Longtime fans of Ty Herndon will hear much to enjoy on his new album, House on Fire, which releases Friday, Nov. 11. His expressive vocals, the surging romance of his lyrics — all the things that put him on the map with his No. 1 debut single What Mattered Most are evident on each of its 12 tracks.
But there are differences. Listen closely to Just Friends, with its nod to “our little secret,” or the promise that “tonight we’re gonna do whatever we want to do” on All Night Tonight, or the admonition “don’t tell” on Sweet Way To Go. For all their expressions of love and intimacy, there’s no reference at all to gender.
Mention that to Herndon, 54, and he chuckles. “You got me,” he acknowledges. “But it wasn’t planned. When we were writing these songs, Erik (Halbig, producer) pointed that out. And I said, ‘Man, there are no accidents.’ I want anybody, from any walk of life, to hear this record and put their own stories into it while still hearing mine.”
Ty Herndon, right, shows off his shoes as Matt Collum
Ty Herndon, right, shows off his shoes as Matt Collum watches on the red carpet for the 50th CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena. (Photo: George Walker IV, The Tennessean/USA TODAY Sports)
The latest chapter in Herndon’s story began just two years ago, when he came out as gay — the first major male country performer to take that step. While House on Fire proves that his musical essence hasn’t changed, his message has evolved, mostly through details in his writing but, on the title track, much more frankly and powerfully.
“It took me two days to write that song because I kept getting so emotional that I had to walk out of the room,” he recalls. “Halfway through the process, my co-writers were feeling it too. I knew at that moment that I was not only writing my story, but I was writing a lot of people’s stories with these songs. All the pressure I’d felt just flew out the window at that point because I knew that my truth was a lot of people’s’ truth.”
Herndon savors the exhilaration of being able to live openly with his partner Matt Collum and the opportunities he’s found for counseling homeless youth, working with GLAAD and other worthy pursuits. Yet at heart, he insists, he’s pretty much what he’s always been … only more so.
“If I ever make it to Carnegie Hall, I’m not gonna preach — I’m just gonna sing,” he insists. “There’s a time and place for everything
by Bob Doerschuk, Special for USA TODAY
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If you ever need to brighten your day, it isn’t just Ty Herndon’s house that is on fire; it’s his personality that is ablaze. The country veteran is all fired up these days, excited to share new music with his fans and the industry, all of which is packaged on what is being deemed “the most powerful record of his career,” House On Fire.
This is my fifteenth studio album, which is kind of crazy to think there have been that many over the years, but House On Fire is one of my most personal albums. I wrote the majority of it with Eric Halbig, Drew Davis, and a handful of other writers, and it was a real learning process for me. It’s eighteen months in the making, from day one that we wrote the first song, which is a song called “All Night Tonight.” Experimenting with sounds and production and I grew so much as a producer and a songwriter, and it’s even possible today after all these years doing it. I even grew as a singer in the studio because I was experimenting with so many different melodies and had such a great time in the studio. And I had some heartbreaking times too. . . . I definitely had times I had to walk out of the room too, even during the writing process, ’cause you want to put yourself out there that raw and that emotional and you know people are gonna be listening to your stories. It’s really tough. You find yourself pulling back on how honest you want to be, and it’s so funny because you always come back to “say what you wrote.”
Part of that experimentation process for Herndon included figuring out a way to twist and bend a bit to fit into a genre that has evolved into a melting pot over the last few years. Though he ultimately ended up right where he wanted to be with this record, the journey to reach the destination was not always easy. In fact, Herndon admits to showing signs of resistance initially when it came to changing his style to make sense in today’s country music mold.
I did it kicking and screaming because I’m so set in my ways, but working with Eric and Drew who are really out there today writing with the current songwriters and producers and working with these musicians that are bringing all this great stuff to the table; I didn’t want to put a synthesizer bass over a real bass. Then I realized it wasn’t taking anything away from the integrity of what that bass player was playing. It was just adding a really cool texture to it. The old school Ty had to kind of grow up a little bit.
In “growing up,” Herndon had to learn it was okay to let loose and let go, even sharing those pieces of his heart and soul that led to quick trips out of the writing room or studio to compose himself. The result of those moments are songs like the title track, “House On Fire,” which he calls one of his favorites in the collection.
It’s the blueprint of this record. It’s sitting right up in the middle. I really had trouble placing it ’cause, it’s actually song number seven out of twelve songs, so it is in the middle. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of cool, flirty stuff and then we get up into the meat and potatoes of the record, and from there you go on a very serious journey for a few songs. Then, rounding it out with “Fighter,” which is an anthem for me. The personal content started with “House On Fire.” That was a very difficult song to write. It’s truly my story.
While “House On Fire” is his most personal song to date, Herndon does share that he has tracks from his earlier years that also touch him deeply — some for different reasons.
“Hat Full of Rain,” that was really talking about the heartbreak at that time of my life; all the struggles I was going through. Or the song “Living In a Moment.” I love singing love songs and just hearing people sing that at the top of their lungs. There was a lot of me in that and a lot of happy in that. I could take you through every song I ever recorded song-by-song and tell you exactly what was going on in my life at that time.
Conversely, Herndon does have one song that stands out as a recording regret, and fans, you may want to skim past this part if your hearts can’t take it.
I hated that I recorded Joe Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” We did it just as a show favorite and a fan favorite and, a lot of the fans are going to kill me for this, but I never loved steam. I still have a scar on my hand from that video where I cut myself. See? Poured some blood on that.
Now that Herndon has felt a personal evolution with his music, he is allowing nothing to hold him back — even that pesky scar. With a next record already in mind, Herndon’s wheels are spinning about who he could possibly approach for a duet, considering his catalog contains some pretty notable collaborations. While Bonnie Raitt is at the top of his list, he also has his ear on a couple of prominent country music females.
I really am a fan of Carrie [Underwood]. I really am a fan of Kacey Musgraves. Just people who are recording and putting out clever lyrics and can sing their butts off. I love singing duets.
Before Herndon can think about joining forces with other artists though, he wants to take some time to fly solo, bring his new, personal music to fans, and really talk about the stories behind the songs.
11/11 is the due date for this baby and we’re already talking about the next record. . . . I want more. I want more musical content. I have a book coming in the Spring too. There are so many more stories to tell.
As for those stories, at the end of the day, Herndon wants nothing more than to be remembered for the integrity in his music. Though he had moments in life when being honest on a personal level wasn’t always possible, his music always told the truth and spoke the words from his heart. This can especially be said about his next album, House On Fire, which will become available on November 11 and is able to be pre-ordered today.
It’s a musical crazy journey, but I feel like it’s one of my best albums since my first album What Mattered Most. It feels that new and that wonderful.
by Jen Swirsky
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Ty Herndon will release his new album House on Fire on November 11th, marking his first new music since publicly coming out as a gay man in November 2014. The “What Mattered Most” singer is leading the collection off with the single “That Kind of Night,” the video for which is available [here].
The first sound on the track is Herndon’s voice, still powerful some 20 years after his first series of hits in the Nineties. He envisions one of those unhurried nights where everything seems to fall into place, and the contemporary production conjures open blacktop stretching out ahead. “It’s a roll down your windows, ‘Night Moves’ on the radio, kind of night,” he sings in the first verse. Herndon didn’t write the song, but felt like it was the perfect choice to lead off House on Fire.
“You can hear the passion in my voice: ‘I am here to sing for you people. I want to sing for you and this is what I’m gonna do,'” explains Herndon. “Then that loop starts – that very thing that I didn’t want, that I fell in love with – and you’re off on a journey with that song. We wrestled with all kind of different ideas and I was like ‘Guys, this is just a guitar on the back porch, singing with a couple buddies.”
The video stays true to that idea, featuring Herndon and guitarist Travis Howard in a front porch-like setting, performing the song. The clip was shot in Los Angeles and is the first of five videos that he filmed ahead of the House on Fire release.
“We filmed in Chinatown, in the back of this really cool studio,” says Herndon. “We hauled all the cameras out there and everybody just had fun. Because the music’s really loud when you’re making a video, you notice if the camera man’s tapping his toe, they’re probably loving the music.”
Herndon co-produced House on Fire with Erik Halbig (along with Drew Davis on six tracks) and aimed to put forth a newfound vulnerability and honesty. Nestled in with the lighter numbers like “That Kind of Night” and “If You” are tracks like “House on Fire” that address Herndon’s inner struggles over the last few years. It’s a new look, but one that suits him well.
“This album was a new education for me for my future, investing in my life as a songwriter and a producer and getting outside of my comfort zone,” says Herndon. “And lord knows I got outside of my comfort zone when I came out, but I came outside of my comfort zone to move into a life of pure authenticity. That was most important to me.”
By Jon Freeman
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Ty Herndon’s much anticipated, full-length album House On Fire is now available for pre-order on iTunesand Amazon. From track to track, Herndon has made the most engaging, meaningful and fulfilling music of his career. Featuring Herndon’s powerful trademark vocals, the new album is already receiving critical accolades and showcases a deeper, greater strength from a man who has been there and back and has lived to tell about it. House on Fire is the next evolution of Ty Herndon.
House On Fire is a collection of 12 new contemporary songs, which are co-produced by Herndon and Erik Halbig, with Drew Davis joining as co-producer on six of the songs.
“This album is 18-months in the making. The writing was intense at times, but we had a lot of fun throughout the process! This album is me to the very core of my heart and it is without a doubt the most honest and vulnerable album I’ve ever done. It is an album about heart and soul, with songs that everyone can relate to. My hope is that anyone who hears these songs will catch a small piece of his or her life through the music and my story,” said Herndon.
The award-winning vocalist has also released a video to accompany his first single from the album, “That Kind Of Night.” The video is streaming exclusively now on RollingStone.com.
Herndon recently signed with BFD through Sony/RED Distribution, which marks Herndon’s return to the Sony family, where he made his chart-topping debut in the mid-90s. Herndon is also booked by Nashville-based agency, Buddy Lee Attractions.
Herndon’s 20-year career has resulted in an impressive string of hits, which includes four No. 1’s (“What Mattered Most,” “Living in a Moment,” “It Must Be Love,” “Loved Too Much”), as well as numerous top 10 hits, including “I Want My Goodbye Back,” “Loved Too Much,” “A Man Holding On (To a Woman Letting Go),” and “Hands of a Working Man.” He’s had 20 Billboard charted singles to his credit, numerous industry awards, and more than five million albums sold.
Country recording artist Ty Herndon has signed with BFD through Sony/RED Distribution, and will release his much-anticipated, full-length album House On Fire on Nov. 11, with pre-order starting Oct 14. The signing marks Herndon’s return to the Sony family, where he made his chart-topping debut in the mid-90s.
Dewayne Brown of Sony/RED Nashville states, “We are very excited to be working with Ty again. As soon as I heard this amazing project I couldn’t wait to share it with the world.”
Herndon’s 20-year career has resulted in an impressive string of hits, which includes four number 1’s (“What Mattered Most,” “Living in a Moment,” “It Must Be Love,” “Loved Too Much”), as well as numerous top 10 hits, including “I Want My Goodbye Back,” “Loved Too Much,” “A Man Holding On (To a Woman Letting Go),” and “Hands of a Working Man.” With 20 Billboard charted singles to his credit, numerous industry awards, and more than 5 million albums sold, Ty Herndon’s journey is reaching new heights with the release of his forthcoming album.
House On Fire is a collection of 12 new contemporary songs, co-produced by Herndon and Erik Halbig, with Drew Davis joining as co-producer on six of the songs. Track by track, Herndon has made some of the most engaging, meaningful and fulfilling music of his career. Featuring Herndon’s powerful trademark vocals, the new album is already receiving critical accolades from the Nashville music community and showcases a deeper, greater strength from a man who has been there and back and has lived to tell about it. House on Fire is the next evolution of Ty Herndon.
Herndon discussed House On Fire, stating “This album is 18-months in the making. The writing was intense at times, but we had a lot of fun throughout the process! This album is Ty Herndon to the very core of my heart and it is without a doubt the most honest and vulnerable album I’ve ever done. It is an album about heart and soul, with songs that everyone can relate to. My hope is that anyone who hears these songs will catch a small piece of his or her life through the music and my story.”
Bob Frank of BFD commented, “House on Fire is one of the best albums I’ve heard in the last 10 years. Ty has demonstrated once again that he is one of the best male vocalists in the format.” Chuck Rhodes of BFD/Nashville added, “I have been a Ty Herndon fan since ‘What Mattered Most.’ When I first heard this new project, I was reminded that he is still making great music. The hardest decision we would have in this process is trying to figure out what song to lead with!”
Herndon recently debuted songs from the album to enthusiastic fans in London as a headliner act for the Nashville Meets London festival, an appearance that led to international radio airplay and expansive media coverage.
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“Hands,” is a musical tribute to the 49 victims of the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The track features Mary J. Blige, Jason Derulo, Britney Spears, Tyler Glenn, Selena Gomez, Halsey, Ty Herndon, Imagine Dragons, Juanes, Adam Lambert, Mary Lambert, Jennifer Lopez, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Kacey Musgraves, MNEK, Alex Newell, P!nk, Prince Royce, Nate Ruess, RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Jussie Smollett, Gwen Stefani, and Meghan Trainor.
Written by: Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, BloodPop®, and Ely Rise; produced by BloodPop®, Mark Ronson, and Justin Tranter.
Proceeds from the sale of the new tribute single in the United States will benefit Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, and GLAAD.
Visit Pulse Victims Fund to further support those affected by the tragedy in Orlando.
Watch the Lyric Video: “Hands” – A Song for Orlando (Lyric Video)
“Hands” is available now exclusively on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/HandsTribute