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