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Talk Music: Steve Hamende goes against the grain

By Melissa Crowe
Jan. 22, 2014 at 2:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

Steve Hamende

DON'T MISS IT

• WHAT: Steve Hamende and the Slackers

• WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday

• WHERE: The Barn, 12201 Farm-to-Market Road 236, Mission Valley

• FOR MORE INFO:facebook.com/stephen.hamende

Steve Hamende performs his new style country with an old-school flair.

Hailing from Round Rock, the 35-year-old musician cut his teeth on bands like The Allman Brothers and The Eagles, but it was the country songs from writers like Merle Haggard that drew him in.

Hamende caught up with Get Out to talk about his newest album, playing with Rick Trevino and how growing up in a small town shaped who he is.

Your style definitely has the classic Nashville vibe. Are you going against the grain of Texas country?

Oh yeah, definitely.

I don't ever want to call anybody out and make a fool out of myself. What's good to somebody may not be good to somebody else. It takes all types to make the world go around. It's all an interpretation of a feeling or moment in time.

I feel like I'm out on my own.

So much of the Texas music or Red Dirt music tends to be - well, mine tends to be a little more polished.

Brian Kelley, my producer, and I sat down during the pre-production and planning and realized that if we wanted to have the album fly in Texas, it needed to not be as polished as what you hear on Nashville Clear Channel stations.

I wanted it to be polished enough where it could fly on Nashville radio and do good, but I want to make a living in Texas.

I tend to be the kind of writer that when I sit down to write a song, it comes out like classic Nashville, that Merle Haggard-ish - it always ends up coming out old school.

When me and my little brother write - we wrote "Redneck Babyback" and "Pancakes" together, he also co-wrote "When I Found You" - that tends to be real new-school Nashville sounding.

Me and my brother write real bluesy sounding.

I cut my teeth on The Eagles, and still to this day, the Eagles and The Allman Brothers are two of my favorite rock bands of all time.

Trying to fit into the Texas scene is difficult, but if you go about it the right way, I guess you can.

You released an album in December. What can you tell me about it?

It arrived on my doorstep Dec. 27. It's hot off the presses.

It consists of 10 tunes, seven I either wrote or co-wrote; the other three were written by some of my other co-writing partners who are all good friends of mine.

One I didn't write, the title track, "Big News from Nowhere," was written by my baby brother.

It's written about Granger, Texas.

Do you think growing up there had much influence on how you write or how you see the world?

Without a doubt. It's shaped who I am.

Just as that's shaped who I am, traveling has as well. I'm a big believer that traveling is the best education you can get. Not just internationally, but across the U.S. and meeting with different types of people who live in big towns, big cities, metroplexes like the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Chicago.

You grow to appreciate the fact that when you go to a bigger town, there's a grocery store within three blocks.

In Granger, the closest grocery store was 10 miles away in Taylor.

Did Rick Trevino play a big role in getting your name out in the music world?

He played a big part in me starting to do my own thing.

I don't want to spin this any kind of wrong way - at the time I was working with Rick, he wasn't working a whole lot.

It got to the point where I decided I could starve on my own. That pushed me to do my own thing, and that was my biggest motivator. I needed to make money.

Rick and I are still friends, but it just got to the point where I needed to branch out and see if I could do it for myself.

You've said performing for the troops was an all-time high. Do you have much connection to the military?

I never served, but I've got two uncles on my mom's side who were in the Navy, a cousin who was in the Navy and one who's currently in the Army out in Fort Lewis, Wash.

The experience was awesome. I tell people that it was the best thing I've ever done. In my music career, I can't really recall anything that was any better.

You go over there, and you're doing what you love to do for the people who make it so you're able to.

We flew commercial from Austin to Houston and from there on into Dubai, then into Kuwait City. They put us on a C-130 transport train and took us into southern Iraq. We played a show in Kuwait, and then we did eight days on the ground in Southern Iraq.

What have you taken back to Texas from that experience?

I grew up in a real small town, Granger. In a small town, you say the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning.

Going over there and having the experiences I had with the people I had them with, my bandmates who are like brothers to me, it made me that much more of a patriotic person.

I used to get the chills when I'd hear the "Star Spangled Banner" play; now, it almost brings a tear to my eye.

Gives you a deeper sense of appreciation for the people who are fighting for us.

That was the end of April in 2010.

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