!

For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?

Sister Hazel has been a band since late ’93. We all met in Gainesville, Florida and are the same five members that started it all. I could write book to answer this question, so I wouldn’t know where to begin. After our first record deal, and first platinum-record in ’98, a lot of doors opened for us. We focused on our fans, our live shows, and writing quality songs from the heart. 25 years later, we are still able to do it and are grateful every day for the opportunity.

Where did the name Sister Hazel come from?

She was a Baptist minister from our hometown that ran rescue missions. We thought what she stood for in our community could represent our music on a larger scale and inspire others the way she inspired us.

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. Your music would typically be classified as country/folk/Americana, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?

Florida music. It’s a mix of all those things and more, kind of like Floridians.

Let’s talk about your newest EP, FireFire is the third installment of your Element Series. Where did the idea to create this compilation series come from?

We wanted to put out more music more often, but keep the quality and cohesiveness of a full-length album. The idea came to us to put out an EP every six months for two years and to somehow tie them together. So, Elements was born. It’s really kept our creativity in the studio rolling.

Because these EPs are all connected, what was the recording process like? Were they all recorded at once or were they recorded in the order that they were released?

The songs off of each EP were written and/or picked and recorded specifically for that EP’s session. That was part of the fun for us in the process as well. What we didn’t anticipate was that the element for the record we were recording became a creative driver in the studio lyrically, sonically, and in our overall vibe approach.

Let’s talk about the current single, “Here With You”. What inspired that song?

The song was inspired by life and experiences like most of our music. As the stages in our lives change, so do the things we choose to write about. “Here With You” is about living in the moment and not looking back on the past. We are all married, and we have all had to adopt this at one time or another for our marital health.

I always love hearing about the songwriting process so what was that like for this song specifically?

We were doing a show in Sundance, Utah. Marty Fredrickson and his wife, two very talented songwriters, happened to live out there. So, Ken and Drew ran over one day and wrote a couple songs with them. This was the standout!

Do you guys tend to write by yourselves or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?

We are all songwriters in the band. Over time, I think we’ve recognized that the more you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, the more you grow; so as songwriters, we have done all sorts of combinations. Each time I collaborate with another writer or someone else in the band, I find new inspiration and ideas. So all of it has been good.

Was there any major changes to “Here With You” that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it is in the lyrics or something sonically?

Yes, “Here With You” came in with just Ken’s voice and an acoustic guitar. I love it when they are brought in like this because sky is the limit in the studio.

Is there another part to the Element Series? If so, is it finalized enough yet where you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?

Photo Credit: Tim Wallace

We are currently recording the final installment which is Earth. It’s will be six songs plus the one minute super song just like the rest. We had this idea to record a one-minute song at the end of each of the four EPs; when the whole project is done, they will combine in to a full song. It’s been fun because we never know where it is going to go until we are in the studio.

What do you guys hope people take away from listening to this EP and your music in general?

That Sister Hazel is still creating music that resonates with our fans and hopefully reaches new audiences that might not have heard our music before. Like when you see an episode of a TV series that you love, and then realize there’s like 14 seasons of the series — binge time!!!

Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

Books. I went back to reading real books with paper and I love it.

For more information, check out Sister Hazel’s website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Photo Credit: Brian Hall Photography

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