49 Winchester’s ‘Hays, Kansas’ Inspired By Road Trip Gone Wrong [Exclusive Premiere]
49 Winchester songwriter and lead singer Isaac Gibson found himself stranded overnight in the small town of Hays, Kan., and left with an idea for a song. The Appalachia-bred country-soul band is premiering the track exclusively with The Boot; press play below to watch a live performance of the tune.
"Hays, Kansas" "walloped me," Gibson admits, coming "out of nowhere" after he figured out its opening melody. He had spent "a really bad day and night" in Hays, and found irony in the fact that, "even out in the middle of nowhere, 1,500 miles from home, a place that I would usually be able to escape my problems, they were there plain as day."
"Well, I wanna do good / I'm sick of doing bad ... I wanna get out of bed on the right foot for a change / I wanna be able to act my own age," Gibson sings in the first verse, "but the liquor keeps throwing a wrench into things." A George Jones name-drop precedes a confession that the Possum's brand of sad country songs "makes me wonder if there ain't even more / To worry about."
"So I'll go back to Hays, Kan., where I can't be found," he pledges in the chorus. "And there's no way of knowing / Where in the world that I am."
"Hays, Kansas" is one of 10 songs on 49 Winchester's forthcoming third studio album, appropriately titled III. It was the first song the band recorded for the project, remembers bassist Chase Chafin, and features Jake Quillin, a Dallas-based artist and the band's longtime friend and collaborator.
Kenny Miles, of the Whitesburg, Ky.-based band Wayne Graham -- "definitely one of our favorite bands of all time," Chafin says -- produced the majority of the record, with an assist from Mike Stephenson at Bristol, Va.'s Classic Recording Studio. The band's founding members -- Chafin, Dillon Cridlin, Gibson and Brandon "Bus" Shelton -- are natives of the area.
"On this album, we were able to get really honest with ourselves and each other about what we wanted to say with this batch of tracks, more so than the last two," Gibson reflects. "I think every year we ‘grow into’ ourselves and our sound more."
Childhood friends Chafin and Gibson grew up with the lauded Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion bringing stellar musicians to town just south of their hometown of Castlewood, Va., each fall. They formed 49 Winchester with Cridlin and Shelton after high school, in the fall of 2013, and were joined by Noah Patrick in late 2018.
III is due out on Friday (Oct. 2). Visit 49Winchester.com for more information on the project and the band.
Watch 49 Winchester Debut "Hays, Kansas" Live:
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